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Original French M-1822/1869 17.55mm Tabatière Brass Breech Loading Conversion Rifle

Regular price $1,395.00

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The U.S. Civil War was a time for invention: hundreds of new better types of firearms were developed. In addition conversions of older weapons to work with new technology resulted in many brilliant ideas. The Americans, the British, and many other countries throughout Europe took full advantage of these changes.

The British, with a large Empire to protect, developed the SNIDER Breech loading Rifle, although Jacob Snider was an American. The French developed the "Tabatière Rifle", called that because the new breech resembled a "Snuff Box" (tabatière literally means "snuff" in French). The Tabatiere breech loading system was first designed in 1857. It was adopted in 1864 but conversions were slow to start.

At the same time, the French flirted with the Chassepot Needle Fire Model of 1866. By 1870, the Tabatiere was considered inferior to the Chassepot and was abandoned. The French had converted 358,000 Rifled Muskets from Percussion to breech loading, leaving an amazing 1.4 Million in their original percussion state. In the 1880s the French Government disposed of most all of their Tabatiere Rifles, mostly to Belgium for conversion into half stocked 12 gauge shotguns for the African Native trade in the Belgian Congo. Original military Tabatiere Rifles are very rare and command serious prices.

Most of the Tabatiere Rifles were converted from the 1857 French back action Percussion Rifle and were designated the Model of 1857/1869. A much smaller quantity were converted from the original French Modele 1822 Flintlock smooth bore muskets, which had been converted themselves into percussion in the 1840s, and had been fitted with RIFLED Barrels.

What we offer here is the best of all worlds, it is an original French Model 1822 Musket that started life as a SIDE LOCK Flintlock, was converted to Percussion in the 1840 and fitted with a rifled barrel. It was then transformed a second time to an early TABATIERE RIFLE using a BRONZE Breech system. The Lock retains traces of the frizzen spring location as well as the pan. There is a bit of a proof mark, but otherwise the lock is unfortunately unmarked. However, the stock on the left side is marked MUTZIG, and the marking is clear, so we believe the conversion most likely took place at the French Arsenal at Mutzig. There breech block is marked on the underside with 17140.

This rifle came from a Museum Collection in London and is in very nice collectible condition. The metalwork is in great shape, with a bright finish and just a bit of pitting. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, with a partly bright finish, showing some areas of light corrosion. Stock wood is very good, and has a great patina, though there are a good amount of small dents and dings.

The missing link in French arms development.  Just gorgeous and Ready to Display


Years of Manufacture: circa 1830
Caliber:  17.55mm
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 39 inches
Overall Length: 56 inches
Action: Side Action
Feed System: Single Shot hinged Breech block.

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