Original French Model MAS Model 1873 11mm Revolver Dated 1875 - Serial Number F42619
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of the service revolver model 1873 Chamelot-Delvigne which was the first double-action revolver used by the French Army. It was produced by Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne from 1873 to 1887. Although replaced by the Modele 1892 revolver, it was nevertheless widely used during the First World War, and issued to reserve units in 1940. The Resistance made widespread use of it during the Occupation. Both the 1873 and the 1874 use a 11mm cartridge which proved to have an insufficient velocity. The weapons themselves were very reliable and resistant.
This excellent mechanically sound example has had its original bright steel finish fade to a dull gray patina, with some light pitting due to over 100 years of age. It is marked Mre d'Armes / Saint-Étienne on the right side of the frame and features all matching serial number F42619 on the frame, cylinder, trigger, and cylinder axis pin. The markings on other components have been worn off, but we're pretty sure this is all original and matching. The top of the barrel marking is missing, and the side of the barrel is marked S. 1875, indicating the revolver was manufactured in 1875. Many of the small parts of the revolver are also marked with assembly number B/19.
The checkered wooden grips have been replaced with nice walnut smooth grips, probably due to deterioration of the originals. The finish, as noted before, is a dull gray patina, with some areas of past rust pitting. This appears to be a revolver that may have been exposed to the elements and not cleaned afterwards. Still, the barrel is in good condition, with clear lands and grooves and a mostly bright finish. The lanyard ring is still present, and is not dented, but does have some past pitting. The action works well, with good cylinder lockup and indexing.
You may recall that a pair of these revolvers were carried in shoulder holsters by Brendan Fraser in his 1999 adventure film "THE MUMMY".
A great chance to own a nice example of a late 19th century French Service Revolver, ready to display.
History of the MAS 1873
The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 clearly demonstrated the need for up-to-date equipment in war time. A great military tradition and esprit de corps can be defeated by superior training, and in the case of that war, artillery. After the war, both Germany and France continued to improve their military technology. However, neither side was convinced of the importance of pistols for field officers. The sword continued to be the symbol of authority for an officer on the battlefield all the way into World War I. European general staffs at that time were extremely conservative and pistols were sometimes grudgingly adopted as personal defense weapons with no practical offensive use. Even as pistols became more of a symbol of the officer, most preferred to privately purchase a smaller and more comfortable handgun instead of using a large standard issue revolver.
The Chamelot-Delvigne 11mm Modele 1873 was adopted by the French army as a service revolver for non-commissioned officers. The Modele 1874 Revolver d'Officier was the version issued to officers. The differences between the two models included the following: the 1873 was finished in the white, whereas the 1874 had a fluted cylinder and a blued finish. The 1873 and 1874 were the first center-fire cartridge revolvers adopted by the French army. They had solid-frame, side-ejection, double-action mechanisms. The pistols were manufactured by the St. Etienne armoury, which still continues to manufacture fine sporting arms.
The design of the Chamelot-Delvigne revolvers became so popular that versions were adopted by the Belgian in 1871, Dutch, Italian, and 1872 in Switzerland with the Model 1872 Revolver.
The caliber of these French pistols was 11x17.8mmR. The French round was actually 0.47 mm larger than its German counterpart. The German round could be loaded and used in the French pistol, but French rounds would not chamber in the German pistol. The cartridge had a pointed lead bullet weighing 11 grams. The case length was 17.8 mm, which was rather on the short side. Reloading this cartridge could take some patience due to the shortness of the case. Military specifications called for black powder loads, replaced by a mild smokeless powder in the early twentieth century. Standard muzzle velocity was around 550 feet per second.
The cylinder had a side-loading gate which pulled straight to the rear. The sight picture was a ball and v type and is easy to align. It could be difficult to stay on target double-action due to the stiffness of the action. There was certainly no danger of accidentally pulling the trigger double-action. Cleaning and disassembly were easy as the cylinder pin doubled as a screwdriver and all-purpose tool. Internal parts were finely machined and finished. The trigger, hammer, and several of the internal springs were straw-finished, a type of case-hardening hot oil finish.
The French pistols began their service with the French army in the late 19th Century and saw service all over the globe in French colonies. Many saw service in World War I when European armies finally realized how important pistols were in the trenches. The Chamelot-Delvigne finally ended its venerable service as a police sidearm in World War II.
Specifications of MAS model 73
Year of Manufacture: 1875
Length: 240 mm (9.5 inches)
Barrel length: 115 mm (4.5 inches)
Finish: Bright Steel
Weight (empty): 1.04 kg
Cylinder: 6 cartridges
Ammunition: 11 mm Mle 1873 (11x17mmR)
Rifling: 4 right-hand grooves
Operation: Double Action / Single Action
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