French Model 36 ("MAS")

Rifle cal. 7.50x54mm

"Manufacture d'Armes de Saint Etienne Modèle 1936"

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Model 1936, the last ever 'modern' bolt action military rifle designed and produced by a major (at that time) power. Instantly identifiable by its unique, sharply forward swept bolt handle. Since the bolt and receiver are incredibly strong, the receiver is fairly short, allowing a full-length barrel, but a shorter rifle. And it is a very handy size, with almost the same compact, but sturdy and solid, feel of the Swede M94 Carbine.

World War 1 taught the French at least a couple lessons: Their big old, clumsy Model 1886/93 Lebel rifle, with its 8x51R cartridge was obsolete, and must be completely replaced by a brand-new design, modern, bolt-action rifle. And second, they required a new design light machine gun to achieve fire-power parity with their potential adversaries. Ideally, both new firearms would utilize the same and most current state-of-the-art cartridge to ease manufacturing and logistics. The resulting cartridge was the 7.5mm Modèle 1929C, or 7.5x54, and the eventual rifle designed to use it was the Modèle 1936, built by the company MAS (Manufacture d'Armes de Saint Etienne). St. Etienne is the center of French firearms manufacture, roughly equivalent to the historic US firearms manufacturing area originally centered around Springfield, Massachusetts, or the German area of Ulm-Thüringen. This particular example MAS 36 in my collection, shown above, was built in 1939, and retains its original matching serial-numbered receiver, bolt, and trigger guard/assembly, but the barrel is a 1945 replacement, as are the stock pieces as well, I'm sure, except not necessarily at the same time. In fact, the stock wood is all so clean and intact, I might even guess the new wood was installed and the rifle was placed into long-term storage until recently released in quantity onto the collectors market. I was fortunate, and surprised, to receive, along with the rifle, an unissued French Army rifle sling (shown above), and a French Army Rifle Technical Manual (in French, mais oui, shown below).

Target at 100 yards, using FNM 139gr ammo:

 

Target at 200 yards, same ammo: