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The French MAS 36 is a bolt action rifle that is chambered in the 7.5 x .54 French cartridge. It was manufactured by MAS which is an abbreviation of Manufacture d'Armes St. Etienne which is one of several government owned arms factories in France. The MAS 36 incorporates a 5 round fixed magazine with a removable floorplate. The locking lugs for the bolt are found at the rear rather then the front of the bolt resulting in a distinctive looking forward cant of the bolt handle.

Often seen on French rifles of this period, the MAS 36 has no safety. It was normally carried with a loaded magazine and empty chamber. Although the rifle's firing mechanism could be blocked by simply raising the bolt handle.  

The MAS 36 was adopted in 1936 and was supposed to replace both the Berthier and Lebel series of military service rifles. But due to budget constraints, the MAS 36 served right along with the former rifles in many French army and colonial units. During World War II, the MAS 36 was often given to just the front line units, with other troops and reservists receiving the elderly Berthier or Lebel rifles. When the Germans occupied France, they captured a number of MAS 36 rifles and gave the rifle the designation Gewehr 242(f).

The MAS-36 was used during the French counterinsurgency operations in the First Indochina War and the Algerian War of Independence, as well as in the Suez Crisis. During the Suez Crisis, it is said that the French paratroop marksmen of the 2ème RPC (Regiment Parachutist Colonial) added a scope to the MAS-36 rifles to eliminate the enemy snipers. 

Serving with indigenous colonial units, the MAS 36 remained in service into the early 1960s. Although in 1949 France did adopt the MAS 49 as their official military rifle. A version of the MAS 36 lives on to this day in the sniper rifle Fusil Model F1 which is chambered in the 7.62 x 51mm NATO round.

  

  

  

The photograph on the left is of the left side of the receiver on this MAS 36. The picture on the right is of the rear of the stock. Here we can see the metal buttplate and how a sling is attached to this rifle for carry out in the field.

The photograph on the left is of the right side of the receiver. Here we can see the forward cant of the bolt handle that was discussed above. The picture on the right is of the top of the barrel and spike bayonet. The bayonet is reversed in the tube below the barrel. To use this bayonet, the soldier would pull it out, turned it around, and then plugged it back into the receptacle where it was removed.

  

  

The photograph on the left is of the top of the receiver. The picture on the right is of the bottom of the rifle and in it we can see the magazine floorplate and trigger guard.  

  

  

Resource:

Proud Promise French Autoloading rifles 1898-1979 by Jean Huon

Handbook of military rifle marks 1866-1950 by Richard Hoffman & Noel Schott

The standard directory of proof marks by Gerhard Wirnsberger

Official guide to gunmarks by Robert Balderson   

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