The rifle mle 1866 Chassepot 1/2

While in modern times wars are more and more devastating in human life, it is particularly interesting to dive back into the ancient writings to see how things unfolded at a given period and thus see the evolution of uses. military or industrial … among others. For the first article in this series on the Chassepot rifle, we will immerse ourselves around the year 1869 and study the score of a book of this time. A second article, to appear later, will give us figures concerning the Chassepot 1866 rifle. We will see in the conclusion of these articles, if one can draw lessons from the elements put in relation.

The Chassepot 1866 rifle

Gravure du mécanisme du fusil Chassepot, culasse ouverte.

We will use to present this weapon, the score of a book in which I took care to put in bold the passages that appear significant to me. This book is called: The Wonders of Science: or Popular Description of Modern Inventions by Louis Figier (Volume 3 – 1869).

Page de garde du livre les merveilles de la science.Transcript of the book :

The Chassepot rifle – its effects – transformation of our old  rifles.

The bohemian campaign and the victories of Prussia on the battlefield of Sadova, in 1866, showed, with overwhelming evidence, the merits of the Prussian rifle. In the aftermath of these events, and in the presence of these results, the nations of Europe, which had given up, without much attention, the needle-gun, had to return from their indifference, and adopt the new weapon. In France, as elsewhere, it has been quick to replace the old piston guns with the needle rifle. Only the Prussian rifle was liable to various reproaches. A commission formed at the Ministry of War, studied, in 1866, the modifications that might be made to this system, and from his studies came the adoption of an irreproachable model of needle-gun, proposed by Mr. Chassepot.

Portait de l'inventeur du fusil Chassepot.

It is this rifle, officially designated under the heading of weapon 1866, that we will describe. The foregoing details, which contain the exposition of the principles of the construction of the Prussian rifle, will allow us to greatly abbreviate the description of the new French army.

Mécanisme du fusi Chassepot, culasse ouverte.

The pieces composing the Chassepot rifle are simpler and less delicate than those of the Prussian rifle. The dog is of sufficient size. It offers a large catch, as a result of the roughness of the surface that ends it. In addition, so that in the arming of the dog, this piece does not come to be forced by the pressure exerted, it was provided with a roulette, to facilitate the sliding. By pulling the dog, which holds a portion of the sheath, containing the spring of the needle, the rifle is armed.

To open the chamber, the breech is pulled by means of the handle; the cartridge is placed in the cavity which must receive it, in front of a steel disk of a radius less than that of the chamber. Below this disc is a small rubber cylinder, filling exactly the diameter of the chamber. This cylinder is more galvanized on the edges than in the middle, so that, under the influence of the pressure of the gases, the central part of the rubber gives way and prevents the exit of the vapors by the joints of the bolt with the barrel . The decline is mediocre.

To close the weapon, push the handle back to its first place and then fold it to the side. The first of these moves the cartridge into the barrel; the second immobilizes the cylinder head by placing a projecting portion of the handle in a notch. By pulling the trigger, the trigger unleashes the spring of the needle that strikes the fulminant capsule, and the dog is brought back, after the shot, to its first position.

Vue en coupe d'une cartouche pour fusil Chassepot mle 1866.

The cartridges are of thin paper, and consolidated by a silk gauze envelope; it thus presents the two essential qualities of any good cartridge, namely lightness and solidity. An invaluable advantage is that it is completely burned by the burning of the powder. The capsule is attached to the lower base of the cartridge, the opening facing the needle. In this it differs from the cartridge of the Prussian rifle, in which the needle must pass through all the powder, to strike the fulminant capsule. We have explained at some length the advantages which are found in producing inflammation from the top of the cartridge, and not from the bottom, as in the ordinary case. But this provision required the use of a needle twice as long and therefore more fragile. This is what decided, in France, to give up placing the capsule at the top of the cartridge. The theoretical advantages which we have enumerated above concerning this mode of inflammation, not being able, as it seems, counterbalance the disadvantage of the too great length of the needle. When the needle comes to shock the fulminate, the flame is communicated to the powder by two small holes drilled in the bottom of the cell.

The French cartridge is expensive, and its manufacture requires minute precautions; but it works beautifully.

Gravure du mécanisme du fusil Chassepot mle 1866 vue de gauche, culasse fermée.

After these preliminary explanations, we will better understand the two figures that represent the mechanism of the Chassepot rifle, with the legends that explain the use of its various organs. Figure 373 shows the open shotgun for loading; Figure 375 represents the weapon of the moment when the needle strikes the fulminant capsule.

The Chassepot rifle is far superior to the Dreyse rifle, it does not present the complication of the Prussian weapon; these movements are fewer; loading is fast and easy. The needle being withdrawn in its sheath during the loading, and being able to leave it only at the moment of the shot, any explosion of the cartridge, during the load, is made impossible. No more gas loss or fouling, which did little to reduce the speed of fire.

The Chassepot rifle is shorter than our old ammunition rifle; it weighs only 3 kilograms, and carries a bayonet sword lighter than the old one. The form is elegant and satisfies the self-esteem of our soldiers. The barrel, whose caliber is 11 mm, bears 4 helical stripes. Thanks to the absence of any loss of gas, these scratches retain their full effect, and make the weapon a real rifle.

Marshal Niel sent the Emperor a very interesting report on the results of the firing tests with the new rifle. According to this report, the Chassepot rifle can fire, without aim, 14 shots per minute, and aiming, 10 shots per minute. It is 1000 meters, more surely than the old rifle bore 400 meters. At this huge distance, a somewhat experienced soldier puts 24 balls out of 100 into a target. An army of 20,000 men, equipped with this destructive machine, could fire, per minute, 280,000 hits and lay 56,000 enemies on the ground, if the battlefield fire was as accurate as the target shot.

With this prodigious weapon, victory and defeat can be decided in a few minutes. About twenty lights will end a battle. It will be a quarter of a league away, without almost seeing each other. Before we can get near, the new rifles will have done their work of extermination: the enemy, terrified and decimated, will be put to flight. Thus, the barrel itself is exceeded, and the soldiers, it can be said, have lightning in hand.

Marshal Niel’s report, on which these astonishing conclusions are based, is of great importance in the question before us. We therefore feel obliged to put most of this document before the eyes of our readers. In these kinds of questions, the figures, the precise results, alone form the opinion; it is therefore on the numbers that we must insist.

Marshal Niel’s report to the Emperor is intended to summarize all the results obtained since the transformation of our armaments has become a fait accompli. After a few words of introduction, the author of the report expresses himself in these terms:

“Begun in September 1866, but as a test, by the battalion of foot-hunters of the Imperial Guard who had been appointed to carry out the first experiments, the delivery of the new rifle in the corps of the guard did not really date only from the end of March 1867. “

“Successively extended to the various infantry corps of the line, as and when the progress of manufacture, this considerable operation ended in April 1868, ie in a period of time A few recent years, especially for many infantry corps of the line, the time of the commissioning of the new rifle, the tests already made allow to sit, dice to present, the opinion on its real value as a weapon of war. “

“Its effective regulatory range is 1000 meters and can easily reach 1100 meters.” The projectile, with an initial speed of 410 meters per second, runs a fairly tense trajectory so that at a distance of 230 meters it does not rise more than 0.5 meters above the line of sight, this tension being one of the most favorable conditions for effective shooting. “

“As a result of the simplicity and promptness of the loading that man can perform with the same facility in all positions, kneeling, sitting, lying, as well as standing, the soldiers manage to shoot 7, 8 and even 10 shots per minute aiming, and up to 14 shots without aiming. “

“It is worth recalling here that for the old infantry rifle the maximum effective range never exceeded 600 meters with an initial speed of 234 meters per second only, and it is barely under normal conditions of regular fire the well-trained soldier could fire more than two rounds per minute, with a weapon whose loading by the mouth could only be executed in the standing position, forcing him to discover himself in all circumstances. “

“Thus: considerable increase, almost double of the old one, in the range of the shot, increase of the third in the speed of the projectile, much greater tension of the trajectory; such are, joined to a speed of firing unknown hitherto, the essential qualities first revealed by the practice of the 1866 rifle. “

“From the point of view of accuracy, its benefits are no less satisfying, and I have had the record of target shooting sessions in the different corps carefully taken since they were in possession of the new rifle.”

“The armament could not be distributed at the same time in all corps of the army, this part of the instruction, whose degree of advancement is necessarily proportional to the time elapsed since the commissioning of the In the beginning, the first results reported are already very much superior to those obtained with the old rifle. which the men knew well and which they had learned to practice in a long time.Where the results obtained by the regiments of the guard, and especially by the foot-fighter battalion, that of all the corps which, by the priority of the armament, had the most time to employ in these exercises, they testify by their rapid progress of the facility with which the men become acquainted with their weapon as well as its precision. the average number of bullets, out of 100, put into the target at different distances, first with the old rifle, then with the new one, for each of the categories of troops corresponding to the successive epochs of the armament, presents, under this report, comparisons of the highest interest, of which I ask your majesty the permission the detail before his eyes. “

Tableau récapitulatif des tirs d'essais au fusil Chassepot mle 1866

“Today, if we take the general average obtained with the model 1866 rifle, it is easy to appreciate how much this weapon carries it in precision on the old rifle striped, at ordinary distances of 200, 400 and 600 meters. “

“At great distances, at 1000 meters, the useful results exceed the average of the effect produced by the latter at 400 meters, and reach twice that obtained previously at 600 meters, extreme limit of the effective range of the then shot.”

“These results themselves are not yet the definitive expression of the value of the new shot.When recently armed corps have had time to complete their exercises, there is no doubt that the average infantry corps firing of the line will rise rapidly, as for those of the guard, in large proportions.Many disadvantages arising from various causes, inherent for the most part to defects of detail in the manufacture, and to which it was promptly brought remedy, are manifested during the tests and at the beginning of the commissioning in the bodies. “

“These inconveniences, very exaggerated at their origin, and in all cases, made more sensible by the lack of custom in our soldiers, in the handling of a brand new weapon for them, consist of breakage of needles and moving heads, spitting, splits of wood, misfires of bullet cartridges and especially blanks. “

“None of these accidents are of a serious gravity today, and men, in familiarizing themselves with their rifles, learn easily, and in a very short time, to avoid themselves any inconvenience in newly armed bodies. “

“The breakage of needles and moving heads, quite numerous during the trial period, was due to faulty temper and insufficient annealing, which has been remedied by modifying the manufacture accordingly, and the average of the needles. in the bodies is now very weak, it is inferior to that of broken chimneys in the old percussion rifles, and many of these accidents must be attributed much more to the clumsiness of some men than to a defect in the mechanism of the weapon. “

“Replacing a broken needle with fire is, moreover, an extremely simple operation, in which soldiers are trained and perform on the spot with the utmost speed.”

“The spitting, caused by a defect in the manufacture of the weapon, is extremely rare, it is remedied by changing the breech box or the cylinder of the breech.The same accident can be caused by defective washers; is easier than changing these washers. “

“Finally, under the influence of the lowering of the temperature, gas leaks have sometimes been observed, but only by quite considerable colds which remove the shutter its efficiency.” Experience has shown that in this case , the spitting almost always disappears after the first shot, the shutter resuming its normal shape under the action of the heat developed by the ignition of the charge.These coughing, moreover, may be likely to annoy the shooter, do not seem likely to hurt him. “

“Some woods have split due to a defective wood setting, this defect is currently avoided in the manufacture.With a slight repair, the split woods do not cease to be likely to good service in the body.”

“The first cartridges that were used were of a slightly weak size, under the impact of the needle they slid forward, hence misfires, the number of which appeared at first quite high. with the blank cartridges which were not stopped by the projectile as a bullet cartridge, which was remedied by lengthening the cartridges with bullets and without bullets, and increasing the diameter of the cartridge without a bullet. “

“The weak coil springs also produce misfires that are avoided by using stronger springs, and the change is made with the utmost ease.”

“Despite some imperfections of detail, inevitable in the beginnings of any new system, all of our armament is excellent, and all bodies have welcomed it with the greatest sense of satisfaction.”

“The new rifle, lighter than the old, graceful in form, pleases the soldier, full of confidence in his weapon, he loves it, surrounds it with particular care, a very striking mark of predilection which proves once more how much more, with their intelligent insight, our soldiers spontaneously grasp and appreciate what is really good and useful. “

“The 1866 model rifle is easy to handle, its mechanism is simple and convenient, its easy maintenance, it requires only a very short instruction to become familiar to men, who assemble and dismount it without difficulty, and learn to quickly replace the moving parts they are equipped with, such as washers, needle, movable head and coil spring, and in a very short time the less skilled soldier can be introduced to the operation of the whole system.

“The experiments done with the greatest care, last year, at the camp of Châlons, then in Italy by the troops of the expeditionary corps, under the most diverse and often the least favorable climacteric circumstances, furnished the proof that, under a rather delicate appearance, the new rifle fulfilled the best conditions to satisfy all the necessities of the campaign service. “

“Studied from all points of view, the rifle which the French infantry has just endowed meets in the highest degree, with an accuracy and speed of fire incomparable qualities that should ensure him the first rank among the weapons of war today in use. “

End quote from Marshal Niel’s report.

While pushing with great activity the manufacture of Chassepot rifles, the French government was thinking of using the old ammunition rifles which filled our arsenals. Since the conversion of these old rifles into a Chassepot rifle was impossible because of the excessive expenditure which it would have required, one sought, among the various known systems of arms loaded by the breech, the one which would lend the most economically to a transformation into a rifle loading by the breech. The choice was based on a combination of two systems of English origin, the Enfield and Snider rifles. “

End of transcription.

This article asks for further developments and deepenings, they will be done in a future article.

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Comparative: 8 mm 1892 / 7.65 Browning

The present article is a logical continuation of the previous article concerning the French Regulatory revolver mle 1892. You can find the first article here: Revolver MAS mle 1892, gunsmith work and evolution of the context.

This article is based on a rumor (not entirely false) that the 8mm ammunition used by the 1892 revolver is too weak. The decommissioning of this weapon would be due to the caliber employed. Another element triggering the writing of this article is the rediscovery of a comparison between the ammunition of handguns used by France during the Great War (The document is reproduced below).

This article will detail ballistics data for the 8 mm 1892 (8 mm Lebel) and 7,65 Browning (32 acp) calibres. I will draw from the comparison of these data my conclusions on the decommissioning of the MAS mle 1892 revolver.

The 8 mm French cartridge 1892

To help me in my thinking, I will use a table from a Fiocchi catalog that is very interesting in more ways than one. Here it is :

In my opinion, this table is very useful because it gives for the same modern encartoucheur ballistic elements of several calibres of time. It is therefore very easy to compare and debate around the choices made by the various staffs and governments of the time. While bearing in mind that we do not speak of ammunition era but reproduction respecting all or part of the characteristics of origins.

The data provided by the Italian manufacturer Fiocchi (see the table above) indicates that for a bullet weight of 7.2 grams or 111 grains and a muzzle velocity of 260 m / s. The energy of the warhead to the mouth is 245 joules.

By comparing the energy with the mouth of several regulatory calibres we realize that the 8 mm 1892 is one of the weakest of the time. The reason is due to the speed of the projectile. The 8mm Steyr has a much higher energy with a very close ball weight: 7.3 grams or 113 grains and a mouth speed of 330 m / s. The energy from the nose to the mouth is 395 joules. The average maximum pressure of a cartridge in 8 mm Steyr is: 2300 bar (CIP). The average test pressure of an 8 mm Steyr cartridge is: 2990 bar (CIP). These same data for the 8 mm 1892 are: 1200 and 1560.

One of the peaks is reached by the cartridge 7.63 Mauser, which, by propelling an 88-grain warhead at 440 m / s at an energy of 550 joules (very close to the 9 x 19 cartridge: about 600 joules). The average maximum pressure of a cartridge in 7.63 Mauser is: 2600 bar (CIP). The average test pressure of a 7.63 Mauser cartridge is 3380 bar (CIP).

In their book on Star and Ruby pistols, the authors produce a ballistic table of the French munitions of the Great War and thus compare the 8 mm 1892 and the 7.65 mm Browning. The energy of the warheads is identical and is expressed in kgm: 19 kgm, ie: 186 joules. Even less than the figure announced by Fiocchi in its catalog.

The energy is the same for a 7.65 Browning and a 8 mm 1892. How can we say that the weakness of the ammunition 8 mm 1892 has downgraded the revolver while its replacement transmits the same energy. Is it really the caliber alone that participated in the decommissioning of the weapon ?

Characteristics of the 8 mm 1892:

  • Maximum bullet’s diameter (CIP): 8,28 mm ;
  • Diameter in the hollow of the stripes (CIP): 8,30 mm ;
  • Diameter on the top of the stripes (CIP): 8 mm ;
  • Twist (CIP): 1/240 mm ;
  • Maximum case length (CIP): 27,4 mm ;
  • Cartridge’s length (CIP): 37 mm ;
  • Bullet’s mass (Fiocchi): 7,2 g ;
  • Bullet’s mass (book : Star and Ruby): 7,85 g ;
  • Initial speed (Fiocchi): 260 m / s ;
  • Initial speed (book : Star and Ruby): 220 m / s ;
  • Initial energy (Fiocchi): about 245 Joules ;
  • Initial Energy (book: Star and Ruby): 186 Joules approx ;
  • Average maximum pressure (CIP): 1200 bar ;
  • Test pressure (CIP): 1560 bar.

The cartridge of 8 mm mle 1892 is a munition with bead therefore usable only in revolver.

It was eight years after the adoption of the MAS mle 1892 revolver and its 8 mm cartridge that the Browning 1900 pistol and its 7.65 Browning cartridge appeared on the market. It will flow from this novelty a whole series of pistols of simple design and similar power of arrest.

The 7.65 browning / 32 acp cartridge

Introduced in 1899 by the FN for use in its 1900 automatic pistol. The 7.65 Browning cartridge will shake up the market for handguns. This low pressure cartridge will allow the manufacture of automatic pistol reliable and simple because without locking system. The absence of this type of device significantly reduces the number of parts and the complexity thereof. The misdeeds of the anarchists of this period contributed, through their media coverage, to the spread of these new types of handguns. The craze is fast, it’s a popular success.

To study this cartridge, I would help you from another page of the same Fiocchi catalog. There she is :

There are several 7.65 Browning cartridge references on this catalog page. Depending on the type of warhead and the speed of the latter, the indicated energy is 175 to 280 joules. This last value is obtained by the use of a hollow tip warhead at high speed.

The table quoted above from the book Star and Ruby gives the following elements: ball weight: 4.85 grams, bullet speed: 270 m / s, projectile energy: 186 joules.

  • Max bullet diameter (CIP): 7.85 mm ;
  • Diameter in the hollow of the stripes (CIP): 7.83 mm ;
  • Diameter on the top of the stripes (CIP): 7.63 mm; 
  • Twist (CIP): 1/250 mm ;
  • Maximum case length (CIP): 17.2 mm;
  • Cartridge length (CIP): 25 mm ;
  • Bullet’s weight (book : Star and Ruby): 4.65 grams ;
  • Initial speed (book : Star and Ruby): 270 m / s ;
  • Initial Energy (book: Star and Ruby) : 186 Joules ;
  • Average maximum pressure (CIP): 1800 bar ;
  • Test pressure (CIP): 2340 bar.

The 7.65mm Browning case has a very light bead. It is thanks to this bead that the ammunition will be used sometimes in revolver.

Since the energy of the projectile is the same, let’s try to find other lines of thought relating to the decommissioning of the MAS mle 1892 revolver. Below you will see some direct competitors of the MAS mle 1892 revolver.

The Browning 1900 pistol :

Very big commercial success which sold more than 700 000 copies between 1900 and 1912 is about 70 000 manufactured copies a year … nothing but that. We can see through the manufactured volumes that this weapon meets an expectation of the public and administrations. The gun becomes simple, compact, reliable … it is democratized. The quality of manufacture is also responsible for this success. The opportunity was given me in the past to have a Browning 1900 in hand, it is a well designed weapon, well done and very compact. It is obvious that he could only make the revolver obsolete. However, it requires the user to keep a room ammunition and an armed striker.

  • mass of the unloaded weapon: 625 g ;
  • Total length: 163 mm ;
  • Length of the barrel: 102 mm ;
  • Weapon capacity: 7 cartridges.

The Browning 1910 pistol :

The Browning 1910 is the successor of the Browning 1900. It is a simpler weapon than its elder. With a perfect design, it will go through the decades without any major changes. A very important feature on this weapon is the safety pedal on the back of the pistol grip. It will be manufactured between 1912 and 1975 to more than 704,000 copies.

  • Mass of the weapon in 7.65 mm: approximately 590 g ;
  • Total length : 153 cm ;
  • Barel length : 88 mm ;
  • Capacity of the weapon in 7.65 mm: 7 cartridges.

The FN/COLT 1903 pistol :

  • Mass of the weapon in 7.65 mm: approximately 590 g ;
  • Total length : 153 cm ;
  • Barel length : 88 mm ;
  • Capacity of the weapon in 7.65 mm: 7 cartridges.

The Star et Ruby pistol

These weapons will be next to the MAS mle 1892 revolver in the trenches from 1914 to 1918. They are a simplification of the weapons of the major suppliers mentioned above.

France is equipped with these materials to supplement endowments without having to overload the employment of national manufactures. The number of Ruby pistols sold in France is 900,000. The number of Star guns sold to France is 24,000.

Pistolet Ruby

  • Mass of the weapon (Ruby pistol): about 875 grams ;
  • Total length (Ruby pistol): 157 mm ;
  • Barrel length (Ruby pistol): 87 mm ;
  • Weapon Capacity (Ruby pistol): 7 to 9 rounds.


By comparing the above elements, we can see that as soon as the Browning 1900 pistol came out (only 8 years after the adoption of the revolver), this automatic weapon outclasses in some areas the French regulatory weapon of the moment:

  • Lighter weapon ;
  • Very compact weapon ;
  • Simple manufacturing ;
  • Irreproachable manufacturing quality ;
  • Easy maintenance ;
  • Weapon of lesser size ;
  • Speed of loading ;
  • Upper loader capacity.

It can be noticed that the power of the 7.65 mm ammunition is very close (see identical) to the 8 mm cartridge of 1892. Despite this proximity, the 7.65 Browning caliber will endow many countries and individuals through the world causing the manufacture of millions of weapons. These weapons will equip various government forces until the 1970s or even 1980s. We see that the reproach of power is erased from the advantages brought by the principle of automaticity. It is then possible to place several ammunition on the same objective without fear of its power or the time of reloading the weapon.

The 7.65 Browning automatic pistol has therefore replaced or supplemented in some hearts and for certain uses the MAS mle 1892 revolver or derivatives. However, although its loading requires a longer time and its capacity is lower, we must not forget that the revolver remains master over some portions of the range of uses. The use by the Germans of the MAS mle 1892 revolver on the eastern front during the Second World War demonstrates this.

The rapid evolution of the industrial context at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the evolution of smokeless powder, steels have allowed a series of good technological advances rendering certain weapons and war techniques obsolete. The saber fight is over. The economy of cartridges too.

A constant demand for modernity and efficiency will lead up the steps of the podium another cartridge of intermediate diameter: the 9 mm luger (whose energy to the mouth is close to 600 joules). But that’s another story.


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Revolver MAS mle 1892, gunsmith work and evolution of the context

Revolvers have existed for a long time, around 1830. I will not discuss historical issues here because it is not my domain. The battles of steepled his legion between amateurs and / or specialists on details that have in my mind that little importance. However, through two articles (the second is : Comparative: the 8 mm 1892 / 7.65 Browning), I would like to offer you a reflection on the design and manufacture of gunsmithing and this through the revolver MAS mle 1892.

You may be wondering how the MAS Mle 1892 revolver is so special that it leads to a reflection of the world of armament in general and the design and armory in particular. After detailing the assets of the revolver mle 1892, I would try to put it in relation with the context that gave it this reputation of outdated weapon: the first world war. Is the 1892 revolver really so ancient ?

The MAS mle 1892 revolver

Revolver MAS mle 1892_1

The left side of the 1892 revolver.

Before all things, I would like to pay tribute to Mr. Henri Vuillemin, editor (and therefore to one of my peers) of the book : The 1892, published by FG editions / Crépin-Leblond, on which I supported myself to write this article.

Revolver MAS mle 1892_2

Cover of the book : Le 1892.

The advantages of the revolver mle 1892

If we compare this weapon with its competitors at the time, the 1892 revolver was at the forefront in many areas. What can we put to his credit :

The weight of the empty weapon is 840 grams. This makes the 1892 revolver a fine weapon, comfortable to wear. This a very elegant, light weapon, it contrasts with the big revolver reichrevolver or the Smith and Wesson in 44 russian. It is less trying to handle.

The bouncing hammer avoids the nailing of the striker in the primer. This can make you smile because nowadays it is obvious to have a hammer that comes back when the shooter releases the trigger of a revolver, but at the time it is innovative. In the absence of this principle, the hammer nose once planted in the primer prevents the barrel from rotating, the trigger is inoperative. This can damage the hammer nose and in any case waste valuable time to the soldier who will at first be surprised and then in a second time will try to solve the problem. We must admit that on a battlefield we have something else to do than solve incidents of this type.

The double action is widespread today until you have only double action weapons. To be able to shoot without having to arm the dog can give in certain circumstances an ascendant on an adversary whose weapons would only work in simple action. In addition to the time needed to arm the dog, it is necessary to remove the weapon, to leave his position of shooting to arm the dog. The double action is recent at this time, the competitors of the revolver mle 1892 are not all equipped.

Easy dismantling, the percussion mechanism of the 1892 revolver can be completely disassembled, cleaned and oiled by the servant. The latter is the first diagnoser of failures or weaknesses present or future. At the slightest defect, the soldier must report to the higher maintenance level and give a technical visit to his weapon by qualified personnel. For this reason, it is imperative that each soldier cleans his weapon and on this occasion inspects each piece and reports the facts that seem to him abnormal. In this sense, the revolver mle 1892 is well designed, just loosen the screw located at the top of the handle (right side) to open the trigger plate and have access to the entire percussion mechanism.

Revolver 1892

Drawing of revolver 1892, cover plate open.

Four pieces are to be dismantled : The hammer’s spring, the hand, the hammer, the trigger. The percussion mechanism is there, in these four pieces. There is no difficulty in separating them from the carcass of the weapon. The pieces are massive (no fragile) and very well finished.

The economy was not sought on this weapon. All the parts have complex shapes and yet they are all executed perfectly. We must imagine the industrial world of the time. The milling machine, the metal lathe, the numerically controlled slotting machine … obviously do not exist. All machining is done on traditional machines (by hand) with probably many form of tools or specific assemblies dedicated to the manufacture of this weapon precisely. To this must be added a series of controllers to check if the parts fall within the tolerance.

Start a manufacturing of several tens or hundreds of thousands of pieces to a very heavy involvement. In these conditions, it is not easy to backtrack and embark on a new program as if nothing had happened.

106 years after leaving the factory, the weapon taken in pictures here is functional and in very good condition. Finishing was to be an important part of the manufacturing process. The fitting of the parts is perfect, no part bears traces of machining, no burrs are present, the edges of the parts are bright there was no fast deburring but neat work. The tan is always present, a little past in places. A patina that has its charm.

The choice of the caliber was bold at the time but not interesting because loaded with black powder. It is said to be too weak to compare with the English 455, 11 mm German, 44 russian. War is not a static ground where an enemy calmly waits to die by a projectile destined for it, just as calmly, fired by a second non-animated soldier who is also afraid of dying. Obviously no !!! hence the need to have a projectile with sufficient stopping power to give an immediate shock effectively stopping the annoying power of an enemy galvanized by its adrenaline. The use of a heavy projectile, of large diameter, moved by a high speed and which would leave all of its energy to the impact is more effective than a light projectile at low speed. The 8 mm caliber chosen for the revolver studied here had a projectile velocity of 215 m / second. not even the speed of a long rifle for a larger ball weight : 7.8 grams versus 2.59 grams for the 22 Lr. I think that the choice of this caliber comes from a desire to save raw materials and thus produce more ammunition for the same amount of raw material. With equal weight, the military will carry more ammunition. At the time, it was fashionable to want to reduce the caliber of weapons. It was an innovative choice but would have deserved a higher warhead speed.

The reduction of the projectile (to understand decrease of the diameter and the weight of the projectile) will be many years later acclaimed by the firms HK and FN Herstal, which obtain important perforations with calibers of diameter 5.7 mm for FN Herstal (Weight of the bullet: 2 grams for a speed between 650 and 750 m / s or 4.6 mm for HK (weight of the bullet : 1.7 to 2 grams, for a speed close to 700 m / s) … with an energy higher than that of a 9mm … But that’s another subject.

The revolver mle 1892 and the first world war

Why do we read everywhere that the 1892 revolver has been passed quickly ?

It is amazing to see that this weapon has become obsolete quickly as we have seen above these innovative assets. The appearance on the market of reliable automatic pistols supplied in calibres close to 8 mm but lower than the regulatory calibres in many countries at the end of the 19 th century (ie of 11 mm), considerably changed the market of the handgun. We can cite in these intermediate caliber handguns: the C96 in 7.63 Mauser, the Colt 1900 in 38 acp, the Colt 1903 in 32 acp, the P08 in caliber 9 parabellum … It is very interesting to note that an automatic gun will combine the future and the past. In 1911 was adopted the Colt 1911. This pistol conserved a munition of strong diameter: 45 acp (11,43 mm). It will cross the 20th century to get us almost unchanged, This weapon or its derivatives are still sold today.

The end of the 19th century, the beginning of the 20th century are times when the changes are terribly fast. Deep changes in society and industry take place at these times. The defeat of France in 1870 left by its lack of preparation, the desire not to be too much behind other European nations.

If the 1892 revolver is decommissioned by the ammunition it uses, it retains the advance of the double action, no automatic pistol of that time works in double action. To obtain the speed of shooting a revolver with a pistol, It was therefore necessary to keep the hammer armed and ammunition in the chamber. It should also be understood that no automatic pistol of the time is equipped with striker safety. If we add to this the fact that the steels used for Ruby pistols are of low quality, accidents should be numerous.

If the loading time of a revolver is much longer than that of an automatic pistol, the revolver is more reliable in extreme conditions. A revolver does not jam, it is not dependent on dirt from the outside. In addition, it must be remembered that the mechanism of the revolver mle 1892 is entirely removable by the servant. This is not the case for many other weapons. Try to disassemble the parts constituting the mechanism of trigger and percussion of a Ruby pistol ! The speed of loading is of interest only if the servant has a number of chargers accordingly or all Ruby magazine are not compatible, which led to some problems. According to Henri Vuillemin, in his book : “The 1892, it seems that an indeterminate quantity of revolver mle 1892 were supplied to the Wehrmacht during the terrible winters of the Russian years of 1942, 43, 44, the weather conditions making guns inoperative or uncertain shooting. While it is estimated that the 1892 revolvers are outdated in 1914, they are used thirty years later in difficult conditions.”

In the face of the trench war which will be the new standard in December 1914, the army’s staff complete the use of the 1892 revolver with automatic pistols from various sources, but mainly from Spain. The quality of manufacture is much lower than that of the revolver mle 1892. But valid the fact that the pistol will be the king (at least at this time and in this frame). It requires a fast reloading mode and a weapon shorter than the rifle to take and “clean” a trench.


The main problem of the 1892 revolver is, in my opinion, its loading principle. It no longer corresponds to the context of the time. This is not a weapon to leave the rack because if you put it in a suitable context, it will resume its value even today.

Too early in 1892, not the priority in 1914. The latter went to arms that could repel the attacks and break the lines: machine guns and artillery.

How to know that the conflict would take new forms, unknown, to become a trench war. How to predict the future? How to maintain an industrial fabric underemployed in peacetime to, if necessary, to make this industry available to the engineers of the armaments and thus to be more reactive in the event of a crisis? These questions are complex. A minimum would be a permanent technological watch, recurrent tests on the new materials, a follow-up of these and consider their evolution with interest to reorganize quickly in case and thus maintain the sovereignty of the people of France and the continuity of the state . A legitimate state that equips its soldiers with reliable and adapted equipment so that they protect it.

The desire for revenge after the defeat of 1870, the obsolescence of the weapons fleet, the lack of preparation, the rapid evolution of the techniques, the resistance to the changes, the colossal sums necessary for the maintenance or the rehabilitation of the equipment, the training of personnel, the reconstruction of the country … are factors that led to the beginning of war in red trousers, a massive purchase of weapons abroad to end in a considerable mass of wounds between brother peoples and neighbors. France, country of avant garde in 1914 loses its rank in favor of young nations less impacted. Who benefits from the crime ?

The morality of the story: Do not go to war, leading to the misery of his people, if you are not prepared … especially when playing at home.

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