Original French Mannlicher Berthier Mle 1892 Saddle-Ring Carbine by Châtellerault serial B 728 - dated 1897

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Mannlicher-Berthier rifles and carbines were a family of bolt-action small arms in 8mm Lebel, used in the French Army from the 1890s to the beginning of World War II (1940). The Berthier design began as the "Mousquetons Berthier" - a series of bolt-action cavalry and artillery carbines with distinctly different actions from the Mle 1886/M93 8mm Lebel rifle. For instance, the Berthier carbine's bolt lugs lock vertically into the receiver instead of horizontally as in the Lebel rifle. Berthier carbines were first issued in 1890 and 1892, and had been designed by Emile Berthier, an engineer at the French Algerian Railways, to be used with standard 8mm Lebel ammunition.

The Berthier design was introduced as a replacement for the various aging Mle 1874 Gras single-shot carbines - still standard for French cavalry, artillery, and gendarme forces even after the introduction of the Mle 1886/M93 Lebel. Prior experiments with several carbine versions of the Lebel action proved unacceptably heavy and slow to load while on horseback. While retaining most of the action's strong points, the Berthier carbine improved on the earlier Mle 1886 rifle by using a one-piece stock and a Mannlicher-style, charger-loaded en bloc 3 shot clip. These Berthier carbines were progressively allocated to all cavalry, artillery and gendarmerie troops during the 1890s.

The first Berthier carbine came into production as the "Carabine de Cavalerie Modèle 1890", which was officially adopted for service on March 14, 1890. The main production facilities were the Manufacture d'Armes de St Etienne or MAS and the Manufacture d'Armes de Chatellerault or MAC. The search for a suitable small arm for mounted troops was given greater urgency by the Germans' development of the Karabiner Modell 1888, a carbine variant of the Gewehr 1888. It was issued to essentially all French artillery and cavalry troops. As the high Command appreciated the performance of the Mle 1890 Berthier carbine, a second version was specifically produced for artillery service, the "Mousqueton Mle 1892" which could mount a short blade bayonet and thus had a re-designed forend stock. However it continued to feature the 3-round En-bloc clip of the Model 1890 carbine. During the First World War it became obvious that the 3-round clip was a handicap compared to German short weapons such as the German Kar98AZ which had a 5-round clip.

The left side of the receiver on this fine example is clearly marked with Châtellerault, and to the right MLE 1892, indicating manufacture at the government arsenal at Châtellerault. The rifle has arsenal proofs on most parts, and also is dated 1897 on the right side of the receiver. The rifle has serial number B 728 on the barrel, while the other serial numbers are not matching, indicating that it was most likely refit at arsenal. The carbine is fitted with a large Saddle Ring on the left side of the 17" barrel, while it looks like the sling loop on the side of the butt stock was removed, and the hole filled. The cleaning rod was also removed and has had the channel filled, so this is definitely a carbine that saw long service and many arsenal refits.

This Berthier Saddle Ring carbine is in good condition, showing wear from long service on the metalwork, while the stock has been refinished, most likely several times. The bore is in very good condition, showing a clear lands and grooves, with a partly bright finish and some fouling in the grooves. The rifle does cycle well, with a good dry fire. The nose fitting is unfortunately missing.

A very nice example of a hard to find carbine, ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1897
Caliber: 8×50mmR Lebel
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 17 Inches
Overall Length: 37 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 3-round Mannlicher-style en-bloc clip

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