MAS-36 rifle

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MAS Modèle 36.jpg
MAS-36 rifle produced post World War II. From the Swedish Army Museum.
Type Bolt-action rifle
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1936–1978
Used by See Users
Wars World War II
Algerian War
First Indochina War
Suez Crisis
1958 Lebanon Crisis
Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War
Laotian Civil War
Nigerian Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
Syrian Civil War[1][2]
Production history
Designed 1927-1936
Manufacturer Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne
Produced 1937–1952
No. built 1,100,000
Weight 3.72 kg (8.2 lb) unloaded
Length 1,020 mm (40.16 in)
Barrel length 575 mm (22.64 in)

Cartridge 7.5×54mm French
Action Bolt action
Muzzle velocity 850 m/s (2,789 ft/s)
Effective firing range 400 m (440 yd) with iron sights
Feed system 5-round stripper clip, internal magazine
Sights Iron sights

The MAS Modèle 36, also known as the Fusil à répétition 7 mm 5 M. 36[3], is a military bolt-action rifle. First adopted in 1936 by France and intended to replace the Berthier and Lebel series of service rifles, it saw service long past the World War II period. It was manufactured from late 1937 onward by Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS), one of several government-owned arms factories in France. Only 250,000 MAS-36 rifles were available to equip the French infantry during the Battle of France in 1940. Mass production finally caught up after World War II and MAS-36 rifles became widely used in service during the First Indochina War, the Algerian War and the Suez Crisis. Altogether, about 1.1 million MAS-36 rifles had been manufactured when production ceased in 1952.


Pre World War II produced MAS-36

The MAS-36 is a short, carbine-style rifle with a two-piece stock and slab-sided receiver. It is chambered for the modern, rimless 7.5×54mm French cartridge, a shortened version of the 7.5×57mm MAS mod. 1924 cartridge that had been introduced in 1924 (then modified in 1929), for France's FM 24/29 light machine gun. The rifle was developed based on French experience in World War I and combines various features of other rifles used, like the British SMLE rifle (two rear locking lugs resistant to dirt and easy to clean), British P14/U.S. M1917 Enfield rifle ('dog leg' shaped bolt handle that places the bolt knob at a favorable ergonomic position in relation to the trigger and peep sight), and the German Gewehr 98 (claw extractor, five-round box magazine which stored 5 rounds in a staggered column and fed by 5-round stripper clips), to produce an "ugly, roughly made, but immensely strong and reliable" service rifle.[4]

There are just five user removable parts:

  1. the bolt body;
  2. the bolt rear cap;
  3. the firing pin;
  4. the spring of the firing pin;
  5. A Lebel-type cruciform bayonet is inserted into a guard tube under the barrel. To fix it, it is taken out by the stopper and it is turned by snap-fastening the stopper in the tube.

The MAS-36 bolt handle was bent forward in an "awkward fashion" to bring it into a convenient position for the soldier's hand, some of which found today have since been bent backwards into a facing-downwards position like that of many other bolt-action rifles.[5] The MAS-36 had a relatively short barrel and was fitted with large aperture (rear) and post (front) sights designed for typical combat ranges. Typical for French rifles of the period, the MAS-36 had no manual safety.[6]

The rifle was designed with a iron sight line consisting of a rear a tangent-type aperture sight element that was calibrated for 7.5×54mm French mle1929 C ammunition for 100–1,200 m (109–1,312 yd) in 100 metres (109 yd) increments. The original front sighting element was milled and consisted of a front post that was protected by two open 'ears'. There were 25 rear aperture elements available for the sight line to optimize it horizontally and laterally in 2.32 MOA increments during assembly at the arsenal. These arsenal mounted rear aperture elements shifted to point of aim 13.5 or 27 cm (5.3 or 10.6 in) left or right or up or down at a range of 200 metres (219 yd). It is worth noting that the front stock fittings are a major component of setting the sights on a MAS-36. To discourage disassembling the front stock non-standard screws with a spanner head were used on the barrel band and nose caps. Only armorers were issued with the appropriate screw drivers to remove the front stock. If removed the front stock will probably face quite a bit of trial and error in getting the screws set back to their exact positions again.

The metal parts of the rifle were black baked in an oven.

It was normally carried with a loaded magazine and empty chamber until the soldier was engaged in combat, though the rifle's firing mechanism could be blocked by raising the bolt handle. The MAS-36 carried a 17-inch spike bayonet, reversed in a tube below the barrel. To use the bayonet, a spring plunger was pressed to release the bayonet. It was then free to be pulled out, turned around, and fitted back into its receptacle. Like the Lebel model 1886 rifle, the MAS-36 featured a stacking hook offset to the right side of the barrel for standing a number of the rifles (usually a trio) upwards.

Further development[edit]

Post World War II produced rifles feature production simplifications like stamped nose caps with a hooded front sight element, stamped magazine floor plates, a stamped front sling attachment featuring a ring, a protective measure to prevent dirt ingress in the trigger area and a side mounted cam track and button to dial and lock the selected firing range on the rear sight element. The hooded front sight element reduced glare under unfavorable light conditions and added extra protection for the post. The bolt of post World War II produced rifles can not be closed in an empty chamber, indicating the rifle needs to be reloaded. Later post war batches feature phosphating/Parkerizing introduced as a more effective metal surface treatment against rust. The "second model" is the most produced version with its derivative, the MAS 36/51.


The MAS-36 was intended as an economical simple bolt action rifle to serve with rear echelon, colonial and reserve troops alongside and meant to share machining and pave the way for a new standard semi-automatic rifle before the next big conflict. The first French semi-automatic rifle evolved from the prototype MAS-38/39. A limited number of MAS-40 semi-automatic rifles entered trail service in March 1940. The Battle of France and following German occupation of France prevented large scale introduction of semi-automatic service rifles amongst French front line troops. During the 1950s the French military adopted the semi-automatic MAS-49 rifle as their standard service rifle.

Though intended to replace the Lebel Model 1886 and Berthier rifles as well as Berthier carbines, budget constraints limited MAS-36 production, and it served along with the former rifles in many French army and colonial units. During World War II, the MAS-36 was used alongside the Lebel 1886 and Berthiers during the Battle of France. After the Battle of France, the Germans took over a large number of MAS-36s, which were given the designation Gewehr 242(f) and put into service with their own garrison units based in occupied France and later the Volkssturm.[6]

Postwar usage[edit]

The MAS-36 was extensively used by French Army and colonial defense forces during France's postwar counter-insurgency operations in the First Indochina War and the Algerian War, as well as in the Suez Crisis. During the Suez Crisis, French paratroop marksmen of the 2ème RPC (Régiment de Parachutistes Coloniaux), employed telescope-sighted MAS-36 rifles to eliminate enemy snipers.[7] The MAS-36 remained in service into the early 1960s as an infantry rifle, often serving with indigenous colonial units. It was officially a substitute-standard rifle after France adopted the semi-automatic MAS-49 rifle series in 1949, though its bolt design lives on in a dedicated sniper version of the rifle, the FR F1 (now chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO) and its successor the FR F2 sniper rifle.

Gabon and Côte d'Ivoire continued to use the MAS-36 post independence; In 1968 and 1969 they supplied Biafra with MAS-36 rifles during the Nigerian Civil War. Haiti presented Biafra with 300 rifles as a gift late in the conflict.[8]

After the war, civilian hunting rifle versions were made by MAS and by the gunsmith Jean Fournier. These half-stocked rifles were chambered for the 7×54mm Fournier (common, 7.5x54mm necked down to 7mm), 7×57mm Mauser (very rare), 8×60mm S (less common), and 10.75×68mm (rare). Hunting rifles in the two latter calibers had integral muzzle brakes. Also imported into the United States were a few military surplus MAS-36 rifles, converted to 7.62×51mm NATO from 7.5×54mm. These rifles were modified to chamber the NATO round and also had an SKS type trigger safety fitted to them.


MAS 36 CR39[edit]

A folding-stock carbine variant of the MAS 36 equipped with a novel underfolding hollow aluminum stock designed for use by specialist Airborne and Alpine forces (The CR stands for Crosse Repliable or "folding Stock"). The hollow stock was equipped with a spring-loaded sling retractor (similar in function to a retractable dog leash) which allowed rifle's sling to be rolled into the stock, safely stowing it for airborne operations but allowing quick deployment in conjunction with the stock once the operator was on the ground. It was also equipped with a 450mm (17.7") barrel, 125mm (5") shorter than the standard MAS 36's 575mm (22.6") barrel, and a shortened 290mm (11.4") bayonet. This allowed for an overall folded length of 625mm (24.6") and deployed length of 883mm (34.75") vs the 1020mm (40 1/8") overall length of the standard MAS 36. The MAS 36 CR39, at 3.745kg (8.26 lbs) empty, actually weighed slightly more than the standard MAS 36's 3.72kg (8.2 lbs) due to the metal stock. For airborne operations, French paratroopers rigged the MAS 36 CR39 horizontally and exposed underneath their front mounted reserve parachute. The MAS 36 CR39 saw their first use by French Chasseurs Alpins at Narvik. They went on to be used in Indochina and Algeria by French Paratroopers. The gun was not well liked by either the Paratroopers or the Chasseurs Alpins due to the unpleasant nature of the powerful cartridge's recoil with the metal stock. When available, these troops generally preferred the use of the less powerful but semi-automatic and lower recoiling US M1 Carbine. The MAS 36 CR 39 continued to see use as an aircrew survival kit weapon into the 1990's.

MAS 36 LG48[edit]

An MAS 36 equipped with a strengthened barrel and 48 mm rifle grenade launcher used in the First Indochina War.

MAS 36/51[edit]

An MAS 36 equipped with a with a strengthened barrel and 22 mm NATO standard rifle grenade launcher.

MAS 36 TR[edit]

.22LR training model (full name: "MAS 36 calibre 5,5 de tir réduit (TR)") produced in small numbers starting in 1942 for the Vichy Government's "Armistice Army." Necessitated the use of 7.5MM subcaliber shell holders (cartouches-relais).


.22LR training model used by the Fédération des Unions et Sociétés de Tir d'Afrique du Nord (FUSTAN) which was a target shooting organization of the French North African Army during the French Algerian period. It was a single shot, heavy barrel model with adjustable aperture sights. It did not require the sub-caliber shell holder of the MAS 36TR. Adopted as an alternative to the MAS45 (French made Mauser-Werke Patrone .22LR) and the MAS 36TR (which required sub-caliber shell holders). Less than 200 were made.

MAS 47[edit]

MAS 36 based target rifle chambered in 8x50R (8MM Lebel) adopted by the Armée de Terre as its official military marksmanship competition rifle in 1947. Produced in extremely limited numbers (~50 made) between 1947-1949 by the MAS state armory. The MAS 47 was equipped with a 727mm (28.6") barrel, had an overall length of 1200mm (47.2"), and weighed 4.9kg (10.8lbs) empty. It had an internal single round (sled type) magazine. It was equipped with a flip-up, micrometer-adjustable aperture rear sight and a hooded front post with a heavily stippled glare-reducing ramp. It's long barrel allowed for an excellent 810mm (31.9") sight radius. It was also the first use of the simple trigger-blocking safety later adopted in the FR-F1 and FR-F2 sniper rifles.


MAS 36 based sniper rifle incorporating some MAS 47 features (notably, it's safety) with detachable magazine, originally in 7.5mm French, and later in 7.62 NATO and produced by the MAS state armory. Adopted by the Armée de Terre in 1966, the FR-F1 was the result of a 1964 French Army HQ initiative to produce an official marksman rifle for French military snipers and designated marksmen to replace the various scoped MAS 36 and MAS 49/56 rifles in use at the time. After consulting with military sniper sections, sport shooters, and the French Shooting Federation, an experimental FR-P was developed which went on to become adopted as the FR-F1. It was the first sniper rifle officially designated as such by the French military. To make the FR-F1, MAS took the original MAS 36 action design and strengthened and stiffened the receiver, reducing accuracy inhibiting flex. Receiver wall thickness was increased and the left side of the ejection opening was closed off, creating a magazine-fed, right-side ejection port design instead of the original open-topped, stripper-clip fed MAS 36 design. The bolts themselves were purpose-built for the FR-F1, but are interchangeable with standard MAS 36 bolts. The rifle utilizes a steel 10 round detachable box magazine with a somewhat unique shock and sound-absorbing rubber floorplate cover. It has a free-floated, 4 groove right-hand twist 552mm (21.7") barrel equipped with a relatively long muzzle device intended to function as both a flash hider and a harmonic dampener. Barrel lengths of 600mm (23.6") and 650mm (25.6") are also reported. It has a purpose built wooden stock with a pistol grip, a raised cheek rest, and a rubber butt pad with removable spacer adjustments for length of pull. The stock free floats the barrel and has an integral telescoping bi-pod which collapses forward and up. The bi-pod is mid-mounted by design in an effort to reduce fatigue on the shooter during long periods of scanning. The FR-F1 retains backup iron sights, but is primarily equipped with a scope. Originally, this scope was the 3.85X power magnification APX L806 made by Ateliers de PuteauX (APX) with a German no 4 reticle and capped adjustment turrets. Version A of the rifle uses the APX L806 optic and is equipped with a trigger pull weight of 2-2.5kg (4.4-5.5lb). Version B is a target rifle model equipped with a micrometer adjustable aperture sight, no bi-pod, and a trigger pull weight of 1.5-1.9kg (3.3-4.2lb). Version C was a proposed civilian hunting model that was never produced.


Successor to the FR-F1, the FR-F2 is an updated and enhanced FR-F1 sniper rifle in 7.62MM produced by GIAT Industries, the successor to MAS and the other state-owned armories. Adopted by Armée de Terre in 1986 to replace the FR-F1, it was an extensive upgrade package performed on existing FR-F1's and not a new rifle. The upgrade to FR-F2 changed the barrel, stock, muzzle device, and bipod, as well as removing FR-F1 markings and re-engraving the receiver as FR-F2. Early versions used a composite stock, but this was found to be insufficiently durable and was replaced by a wooden variant. The FR-F2 has an anti-mirage barrel shroud. There also exists an iron sight FR-F2B target model.[9] Replacement by SR-25 (AR 10) based Verney Carron Defense VCD10 announced 2018[10].

FR-G1, FR-G2, FR-G3[edit]

The FR-G series of rifles were created by GIAT Industries in 1993 as a proposal to the French Armed Forces to create a precision rifle for less cost than the FR-F2. It was created by taking surplus MAS 36 actions and upgrading them with new barrels and FR-F1 and FR-F2 components. The FR-G1 utilizes the FR-F1 bipod, while the FR-G2 utilizes the FR-F2 bipod. The FR-G3 is a civilian model chambered in 7mm-08 for hunting.


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Retired World-War 1 Weaponry Back For Duty. 22-11-2013 (in Arabic). Syria. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Manuel du Grade TTA 116 (in French). Berger-Levrault. 1956-03-19. p. 207. 
  4. ^ Jane's Guns Recognition Guide, Ian Hogg & Terry Gander, Harper Collins Publishers, 2005, page 238
  5. ^ Military Small Arms Of The 20th Century, 7th Edition, Ian V. Hogg & John S. Weeks, Kruse Publications, 2000, page 182
  6. ^ a b Bishop, Chris (2006). The Encyclopedia of Small Arms and Artillery. Grange Books. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-84013-910-5. 
  7. ^ Leuliette, Pierre, St. Michael and the Dragon: Memoirs of a Paratrooper, Houghton Mifflin (1964)
  8. ^ a b c d e Jowett, Philip (2016). Modern African Wars (5): The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967-70. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Press. ISBN 978-1472816092. 
  9. ^ Interview with Henri Canaple - Chief Engineer on the FR-F2 project at GIAT
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Post-WWII use of the MAS-36 rifle: Part II (export users)". 2015-08-23. Retrieved 2017-06-15. 
  12. ^ Berman, Eric; Lombard, Louisa (2008). "The Central African Republic And Small Arms: A Regional Tinderbox" (PDF). Geneva: Small Arms Survey. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  13. ^ McNab, Chris (2002). 20th Century Military Uniforms (2nd ed.). Kent: Grange Books. ISBN 1-84013-476-3. 
  14. ^ Giletta, Jacques (2005). Les Gardes Personnelles des Princes de Monaco (1st ed.). Taurus Editions. ISBN 2 912976-04-9. 
  15. ^ Ignacio Fuente Cobo; Fernando M. Mariño Menéndez (2006). El conflicto del Sahara occidental (PDF) (in Spanish). Ministerio de Defensa de España & Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. p. 69. ISBN 84-9781-253-0. Fuente & Mariño. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Fusil Lebel modèle 1886
Berthier rifle
French Army rifle
Succeeded by
Fusil MAS-49