Lebel rifles .... where are they?
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Thread: Lebel rifles .... where are they?

  1. #1
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    Default Lebel rifles .... where are they?

    Am I missing anything?... The other day I went on a couple sites and I couldn't find a lebel anywhere...tried again today ... Zero .... I have a couple... But I always like to Browse the scenery .... Any thoughts?
    Never get off the tank... Unless you send your driver to catch pogies... Says I ... Delta six actual

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    All French rifles seem to be very hot right now. I constantly watch French firearms auctions on GunBroker and Auction Arms and haven't seen many Lebels. I sold one at the Baltimore, MD show 2 1/2 years ago for $550. Now it seems they are minimum $1,000. With ammo being $1.00+ per round I can't imagine many people shooting them too often.

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    I've found that Lebels are always more rare than Berthiers. IIRC about the same number made but the lebels had 10-20 years more attrition, including a 5 year war.
    Turning relics into near-relics since 2005.

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    Maybe people who own a LEBEL rifle no longer want to part with it?
    This weapon is a remarkable work of arquebuserie as it was not done any more afterwards.
    The cost of ammunition actually has nothing to do with the 22 LR but the recoil soon reminds you that each shot is savored "in moderation" ...

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    that is why us who shoot them on a regular basis ROLL OUR OWN and shoot cast bullets in them for pennies on the dollar. and there is no shortage of brass. years ago when there was none we made them out of 348 brass. and I am still shooting them years later. in both LABELS & Berthiers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Runningmule View Post
    All French rifles seem to be very hot right now. I constantly watch French firearms auctions on GunBroker and Auction Arms and haven't seen many Lebels. I sold one at the Baltimore, MD show 2 1/2 years ago for $550. Now it seems they are minimum $1,000. With ammo being $1.00+ per round I can't imagine many people shooting them too often.
    Thanks Ian.


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    I saw one in a local shop a few weeks ago. I like to be able to shoot the guns I have and this guy didn’t look in good shape...so I didn’t get it.


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    This is totally an internet driven phenomenon. 10 years ago, maybe even less, you couldn't give away a French rifle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard in NY* View Post
    Thanks Ian.


    Richard you crack me up!


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    Quote Originally Posted by famas44 View Post
    Richard you crack me up!


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    My pleasure!
    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

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    Default Lebel rifles .... where are they?

    However, I went to an antique shop and there was an 1886/93 for sale. Price tags was $3000. I asked the owner if it was a mistake...$300 and the owner told me “his grandfather “carried it” in WW2 against the Japanese and it has a lot of value.” He mentioned he was in the air force too. So, sometimes these is just stupidity like that...

    When I heard the story I was polite and didn’t laugh and said thank you. The historical errors plus the price was too much to handle.


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  13. #12
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    One aspect of the Lebel is that you can almost always be sure that it was carried and used in battle sometime, somewhere. Pristine, matching examples are rarer with the Lebel (in my opinion) than with almost any other high production bolt action military rifle, and the fact that just about all surviving examples show a mixture of numbers and arsenals in their parts declares their history. And they still can work and shoot well surprisingly despite their mixed up condition...

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    Mine even has a 1938 dated new barrel - drat.

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    I think the WW1 centenary had a big part in the jump in Lebel prices. They were going up before I was really talking about them...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigwagon View Post
    This is totally an internet driven phenomenon. 10 years ago, maybe even less, you couldn't give away a French rifle.
    It is the situation of fifteen years ago that was totally abnormal ...


    In the meantime, while everyone was rushing on the sparrows on wheels, I was buying French.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PEPITO View Post
    It is the situation of fifteen years ago that was totally abnormal ...


    In the meantime, while everyone was rushing on the sparrows on wheels, I was buying French.
    I am not a huge gun show goer, but generally support more local smaller shows though have been to some fair sized ones.
    I NEVER saw Lebels for sale until I got one from Century Arms in late 1980s/early 1990s. It didn't seem like they had them long before they disappeared.
    Berthiers were a bit more common but never too common in my experience. MAS 36s probably less common than the Berthiers.
    With all the late 80s/early 90s imports, it seemed to me that the French ones dried up first, especially Lebels. I was danged glad to get the one I had, and with a lot of bringbacks, if you snooze you lose. (That IS admittedly somewhat of a crap shoot, but I still think a general rule of thumb is if you see something you want at a price you can live with, don't wait too long to jump on it.)
    It's also true that French rifles weren't that popular among surplus bargain hunters of the 60s and 70s probably because the ammo was hard to get, and lack of safeties were a big turnoff to lots of US shooters. Plus they were typically fairly long and heavy, and if NOT long and heavy (like Berthier carbines) if you HAD military ammo I think they had reputation of kicking like mules.
    Compared to generic "types" like Mausers, Moisins, Carcanos, etc., the Berthiers and Lebel and MAS actions were never among the more widely produced military actions, though certainly not rare per se. (Though I've yet to see a French Kropatschek on the loose, which is MUCH less common, and I suspect if I do, I won't be willing to pay the toll to get it.) Plus French rifles didn't have pretty "crests" like probably motivated a LOT of Mauser collectors. Once a standard type was adopted by France, there weren't as many mechanical variations that are seen with the Mauser generations either.
    One can laugh at internet prices if one wants, but I believe for a lot of shoppers, the internet is the only place to find a lot of this stuff and I believe the stuff really IS selling on the net for fairly big dollars. I suspect there would still be many thousands of Moisins and SKSes out there if US relaxed import laws (not likely) but I DON'T believe that is likely true with French stuff either.

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    When battlefield 1 came out in 2016 for PlayStation and Xbox, this was the deciding driver for a lot of milsurp buying. That game drove the sale and prices of thousands of ww1 military artifacts including all rifles from all combatants.. you had people my age mid 30s wanting to buy and shoot the real thing so we did and now you can’t find any or most of these rifles for a decent price anymore. Check the correlation between battlefield 1 and it’s future content and forgotten weapons videos with Ian .. he knows .. it was unreal to watch in real-time when the game launched and when people searched YouTube for the history of these rifles and found out how readily available it was to find them.

    You all can thank electronic arts for not being able to find anything anymore and reasonable prices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ForgottenWeapons View Post
    I think the WW1 centenary had a big part in the jump in Lebel prices. They were going up before I was really talking about them...
    I think that with the Lebel, there were never really all that many here in the U.S. to begin with. Guys coming back from France after the Armistice could pick up German rifles without much trouble, if they wanted a war souvenir, because those were enemy weapons. A Lebel, however, was the current service weapon of an allied power. The French still had plans for them, and American soldiers weren't free to just wander off with one. I suppose some might have come back after WW2 - one of my uncles was in the 8th Air Force and shipped home a Gras, of all things - but there too I imagine most guys went for the German stuff.

    To the extent the Berthier is more common here in the States, I suspect that is at least partly a reflection of the supply of Remingtons that never made it to France.
    Last edited by Jungles; 07-03-2020 at 08:49 PM.

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    I bought my first Lebel in 2014 for under $200 sold it to fix my truck a few years later, and regretted that decision. Ended up buying my next Lebel early winter of 2020 at auction for under $900. All matching and it was reworked in 1919 but the condition is great, one of my favorite shooters. And that one is not leaving my collection this time! I'll be honest I fell in love with the lebel not only because of the ties to WW1 and because it was the first smokeless bolt action repeater. But I had a thing for that rifle because of the 1999 Mummy and 1998 Legionnaire films when I was a kid. And I agree Jungles I have been to many shows over the years and have never found many Lebels for sale. I think the biggest jump in price for these fine rifles is that PPU loads modern reloadable ammo nowadays. Before we had to use military surplus ammo and most of time that ammo didn't fire or had some very long hang fires when it did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warrior1354 View Post
    I think the biggest jump in price for these fine rifles is that PPU loads modern reloadable ammo nowadays. Before we had to use military surplus ammo and most of time that ammo didn't fire or had some very long hang fires when it did.
    ...could be a good explanation too !
    ...combined with the WW1 centenary, "forgotten weapons", attrition, a real ability to shoot with precision and a powerfull sex appeal caused by its terribly old-fashioned appearance !
    That's a lot of factors that add up to explain a rise in prices

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    Well, Afghanistan has been a great source of Lebels in the mid 2000s. Not always in mint condition, sometimes with fake markings. As long as merchants have this kind of source, prices remain low.
    In France, the Lebel has always been considered desirable. And between 2005 and 2012, you could not find one.
    But just before the relaxing of the regulations in 2012 (or was it in 2013?) batches suddenly popped up in original caliber (the very very few you could find before were most of the time re-chambered in 8-348). You could buy one for 800 Euros. Less than a month later, with the new regulation, making it an antic, the prices have risen up to 1200 Euros. A year later, 1400. Even those in 8-348 have reached 1000 Euros.
    Of course you could buy the cheaper "barn discoveries", hidden from the authorities for decades, but often badly pitted (hence the price).
    They were relatively expansive, but still relatively easy to find. Probably bought outside France, where this model was still cheaper. The French merchants could buy and import them, but still make money.
    Now the market in France has dried up. Once again.
    As long as a model is entirely in the hands of collectors, prices tend to rise up very quickly. Among car collectors, it is called a "mature market". It means the model is hard to find and probably not at a reasonable price.
    Last edited by Alamas; 07-07-2020 at 11:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by USMC 3/3 View Post
    When battlefield 1 came out in 2016 for PlayStation and Xbox, this was the deciding driver for a lot of milsurp buying. That game drove the sale and prices of thousands of ww1 military artifacts including all rifles from all combatants.. you had people my age mid 30s wanting to buy and shoot the real thing so we did and now you can’t find any or most of these rifles for a decent price anymore. Check the correlation between battlefield 1 and it’s future content and forgotten weapons videos with Ian .. he knows .. it was unreal to watch in real-time when the game launched and when people searched YouTube for the history of these rifles and found out how readily available it was to find them.

    You all can thank electronic arts for not being able to find anything anymore and reasonable prices.
    Sounds a bit like corsetry promoting the drive for female fitness. Well, maybe... Either could have made people think "There has to be better way..."

    I think the main factor is the popularity of the Lebel in its own country. France, despite the fine performance of the Resistance and mainly rearmed Free French, is not nostalgic about WW2 or the mid-20th Century decolonialsation. Do the board rules allow me to say that the MAS 36, while it works well, is not lovable? I don't think any nation, and least of all a non-predatory one, has performed better in a major war than France in WW1, but it is still seen as a time of national catastrophe.

    But the Lebel was the infantry rifle of France in decades of astonishing achievement, of which most of the English-speaking world knows very little. Bastié and Casanova called their book on the 1873 revolver "Le bâtisseur d'empires", but you don't build empires with pistols.

    So a large number of Lebels remain in France. There are plenty of them on www.naturabuy.fr, but prices, as is often the case with evocative firearms in their own country, are even higher there. If African and Southeast Asian countries are uncovering stocks of Lebels, as I don't doubt some have done, France would be the logical place to send them.

    PC Wren, author of "Beau Geste", tells us that France sold a very large number of Gras rifles to the Sultanate of Oman, which was never a populous place. Most of them found their way through Persia to the Northwest Frontier. I've also seen a lot of them in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait - and only one Lebel, but some of them may have taken the Omani route.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alamas View Post
    In France, the Lebel has always been considered desirable. And between 2005 and 2012, you could not find one.
    Good analysis Arnaud !
    However, I remember the period before 2005 when nobody wanted to buy a LEBEL in it's original caliber because at this time you needed the same prefectoral authorisation as for an automatic pistol or a semi-auto rifle...
    ...authorization to renew every three years with lots of supporting documents and a lot of red tape.
    At that time the number of these authorizations was limited to seven per person, so a blunderbuss like the LEBEL did not have priority over the Colt 1911, P08, P38, C96, GARAND or MAS 49/56
    But it is true that we saw very few among merchants because it was typically the kind of weapon that we did not declare and which remained on a cupboard or in an attic ...... there were therefore a certain number, but not in the commercial circuit.

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    I know of a prefecture where if a genuine ancient resistant, of whom there were still a lot around at the time, was accidentally found to be still in possession of his sten gun, he was told what a fortunate thing it was that he had decided to voluntarily hand it in. I don't know if you could have counted on that everywhere or all the time, though. Statistical nirvana, for any police force, is a crime that doesn't exist until you have a perpetrator.
    Last edited by Caledonian; 07-08-2020 at 01:41 PM.

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    There's a guy in CA that has enough of em to make a deck out of. They've had a cult following for years, but like every other surplus drying out, demand has outpaced supply. I felt lucky to get mine out of a consignment at a retail store for around 500, a similar rifle went for over 1k at auction, even the Berthiers and Lebel carbines are going for stupidly high prices.

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    The Lebel was never a common rifle in the States to begin with, and the surplus market is experiencing a lull due to current events. Everyone's buying modern, so those considering selling surplus are having second thoughts. Not that surplus is dead, but whatever was rare before is practically absent now.

    Don't worry. Like MacArthur to the Philippines, they shall return.
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    I remember the adds in gun magazines French rifles where going for $9.00. Of course that was the early 1960's. 8mm Lebel ammo was sold on machine gun stripper clips for little to nothing. Those pre 1968 days were the hey day for gun buyers.

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    I can tell you this my 1886 Lebel is not going anywhere anything soon and I'm a huge Gew98 collector too! But there is just something about the lebel you just can't help but love. As for shooting I just buy 200 round lots at a time from a big ammunition buyer that sells to me. I then send my spent brass to a friend who uses it for his Hotchkiss machine gun. That he wants me to shoot with him this fall! That is the great thing about the community with this hobby we help each other out in the end.

  30. #29
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    Hello Gents,

    I have eight of them, all of which were acquired in the late 80s and 90s. Three of them were purchased at Arms Fairs in Belgium while I was working in Europe.

    One of the group is a mismatched post WWI marked example that I shoot, while the rest remain in the rack. I've been rolling my own since 1972, so in the early 90s, I purchased 1,000 .348 Win cases at the Great Western Gun Show in Pomona, which was also where I purchased several of the rifles.

    My favorite out of the crowd is this matching, 1888 dated example, that was a German capture and reissue during the Great War. It's unit marked to a German Landsturm Railway unit.

    They've never been around in large numbers during the time in which I have actively collected, so I used to buy them whenever I came across a decent example. They are beautifully manufactured classic firearms with a storied History that have "been there and done that!"

    What's not to love?

    Warmest regards,

    JPS


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  31. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPS View Post
    My favorite out of the crowd is this matching, 1888 dated example, that was a German capture and reissue during the Great War. It's unit marked to a German Landsturm Railway unit.

    They've never been around in large numbers during the time in which I have actively collected, so I used to buy them whenever I came across a decent example. They are beautifully manufactured classic firearms with a storied History that have "been there and done that!"

    What's not to love?
    Hi John,


    With such a vibrant and lyrical tribute, you will further drive up prices! Ha ha!

  32. #31
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    There were some us back in the day buying these rifles as no one wanted them, leap forward to 2014 the 100th Anniversary of The Great War took place and everyone wanted to get one and with all things, prices had gone up on these and others.
    I have people ask me to sell some of mine in my collection and my response has been, you send me $1,000,000.00 cash and you can have one, basically I am telling them, not for sale.
    All I can say is keep looking at various places for them for sale, you never know when you will find one for a decent price, there are still bargains to be found out there.

    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


  33. #32
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    Id sure been lookin for a 1886 lebel longrifle..Havent seen many... Prob back in 87-88..Had a fine example. 86 Lebel R35 Carbine. A gentlemen in Colorado. person to person...an i only paid 25.00 For it, Heck of a Bargain..fella just didnt appreciate french rifles..Swastikas waffenampts all over it.Most black paint still on it. ..Shot beautifully.. .Id .Been a bit more Knowledgable about what i had Then..would have kept it...not traded. My loss. An just to be clear i questioned. in disbelief....All state an federal laws applied....He just had a krag -Jorgeson habit. I suppose there out there! Nice examples im seein on this page...Great information someone learnin..thanks...
    Last edited by George68; 07-09-2020 at 10:34 PM.

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