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While the development of the MAS 49 had given France a very utilitarian rifle that could serve as both for both marksmen and grenadiers, it could still be made better. In large part, the change to the 49-56 pattern was motivated by the move to adopt NATO-compatible 22mm rifle grenades. With the new muzzle hardware, several other changes were made. A gas cutoff was added, to prevent wear and tear on the action from grenade use (something that was found to be a real problem on the MAS 49). The gas port was also moved farther down the barrel, and the handguard and barrel were both shortened to make the rifle a bit lighter and handier.
Production began in 1957, and about 175,000 of the rifles were made, seeing as France’s standard front-line infantry rifle until the adoption of the FAMAS in 1979.
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At Forgotten Weapons I think the most interesting guns out there are the most obscure ones. I try to search out experimental and prototype weapons and show you how they work, in addition to more conventional guns that you may not have heard of before. You’re much more likely to find a video on the Cei Rigotti or Webley-Fosbery here than an AR or Glock. So, do you want to learn about something new today? Then stick around!