I happened upon this rifle. I wasn't 100% sure how much it was worth so I took a chance at $120 after negotiating. I've done some research and feel I made out OK. In the south Louisiana area it's been my experience that the French weapons don't sell well unless at lower than average national prices. Does anyone have a source for original cleaning rods and slings?
Nice! Your Gras was apparently used in the Spanish Civil War (note the "Made In France" marking).
Purists of the world, unite!
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
― Samuel Adams
Really? Now that I had no idea. I've been trying to research the rifle as much as I can. Do you have any idea where I might find more information about the Gras rifle being used in the Spanish Civil War. I just finished a week ago For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway which was set in the Spanish Civil War. So I think that this is doubly interesting.
Your rifle is most likely one of the 450,000 Mle 1874 Gras rifles shipped to Russia during WWI to help with the Imperial Russian Army's perpetual shortage of small arms. These rifles saw both front line as well as rear echelon service with the Czar's Army.
The rifles that survived WWI, the Revolution and the Civil War were placed in storage with other obsolete small arms until Stalin shipped all of the left overs to the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War.
These rifles were eventually imported by Sam Cummings of Interarms fame and were stamped with the country of origin on top the barrel flat. Most, but not all are Russian marked. I have three in my collection that I have picked up over the years.
Here are photos of the Cyrillic "P" stamped on the barrel flats of two of my examples. Some rifles are also marked on the stock with one or more Cyrillic letter. Give the entire rifle a good once over with a magnifying lens as there is a good chance that it's marked somewhere.
Some idiot gun-coated one of these rifles, but I negotiated the rifle down to $75 because of the finish. One of these days I'll research the best way to strip it off! But even with the coating, as a WWI collector it was worth the reduced price.
Please post photos of any markings you happen to find on the stock or metal. The stocks are sometimes marked on the underside just ahead or behind the trigger guard or barrel bands, as well as on the buttstock.
Thanks for your information JPS. I found what was most likely a cartouche just behind the front barrel on the underside of the stock. It was not legible. I'm wondering if someone maybe sanded the stock. If so it would've been quite some time ago. I didn't see cyrillic stamps where they were on the flat of the barrel. When I get home work tonight I'll give it another go over in good light with a glass.
That there are no marks on the barrel flats is not a problem. These rifles were shipped to Russia in several different lots and were not all marked at the same time by the same inspectors. As a result, like the Mle 84 Kropatcheks, some are marked on the barrels or receivers while other are ONLY marked on the stock. Be sure and check on the underside of the forearm behind the middle barrel band as it is also a common location for inspection stamps. The possibility also exists that your rifle was one of the weapons that was never marked? There are examples among these obsolete rifles that are known to have been Russian issued with no inspection marks at all.
Only an approximate 10,000 of the original 450,000 rifles were shipped to Spain with a limited amount of ammunition per rifle, an estimated 395 round for issue which each weapon. This being the case, their service in Spain would have been somewhat limited, unless of course the Republicans were able to obtain additional ammunition from alternate sources? My expertise pretty much stops at the end of WWI, so I'm not sure whether or not they managed to obtain additional ammunition from other sources or not?
Once again, well done! A rare and interesting rifle indeed.
I took the action out of the stock again last night. The serial number to the barrel matches the receiver. The underside of the barrel as a wide assortment of stamps. None looked cyrillic to me and doubt the Russian's would've stamped it in the metal under the wood anyway. I did find some faint stamps in the rear of the buttstock which I believe to be a serial number. This isn't surprising but it doesn't match the receiver particularly for a rifle that had been through so many hands. Also I could make out the remanents of a stamp over the "holy water" plug. But I couldn't find anything that look cyrillic.