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AR guy? Money too tight to mention? Time to go retro. For around $300, you can pick up one of the best ugly-step-sister semi-auto mil-sups on the market: the French MAS 49/56. Here’s a shocker: the French combat rifle isn’t a second-best choice. I’d much rather go into combat with an MAS 49/56 than an M-1 Garand. I know, I know. The rifle that’s never been fired and only dropped once. But before all of you die-hard, corn-fed, flag waving, internet Garand disciples flame me to a crisp for speaking such heresy, hear me out . . .

While the Garand’s weight and balance may feel great at the range at Camp Perry, you’d have a different opinion if you had to hump it 20 miles to get there. The Garand is a long, heavy, unwieldy bastard. As a former light infantry officer [not shown], I’m here to tell you that weight is a huge issue in combat.

By the time you get loaded down with your helmet, LBE/MOLLE, your basic load of ammunition, hand grenades, claymores, det-cord, 200 round belt of 7.62 x 51 and/or 5.56 x 45, flares, smoke, pistol, knife, radio, extra batteries, MOPP gear, optics, laser rangefinder, C-4, LAAW / AT-4, water, MREs, E-tool, magic blanket, poncho, etc, you are carrying a very substantial load.

Every pound starts to matter. Even so-called “snivel items” become questionable baggage. I remember looking at a roll of commercial toilet paper and wondering it was worth the weight. It was, of course… those little micro-packets of shit-paper in the C Rats and MREs just don’t cut it. I digress . . .

The MAS 49/56 weighs in at about 8.5 lbs. The Garand tips the scales at 10 lbs. The MAS 49/56 is almost four inches shorter than M1 and most of its weight is in the action; the MAS points faster than a Garand. What’s more, you can top-off or reload the MAS 49/56’s detachable magazine during a lull in the fighting. Garand shooters have to wait until they run completely dry. The Garand also makes a loud audible clanging sound when it runs out of ammo – a fact that got more than one trooper killed in WWII.

Admittedly, the Garand’s sights [as above] are better, making it better for long-range gunnery. That said, in most battlefield conditions, long-range direct fire with hand-held rifles is an overrated pastime. Long range targets are best engaged with indirect fire weapons; revealing your position to the enemy via rifle fire is usually the first step towards achieving an untimely death.

In general, research has shown that most infantry firefights occur inside of 300 yards. A substantial majority have historically occurred inside of 100 yards. Nonetheless, the MAS 49/56 has side rails built-in for mounting optics, which extends the effective range of this weapon from 400 to 800 meters.

Finally, I really like the fact that the MAS 49/56 has fewer parts and field strips much faster than a Garand. An infantryman is often cleaning his weapon in cold, dark, low-visibility, conditions, and having fewer small parts and simplified disassembly is a major plus. I know from personal experience that the firing pin retaining pin on an M-16 is easily misplaced in the field, esp. when you are sleep-deprived.  The MAS 49/56 field strips into seven hard-to-lose parts, and the beefy firing pin is the smallest one.


The MAS-49/56 is a semi-automatic gas-operated shoulder-fired main battle rifle chambered for the 7.5 x 54 French caliber. The MAS-49 was formally adopted by the French Army in July 1949. [Example below] The MAS 49/56 is an upgraded version that entered in service in…  you guessed it …  1956. The major improvements (shorter barrel, shorter fore-end, grenade launching capability) were a direct result of feedback from troops fighting in Algeria and Vietnam (i.e. the First Indochina War against the Viet Minh).

The weapon is loaded either via 5-round stripper clips or a 10-round detachable magazine.  Original MAS 49/56’s were issued with four detachable magazines.  The magazine release is located on right side of the magazine itself, and hooks into a groove in the outside of the receiver:

The weapon is designed to fire a 139-grain spitzer bullet. The round’s ballistics are comparable to the 7.62 x 51 NATO cartridge. French mil-sup ammo is getting increasingly rare in today’s commercial market. The most commonly found ammo is the commercial loads from the Serbian Prvi-Partizan factory. A box of 20 Prvi-Partizan cartridges will typically run $13.75 to $15.99 for a box of 20 rounds.

In the image above, one can see how the 7.5 French round stacks up size-wise against other common military/hunting rounds: L-R: 5.56×45 NATO aks (.223 Rem), 7.62 x 51 NATO (aka .308 WIN, 7.5 x 54 French, .30-.06 (Winchester Black Talon).

The sights will be familiar to most AR-15, M-14 or M-1 Garand shooters. The MAS 49/56 features an extremely fat centered front sight post/blade with flanking protective “ears.” The sight is so fat it appears to cover about 8-10 MOA at 100 yards. The MAS’s sight post is only adjustable for elevation. There are four-clicks per each full rotation of the front sight post, with each click raising/lowering the point of impact (“POI”) by roughly two inches (5 cm) at 100-meters. Due to the width of the front post, the sights are best used with a 6 o’clock hold.

The rear sight has a windage-adjustable “peep-sight” type aperture. The European-style ramp or ladder scale system is used to elevate the sight for varying distances. The site is graduated from a low of 200-meters, to a high setting of 1,200-meters. There are four-clicks of windage per each full rotation of the rear windage drum, with each click moving the POI approximately one inch at 100 meters.

 The safety lever is located on the right side of the rifle and at the front of the trigger guard. If the safety lever is in this forward position, the rifle is ready to “fire”. Moving the safety lever downward and to the rear of the trigger guard (i.e., toward the butt of the rifle) will place the weapon in “safe” mode.

The rifle traces much of its evolutionary lineage to the French 7mm ENT B5 experimental rifle by Rossignol (1901), which – as far as I have been able to determine – is the first rifle to feature the direct gas impingement system. This feature was also found on the MAS-38/39 trial rifle (1939) and the MAS-40 (which entered limited service in March 1940), followed by the MAS-44, 44A and 44B used in small numbers by the French Navy after WW2. The Swedes made the first widespread operational use of the  system via their AG-42 Ljungman rifle (1942).  Users of traditional AR-15 rifles will have a good understanding of this system.

The MAS semi-automatic rifles features a tilting bolt, which is a design feature that I believe originated on the Browning Automatice Rifle, (1918). Other rifles that sport this design include the French MAC-1928 experimental rifle, the 1940 Russian SVT40, the 1944 Siminov SKS the Belgium FN-49 (1949 and the FN FAL (1952). Users of the SKS will immediately recognize the similarity between the two systems, as above and below.

Unlike the SKS, however, the firing pin on any MAS-49/56 is “free-floating” within the bolt. This system works fine with the surplus military ammunition it was designed to fire, or with handloads using CCI No. 34 primers. However, use of commercial ammunition, or reloads with “soft” primers, may cause the rifle to experience “doubles” or even full automatic fire.  Obviously, this is not a safe condition.

One odd feature of the rifle is the use of proprietary screws.  Apparently, the French military did not trust their soldiers to fully disassemble their rifles, so it uses weird screws.

 Another interesting (but now useless) feature is the grenade launching apparatus attached to the front of the barrel.

Shooting Characteristics

The MAS 49/56 is an accurate rifle—for its era. The MAS’s trigger is fairly heavy (8-9 lbs). Using high-quality surplus French military ball, I was able to achieve, on average, 1.75 to 2.5 MOA five-shot groups at 100 yards (called flyers omitted). The best group was a lucky three-shot, 1.2 MOA group at 100 yards:

 The following group was more typical of what I was consistently achieving in terms of 100-yard accuracy:

Perhaps even more impressive, however, is the MAS 49/56’s overall handling and light recoil. The sights stay on target very easily and I found the recoil to be extremely light for a full-power rifle.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did experience one major malfunction while on the range. After cleaning and re-assembling the weapon, I took the gun to the range at Tri-County. My very first shot caused the bolt and bolt carrier to get stuck in their most rearward position. I was not able to return the bolt carrier group back into battery without the assistance of a rubber mallet.

Further disassembly and inspection revealed no apparent damage to the rifle, and I was also not able to re-create the malfunction with the remaining 90 rounds I had in my possession. At this point, I am inclined to believe that I may have re-assembled the rifle incorrectly, although it is hard to say for sure until more long-term tests are conducted.

Potential Problem Areas

The vast majority of the problems associated with MAS 49/56 arise from bubba’ed .308 conversions. Century Arms converted a bunch of imported MAS 49/56s to .308. Win. in the 1990s  and the results were pathetic.  Some work, some don’t.  Bottom line: stay away from CAI conversions unless you can verify that they are “shooters.”

Another common source of problems stems from the use of commercial 7.5x54mm  ammunition made in countries other than France.  These rounds have been known to produce burst fire (two or three rounds at a time) because of more sensitive primers. For a while, it was possible to buy a commercial titanium firing pin to replace the heavy steel factory firing pin. These commercial pins were much lighter and generally cured the problem of burst fire on these weapons when using soft primers.  Unfortunately, the supply of these titanium pins has dried up.

According to internet lore, it is also possible to prevent the “slamfire” issue by shortening the firing pin by approximately 0.5 mm (from 1.3mm down to 0.8mm), or by modifying the bolt to accommodate a firing pin return spring.  I have no experience with these modifications, and therefore cannot endorse them.  Having said that, I fired 30 rounds of Prvi-Partisan through the test gun without incident (I did wait until everybody else had left the range to try them out – if the rifle was going to go cyclic on me, I didn’t want to have anyone else there to witness it!).

Finally, excess grease or oil can interfere with the free-floating firing pin.  Like an SKS, the firing pin channel should also be kept free of cosmoline, sticky grease or oily residues so that it can move about freely.

Collecting the MAS 49/56.

In the 1990s, importers bought large quantities of surplus MAS 49/56s from France. Many of the sample MAS 49/56s you see on the open market today were from these stockpiles. Many had been re-arsenaled and are therefore in excellent condition.  The original serial number will be stamped vertically next to the forestock.  From what I have been able to gather from reading internet lore, the F prefix rifles were manufactures between 1956 and 1958, the G series were made between 1958 and 1960, and the H series were made between 1961 and 1963.  Production stopped 1963 and it is estimated that total production numbered approximately 280,000 units.

Just to the right of the original serial number there may be another stamp: a “P” followed by two numbers in a square. Those two numbers represent the year the rifle was re-arsenaled. Most of the samples in excellent condition have re-arsenal dates in the 1980s or early 1990s.  The sample gun was likely manufactured in 1959 and it was re-furbished in 1981.

In their importation hey-day, nice examples could be had at retail for $220 with three magazines, bayonet, scabbard, rubber recoil boot, night sights, and full accessory kit. While no longer ubiquitous, the MAS-49/56 will still occasionally come up for sale at gun shows. Prices range from $150 for a FUBAR’ed .308 conversion to upwards of $450-$500 for a pristine example in the original 7.5 F caliber. The sample gun is valued at around $300-$400. Occasionally, higher asking prices may be encountered, particularly if the rifle comes with accessories.

When purchasing a MAS 49/56, inspect the lower, rear edge, of the bolt. The locking surface should be square and true, with no “rounding” or “peening” along the primary locking surfaces. Also inspect the trigger block to ensure that it is properly adjusted inside the stock: The correct protrusion of the hammer inside the receiver must be adjusted precisely (minimum = 0.8mm, maximum = 1.0mm).  To make this measurement, depress the trigger while the hammer is held back by the auto sear.


Caliber:  7.5 x 54 French. Aftermarket conversions to .308 Win are common (and often crappy).
Action: Gas operated, air-cooled, tilting bolt; shoulder fired
Capacity: detachable 10 round box magazine
Overall Length: 43 inches
Barrel Length: 20.25 inches
Weight: 8.5.5 lbs unloaded; 9.2 lbs loaded with 10 round magazine
Sights: front sight is a vertical blade with protective ears (elevation adjustable) , rear sight is simple aperture (windage-adjustable) (think AR-15 type sights)
Finish: Military Phosphate
Price: $150 – $500

RATINGS (out of five)

Style  * 1/2
A bit like a moped: fun to ride but you don’t necessarily want to be seen in public with her.

Ergonomics (Shooting) * * * *
The recoil is light for a weapon of this caliber. The rifle “points” very quickly compared to typical WWII-era bolt action rifle or a M1 Garand.

Ergonomics (Carrying) * * * *
This rifle is incredibly well balanced and carries much better than a typical WW-II era bolt action or M1 Garand.

Reliability  * * * * * (with caveat)
An original MAS 49/56 is a very reliable weapon, especially when using French mil-sup ammo. The only common problem reportedly occurs when using commercial ammo with soft primers. On the other hand, many of the imported MAS 49/56s were subjected to bubba’ed conversions to .308 WIN by the drunken monkeys at Century Arms, giving the rifle an undeserved reputation for unreliability in the hands of American sport shooters.

Customize This  * * 1/2
Accessories include a rubber slip-on butt pad, bayonet, scabbard, tritium night sites, night site pouch, French instruction manual, cleaning kit, broken shell extractor, ammunition pouch, and telescopic sight.

Build quality  * * * * 
Top notch. The internals are all heavy duty, forged, machined parts. In terms of overall build quality and attention to detail, the MAS 49/56 will give most mil-sups (except maybe the Swiss K-31 or SMLE) a run for its money. A fair amount of machining marks are evident, which warrants a one point reduction.

Accuracy  * * * *
The MAS 49/56 will hold its own against any other semi-auto mil-sup rifle of its day, including the FN FAL, HK G3 /CETME, or an off the shelf M1 Garand. It will surpass the FN 49, SVT-40, AK-47 or SKS. I will take a half star away for the front sight post, which is too fat to be very useful for precision target work. The frightfully heavy trigger deserves another half star reduction.

Overall     * * * *
The MAS 49/56 represents one of the pinnacles of the semi-automatic, main battle rifle designs. In today’s market, where a decent M-1 Garand will fetch upwards of $1000, the MAS 49/56 a bargain for a lightweight, compact, hard-hitting main battle rifle. Although limited ammunition availability lessens this weapon’s appeal as an everyday shooter, it should be considered an important and inexpensive addition to the mil-sup collector’s arsenal.

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  1. “chambered for the 7.5 x 54 French caliber”

    Oh great, another weird caliber to reload. I can barely keep up with my reloading for the .43 Spanish Uraguayan artillery rolling block, the .577-450 Martini-Enfiled carbine, and the .310 Martini Cadet, and now you want me to get into 7.5 x 54 French?

    Have pity. Show a little compassion here, man.

  2. From a collector’s standpoint, I can certainly understand the appeal of this rifle.

    But as a serious alternative to an AR, AK or SKS? Ummmm…no. The weird caliber makes it a non-starter there.

    For the price of your sample ($300-$400) you can get a nice Yugo SKS that shoots the cheapest non-rimfire ammo on the planet.

    “The French, They Are A Funny Race” … I’ll let those of you with a 10-year-old’s dirty mind fill in the rest. But their stubborn insistence on being “different” (in terms of caliber) dooms this rifle to collector- or wall-hanger-only status.

    If they’d been smart like the Italians, they’d have chambered their Post-WWII rifles in 7.62 NATO. I don’t know what the going price is for a BM59 or BM62, but I’ll bet it’s way north of $500, and big part of that is the fact that it’s a rifle that you can, you know, actually shoot because you can get ammo for it.

    Good review, and an interesting rifle. I’ve always been fascinated by the sort of “evolutionary dead ends” in weapons designs: Designs that seemed good, but for a number of reasons never caught on (the Johnson Rifle comes to mind here.)

    • I actually agree with you that the “weird” caliber makes it a non-starter as an “every-day shooter” alternative to an AR or AK.

      I own a Yugo SKS (“new” ones were only $200 a few years ago! – see pic above), and even though the SKS is similar in design, the MAS 49/56 is vastly superior in terms of overall feel, ergonomics, and accuracy. I’ve been relatively unimpressed with my SKS in terms of accuracy, and its big and heavy considering that it fires the 7.62 x 39 round.

      The MAS 49/56’s place in history will, like the M-14, be relegated to a historical footnote due to the fact that the U.S. (and hence NATO) began making the shift to the 5.56 x 45 round in the early to mid 1960s. Its too bad, though, because its a really great rifle.

      • There’s probably a whole category of weapons design that can be called “great ideas that just never caught on.”

        The post-WWII period was a very interesting one, in terms of small arms development. Every nation except the US went into WWII with the same basic rifle that they’d used 20 years before in WWI, and so after WWII, there was an explosion of innovation as all the former combatants scrambled around to “modernize” their forces. Some of the designs caught on (the Spanish CETME that became the H&K G3, and the FN/FAL spring to mind), others kind of fizzled out (the M14, the Beretta BM 59 and 62 and the MAS.) The Swedish Ljungman (which may have been a WWII-era design, I can’t remember) and the Egyptian Hakim (sp?) and the Czech VZ58 (which looks like an AK but internally is completely different) were all innovative and interesting designs but just never went anywhere and eventually most of the Cold War armies settled on “standardizing” their small arms to enhance interoperability with their allies.

        Which makes military sense, as well as fiscal sense, but it does deprive gun collectors of the rich and varied selection of weapons of the WWII and earlier era.

        • In fact, the MAS 49 is not a post WWII development.
          This is the direct successor of the MAS 40 and MAS 44.

      • The use of the contraction “it’s” requires an apostophe. To leave the apostophe out indicates your “its” is to be taken as possessive. Its a really great rifle means “it” owns or has a great rifle and the “a” should be gone. Such as “Its really great rifle was warm from shooting at the ass who corrected the spelling of Joe”. I guess the rifle was owned by a corporation or perhaps a museum but not a person.

        It’s a really great rifle means the rifle is really great. As in “it is” a really great rifle. And if Joe says it’s great, I am sure it is.

        Forgive me if I don’t introduce myself to you the next time I see you on the range. My mother was an English language teacher but she didn’t raise a fool. Got to run.

        • @Jad Doherty… YOUR (possessive) grammar skills are even worse. YOU’RE (you are) making a joke, right? IT’S (it is) almost the same error. IT’S (it is) a widespread problem for our country and ITS (possessive) future. Don’t blame them, IT’S not THEIR fault. THEY’RE victims of the government schools. YOUR grammar would be sloppy too if you had to learn English THERE.

          I could go on but you get the point….

          Let’s try to due it WRITE when you RIGHT stuff HEAR. Do ya HERE me? … ITS stranger THEN fiction

        • So not only do English teachers have more than one ass-hole, BUTT the ones with brains evidentally come out retarded. Or prerhaps she just wasnt very good at her day job, either.
          Last time I sat in class, we spelled “opstophe” with R in it. See OPOSTROPHE.
          BUTT anyways.. about the MAS 49/56 and this review:
          I have acquired a converted specimine and have had pretty good luck so far.
          I guess it just depends on which drunken monkey reworked it.
          Also, I have read about the benefits of making the gas system adjustable.
          BUTT HAY… lots and lots of BUTT Hay
          Awesome review. Awesome rifle

        • PS, E. Zach Lee-Wright:
          The next time that I see you at the range, I will gladly extend my hand to you.. right after I knock YOUR ass onto the deck! Gotta run (people like you, over, at birth)! lol

        • I agree with Mr. Lee-Wright. The author SHOULD update his flawed article. His spelling and grammatical errors are the LEAST of the flaws. Just for one example, “accessories” do not “customize” a rifle. He gives stars for it…but there are NO aftermarket “custom” upgrades available. Night sights, bayonets, butt pads…all are issue items. Kudos to the French!
          And the author is a light infantry officer who doesn’t know that you can top off a Garand????
          Don’t get me wrong. It’s a useful article, and I appreciate all the hard work put into it. But for another example, the photo of the safety shows it in the “safe” position…but the writeup says it’s in “fire”. This should have been fixed YEARS ago. As Brandon would say, “C’mon, man!”
          Lastly, since I don’t mean to pile on…what’s the weight? It’s listed at the end of the article as 8.5.5 pounds? That’s a silly typo which should have been caught immediately. I could go on, but seriously, it’s not hard to proofread…or have someone else help you out.
          Oh, and “David”…you’re so TOUGH. At least, as you sit in your underwear at your keyboard, eating Cheetohs and licking your fingers. You’re going to knock his ass onto the deck? Get a life and move out of your mother’s basement.
          It’s always people with poor education, poor grammar, and poor spelling who claim that “none of that matters”. Sheesh.

      • Spoken like a true Noob. M-14 as a “footnote”???? Idiotic. It is STILL in use! Modifications out the wazoo, and a multitude of uses both by militaries and civilians.

    • “But as a serious alternative to an AR, AK or SKS? Ummmm…no. The weird caliber makes it a non-starter there.”
      any “serious” person reloads, and stockpiles ammo.

      • I have to agree. I was reloading 7,62×39 before most of these guys even heard of it. I had built a small hunting carbine out of an Arisaka because there were NO bolt actions OR cheap surplus ammo in the US. I still have it and shot a doe with it this year.

    • Martin, ridiculous rationale overall.
      What is a “nice” SKS? You’d rather drive a “nice” Yugo than a Porsche with a dent in the bumper?
      The MAS 49/56 is an outstanding weapon. I agree with Gray Man…reloading is the only way to go for a TRUE collector or even prepper or enthusiast! If there was a war, and the MAS 49/56 was the weapon of choice, you can bet there would suddenly be LOTS of ammunition for it. And I WOULD consider it a “serious” alternative in that case.
      And you say “a rifle you can, you know, actually shoot”. Well, with that logic, just get a .22LR squirrel gun. As I say, ridiculous rationale. I suppose if someone gave you a Ferrari, you wouldn’t drive it because it needs premium gas? Asinine. I actually shoot my MAS 36 and MAS 49/56. A lot.
      And “stubborn insistence on being different”…the M1 was in .30-06. What other current war rifle uses that? At the time the BAR wasn’t in widespread use… Yeah, I thought so. It’s not so much “stubborn insistence”…it’s what was in production at the time in France. 7.5 French is a powerful round. Well suited for combat, and the 49/56 shoots it with little recoil. MUCH better for the average soldier than the .30-06.
      And anyone who deems the Hakim “innovative” has lost all credibility with me. It’s a simple direct impingement, and uses an old fashioned tilting bolt system. All it has going for it is that the gas system is adjustable–and STILL requires a tool!
      Oh by the way, the M14 is STILL in use by the U.S. military. Not only as a sniper rifle, but also by the Navy to shoot lines across ships as well as for security forces. “Fizzled out”? Holy cow. You’re firearms illiterate!
      Stick to your 10/22 from now on.

    • actually, you have it backwards. NATO should have adopted the 7.5 french cartridge. it was already fully developed and battle proven from years of development and use.
      france proposed that.
      except for an american general’s need for feeding his ego there was no need for the 308,
      when something equivelant already existed.

  3. Oh Gawd, shield my eyes from that ugly, ugly stick. It is almost as bad a that Caribbean house painter smock camo pattern it is laying on. Oofda.

  4. Guess I’m just one of those old fogies that would prefer the tried and true(M-1)over anything built by the French.Weight differences to the French would only be in training,because they would weigh the same in combat when dropped to run.

    • I did not know that there were French troops on Bataan and at Kasserine Pass. I always thought they were at Bir Hakeim and Arromanches

        • I think you missed his point. He was pointing out examples of battles where U.S. troops broke and ran / surrendered.

    • actually … the m-1 garand was obsolete the moment it was accepted by the war department.
      too heavy, too long, idiotic loading system.

  5. +1 on stay away from the CAI 7.62 conversion rifles. Had one for a very short time. Real POS. Down the road it went…

    FTF, FTE, torn brass, lousy accuracy.

    Between my experience with the MAS and a CETME from Century, it is now my opinion that CAI could could screw-up a wet dream…

    • “CAI could could screw-up a wet dream.” True enough. CIA needs to stick to what they do best, which is importing surplus bolt-action rifles from around the world. Building semi-auto guns from mil-sup kits? Not so much.

  6. The MAS 49-56 is a great rifle and handles and shoots well. However not going to run a hard to get caliber. Someone needs to make them in a good reliable 308 version to get my attention. I’ll stick with my M1A Scout in the meantime.

    • the scout is the m1-a to have, better than the socom 16, or full size.
      however once i got a working mas 49/56, i sold my m1-a scout, my socom 16, and my fn-fal.
      the 49/56 is better than all of them.
      ammo is not a problem.
      7.5 french is sold on the open market.
      or just neck up 6.5 swedish mauser cases.
      the 7.5 french is just a necked up 6.5 swede.

  7. Cheapest ammo I can find is $0.75/round, and I don’t reload so, thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to my M1A, my RFB, my AR-15s, and my Mini-30.

    • That’s like saying you’ll stick to your Chevy, and won’t take the Ferrari, just because you don’t use premium gas. Ridiculous logic.

  8. The shooting nephew has one. He got it from one of the Ohio dealers a few years back, either SOG or AIM. Anyway, it was mint condition and a nice little shooter. However, I gotta echo the comment re ammo. Too pricey and hard to find.

    He doesn’t bring it out that often simply for that reason. His original stash of surplus 7.5 French is dwindling and the prices ain’t getting better.

    I’ll stick with my 2 CETMEs and L1A1 as I stocked up with cases of 7.62 NATO back in days before prices went through the roof.

    Ammo prices, that’s another matter and a sore point at that. I’m old enough to remember when AIM (best C&R dealer out there) was selling a 1000 rds of 7.62 x 39 for $69. True story, honestly.

  9. I have a CIA 7.62 conversion MAS and have never had a problem. It shoots never fails to feed or eject even with my total lack of cleaning. I guess I just stumbled on to a good one. I like it so much i built a pistol grip for it (took a long time) bought a scope mount and built a custom cheek rest (took a longer time). Even modified some FN FAL 20 round mags to fit it. Now I have a rifle I really enjoy shooting and enjoy working on. But that`s just me.

  10. Okay first off I don’t know why you’re comparing the Garand and the MAS together when they’re worlds apart. The Garand was designed in the early 1930s while the MAS49 came in at the early 1950s. The MAS49/56 didn’t come in until the late fifties! By that fact I’d rather take an FN FAL that costs twice as much but shoots .308 (so superior) and holds 20 rounds or a CETME.

    Also, last time I checked I was from ‘Merica where we never take French Engineering over ‘Merican classics.

    • Michael: I think you missed my point. The basic design of the FN 49 was conceived around the same time as the M1 Garand (1930s), but production was delayed because of WWII. The 49/56 has a few cosmetic improvements over the FN 49, but it is basically the same rifle – only lighter. But that stuff does not really matter – I compared it to a M1 Garand simply because of Garand’s iconic status in the hearts and minds of Americans shooters. I own three of them, and the bottom line is this: the MAS 49/56 is a better infantry rifle. The implication that Americans should never choose foreign engineering over American “classics” is precisely the type of close-minded ignorant thinking that I was attempting to challenge. While it’s good to be patriotic, it’s dumb to think that American-made stuff is always better.

      I own two FN FALs and I think it would be a horrible choice for an infantry rifle. It’s simply too long, heavy, and unwieldy. Once you get in an urban combat situation, for example, you are at a serious disadvantage. Having said that, some of the new shortened versions made by DSA seem quite compelling – at least on paper (I’ve never fired the shortened DSA models, so it’s hard for me to say for sure).

      I’ve never fired a Cetme, but I own an HK 91, which I think is more or less the same rifle. I think it would be a good choice for an infantry weapon. Truth be told, I’d probably pick it over a MAS 49/56 due to its excellent ergonomics, modular design, superior iron sights, and because of the excellent claw mount system for optics. Nonetheless, it is a hard weapon for most soldiers to master however due to the excessive recoil, and field disassembly poses some challenges.

      What do you think is superior about the .308 over the French 7.5? Obviously, it’s more available on the modern surplus market (and cheaper), but in terms of performance / ballistics, I think the two rounds are very similar.

      • I have one Springfield Garand, a Danish return, and one MAS 49/56 with all the extras, as new. I love my Garand, but if I had to protect my home, I’ll take the MAS. I reload, using new brass and CCI milspec primers, and pulled 147 grain fmjbt projectiles, though the next batch will be with 150 grain soft points. When I first bought it in 2000 I had the occasion to shoot with a buddy who had a Century 7.62×51 conversion, that actually worked. Neither rifle had any sort of malfunction, and we agreed that my original rifle with surplus ammo seemed hotter than the conversion. The MAS case is bigger, so that was no surprise.

        • Glad to see I’m not the only ‘Merican who understands and appreciates the genius in the MAS 49/56 design.

      • @ Michael Bakowski , I am not sure where you can claim the 7.62 NATO round is “so superior” to the French 7.5×54 round in terms of ballistics….since the 7.62 NATO round was basically a build off of the 7.5×54 MAS. Ballistically, they are equivalent in range, power, accuracy, etc.

        Also, the original direct impingement concept of the French MAS 49 stems all the way back from pre-WW one (Rossignol) ! So, engineering wise, the Garand (another Canadian Frenchman) had some influences in the French engineering. Too, the MAS rifle may be topped off with stripper clips in a guide (much like the M14 and M1-A semi are) unlike the FNFAL…and with no piston, or associated plumbing, you wont be dropping roll pins like you do in the FNFAL if the gas port is turned to the wrong 2 settings. -I really appreciate the MAS 49/56 for what it is, Robust, accurate as the dickens, simple to clean, feed, and shoot all day. Too, it does not dent the brass (for us reloaders) due to the open design bolt and the reloads are with std. .308 Hornady bullets…. Too easy! Whats not to like?

      • I have a G SN 49/56 with the scope mount and a good modern scope. It out shoots my German G1 FAL, My M1, my hakim, my rpk and aks and my german G3. Ammo is not a problem if you look for it. I have a stock of 3,000 rounds. PS I spent the last 40 years in the military (21) and the rest as a police officer. The 49/56 would be my first choice for a fight followed by the G3.

      • And yet you claim as “FACT” that the M1 “ping” got soldiers killed. This is a MYTH and completely false. Who is going to rush someone when you can reload an M1 in less than 5 seconds? And who thinks an American soldier with an M1 was ALONE? Not to mention that a battlefield is a LOUD place. Who can hear the “ping” at 50 to 100 yards???
        You’re a fool and have obviously not done your homework. Perpetuating a myth is wrong at best and foolish and dangerous at worst. Go back to your basement.

    • 1. Original MAS design predates WWII just like the FN49. They stopped the work and hid it as Germans invaded France while the FN designer escaped to England with the design and perhaps prototype. But the British were happy with their Enfields.

      2. Why should the French immediately drop a round they have been using since 1929 to use a round that has similar ballistic properties down to pressure values (7.62×51)? Because Murica Yeah?

      I do not know when this article was published but while the price of PPU in 7.5×54 has not changed, 308 has gone up in price. Check Lake City 7.62×51 prices lately.

      3. The MAS 49/56 was in use as a main infantry rifle longer than the M14.

      Now, let’s talk about the Garand:
      1) Excluding perhaps a Lee Enfield, I think no stripper clip loaded rifle is faster to reload than a Garand. The Garand clip is like taking the best features of the French (Berthier, RSC 1917/1918, etc) and Swiss (K11/K31/etc) clips/cartridges and increasing capacity and cutting down the number of reloading steps. We are talking from the time you grab the new clip to the time rifle is reloaded and ready to action being 2s with one single movement. Using the back of your hand against the charging handle also helps line everything up.

      About magazines: I prefer them but I am no tacticool mall ninja who brags about how quickly he throws empties on the floor. I kinda want my empties so I can make them full again.

      2) The (in)famous ping: if your enemy can hear your empty clip flying off, your battle must be a shot a minute or something. The pew pew of your friend and the enemy is way louder than the ping.

      3) Most military rifles for many years are about the same weight as the Garand. So, either Soldiers of bygone eras carried less weight than US Soldiers or they were stronger.

      4) Yes you can top up a Garand clip. In fact, you can even fill up an empty clip by placing it first on the rifle. Then you shove the rounds down one at a time.

  11. There are all kinds of weapons snobs out there, apparently. I was at the range once shooting my Bulgarian Makarov PM, and I heard someone sneer about how he avoided ‘commie weapons’ because he liked to ‘hit what I’m aiming at’. It took a special kind of snobbery to disregard the ragged hole my Mak was making at 10 yards. Anyway, I own a MAS 49/56 and a Garand. Like Joe, I also spent some time in boots as an Army officer, and some of that in the sandbox, and I know which rifle I’d prefer to take into combat. The MAS wins hands down for the reasons Joe stated. Lighter, handier, less recoil, simpler to field strip and clean, detachable magazines, etc. The Garand is really a 19th century design that was made to fire semi-auto. It’s a fine rifle, but it isn’t the end-all, be-all.

  12. Nice article, not quite a fair comparison to compare a pioneer weapon like the M1 to the 49/56 – comparison to the AK series would be more appropriate. John Garand was hampered by mandates for .30-06 as well as anen-bloc clip – both logistic considerations. I winced when I read that old chestnut about the empty clip ping getting GI’s killed. Not too many Americans went into battle alone in WWII, and combat’s pretty noisy place where the clip ping would hardly be noticed. Maybe it happened, but it seems doubtful.

    • I might suggest the MAS 49 series was rather pioneering as well. A main battle rifle with a direct impingement gas system that would take Eugene Stoner another decade to develope and put forth. UNLIKE Stoner’s design, the MAS vomited its gas to the top sleeve of an open bolt face (rather than the inside of the action) thus allowing the system to run MUCH MUCH cooler and cleaner as a full power cartridge that the intermediate cartridge design of the AR series has. (And I LOVE my AR series and the M1 rifle, but getting past the “it ain’t American so let’s not appreciate it” hubris allows us to see a bit of pioneering in the design.

      For that Matter, the French gave us (and Germany too) the first smokeless powder, the first spitzer shape bullet, the first practical direct impingement full power semi-auto, first light artillery (Napolean cannons of our own civil war), the bayonet (the term itself being French) etc. etc. Heaps of military ingenuity…..

  13. I own one of these (With all accesories and about 1500 rounds of Privi 7.5 French) and it is my go-t0 MBR. I also have the dies and plate to reload the cases and you can always use 6.5×55 brass and neck it up (Light loads on the first fireing to fire form the shoulder a little but after that GTG) if you can’t find any 7.5 French stuff. I’d take it over a Commercial M-14 clone any day of the week and twice on Sunday, there is simply NO comparison in the durability of these things.

    Great article.

  14. Wonderful article and very accurate. Some comments on the comments –

    [b]Pinging M1s[/b]- Several oral histories discuss soldiers being worried about the ping of a clip in close combat, but most soldier who got into combat found that the process of topping off was noisy, not the process of running dry. Popping a partially fired clip, fumbling to dispose of the rounds, and seating a new clip during a lull in close combat fighting was a major M1 rifle disadvantage. If you fire a Johnson you quickly figure out why it almost got standardized in place of the Garand – the ability to top off the mag is tactically very useful. Even if the magazine could be removed, tactically it is a big advantage to simply slide a couple of rounds into a mag through the action. That is how you learn to use a combat shotgun only more so, fire one – load one.

    [b]7.5x54mm versus 7.62x51mm[/b] – The idea that France missed some boat by not adopting 7.62x51mm or that it was a crazy choice of the French missed the point that the French fielded the 7.5x54mm around in 1927. By 1950, four years before the 7.62×51 was made NATO standard, the 7.5mm was chambered for 350,000 French long arms and 75,000 French machine guns, ammunition was being manufactured in five major plants, and the French had built a stock of nearly 110 war-days of ammunition for their European forces. In addition, the French had adopted an issued a battle rifle chambered for their round, and that rifle was a significant success. Finally, FN49 was capable of, and plans existed, to produce it in 7.5mm, and early variant FALs were planned that could likewise accept this round. So the main question is why did NATO fart around for a decade after WW2 creating a round that was no better than the already existing French round? By the time the M14 entered into US service, the MAS 49/56 was a proven design using a tried and true ammunition, it was far superior for armored units than the M14, it served successfully in both deserts and jungles, two areas the M14 had difficult serving in, and the MAS offered significantly greater firepower for its user in the form of a built in sight and grenade launcher and an integral scope mount – the M14 would have a grenade launcher but not the sights, and the US would adopt the M79, taking an entire rifle out of the squad and not even getting the flexibility of having everyone have their own GL all the time, as was the case with the French.

    [b]Timeline for MAS 49 versus M1[/b] – They are direct contemporaries only a few years apart in the pre-war development. Like the FN49 the war got in the way of the MAS. The Garand was at best three years ahead.

    [b]MAS as a classic battle rifle[/b] – The idea that the MAS was an unknown and nearly unused quantity on the battlefields of the cold war is actually wrong, French infantry from 1949 to 1956 perfected a classic combined arms tactics from several major combat experiences, and French soldiers would be deployed around the world using the 49/56 for two decades, making this rifle one of the most successful western battle rifles. The rifle was designed to be reliable in very rugged conditions. Soldiers traditionally cleaned it with gasoline, and oiled it with crank case oil. Cleaning was a monthly task, and nearly all problems could be handled by the individual soldier. The average soldier fired a LOT of rifle grenades – French tactics emphasized that individual marksmanship in the face of dug in machine guns was futile (hmm, I wonder why) and should be dealt with by use of rifle grenades, whose explosives made each one 3 to 5 times as powerful as a later 40mm grenade, some of which rivaled RPG rounds in terms of area denial and shock force.

    French platoons kept a stock of APX sniper scopes on hand and some units (such as the paratroopers) would have a large percentage of weapons having scopes. It would be 40 years before the US Army started handing out scopes to infantry on this level. French rifles where equipped with night and close combat sights that made the MAS an effective urban weapon, as the sights enabled close range point shooting. The MAS had a distinct advantage in being able to be topped off in combat – the M14 and even M16 must switch partially loaded mags. The M14s main advantage – nullified by the APX scope but present when the French infantryman was using open sights, was that the M14 is a better shooter beyond 300 meters (the French produced an M21 equivalent in 1949 of the MAS 49 for dedicated snipers) and equally equipped with scopes, the M14 is a generally better long range shooter, but French units with MAS rifles did not engage targets at greater than 300 meters, they used rifle grenades and squad automatic weapons.

    In service I carried an M16 and an M14, but I would have preferred a MAS 49/56, and I wish I owned one now.

    Today ammo is not THAT expensive, about 7 bucks a box for brass case copper jacketed non-corrosive French surplus, 14 bucks a box for new manufacture ammo. I hear a lot of people talk about cheap x39 ammo but it is usually cheap steel case crap, and I do not want to run steel cases through my firearms. I also hear a lot of people on the Internet say they can shoot a quarter out of the air with their SKS and AK, but I never see that type of accuracy on the range – the MAS is way more accurate especially in point shooting and rapid fire (the M14 clobbers it at range though).

  15. I have one in .308 that was good at destroying spent brass. I solved the problem by fabricating an adjustable gas block. Test fired and made final adjustments yesterday and it works flawlessly. The mod reduced bolt slam to a noticeable degree so now I can reload my undamaged brass. I also was able to shoot 2 inch groups with surplus ammo.

    • Al,

      I have a 49\56 and have heard of the adjustable gas block which supposedly takes care of the ripping up of the .308 cartridges. How can I do this or who can I send my rifle to to be installed.


  16. For some reason people love to hate French designs. The French 1935 pistol led diretly to the Sig P-210 for example and everyone knows how bad THEY are!

    I have read articles from several sources including “Testing the War Weapons” by Tim Mullen as well as a very recent article mentioning the reliability etc of this gun.
    have been thinking of getting one but now prices are approaching $600 to$700 and up depending upon accesories included.

    As a shooter of one of the MAS 1936s that was cobbled together from parts imported and “bubbaized” by the importer I can relate to the initial fears of finding brass or ammo. Originally found some French 1972 ball on stripper clips that works great. Found some Partisan that I haven’t tried yet.

    Some really odd info on using 6.5×55 brass. Winchester brass has basically the same head and rim diameter as the 7.5 x 54 French so use the same shell holder. I did notice some expansion at the base. Not much but it was there. Now the strange part.

    I had misplaced my shell holder at some point which I didn’t know at first. Put it in the press, ran it through the Lee die and then sized a bunch of Remington 6.5×55 brass no big deal worked fine. Went to resize some of the once or twice fired Winchester brass and they wouldn’t fit in the shellholder because the rim and base were too big. Got the calipers out 7.5×54 Ball, Partisan and Winchester handloads all same base and rim. The Remington has the same base and rim diameters as the standard .308, .30-06 etc. But the brass is thicker and there is absolutley no expansion so…………… Found the 6.5×55 shellholder and yes the Winchester went right in.

    I’ve also found the H4831SC and a 180 grain bullet work great as long as you make sure to raise the battle sight. Offhand group of 1 3/4 inches at 50 yards.

    As a final note on the much maligned MAS 1936. When I first tested mine it was in the Nebraska Sandhills. Living in that environment you constantly got dust and sand everywhere in a gun unless it was in a good case. I’ve shot the MAS 36 with sand in the receiver, the trigger, the bolt I think even the barrel- the stuff gets everywhere and when other stuff started to stick it kept going. An article by Al Miller in Rifle magazine said the same thing you can’t get anything more reliable, prettier, more powerful, more accurate yes but not more reliable.

    • “For some reason people love to hate French designs.”

      That is precisely why I decided to write the article. The combination of the OFWG love affair with the M-1 and M-14 and American’s distain for any french firearm needed to be challenged.

  17. Tom, The MAS 1936 was the last mass adopted main line bolt action
    rifle used by any army, although many military arms used
    refurbished or older designs later (Brazil, Spain, and Yugoslavia).
    The intention of the MAS 1936 was to issue it to second line troops
    and use it in the colonies, with the MAS 1940 going to the front
    line. The war of course got in the way of this. The features you
    note on the MAS 1936 is the result of it being built only for
    reliability and durable service, with no other concern. The three
    piece stock was made form beechwood and given only the lightest of
    finishes. This wood and finish combination combated the common
    problem with the long Mauser style stocks in very wet or very dry
    environments to expand and twist the action – the Brazilian M1908
    for example was usually highly varnished in order to serve reliably
    in that nation, and weapons of that make which arrived in Africa in
    1942 often were unserviceable in a few days. The MAS 1936 could be
    carried by paratroopers from Africa to Southeast Asia and remain
    functional, as happened more than once after World War Two. The
    lack of a safety on the MAS 1936 actually made it safer to use in
    the colonies. Most firearm accidents with less trained or rear area
    troops happened when they had their safety on because the safety
    itself would fail, or because it was not actually in place but the
    soldiers confidence of its functionality lead them to stupid
    action. French soldiers loaded their magazines, then closed the
    bolt on an empty chamber. If ordered to load a round they would do
    so, but leave the bolt handle up, a sign to both office and
    themselves that the loaded chamber was present, and indeed was a
    temporary affair. The ease of dropping the magazine was an
    essential part of this, because soldiers could empty their weapon
    of ammunition without ever bringing it into battery. The hammerless
    design of the bolt, similar to the Mauser, makes it incredibly safe
    from misfires. The rifle literally has to hit both on the but and
    the barrel at the same time to slam fire. The bolt is the easiest
    to disassemble of any bolt action, and it does not need to use the
    stock tool found on Mausers. In addition, the weapon can be
    reassembled without the firing pin, which was commonly done when
    the weapon was used in training. The tolerance of the 1936 to dirt
    was because of the location of its locking lugs. A Mauser places
    them near the bore, which makes it more accurate and stronger. It
    also gets dirt into the bore, and causes the rifle to lock up and
    be hard to cycle. The MAS locks at the rear like the Enfield, and
    shares that rifle’s extreme tolerance to dirt and mud. Modern FR1
    and FR2 ad a third lug, but they are sniper rifles, not service
    rifles. The shallow wide rifling, protected front sight, and thick,
    flat walls all make the weapon durable when used with poor
    ammunition. The stock is short, but it was designed with Vietnamese
    and Algerian shooters in mind. In the 1950s rubber butt pads from
    the MAS 1949 were included in most kits to allow the shooter to add
    length to the butt. The least successful part of the rifle is its

    • West – Thank you for your insightful comments. I feel like we almost have our own little AA group for folks who like the MAS 49/56!

      • I think we do. I want to do a website on French rifles just for all of the fans. Sort of like being a cubs fan in a way.

    • actually … a spike bayonet is deadlier than a knife type. penetrates more material, and makes worse wound.

  18. One of the local gun shops got some of the 49/56 rifles a number of years ago and I bought one that looked almost new (…in the original caliber…). Later, the shop got some CAI .308 conversions. Problems with the conversions started up soon after they were sold. One day the owner of the shop asked me what I thought the problem was, and, after retrieving my unaltered rifle and comparing it we discovered that the gas tube was bottoming out in the bolt carrier and becoming so battered that the rifle wouldn’t work. Evidently, CAI had to trim the back of the barrel so that they could re-chamber to 7.62 caliber, which meant they needed to shorten some other things–like the gas tube where it entered the bolt carrier. I took a file and shortened several of the gas tubes on these rifles and–no more problems. I owned one of the 7.62 conversions for awhile and, after checking for the gas tube problem and correcting it, the rifle worked perfectly. I thought you might find this interesting.

    • The CAI conversions were an example of dismal and inefficient gun smithing at its worst – there are actually 4 major problems with them – and you cannot predict which problem you will have until you get the rifle (with the possibility of hitting the bonanza with all 4).

      The only thing I can figure out is they were over confident and under skilled. CAI had earlier imported MAS 1936 rifles for conversion, and aside from a dorky stamp on the side they work fairly well. Most of these weapons were given a new barrel and were made from shot out MAS 1936 – good weapons were sold as is in various rankings. With the MAS 49 series, the weapon must have its gas tube modified, its barrel modified, the breach ramp changed, a new magazine provided (the 7.5 mags can feed but not well) and probably a spring changed. This process existed – several thousand of these weapons were modified by the French in this way.

      To the best of the knowledge of people who looked into it, the armorer at CAI would do any combination of these things, but would not do them all and would often not do them well. This is why the 308 conversions are such a crap shoot. The problem you helpfully describe was one common one – easily fixed but not by a novice. The rule of thumb for 308 conversions is do not buy it unless you get to shoot it first.

  19. I’m French (Normandy), I have a Mas 49/56 in 7.5 x54 and I can say to American collectors and shooters, happy owners of this rifle, they are very lucky to recover the stocks of French army! In France it is very difficult to find one and prices are between € 1200 (1470 USD) and 2300 € (2820 USD) depending on the model (Standard or MSE) used or refurbished, accessories. Mine is at 1800 € (2210 USD with 2 magazines, scope model 1953 and cleaning kit). France does not like it weapons and prefers sell them overseas or send them in foundries, than sell them to those who have used them during their military service!
    About the Garand, this rifle has a little French blood, as “John” Garand was Canadian French (his first name was Jean) and his ancestors were from ……… Normandy (Pierre Garand in the seventeenth century left the city of Rouen for Quebec).
    Sorry for my english
    Best regards

    • Lionel.

      The Garand has more than a little French in it. Prior to WW2 the French and United States were much chummier than they are today, and the French shared a lot of technical data with the United States on weapon design – just as the United States shared mass production techniques with French arsenals. The museum for both Springfield and Rock Island where most US small arms design was carried out has a wide range of French small production run rifles acquired by Garand and others in the US ordnance service.

      The French it turns out were some of the most organized automatic rifle designers, and tested fifty different weapon designs from 1900 – 1940. The information they gleaned was top secret – so secret that authors such as Ezell as late at the 1990s called French automatic rifle design still born. Turns out though that several technologically oriented officers, including Patton, and the weapon designers such as Garand, had full run of French arsenal notes and made considerable use of them.

      The Garand ended up with some French features. To design the M1, Garand started with the only semi-automatic rifle to serve in large numbers in the field, the Mle 1917 and the improved 1918. Garand looked at what was right and wrong with these rifles, and then took what he wanted – he kept the packet clip, but made it stronger and simpler as a double column arrangement, and so forth.

      • actually … the m-1 garand was obsolete the moment it was accepted by the war department.
        too heavy, too long, idiotic loading system.

  20. As a French shooter/ gun enthusiast and owner of a MAS 49/56, I would like to share some experiences about a critical point that has been discussed previously… Ammo.

    1:Some of these rifles have been manufactured in 308. directly in France. I shot one once, very accurate and reliable. but rare and hard to find. Fyi these rifles had been an attempt to introduce the MAS on the US market for sport shooting.

    2: You can find some of these rifles chambered for the 30.284 round… But beware of slamfire 0o’ use cci n34 primers!

    Best regards.

    • Edward-

      There were three different MAS units converted or manufactured in .308 in France. The MSE was produced .308 and can still supposedly be found in some Gendarme armories (of course Gendarmes had 07/15m16s issued through the 1960s, I do not doubt some departmental Gendarme units has crossbows from Poitiers laying around the back room), a commercial variant with a checkered stock was produced (and I would donate a kidney to own one), and an unknown number of armory conversions made it out the door when France was considering retaining the MAS 49/56 in service by departmental reserves.

      Most French consideration of retaining the MAS 49-56 in long term reserve was scrapped when units intended for this function were reorganized in 1983/84 (such as the elimination of the 12th Division).

      Those intended for commercial sale were suppose to go to the United States as the .308/7.62x51mm round is technically illegal to own in France (although there is a process unknown to me that a French citizen can obtain permits to own a rifle in this calibre.)

      The 30.284 is called the .30/284, a wildcat round based on the often overlooked .284 Winchester round. This round, like the 7×54 Fournier (offered commercially in the MAS 36 after World War Two), was intended when chambered in French rifles to overcome the French “no military cartridges” rule. I have never heard of it chambered for the MAS rifles, but it makes perfect sense – the French would likely choose the 7mm Brenneke as it is more common but the Brenneke cartridge could only fit into the long action 49, none of which were ever released to the civilian market. The .30/284 allows use of the same 7.5mm barrel manufacturing tools, and it may even be possible to ream a 7.5 into a 30/284, and I bet that the standard MAS magazine would feed it just fine.

    • You should post photos and a description of these online. Titanium firing pins were made by a company in seattle and were very well received – sadly when the stock of them were sold off there were no more made. Many shooters would purchase them from you if they were prices right.

  21. I used to shoot with a MAS44 when I did my military service in the French navy.
    The rifles we had were completely worn out but I still have very nice memories of the shooting sessions.

    • I wish you would send me an account of using them. I just went out this weekend with a MAS 44 and a MAS 49, along with a cranky 49/56 that has ejection problems. The 44 was just as nice at the 49 and the 49/56. At 200 yards it was able to put 100% of its shots into a piece of typing paper from a standing position.

  22. I am putting together a website on French rifles from 1866 to present, and I would like to offer select rifle lovers a chance to read the early version and contribute with their own stories – especially our French colleagues who shot them in service, and post any photographs people have of their own weapons. The website is around three months from finished since I am slowly trying to get photographs of the more obscure weapons of that time and get permission to use French archive photographs.

  23. the mas49/56 is a perfect example of a direct impingement rifle and the advantages of that operating system in lightening the weight.

    Truly a remarkable weapon. I would buy one if i can find a imported one that is outside of the CAI realm (the same company that fucked up the retarded simple WASR10).

  24. Great article. I have a Mle. 1886 Lebel and would certainly like to get a rifle in the MAS 49 family to complement it. I do love US-made guns as much as any red-blooded American, but I think that French firearms are disappointingly underappreciated, no doubt due to the “cheese-eating surrender monkey” stereotype. The French have contributed much more to small arms development than what most people know.

  25. a good gun, I have one converted by the french to 308, no problems, rapid fire great! made 1967. need a scope. Shoots well out to 1000 yrds. Stamped 7.62. Mag stamped 308 on bottom No apparent importer markings. Bought at local gun shop for 300.00, after an old guy brought it in to sell, thought it looked cool and 308 to boot. Who would have thought the frogs came up with this!

  26. hey ! Je suis une jeune de 19 ans .
    Je m’appelle Corette.
    Je suis une conductrice de ligne de fabrication . il apparaît que je suis blagueuse.

  27. When France was designing their 7.5mm round, they based the bullet on that of the 7.5x55mm Swiss round and the case on the 7.92x57mm Mauser. Then they shortened the case length from 58mm to 54mm when logistical screwups resulted in 7.92 ammo (taken as war reparations from Germany and used for training purposes in the 20s) got mixed in with the 7.5×58 ammo, with disastrous results when 7.92 was loaded into the new 7.5mm machine guns.

    If only they’d just copied 7.5x55mm Swiss round entirely (it was, after all, the best military rifle cartridge in the world as of 1924, when the French were designing their new round), not only would that issue have been averted, we’d all have large quantities of very high-quality ammo for our MAS-49/56s too. But I suppose national pride required that they design a round that was unique to France, even if it drew heavily from foreign cartridge designs.

  28. I have been shooting for 30 years. I own a M1 garand. A SKS. Mas49/56. Well I can not get the mas49/56 to shoot more accurate than my sks that is new and one holes at 100 yards with scope. The M1 is harder hitting and never jams the accuracy is very good. The French rifle has the biggest pattern but is accurate enough.

  29. Since I have heard of the problems with the .308 conversions, but have heard that there is a solution by having a gun smith reduce the pressure which is much higher with the .308 vs the 7.5, does anyone know of someone who can put in a pressure valve which is supposed to eliminate the misfeeding issue?

  30. The Mas 49/56 is the same as I had in my military service to France with a few exceptions. The gas system was converted to .308 by Century arms…lousy job !!! It would tear up every second shell passing thru. I had a gunsmith (Bill @ design systems) change the gaz system and spring (Adjustable) and she works like a charm – fireing any brand of .308. Finished are the torn apart caseings…..

  31. Um, the Garand CAN be topped off at anytime, but its kinda hard to do with single rounds, hence why it was designed to have the clip itself manually ejected and a fresh one inserted, its much faster than topping off. The clup sound was also near impossible to hear outside of a few yards in combat, and almost never a worry in battle, the number of troops that died as a result are miniscule

  32. I have one and it fills my need for a MBR VERY WELL. I had swapped the firing pin for a titanium McCann Industries unit back when they were still making them before I ever took it to the range; so I never had an issues with slamfire. It is very relaible, easy to maintain and built like a brute.

    Possibly the greatest buy out there for a Mil Spec MBR.

  33. I have 2 M48-56 rifles that I purchased from Roses about 20 years ago, for about 150.00 each. At first I reloaded for them by necking up 6.5 x 55 brass. It worked well. Then I managed to get 7.5 french brass from Graf and Sons. I load them using M2 ball surplus bullets and use imr-3031 or 4064. You can use just about any .308 diameter bullet ,but I’ve never tried anything over 165 grains.

  34. Great review. This gun gained a great reputation during the conflict in Indochina.Rugged and reliable.And great price.

  35. I used and carried the MAS 49-56 when I served in the Horn of Africa in the 2eme REP in the mid ’70’s . In that dirty dusty place I can not think of a rifle that could take so much abuse and still work and when there was any problem any knuckle headed legionnaire could get it working ASAP. Thumbs up for a tough durable soldiers rifle that would work and work well any place or any time.

    • @Kilroy

      I interviewed a retiree from 2eme REP living in Florida who served in Zaire. He claimed, and was not the first to do so to me, that when supplies got short they would clean the rifles with diesel gasoline as a solvent and use motor oil for lubrication, a small amount would keep the rifles running fine (I was never sure if he meant this is what happened in Zaire or if it happened in general). It seemed as long as you did not over-lube the rifle was more reliable than nearly any other weapon.

      On an academic note, 2 REP using the MAS 49/56, AA52, and the newly introduced F2, were able to not only hold their own, but also dominate the battle space in Zaire against rebels armed with AK47 and RPD rifles and trained by Soviet trainers. In particular the ability of every rifle in a squad to fire grenades when needed apparently was a huge force modifier, and the barrel mounted night sights were extremely effective for ambushes.

      I would love to hear your stories of the 49/56.

  36. The Gods in general and Mars in particular must have their eyes on me. I have a 49/56. Yes in 308 and never had any problems with it. It loads, fires, ejects, loads and so on. I did one modification as preventive safety after reading on the slam fire issue. I got a modified firing pin and spring so that the firing pin would properly retract every time, cost me something like $20 and installation was as simple as cleaning the gun, only replacing the firing pin and installing the spring loaded firing pin. I am now working on modifying metric FAL 20 round magazines to properly lock on the MAS, just a pass time. If I need more than 10 rounds of ammo, I can always use my AK, or AR180, or Mini 14 or even my M1 Carbine. Sometimes one gets lucky I got one of the (few) good 308 converted MAS

  37. The Gods in general and Mars in particular must have their eyes on me. I have a 49/56. Yes in 308 and never had any problems with it. It loads, fires, ejects, loads and so on. I did one modification as preventive safety after reading on the slam fire issue. I got a modified firing pin and spring so that the firing pin would properly retract every time, cost me something like $20 and installation was as simple as cleaning the gun, only replacing the firing pin and installing the spring loaded firing pin. I am now working on modifying metric FAL 20 round magazines to properly lock on the MAS, just a pass time. If I need more than 10 rounds of ammo, I can always use my AK,, RPK or AR180, or Mini 14 or even my M1 Carbine. Sometimes one gets lucky I got one of the (few) good 308 converted MAS

  38. Wow all the Garand boys got their panties bunched up. The guy gave a good review of the rifle, he liked it so what. I suspect for the average soldier the mas may have actually given some advantage for the reasons given……but for a true rifleman the Garand would be the better choice IMHO. Some will automatically have a bias because the MAS is French, don’t sell them short. By the way how many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? Who knows, it’s not been tried.

  39. I have a MAS 4956 modified for Win. 308 but the 308 is about 1/2″ shorter than the 7.5 . What happens when you shoot the 308 round ? I have never fired the rifle .

  40. I know people are joking about Paris never being defended. But are you really or are we so ignorant of military history?
    I love military history and I like to tell the same jokes to my french speaking friends However let’s be fair. France is one of the most successful military nations on the planet. From the 16th Century to WW1 France was the strongest power in Europe for centuries.

    This had a lot to do with their technology, their tactical acumen and yes most of all their courage under fire. The French Army dominated Europe. Lets look at their wars after Napoleon

    1871 Franco Prussian war- French loss Casualties 250,000. No reports of the French running away
    Siege of Paris (4 months long) 17 September Germans attacked Paris with 400,00 troops and were fought to a standstill until 28th January when food ran out and 40,000 civilian casualties and unrestricted German heavy artillery fire into civilian areas convinced the government to surrender. 12,000 German casualties over 60,000 French casualties. No reports of French soldiers running away.

    The Germans in this war would have been surprised to learn they suffered over 100,000 casualties from a cowardly running away French army. Military experts state the French loss was due to their tactical error in not producing or using heavy howitzer type guns. The Germans had many. The French had direct fire 75s which were held close to the front lines and destroyed by german direct fire. The German Krupp artillery was untouchable firing over hills from miles away and this defeated the French army. French courage was very much on show.

    WW1 France did not surrender.They fought like lions for 4 years. French military casualties 6million (1.3 million dead) out of a population of 36 million. No running away

    WW2 was no exception. In WW2 The German army beat everyone in Europe. The French like the British, the Poles and the Russians were smashed by German tactical superiority. The British were saved by the French when the French fought on for an extra week for the sole purpose of covering the retreat of the British army. It is probable that this sacrifice of tens of thousands of French troops enabled Britain to continue the war.
    Battle of France lasted 6 weeks and French casualties were over 300,000. German 160,000. Again the French army did not run away. You don’t kill that many German troops by running away.

    Indochina (Vietnam) they fought for 9 years suffering 90,000 dead until the US took over the fight. The US did not find it easy either did they? (400,000 French vs 425,000 Viet Minh)

    So I ask everyone. Why is France considered a cowardly country and their army weak?

  41. Not bad rifles. They were smart and “Borrowed” ideas from successful designs of other countries. They had a lot of their own excellent ideas too. John Browning was a genius, but I suspect he also “Borrowed” a lot of ideas too. After the piece of junk ’03 Sprungfield fiasco (Paying royalties to Mauser for stolen ideas), I think the US was more careful about that. I am guessing that the US had too much invested in their own arms and ammo to alter what they had stockpiled.

  42. Just saw this article……I bought one during the import years in the 90’s and cleaned/regreased it and put in the safe for twenty years (or more)

    I have NOT fired it yet which is stupid but when cleaning out the guns in the safes this winter I remembered this one and stripped it and cleaned it again. Will be taking it out back after this Michigan cold spell breaks a bit in the next week or so.

    One thing I would like to point out that is not important is mine is a G series and has a re-arsenal date of 1973 which is much earlier than many articles state most of these were re-arsenaled. (It is clearly stamped “P73”.)

    Anyways why I have never fired this nice rifle is beyond me but I will be going out and firing it. I have about 200 rounds of military ammo and about 200 rounds of commercial new ammo and have the modified spring loaded firing pin that is in transit as I type this from Murray’s Gun Shop – It is to stop any bump fires and full auto firing.

    I even stripped it all down and gave it a couple of coats of 50-50 linseed oil and turpentine on all the wood.

    After twenty damn years this old collector will FINALLY be firing it!!

    I have the same situation with the Swiss K31 that is in excellent condition and a Swedish Mauser built around 1915 in excellent condition that I HAVE NEVER FIRED. Both have been stripped cleaned this week and I will be firing them shortly.

    (All three of these rifles were purchased very cheap during the import years heyday and after strip cleaning/re-greasing, I put them all into one of the safes where they remained until this winter about 20 years later.)

    Yes I am dumb for having these 3 excellent old rifles and NEVER firing them…..LOL!!

    I did have one of the bubba’d MAS 49/56 in .308 that worked well AFTER I went back to the original recoil spring. (Why Century Arms shortened the original recoil spring down is unknown but the original spring worked MUCH better, you can get new ones from Numrich currently).

    I ended up giving that bubba’d MAS in .308 to a good friend of mine strapped for money who needed a semi auto rifle and he has it to this day and said it still fires fine. So I at least did fire one of the MAS rifles.

    Now to go FINALLY fire those THREE old rifles after TWENTY YEARS!!!

  43. Purchased a 49/56 CA 308 conversion in the 90s and love it. Virtually never jams, super reliable. I know many of the CA conversion were horrible….I got lucky. I have a scope mount on it with a 44mm 4X scope on it. Makes a wonderful hog hunt rifle. Tight shot groups at 100m. Can’t say enough good things about it. Haven’t found an ammo that jams it up. From cheapest TUL to Federal Vital Shok. Until it breaks and can’t get parts, will use it over an AR-10 for pig hunting any day. Hefty rifle but same weight/length as an AR-10 (predicated on barrel you use of course)


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