7.5x54 French. Why?
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Thread: 7.5x54 French. Why?

  1. #1
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    Default 7.5x54 French. Why?

    I'm sure Ian McCollum will have a section on this in his new book, but why did the French ever bother designing the 7.5 cartridge? Both the Belgians and the Swiss had developed similar cartridges forty years prior to the adoption of the 7.5. The Swiss had come out with the GP11 cartridge eighteen years prior, it was nearly identical, and was frankly (no pun intended) superior. The Belgians and the Swiss have cultural ties to France, so there couldn't have been any animosity like with the Germans.

    Was this just another case of national pride and "Not invented here"?
    Searching for information regarding a 1885 Remington Lee Navy rifle with USS Monterey property markings on the comb and WWK inspector's stamp on the receiver sold through Auction Arms sometime around 2001-2002.

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    The 7.5x54 M29 cartridge was the final result of a project idea that started before WW1. The French were looking to replace the aged 8mm Lebel. The war stopped work on the project, which was restarted in 1919. The starting point was possibly experience with both the 8x57 Mauser and the 30-06 Springfield. The result was the 7.5x58 M24 cartridge. At the same time, the French had an enormous supply of German ammo and weapons, which were part of the weapons tests and training. Short story is that early in the development of the M24 LMG some 8x57 Mauser ammo was accidently loaded into a test magazine, resulting in a massive over pressure, case failure, damage to the gun and observers. This was not a singular event, sadly. In the past Fall I posted a photo on this forum of an issued tool that allowed the cartridges to be quickly sorted out, because of this problem. The French were fully committed to new weapons systems already in progress, LMG, rifles, possible semi-autos, so made the logical step to stick with the designs they had, and modify the cartridge. The M29 gives more or less the same performance as the M24, but with shorter case length and a larger body diameter, thereby eliminating possible mistakes in the future. In fact the M29 rim / base diameter is very close to that of the Swiss GP11. so maybe a nod to that cartridge was made. Of course, it is true that like every nation until the advent of NATO, there existed the national pride aspect, everyone wanting they're own designs to prevail. So, yeah some degree of "not invented her" and the practical concern of making new and improved weapons for future wars.

  3. #3
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    Little is known of the work of the French on "modern" ammunition and rifles in the 1890/1910 period to replace the Mle 1886 Lebel cartridge in need of replacement for use in MGs and automatic rifles, everything was kept secret.

    Extensive testing of experimental cartridges from 6mm to 8mm caliber were tested with various length of case, weight of bullet, with a high velocity (800M/s) 6x58 cartridge was developped among others.

    Concurtently a number of automatic rfles design were tested, some being built in small quantities for distribution to the troops such as the A4 Cavalry carbine in 6x58 tested in 1903 by several Cavalry units and well appreciated, The Meunier A1 rifle for the Infantry was tested from 1894 to 1897 and approved for further developpement and adopted in 1912 in caliber 7mm.

    The 7,5x54 cartridge was the result of more than 40 years of experiment rather than copying Foreign design.

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    7,5X54 MAS is really a solid round that is very close to 7,62N before that was adopted. France didn't do it, "just because" as stated in this thread.


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  6. #5
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    The greater question is why did the US Army develop 762 Nato when 7.5 Fr and 7.5 Swiss were in existence and with a proven record of performance. Answer: US Army was asleep at the switch.

  7. #6

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    Since the 7.5 French and Swiss took different bore sizes and bolt faces , none of the existing equipment or parts would work with them . The .308 was just a shortened quick fix as the 30/06 case was too long for the powders and bullets then in use .

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    7.62X51 was just shorten 30-06, same casing dimensions (just shorter), same .308 bullet, fairly easy to convert weapons from the then standard 30-06 to 7.62X51 if needed, for example a chamber insert alone could convert M1 Garand.
    In short not a lot of hassle to switch over.
    Occam's razor, the simplest explanation will be the most plausible

  9. #8
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    The most important decider was NIH...Not Invented Here.
    That led to the multiplicity of cartridges before WWI, with a slight reduction before WWII
    ( the "New Nations" mostly adopted 7.9x57, as this (a) had a proven track record, and (b) both rifles and ammo was readily available.)
    After WWII, with the Cold War,
    It became US and USSR which set the scene. (.30 cal & 7.62N;.

    The French in 1919 startedby assessing all the Allied types of Ammo and Rifles...esp. M1917, .30 cal, etc. And eventually came up with the M24/29 cartridge and the MAS36 rifle...

    Doc AV
    7,62x54R and 7.62x39)

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    Doc nails it .

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    no matter what they developed for long arms none of them ever had a safety installed, why??

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    Quote Originally Posted by DocAV View Post
    The most important decider was NIH...Not Invented Here.
    That led to the multiplicity of cartridges before WWI, with a slight reduction before WWII
    ( the "New Nations" mostly adopted 7.9x57, as this (a) had a proven track record, and (b) both rifles and ammo was readily available.)
    After WWII, with the Cold War,
    It became US and USSR which set the scene. (.30 cal & 7.62N;.

    The French in 1919 startedby assessing all the Allied types of Ammo and Rifles...esp. M1917, .30 cal, etc. And eventually came up with the M24/29 cartridge and the MAS36 rifle...

    Doc AV
    7,62x54R and 7.62x39)
    Of course Doc nails it but having read a decent bit and watched more on French firearms I have come to the conclusion that NIH (Not Invented Here) is almost a check mark on French weapon testing lists that will be a detriment to that item being adopted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toot View Post
    no matter what they developed for long arms none of them ever had a safety installed, why??
    Because you're either shooting or it's unloaded/empty chamber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toot View Post
    no matter what they developed for long arms none of them ever had a safety installed, why??
    Why is there no safety on French Bolt Action Guns ? so here is some of the reasons to the question ....

    The French military theory of why no safety was used was based upon the Volley Fire theory, which basically states that the soldier loaded and fired his weapon to the commands of the officers as a single group instead of individually. Basically the soldier was to load his magazine prior to engaging the enemy, closing the bolt over the top of the top cartridge, once engaged in combat he would then chamber the top cartridge round immediately upon continue reloading and firing it until the end of the action. Once all firing ceased the chamber was cleared of any rounds and then the magazines were replenished. The French soldier was taught by very strict instruction you cycle the bolt back and forth twice once the last round was fired and each and every time you did this you looked into the chamber to see if any cartridges are in the chamber. If any cartridges are in the chamber doing this he was severely punished for it.
    The French also believed that a safety was useless on military rifles as the soldier with wet, dirty, etc. hands could possibly have a hard time taking the safety off and thus getting himself killed while trying to do so.

    Patrick
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    Banzai Special Project No. 1, The Siamese Mauser, A Study Of Siamese / Thai Type 45 & Type 46 Long Rifles and Type 47 Carbines, Including An Overview Of Siamese/Thai Weapons 1860–2014


  15. #14
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    Patrick,

    The Noncom and Officer Manuals for handling loaded rifles were good to teach rercruits in Peacetime only.

    Seasoned French soldiers knew how to handle safely their Lebel and Berthier fully loaded, as safety, the design of the bolt allow to close over a loaded Cartridge with the firing pin inactive, to be armed by a quick flick of the handle.

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    To the original question, 7.5x54, why?
    Do you realize the US Army is planning to deploy a NEW (not existing) 6.8 mm cartridge.
    Human nature seems to drive toward continuously believing we can do it better given another chance.

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    Great answer Doc. I am sure this thread will stir up alot of opinions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CopperniX View Post
    Of course Doc nails it but having read a decent bit and watched more on French firearms I have come to the conclusion that NIH (Not Invented Here) is almost a check mark on French weapon testing lists that will be a detriment to that item being adopted.
    M14 trials anyone?
    Last edited by raubvogel; 07-01-2020 at 12:09 PM.

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    Honestly, a close copy of the 7.5 Swiss or not...the 7.5X54 was ahead ahead of the game in the 1920’s.


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  20. #19
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    How about the switch from a rimmed to a rimless case which is generally more efficient, especially in fully automatic weapons.

  21. #20
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    Do not forget the numerous trials of various rimless ammunitions from 6mm to 8mm made and tried in France since the 1890s to work in prototype semi auto rifles.

    The 7,5 ammunition was designed based on solid local expertise.

  22. #21

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    The French have always pursued independence when in came to weapons production. The reason is quite simple: If you are dependent on another country for weapons they have an undue influence upon you. They have always been prickly about foreign policy independence as demonstrated by their withdrawal from NATO. Not good or bad, just a different way to run their country.
    Turning relics into near-relics since 2005.

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    My French mas 36 bolt action rifle has a safety on the upper left side in the rear of the receiver.
    The aliens are here already are you going to save our planet?

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    IIRC some MAS M1936s had safeties added by importers-the ones converted to 308 perhaps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sigshr View Post
    IIRC some MAS M1936s had safeties added by importers-the ones converted to 308 perhaps.
    It’s a century ufixem mas 308, the headspace is bad. Some day I’ll fix it.
    The aliens are here already are you going to save our planet?

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    More NIH fun:

    Matters took a turn for the worse when (Col) Rene Studler (head of the US Small Arms Bureau of Ordnance) went on record, stating that, any non-American design was "a waste of time" and refused point blank to accept any "foreign" design.[4] It was learned that Studler had gone so far as to bury reports that suggested the .280 was superior in US testing.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.280_British#Selection_of_7.62_NATO.

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