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Adventures in Surplus: Early Battle-Worn Berthier 1907-15

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Today we are taking a look at a really interesting Mle 1907-15 Berthier rifle. This was the substitute pattern adopted by France as an infantry rifle to supplement the Lebel in 1915, and this particular one is one of the very first examples made. It has a carbine-style bent bolt handle, which was used only for the first few months of production, and retains a legible military acceptance stamp dated September 1915.

This rifle was damaged in combat soon after being issued, and was repaired with a new bolt. That bolt was also an early bent-handle type, and it was renumbered for match the rifle. The gun went back into combat, and this time was captured in the field by German forces. It was overhauled by a German depot, had its bayonet guide lugs removed to fit a German bayonet adapter (now missing, alas), and the stock was stamped “Deutsches Reich” on the stock.

At the end of the war it ended up in the hands of an American solder, and was brought back to the US as a souvenir. Whether it was recaptured by the French and traded from a French soldier, or taken directly from a German prisoner or depot, who have no way of knowing…

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