MAS 49
Semi-Automatic Rifles
MAS 49
MAS 49 Sniper
MAS 49/56
MAS 49/56 Sniper
French Weapon Index MAS-49 MAS-49/56
Caliber 7.5x54 mm Mle.1929 7.5x54 mm Mle.1929
Action Gas operated, tilting bolt Gas operated, tilting bolt
Overall length 1100 mm 1020 mm
Barrel length 580 mm 525 mm
Weight with empty magazine 4.70 kg 4.10 kg
Magazine capacity 10 rounds in detachable box magazine 10 rounds in detachable box magazine

Stripping the MAS 49 & 49/56

The MAS 49/56  by Holt Bodinson
The West's other battle rifle  by David M. Fortier
The MAS-49 rifle, developed by the French state arms factory Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de St-Etienne (MAS), was a logical development of many earlier prototypes, based on the direct gas impingement system, developed by the French designer Rossignol early in the XX century. The same (or very similar) gas system was later used in Swedish Ljungman AG-42 rifle and in Eugene Stoner AR-15 / M16 rifles. France was a major player in the field of automatic rifles since the very beginning, but due to deep secrecy less is commonly known about French developments in this field. In any way, after the end of the 2nd World war the liberated France found itself in the need of rearming its infantry with semi-automatic rifle. Starting with Rossignol's gas system and some prototypes built during the 1920s and 1930s, MAS developed a semi-automatic rifle which was produced in very limited numbers in 1944 as MAS-44. It was later improved to accept new, detachable magazines and modified to be able to launch rifle grenades, and then became the MAS-49, or "Fusil Automatique MAS Modele 1949".  MAS-1949 (as it was stamped on the receiver), seen heavy combat use in the French Indo-China and Algeria and proved itself accurate and reliable. In 1956, an improved pattern rifle was adopted by Armee de Terre (French Army) as a MAS-1949/56. The MAS-49/56 was lightened, had shorter barrel and forend, different grenade launcher sights and was able to be fitted with spike-shaped bayonet, while MAS-1949 could not be equipped with bayonet. MAS-49/56 served as a first-line weapon with French army until 1979, when it was replaced by the 5.56mm FAMAS assault rifle. The MAS-49 was exported in small numbers to Syria in 1950s, and still can be found in some ex-France territories around the world. 

MAS-1949 is a gas operated, semi-automatic, magazine fed rifle. It uses a direct gas impingement system with no gas piston. Instead of the gas piston, the powder gases are fed from the barrel through the gas tube directly to the front face of the bolt carrier. The bolt carrier operates the tilting bolt, which is cammed down to lock into the slot in the receiver floor. The dual stack, box magazine is detachable and rifle can be reloaded with replacement magazines, but it also featured a stripper clips guides, machined into the front of the bolt carrier, so magazine could be reloaded by using two 5-round stripper clips without removal from the rifle. MAS-1949 has a bolt catch, which is engaged by the magazine follower as soon as the last round from magazine is fired. The gas system has a gas cutoff device, which is required to fire the rifle grenades from the muzzle. Special grenade sights are located at the left side of the rifle stock. Standard open sights had a hooded front sight on the front stock band and an aperture (diopter) rear sight on the receiver, which is adjustable for range from 200 to 1200 meters and for windage. All MAS-1949 rifles featured a side rail at the left side of the receiver that allows the telescopic sights to be mounted on every rifle. The safety switch in the form of the cross-bolt push-button is located at the right side of the rifle, at the front of the triggerguard. The large plastic charging handle is attached to the bolt carrier at the right side. Magazine catch built on the side of the detachable box magazine, instead of being mounted on the rifle itself, which is more usual practice. MAS-1949 has no provisions for bayonet mount, but has a stacking hook at the muzzle. 

The MAS-1949/56 has shorter barrel and shorter handguards to save weight and made weapon more maneuverable. The grenade launching sights were moved to the barrel, and the gas cutoff switch is mounted at the front of the handguards above the barrel and cannot be engaged when grenade sight is lowered out of use. The barrel is equipped with combination muzzle brake / grenade launching device. Like the MAS-1949, all MAS-1949/56 rifles have the scope rails on the left side of the receiver, and thus could be used as a designated marksmen rifles at the distances up to 600 meters or so. The standard optical sight was APX L Modele 1953 telescope with 3.85X magnification. 




As I go through the disassembly procedure, the rifle is laying across my lap, with the top of the rifle facing upward, and the muzzle pointing to my left. Here we go. At the rear of the receiver you will see a spring loaded latch, which you can push downward, thereby unlocking the top receiver cover from the receiver proper. Hold the unlocking lock down with your right thumb, while you begin pushing the receiver cover toward the muzzle with your left hand. As your left hand is moving the receiver cover toward the muzzle of the rifle, you will feel an increase in resistance to your forward movement. This resistance is due to the fact that the forward movement of the receiver cover is also compressing the recoil spring, which is attached to the underside of the receiver cover. With this in mind, slowly keep pushing the receiver cover toward the muzzle, while slightly lifting upward on it. Eventually, the receiver cover will reach the dismount "cut-outs" in the receiver, and the parts will separate.

Before we move on, let's get a better idea of how the MAS- 49/56 recoil system works. While looking at the underside of the receiver cover, you will see a long steel "tube" which "steps-down" to a smaller diameter on its forward end. The long steel tube is the recoil spring guide rod, which is permanently attached to the receiver cover. If you push rearward on the front end of the recoil spring guide rod, you will notice that this is a separate part which is spring loaded and captured within the recoil spring guide rod itself. This small, spring loaded rod, acts as the recoil spring guide rod "buffer", which helps to dampen some of the overall recoil force as the bolt carrier and bolt move rearward during the firing cycle.

Now that the receiver cover is out of the way, you can remove the bolt carrier, the bolt, and the firing pin, by merely pushing the charging handle toward the buttstock and lifting the parts out of the receiver. It is quite likely that the bolt carrier will separate from the bolt and firing pin during this process. If this is the case, merely lift upward on the front of the bolt and remove it from the receiver. At this point, your rifle is "field stripped" and ready for cleaning or general maintenance.

Now that you have the primary components sitting in front of you, let's take a closer look at exactly how they work together. With the bolt carrier upside-down and the charging handle facing you, you will notice the following: (1) The front of the bolt carrier is "cut-out", which allows an ammunition stripper clip to pass through it for rapid reloading. (2) There are two metal "tabs" on either side of the bolt carrier. (3) There are two vertical "ears" on the rear of the bolt carrier. With regard to the two vertical "ears", they act as the firing pin guides and also as "travel stops" for the firing pin. As for the two metal insert "tabs" on both sides of the bolt carrier, they had me going, so I asked a friend who is a master machinist. Tim Olson's answer was quick and simple: "Do you see the "flat" in front of the "ears"? Yes. Do you see the down sloping camming angle in front of the flat? Yes. To save money, the French buzzed their cutter through both sides of the bolt carrier in one pass. Aha! Obviously, the French couldn't leave gapping holes in the bolt carrier, ergo, the metal insert "tabs". It's a good thing to have friends who know what they are talking about!

Ok, while we still have the bolt carrier upside-down, drop in the bolt and firing pin, with the extractor facing toward you. You see exactly how the firing pin is held in place by the two "ears" on the bolt carrier, as you shift the bolt forward and backward. You should also see exactly how the rear of the bolt cams up or down as it comes into contact with the camming cut on the bolt carrier, ie; remember the camming cut that Tim told us about? When the bolt is forward the system is unlocked, as it is during the recoil cycle. When the bolt is to the rear on the bolt carrier, the rear of the bolt is cammed upward into the locked position, as it is when you are ready to fire. All-in-all, a very simple and rugged system.

Wait a minute, are you telling me that the bolt locks against those two vertical "ears" on the bolt carrier? Not at all. So that you have a complete understanding of the system, lay your rifle across your lap, with the muzzle pointing to your left, and with the receiver pointing straight up. Take your bolt, less the firing pin, and drop it into your receiver with the extractor pointing toward the right receiver wall. Slowly push the bolt toward the muzzle end of the rifle. Notice how the rear of the bolt drops down at the rear edge of the magazine well? That hardened steel insert block just on the rear edge of the magazine well, is what locks the bolt in place during firing. Take a close look at the leading edge of the insert block. It should be square and true, with no "rounding" along it's leading edge. If the leading edge of your insert block is "rounded", or "peened", DO NOT fire the rifle. DO contact Bill Toth about his repair services. By the same token, take a real hard look at the lower, rear edge, of your bolt. Once again, this locking surface should be square and true, with no "rounding" or "peening" along the primary locking surfaces. (Note: You are likely to see a small amount of "rounding" and "peening" along the bottom center of your bolt. This is due to the bolt riding over the hammer during the recoil/cocking process. Bottomeline, have your MAS- 49/56 inspected by a certified gunsmith, and/or contact Bill Toth).

While you are inspecting your bolt, take a hard look at the ejector rod and your extractor. The ejector rod should move freely within the bolt, and it should not show any signs of excessive "rounding" or "peening" along it's rear surfaces, where it makes a fairly violent contact with the ejector stop pin, which is located along the left receiver wall. With regard to your extractor, inspect it for signs of excessive wear, and/or a "sloppy" fit within the bolt. If your extractor is giving you problems, contact Bill Toth for one of his well made replacement extractors, and while you are at it, get one for your spare parts kit. I should mention that there are few, to no, spare parts currently available for the MAS-49/56. This situation may change in the future, but I wouldn't plan that way.

Let's reassemble your rifle. Our starting position is with your rifle laying across your lap, receiver pointing upward, and the muzzle to your left. Place the firing pin into the bolt and drop the bolt onto the bolt carrier. Take the bolt carrier, bolt, and firing pin, as an assembly, in your left hand, with the charging handle pointing down toward the floor. With your right hand, roll the rifle onto it's right side, so that you are now looking at the outside left receiver wall. With your left hand, place the entire bolt carrier assembly into the rear area of the receiver, and slide the bolt carrier assembly toward the muzzle end of your rifle. If you haven't dropped any parts during this process, roll your rifle back into a vertical position. Now, place the machined end of your recoil spring on to the recoil spring guide rod until the spring seats at the inside rear of the receiver cover. At this point, slide the "rough cut" end of the recoil spring into the "tunnel" at the top rear of the bolt carrier. While pushing the receiver cover toward the muzzle and of your rifle with your right hand, use your left hand to control the recoil spring and the leading edge of the receiver cover. DO NOT exert full downward pressure on the receiver cover, until the rear of the receiver cover is about 1-inch forward of the rear of the receiver. With a bit of luck, you should now be able to push the receiver cover downward and have it lock into the receiver rails. Slowly allow the receiver cover to move rearward until it stops on its own. Using your right hand, push down on the receiver cover locking latch, and the receiver cover should "pop" into its proper location on the receiver. Release the receiver cover locking latch and cycle the charging handle several times to seat the various parts. Move the safety to the "fire" position, and pull the trigger, while checking for a solid hammer fall. You're done. 

MAS 49 Sniper Version

Mas49 Grenade launcher device
FSA 49 has seven major assemblies as described below


Unused grenade launcher mecanism to shoot bullets  Grenade launcher deviced sighted 
for maximum range (260m)
Curb shooting position (45°) for anti personnel 
grenade shoot. Minimal range (sà 80m)

MAS-49 AKA Syrian contract rifle
CAL. 7.5 MAS.

Close-up of the nosecap and stacking hook on the MAS-49 rifle,
note the bayonet is stored in a tube below the barrel when not in use.



The French MAS 49/56 was originally designed for the French Paratroopers
and was used in a multitude of places like Indochina.
Caliber: 7.5x54 mm
System of operation: Semi-Auto
Length overall: 40.25 inches
Barrel length: 22.85 inches
Feed device: 10 shot Box magazine
Sight:Front: Blade type with protecting ears
Sight:Rear: Tangent-Leaf sight
Weight: 8.55 lb
Muzzle velocity: 2750 f.p.s.

Close-up of the grenade launching sight.


Close-up of the raised sight of the permanently attached grenade-launcher.

Close-up of the nosecap and stacking hook on the MAS-36/51 rifle,
note the bayonet is stored in a tube below the barrel when not in use.


Serial #:  G26754
MAS Model 49/56 Sniper
Serial #:  G26754  Manufacturer:  MAS
Model:  49-56  Type:  Rifle
Gauge:  7.5 French  Catalog Page:  141
Barrel Length:  20 inch round  Finish:  Parkerized
Grip:  N/A  Stock:  hardwood
Sell Date:
Condition Rating:  NB
Description:  A mint example of a early French MAS 49/56 semi-automatic rifle. The side of the receiver is marked "MAS Mle, 1949-56" over CAL. 7.5 along with a French boxed "P76" proof mark. These rifles were that last version of the French 49 series of semi-automatic rifles. They used a ten shot box magazine with an integral flash hider on the end of the barrel that also served as a grenade launcher. The top of the barrel directly behind the front sight has an integral flip-up grenade launcher sight that is calibrated to 100 meters. The rifle is complete with a APX 806 scope with neoprene bellows, a very rare and unique Night firing attachment. This device slips over the end of the barrel on to the grenade launcher and has a set of built in night firing sights that consist of a post front with a cutout rear notch; both have the white dot/luminous night aiming sights on them. Included is a leather sling, a green plastic scope case and one magazine.