Original French Model 1866 Chassepot Needle Fire Rifle Converted to Gras in 1874

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Despite the fact that the French needle fire Chassepot rifle was far superior to the needle fire Prussian Dreyse rifle, the French took a swift and decisive beating in the war of 1870-71. In fairness to the French, the defeat was due to Napoleon III's foolhardiness in allowing himself to get captured at the Battle of Sedan and the show was then over.

No sooner had the defeat occurred the French started fighting among themselves specifically with the forming of the "Paris Commune" in 1871. It was a disaster for France with Frenchman fighting Frenchman and is the basis tale of the theme for the Broadway musical "Les Miserables". The fighting was basically all done in 1871 culminating in the "Bloody Week" when as many as 17,000 Communites were slaughtered. The rebellion spread to many cities in France and everywhere was ruthlessly put down over course of the following 18 months.

This Chassepot rifle is dated 1873 offered in great display condition. This is an interesting French military rifle having started life as a Needle Fire Model of 1866, then converted to center fire in 1874 as a GRAS rifle and that was finally updated in 1880.

Every time a conversion was made the gun was remarked with previous designations cancelled. The rifle is in a nice condition with the relevant markings visible despite efforts to cancel them. The bolt head is unfortunately missing but these can be found. Ironically this M-1866/74/80 was superseded in 1886 with the introduction of the 8mm Lebel rifle, however ,the Gras was still in use for reserve troops up through World War One.

The left side of the received marked St. Etienne. Mle 1866 and this comes complete with a St. Etienne marked brass-hilted saber bayonet and all steel scabbard.

The Chassepot rifle of 1866 was a single shot bolt-action rifle and was among the best of its kind in 1866. It was quickly surpassed, principally by the British Martini-Henry, and was obsoleted in 1874 with the introduction of the metallic cartridge Gras Rifle that was in turn superseded in 1886 with the Lebel Rifle.

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