Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne

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Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne
Company typeGovernment-owned corporation (subsidiary of Nexter defense conglomerate)
Founded1764 (1764)
ProductsRifles, pistols, tanks, weapon systems

The Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne, often abbreviated to MAS ("Saint-Étienne Weapons Factory" in English), was a French state-owned weapons manufacturer in the town of Saint-Étienne, Loire. Founded in 1764, it was merged into the French state-owned defense conglomerate GIAT Industries in 2001.

Saint Étienne-La Manufacture d'Armes in January 2011


Saint-Étienne was well-known as a center of sword and knife manufacturing beginning in the Middle Ages. In 1665, a Royal Arms Depot was created in Paris to store military weapons made in Saint-Étienne.

The Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Étienne was created by royal decree in 1764 under the supervision of the General Inspector of the Royal Arms Manufacture of Charleville.

12,000 weapons were being produced each year when the French Revolution began in 1789. The city was renamed Armsville during the Revolutionary period and production increased to arm the French Revolutionary Army.

Subsequently, the French Empire required a threefold increase in production to meet the needs of the Grande Armée in its conquest of Europe.

By 1838, during the July Monarchy, annual production was well over 30,000 firearms.

In 1864, the modern factory was built, new steam-powered machines were installed and the first military standardized bolt-action rifle, the Chassepot, was produced from 1866 on, then the Gras rifle after 1874.

The MAC-designed Lebel rifle entered production in 1886. MAS later designed and manufactured the family of rifles chambered in 7.5×54mm French, from the MAS-36 through the MAS-49/56, then later the FAMAS bullpup assault rifle, which uses the 5.56×45mm NATO round.

In 2001, weapons production ceased as MAS was absorbed into the Nexter Group. OPTSYS, a Nexter subsidiary specializing in optical equipment and protected vision for armored vehicles, is currently located in Saint-Étienne.

Arms produced by MAS[edit]

Grenade launcher with grenade
Chassepot 1866
PA Modele 1950
FAMAS G2 FélinV1 prototype

See also[edit]


  • Danel, Raymond and Cuny, Jean. L'aviation française de bombardement et de renseignement (1918/1940), Docavia n°12, Editions Larivière.
  • De Vries, G. and Martens, B.J. The MKb 42, MP43, MP44 and the Sturmgewehr 44, Propaganda Photo Series, Volume IV, Special Interest Publicaties BV, Arnhem, The Netherlands, First Edition, 2001.
  • Ezell, Edward Clinton. Small Arms of the World, Arms & Armour Press, London, 1977, Eleventh edition.
  • Ferrard, Stéphane. France 1940 l'armement terrestre, ETAI, 1998. ISBN 2-7268-8380-X
  • Gotz, Hans Dieter. German Military Rifles and Machine Pistols, 1871-1945, Schiffer Publishing, West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1990. OCLC 24416255
  • Huon, Jean. Les fusils d'assaut français, Editions Barnett, 1998. ISBN 2-9508308-6-2.
  • Pelletier, Alain. French Fighters of World War II, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., Carrollton, Texas, 2002. ISBN 0-89747-440-6
  • Smith, W.H.B. Small Arms of the World : The Basic Manual of Military Small Arms, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa., 1955. OCLC 3773343
  • Wollert, Günter; Lidschun, Reiner; Kopenhagen, Wilfried. Illustrierte Enzyklopädie der Schützenwaffen aus aller Welt: Schützenwaffen heute (1945–1985), Militärverlag der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, Berlin, 1988. OCLC 19630248
  • Deutsches Waffen Journal
  • Visier
  • Schweizer Waffen Magazin
  • Internationales Waffen Magazin
  • Cibles
  • AMI
  • Gazette des Armes
  • Action Guns
  • Guns & Ammo
  • American Handgunner
  • SWAT Magazine
  • Diana Armi
  • Armi & Tiro


  1. "French autoloading rifles. 1898-1979 (Proud promise), by Jean Huon, 1995, Collector Grade Publications. ISBN 0-88935-186-4. This volume ( in English )contains a detailed technical chapter describing the Lebel rifle and its ammunition. This volume primarily describes all French semi-automatic rifles since 1898, notably the Mle 1917 and Mle 1918 semi-automatic rifles, the Meunier (A6) rifle as well as the MAS 38-40 to MAS49 and 49/56 series.
  2. "La Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault(1819-1968)", Claude Lombard, 1987, Brissaud,162 Grande Rue, Poitiers, ISBN 2-902170-55-6 . This illustrated volume ( in French ) contains the production statistics for the Lebel rifle as well as complete technical accounts on the Gras, Kropatschek, Lebel and Berthier weapons and how they came to be designed and manufactured. This is regarded as the fundamental research volume on the subject. The author is a retired armament engineer who spent most of his career at Châtellerault and had full access to all the archives and the prototypes.
  3. "Military rifle and machine gun cartridges", Jean Huon, 1988, Ironside International Publishers, Alexandria, VA, ISBN 0-935554-05-X. This volume (in English) provides a detailed description of all the types of 8 mm Lebel ammunition, including the Balle D (a.m.). The 7 X 59 mm Meunier cartridge ( for the semi-automatic A6 Meunier rifle ) is also illustrated and described in detail.
  4. "Standard Catalog of Military Firearms", Ned Schwing, 2003, Krause Publications, ISBN 0-87349-525-X. Contains an informative and detailed page dedicated to the Lebel rifle (by David Fortier).
  5. "The Chauchat Machine Rifle (Honour Bound) , Gerard Demaison and Yves Buffetaut, 1995, Collector Grade Publications, ISBN 0-88935-190-2, The 10 pages illustrated appendix at the end of this volume ( in English) exhaustively describes all the 8 mm Lebel ball ammunition types, plus the less well-known blank, tracer, armor-piercing, incendiary, dummy and proof rounds. This appendix was documented and authored by internationally known cartridge expert Dr Ph. Regenstreif.
  6. Bolt Action Rifles, Frank de Haas and Wayne Van Zwoll, 2003, Krause Publications, ISBN 0-87349-660-4. An illustrated chapter in this volume reviews in depth the Lebel and Berthier rifles (and carbines).

External links[edit]