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The Rarest Chassepot: Rifle for the African Cavalry

“Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles 1866-2016” is in stock and shipping now:

The rarest pattern of factory-made Chassepot is the fusil modèle 1866 pour la cavalerie d’afrique – the Model 1866 rifle for African cavalry. Just 12,000 of these were made by St Etienne in the spring of 1869, as a way to equip the mounted French troops in Algeria with the new needlefire rifle that the rest of the Army had. After some field testing with standard Mle 1866 Chassepot rifles, it was determined that really all they needed was a change in sling position, so that riders could carry the weapon slung diagonally across the back. To do this, a number of changes were made to the rifle. The stock was strengthened, reinforced at the trigger guard, the rear sling swivel moved to the trigger guard, and a wider third barrel band added with the front sling swivel.

After the Mle 1866 cavalry carbine went into production in 1870, the need for these specialized rifles disappeared. No more were made, and as they were worn out they were rebuilt into standard configuration Mle 1866 infantry rifles. Very, very few survive today, and I’m and very excited to have this one to show you!

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