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Original French M-1853/1869 17.55mm Tabatière Brass Breech Loading Conversion Rifle

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 1853-7 French back action Minié Percussion Rifle and were designated the Model of 1853/1869. 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 French Model 1853 BACK ACTION Percussion Rifle that was then transformed to the TABATIERE RIFLE using a BRASS Breech system and not the usual steel breech system. The Lock plate still bears the original markings:

Mre. Imp.ale. de

This indicates that the rifle was originally Manufactured at the Imperial arsenal at Châtellerault, as a back action Minié rifle. It came from a Museum Collection in London and is in nice condition however the iron work shows pits from old rust. This was originally a percussion rifle, so there is powder burn corrosion on the lock plate, hammer, and screws.   

The bore shows clear lands and grooves, though there is wear and corrosion, especially in the grooves.

A very rare early French Breech Loading Rifle. Ready to Display.


Years of Manufacture: circa 1860
Caliber:  17.55mm
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 39 inches
Overall Length: 56 inches
Action: Back Action Lock with Rotating Block
Feed System: Single Shot

NOTE: International orders of antique firearms MUST be shipped using UPS WW Services (courier). USPS Priority Mail international will not accept these.

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