Original French MLE 1866-74 Gras Converted Rifle by St. Étienne with M1874 Gras Bayonet - Dated 1869

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 was a French service rifle of the 19th century. The Gras used by the French Army was an adaptation to metallic cartridge of the Chassepot breech-loading rifle by Colonel Basile Gras. This example was originally a needle fire Chassepot, the French ignition system introduced in 1866. It was a single shot bolt-action rifle and was among the best of its kind at the type, being superior to the German Dreyse Needle fire system. It was quickly surpassed however,  principally by the British Martini-Henry system. In 1874 the self contained cartridge Gras bolt-action system was introduced, and the Chassepots in service were converted to this system, and had additional markings added indicating this.

The receiver on this nice example is marked MANUFACTURE IMPÉRIALE / St. Étienne and to the right of this is MLE 1866-74. The rifle has an original issue date stamped into the barrel of S.1869, indicating that it was originally manufactured at St. Étienne Arsenal as a Chassepot in 1869. It was then later converted to the Gras rifle system in 1879 at Châtellerault arsenal, indicated by the marking C 79. The rifle is marked with serial number J 39719 on virtually every part of the rifle, even the cleaning rod. This is definitely a FULLY MATCHED example.

The rifle has an very nice bore with clear lands and grooves, and a bright finish, except for several inches near the muzzle, which are a bit oxidized. Overall condition is also very nice, though the stock has been sanded down a bit, so the right side stock rondel is faint. However the left side rondel is clearly marked JUILLET / 1879, indicating it was serviced in March 1880. Metal finish is very nice, with a nice blued finish on the barrel and receiver, and a worn bright finish on the bolt.

Included with this rifle a correct issue Straight-Bladed Model M1874 Gras sword bayonet with steel scabbard. This bayonet is in very good, almost excellent condition, with a bright blade with a little corrosion, and all the correct issue markings, and no sharpening. The wood on the handle is nice, though the steel crossguard has suffered some peppering. The T-shaped spine of the bayonet is marked Mre d'Armes de St. Étienne Janvier 1879, indicating manufacture at the arsenal in St. Étienne, during January 1879. The scabbard is straight, with a great original finish, and the serial number N75475 matches on the bayonet and scabbard.

A very nice M-1866-74 Chassepot/Gras rifle with bayonet, fully cleaned and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1869 - converted 1879
Caliber:  11×59mmR Gras
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 Inches
Overall Length: 51.4 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: Single Shot

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