Fusil Modèle 1917
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Fusil Modèle 1917

The first semiautomatic battle rifle ever introduced in service in large quantity, with the French Army in 1917, following the trend initiated in 1915 to give infantry more firepower on the move after the Meunier 1912 was taken out of production due to its excellent but peculiar cartridge that would have obliged to tool up for a new round in the middle of the conflict when billions of rounds were necessary for the millions of Lebel 1886/93, Berthier 07/15, Chauchat 1915, Hotchkiss and Saint Etienne 1907.
It inspired John C. Garand, a French Canadian, for many operations of the rifle that became the US M1 Rifle.
Garand was involved in research works with US companies working with the French at the end of WW I.

Two brothers, Clair, built a semi automatic shotgun in 1888, two years after the Lebel rifle was adopted, the world's first rifle to use a small 8 mm bullet on top of a charge of smokeless powder that had been invented by Paul Vieille.
In 1892, they built a semi auto pistol in 8 mm.
In 1894, prototypes of semi auto rifles were made.
In 1913, a semi auto rifle was adopted to replace all of the Lebel rifles and Berthier carbines. it was the Meunier A6 rifle using a rimless 7 mm round with a very flat trajectory due to its very high speed, the case was 57mm long, more precisely 56.95 mm.
Only 1013 rifles had been manufactured when the war broke.

Between 1894 and 1913, there was a fierce competition to develop a new rifle.
They were tested by:

Section Technique de l'Artillerie, Artillery Technical Section aka STA

Rifle A 1 later redesigned as Rifle A 4
Rifle A 2 STA 5
Rifle A 3 STA 6
Carbine A 4
Rifle A 5 STA 7
Rifle A 6 STA 8

Ecole Normale de Tir, National Shooting School aka ENT

Rifle B 1, ENT 1901, system Rossignol
Rifle B 2, System Rossignol
Rifle B 3, ENT 1902, system Belgrand
Rifle B 4, system Rossignol
Rifle B 5, system Rossignol
Rifle B 6, system Belgrand
Rifle B 7, system Chezaud
Rifle B 8, system Vallarnaud

Commission Technique de Versailles, Versailles Technical Commission aka CTV
Etablissement Technique de Puteaux, Puteaux Technical Section aka APX.

Rifle C 1 CTV 1
Rifle C 2 CTV 2 system Chauchat
Rifle C 3 APX 3, system Chauchat & Sutter
Rifle C 4 APX 4
Rifle C 5 system Chauchat & Sutter modified Naquet-Laroque aka rifle NL
Rifle C 6, NL
Rifle C 7, NL
Rifle C 8 system Chauchat & Sutter aka Indochinese rifle due to its shorter size, developed to arm indigenous troops in Indochina

The Meunier 1910 was adopted first but the ammunition was not adopted, there were endless debates between the described above entities about the length of the case and the subsequent projectile speed. the final choice for 56.95 mm was made in 1912 but the original round had a speed over 1000 meters per second.

a lighter load was finally adopted in 1913 hence allowing the adoption of the Meunier.

6000 Meunier Mle1910 rifles were built and delivered to the French army in 1916 to be used by the sharpshooters, they served until 1918.

The Rifle 1907 that was based on the Berthier system and adopted for colonial troops will be modified in 1915 to use a 5 rounds clip ( the 07/15 wasd built in large quantity by Remington, this is another story).

Delaunay Belleville will produce the Delaunay Belleville 1916 adopted in November 1916. it is a select fire weapon based on a modified 07/15 that was produced by DB.
with a practical rate of fire of 100 rounds per minute, the rifle adopted by the commission in Versailles Satory show a slightly degraded accuracy as compared to its bolt action counterpart.
It was noted that in fully automatic shooting, the reliability was perfect but the violent recoil and the parts added on the side take the rifle out of aim.

this rifle is adopted and enters service on a larger scale than the Federov 1916 that can't be classified as a service weapon.

The DB 1916 will be the precursor of the select fire DB 1918 that will be adopted with 3 variants.

but the most commonly used semi auto rifle will be the RSC 1917, designed by Ribeyrolle, Sutter and Chauchat who had already designed the CSRG 1915 ( see thread), 86 000 of them will be made and used in 1917/1918.

The RSC 1918 was adopted in 1918 as a rifle planned to replace all other rigfles in 1919,it had a shorter barrel than the RSC 1917, all drawbacks had been corrected and it used the standard Berthier clip instead of the proprietary clip of the RSC 1917.
Only 10 000 were built, they were tested in combat and later used in the Rif war in Morocco.

Posts: 157610 | Location: Ukraine, Europe. | Registered: 12 October 2002Reply With Quote
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Thanks for the post, Edmond. I have long admired many French weapons -- have owned, handloaded for and shot the Gras, the Lebel, the Berthier, the MAS-36, the 49/56 (loved it!) and the little 1935A and MAB Model D pistols -- and while the 1917 was not terribly well liked, it plowed important ground.

There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.
– John Green, author
Posts: 14087 | Location: Alamogordo, NM | Registered: 03 June 2000Reply With Quote
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That's interesting. Thank you. I've always found French weapons to be either good, really bad or a mixture of good bits and bad bits in the same weapon.

I could never understand the 1892 Revolver for example and why the cylinder swings out to the "wrong" side.

Especially as the French small arms manuals of the period are very advanced in their courses of fire for using pistols and revolvers.

If I'd have been a French soldier I'd have tried to get one of the Spanish revolvers that was a knock off the Smith & Wesson K Frame.

On the other hand I have an exquisite Manufrance Fusil Robust 28E. That's 16 gauge side by side boxlock ejector with a under barrel spring assisted easy-opening system.

I've also owned a Unique X-51 bis complete with its Unique silencer and its Unique branded 3x telescopic sight and the gunslip to fit over the frame of your bicycle.
Posts: 6764 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: 18 November 2007Reply With Quote
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