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|Posted on June 7, 2012 at 7:50 AM|
The Mas 36 and 36/51(grenade launching version) were a prime example of "to little to late". It has the dubious distinction of being the last bolt action rifle ever designed and fielded by a major power (you yougo 48 series dose not count, still a mauser standard pattern). A 5 shot bolt action in 7.5 French. This is the first rifle to use this long lived cartridge. This is a refinement of the earlier ctg that was easily confused for the 8mm german with the only exception of the 7.5 dia bullet. The results of confusing the two claimed a few dozen lives before the redesign.The resulting round was very similar to the modern .308 ctg. Ballistics almost identical. The rifle had a set back action with an oddly swept forward bolt handle. The resulting carbine had the longest barrel into the shortest over all length. Not quite a bulpup, but getting there.. The rifle featured the innovative (for the time) "ghost ring" sights and 4 sided bayonet stored in the
rifles forearm. The finished rifle was a light, accurate rugged standard issue carbine, rival to any competing bolt action fielded by any major power.
However, the production of this replacement for the 8mm labell and labell/ berthier rifles was slow to go into production. Serious manufacture did not occur till 1938. By this time the American army had adopted the M1 Garand as a standard issue arm and the USSR and germans had developed similar auto loading rifles (both of which had their "problems" and were never issued very widespread). To further complicate things the French had additional production issues and were only able to get the new rifles to the "first line" units, such as the elite "guards", commandos, legionaries, and motorized rifle regiments. And by the time of the German invasion of 1940 only 20% of the French army had the new rifle. Most of the French troops involved in the fighting still had the same rifles their fathers carried in the first world war.
The German occupiers and the vishey govt kept the good little gun in limited production to arm Atlantic wall troops and the vishy malice (anti partisan) troops. Many found their way into the hands of the resistance. After liberation production restarted, some seeing action in late ww2 with free French troops. Most of the rifles seen on the surplus market are made or rebuilt in the post ww2 period and will be gray parkerised instead of the black painted over blued finish of the pre war guns. The rifle had a distinguished combat record in the fighting in Algeria and french indo china (Vietnam) where they were supplemented by American rifles. The bolt guns were phased out for the equally odd looking MAS 45, MAS 49, and MAS 49/56. The later being finally retired in the late 90's as a "designated marksman" rifle.
Many of these guns found their way to America in the late 1990's via century arms. These were surplussed out of the French war stores in rebuilt/ new condition. Many were still in the (at the time) unavailable 7.5 french. Quite a few were converted to .308 by century. Some conversions done well, others not as much. Average price under $100. Not bad for a 7.62 nato chambered bolt gun.
Despite their appearance they have proven to be quite reliable, accurate and handy rifles. My wife's gun holds a 2inch group at 100m. Not bad for iron sights and surplus ammo.
Not Bad for history's "too little, to late" rifle.
Categories: Under valued firearms in history