MAS-36 rifle

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MAS Modèle 36.jpg
MAS-36 rifle. 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
Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War
Syrian Civil War[1]
Production history
Manufacturer Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne
Produced 1937—1952
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 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 by Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS), one of several government-owned arms factories in France. Because production was initiated late in 1937, not enough MAS-36 rifles were available to arm French infantry when the war broke out in September 1939. 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.


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 (rear locking lugs resistant to dirt), British P14/U.S. M1917 Enfield rifle (turned down bolt handle, peep sight), and the German Gewehr 98 (five-round box-magazine), to produce an "ugly, roughly made, but immensely strong and reliable" service rifle.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

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 front sighting element consisted of a front post that was hooded to reduce glare under unfavourable light conditions and add protection for the post. 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 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.


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 often reserved for front-line infantry units, with other troops and reservists often receiving elderly Berthier and Lebel-type rifles. 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.

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 - An MAS 36 equipped with a folding hollow aluminum stock designed for use by airborne forces.
  • MAS 36 LG48 - An MAS 36 equipped with a 48 mm rifle grenade launcher used in the First Indochina War.
  • MAS 36/51 - An MAS 36 equipped with a 22 mm NATO standard rifle grenade launcher.
  • Fusil modèle FR-G2 - A highly modified MAS-36 rifle action equipped with a match barrel with harmonic compensator and telescopic sight for use by designated marksmen (the FRF1 and FRF2 rifles do not have the same action as the MAS-36)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Retired World-War 1 Weaponry Back For Duty. 22-11-2013 (in Arabic). Syria. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Jane's Guns Recognition Guide, Ian Hogg & Terry Gander, Harper Collins Publishers, 2005, page 238
  3. ^ Military Small Arms Of The 20th Century, 7th Edition, Ian V. Hogg & John S. Weeks, Kruse Publications, 2000, page 182
  4. ^ a b Bishop, Chris (2006). The Encyclopedia of Small Arms and Artillery. Grange Books. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-84013-910-5. 
  5. ^ Leuliette, Pierre, St. Michael and the Dragon: Memoirs of a Paratrooper, Houghton Mifflin (1964)
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ McNab, Chris (2002). 20th Century Military Uniforms (2nd ed.). Kent: Grange Books. ISBN 1-84013-476-3. 
  8. ^ Giletta, Jacques (2005). Les Gardes Personnelles des Princes de Monaco (1st ed.). Taurus Editions. ISBN 2 912976-04-9. 

External links[edit]

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