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The Dutch Model 1871/79 Beaumont – from Ethiopia

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The Beaumont was one of the early European breechloading metallic-cartridge rifles, adopted in 1871. The rifle is a combination of elements form the Chassepot, the Mauser-Norris, and a unique V-spring firing pin system invented by John Claes of Liege. The rifle was submitted to Dutch testing by Edouard de Beaumont, and ended up taking his name.

Cloes’ bolt system uses a V-spring set inside the bolt handle itself to power the firing pin spring. This is an interesting system, but many countries were concerned that a V-spring was too fragile for this purpose. It also precluded the production of a bent-bolt carbine version of the Beaumont for cavalry (the Netherlands bought Remington Rolling Black carbines for this purpose).

In total, 31,600 Beaumont rifles were made for the Dutch by a gunmaking consortium in Suhl, 86,000 by J. Stevens in Maastricht, and 29,700 by JFJ Bar in Delft. In 1878 a new cartridge was adopted, and the rifle became the 1871/79. The rear sight was changed to fit the new higher-velocity round, and the bolt-locking safety from the original pattern was removed. In 1888, most of the rifles in Dutch service were further modified to use a 4-round Vitali pattern magazine – single-shot examples are fairly rare today.

This particular example was imported out of Ethiopia, and is in remarkably good condition for that. It has a clear and professionally-applied Lion of Judah stamp right over the barrel date, suggesting that a professional dealer sold a whole batch of Beaumonts to King Menelik of Ethiopia. This may have taken place in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Adwa in 1896, but I cannot confirm that.

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