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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    Old Europe
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    2,734

    Default Gras M 1874 converted to 8x50 R in World War I

    A very interesting old thread on a rather uncommon rifle, originally posted in the old Mannlicher Forum ( http://old.gunboards.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=11898 ):

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    Mumbolia
    Posted - 11/16/2003 : 5:11:50 PM
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    I picked up a very interesting WW1 rifle I'd like to share. Because of the arms shortages in WW1, France converted some of their M1874 Gras single shot rifles in 1914 to 8x50R caliber. The offical designation would be The M1874/80/14. In addition to being re-barreled, a new rear sight and handguard was added.

    Some of these were issued to Balkan troops. The example I found has a clear Crown over stylized "H" indicating Montenegrin issue and it is in really nice shape. I've never seen or heard of one before. If somebody really has to have this in their collection, please E-mail me as it really doesn't fit in mine.



    Mumbolia
    Posted - 11/16/2003 : 5:13:49 PM
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    http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/mu...71223_mont.jpg
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    http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/mu...1247_mont1.jpg
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    http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/mu...7136_mont2.jpg
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    http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/mu...1321_mont3.jpg
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    Krag
    Posted - 11/16/2003 : 5:27:18 PM
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    Cool rifle!

    According to French author Jean Huon, some of these were issued to the French Air Force as late as 1939-40.



    Krag
    Posted - 11/16/2003 : 5:30:49 PM
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    BTW, I believe these rifles were chambered for the old Balle 1886 M loading and should not be fired with the Balle 1932 N ammo that is available on the surplus market today.



    Prez1981
    Posted - 11/16/2003 : 10:16:27 PM
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    I sold one several months ago that had been rechambered for the Balle N and marked as such. Moreover, it had been duffle cut and was a WWII bringback. That's quite a history!



    Krag
    Posted - 11/17/2003 : 08:10:04 AM
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    Prez - just because it was so marked doesn't mean it was safe. The French were desperate in the late 1930s as they say war clouds on the horizon. I would only fire one of the 8mm Gras with handloads - and light ones at that.



    JPS
    Posted - 11/18/2003 : 11:03:09 AM
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    Yo Mumbolia,

    You have a very nice rifle there. I am very fond of the Mle 74/80/14. I have several of them in my collection. Neat rifles!

    I am very interested in how you determined that the Crown/H mark is Montenegrin? Please don't misunderstand my question as it is not intended as a flame or to start an argument. I have done allot of research on markings from Serbia and Montenegro along with Kevin Carney and would love to add additional markings to our data base once they are confirmed as being attributable to one of the Balkan states.

    The only Montenegrin marking we have been able to positively ID contains the HI monogram as pictured on the Montengrin standard of the period.

    The H in the marking (are you sure it's not a K?)on your Gras may in fact be an abbreviation of the normal HI monogram, but the crown in the cartouche is entirely different in style of that which is depicted in all of the Montenegrin royal standards and emblems (see reference photos below).

    If you can verify the marking as Montenegrin, I would appreciate what ever information you can provide so that we can add it to our data base and include it in our article posted in Tuco's reference section. Thanks for your help with this interesting mark.

    Warmest regards,

    JPS

    All pics are gone, alas!

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    kelt
    Posted - 11/18/2003 : 7:05:28 PM
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    Mumbolia,
    The 1874/80/14 Gras rifle were delivered to 2nd line units, for units away from the front line, not intended for extensive shooting.
    the "14" modification covered only the replacement of the barrel and bands, the receiver and bolt were not replaced.
    the 11mm Gras maximum pressure is 1800 bars while the 8mm lebel is 2800 bars, hence a reduced safety margin on the 1874/80/14, JPS is right light loads only.
    kelt



    Mumbolia
    Posted - 11/18/2003 : 10:30:22 PM
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    John,
    I picked this up at at gun show from a older collection from the Pacific Northwest.The collector (who I don't know), kept extensive notes on each piece and identified this as a Montenegrin mark. I myself can't independently verify this. I Spoke with Kevin Carney on the phone tonite and he has some doubts. I certainly respect yours and Kevin's opinions.

    One thing for sure-this mark along with a rack # (144) was placed on the piece after the conversion as it is much crisper and newer than the older original M1874 Gras cartouches. I'm curious, do any of tour pieces have a mark like this? Can any of the more advanced French collectors help us out and identify this cartouche? Thanks!!!
    Mike Gaddini



    Mumbolia
    Posted - 11/19/2003 : 10:06:47 PM
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    http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/mu...2614_mont6.jpg
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    Here is the same mark behind the upper tang.



    AKMike
    Posted - 11/20/2003 : 12:23:46 AM
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    Mumbolia - I'm still interested, did you receive my E-mail?
    [email protected]



    MikeS
    Posted - 11/20/2003 : 08:29:15 AM
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    Hi Folks - on the Crowned H, I'll check my files, as I'm sure I have something on this. But I believe it is a fairly common French mark. I have it showing up on several Gras and M92 carbines. Seems I recall it was an s stock inspection stamp? - Best Regards, Mike



    JPS
    Posted - 11/20/2003 : 4:25:17 PM
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    Yo Mike, Mike & Company,

    Sorry Mike, but I got tied up with several business related problems and did not have to to review everything before leaving for Texas. I'm in the Denver Airport right now on one of their kiosks. Pretty handy. I will be able to pick this up again the day after Thanksgiving. In the mean time, wish me luck as I have been told that the rut has started and the big bucks are in search of a little "tail".......Whitetail that is! I'll be back in touch on the 28th.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



    MikeS
    Posted - 11/20/2003 : 6:25:18 PM
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    Good Luck John! But there were tow of them i the drive when I pulled in tonight, about an 8 point buck + mate. A little faster and I might've had one for you. Though about 15 miutes later I heard a couple shots in the direction they went, so they may not be back....

    Anyhow, what I really want to know is why that "H" shows up on an unmodified German 1888, with a French carved inscription on the bottom of the wrist??? That's a mystery I haven't figued out yet!!

    - Best Regards! Mike

    http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/Mi..._88French1.jpg
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    MikeS
    Posted - 11/20/2003 : 8:22:48 PM
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    Here is a matching MAS Mle1874M.80 Gras made in 1876, with a variation of the mark. Albeit somewhat abused and difficult to see: a Star over the H. This example also has carved into the stock, "St. 1 1914"

    But I would judge the stamp contemporary with the date of the rifle.

    - Regards, Mike

    http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/Mi...156_Gras_H.jpg
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    "Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves."




    MikeS
    Gunboards.Com Gold Star Member



    USA
    1262 Posts
    Posted - 11/20/2003 : 8:27:26 PM
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    And yes, Mumbolia, that is one beautiful example of a '14!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20031116171223_mont.jpg   20031116171247_mont1.jpg   2003111617136_mont2.jpg   20031116171321_mont3.jpg   20031116171339_monteneg.jpg   2003111922614_mont6.jpg  

    20031120182510_88French1.jpg   20031120202156_Gras_H.jpg  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    2,298

    Mle 1878 M 14

    Guys: I have made this sticky, so it is easy to access the information.

    There seem to be two versions of this rifle, the first uses a Lebel or Berthier Barrel with the usual rear sight base, the second uses a fabricated sheet steel rear sight base. Because of the "oversize" of the second type, the handguard is a little different, ie; The cut out portion for the rear sight is larger, and the wood contour is slightly "fatter" around the sight base. If I have missed any details, please post the additional information.

    The source of most of these in the US is Canada. In the 1920's, there was a Militia in Quebec called the Papal Zouaves. Every parish had a unit, and they used these guns, which were purchased in France as surplus. Today they turn up in Canada, and some make their way to the US. These guns were used ceremonially by the Zouaves, not as a battle rifle, so they tend to be in fairly good condition when they turn up here....

    Dale

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    402

    Default

    If you are interested by this kind of detail : 146 000 have been produced between the end of november 1914 and the end of october 1915. Massively destroid after the defeat of France in 1940.

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