French Gras Rifle
M.1874 Infantry Rifle
M.1874/80/14 Rifle
Data
M.1874/80 Foot-Gendarmerie Carbine
M.1874 M14 Rifle
Parts
Model 1874-80 Artillery Musketoon.
M1866 & M1874 From Alain G's Collection

        The Mle1874 Gras and conversions of the Mle1866 to Mle1866-74 Gras is named for its designer, Artillery Captain Basile Gras, and is basically a conversion of the Mle1866 Chassepot, a needle fire weapon, to the metallic cartridge.  In this time frame, France was engaged in a substantial arms race with Germany and adoption of the Mod. 71 German Mauser Infantrie-Gewehr, a center fire, metallic cartridge rifle considerably superior to the earlier German needle-fire Dreyse heated things up considerably.   Although the Mle1866 Chassepot was of adequate range and flat enough trajectory, the breach sealing mechanism of the rubber washer was a definite handicap.   The Gras was BOTH a conversion of the Chassepot utilizing the entire rifle except for a redesigned bolt head mounting a cartridge extractor without separate ejector, and, owing to the need for modern arms, newly manufactured, even before the Chasspots were converted.   Gras rifles manufactured by Styer were also adopted by Greece to replace the earlier Mylonas rifle of Greek design, and French rifles were adopted in Columbia, Russia and Chili.

        The Mle1874 has a two piece bolt (that is the bolt head is detachable and rotates) and later models had a modified rear sight and somewhat altered cleaning rod.   The Mle1866-74 is so marked on the receiver, the Mle1874 carrying only the designation Mle1874.  Interestingly, large quantities of the Mle1874 were manufactured prior to the conversion ofMle1866-74.    In 1880 an annular channel was cut into the receiver and just behind the chamber as well as a longitudinal groove in the event of a case head failure or primer rupture which was a common enough occurrence with ammunition from the 1870's.  Rifles with this alteration are stamped M.80 on the left side of the receiver below the manufacturer’s name.


(Image of this rifle courtesy of Darryl Goss)
Mle1874 M.80 Gras and the Goss photo is a Mle 1874 Gras 
in original condition without the M80 conversion

French Model 1880 Gras Bolt Action Carbine


DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: The Mle1874 has a two piece bolt (that is the bolt head is detachable and rotates) and later models had a modified rear sight and somewhat altered cleaning rod. The Mle1866-74 is so marked on the receiver, the Mle1874 carrying only the designation Mle1874. Interestingly, large quantities of the Mle1874 were manufactured prior to the conversion ofMle1866-74. In 1880 an annular channel was cut into the receiver and just behind the chamber as well as a longitudinal groove in the event of a case head failure or primer rupture which was a common enough occurrence with ammunition from the 1870's. Rifles with this alteration are stamped M.80 on the left side of the receiver below the manufacturer’s name.     Identification and Markings

MISC NOTES: The Gras Cartridge saw fairly wide service for a cartridge of this era being utilized in not only the Gras, but in several varieties of Kropatcheks, 3 Greek rifles, the WWI Vickers machine gun and in varieties of anti-aircraft and anit-balloon roles, etc.)
 

 

French Gras M.1874 Infantry Rifle
Cal. 11 mm

French M.74 Gras rifle never modified to M.80 configuration!
The rifle was manufactured by St. Etienne Arsenal in 1879, as indicated by markings on the receiver and barrel.
The stock displays several French proofs, cartouche and Holy Water plug.






French Foot-Gendarmerie Gras M.1874/80 Carbine
Cal. 11 x 59 mm

French Foot-Gendarmerie Gras M.1874/80 Carbine! A French carbine that looks more like a short rifle.
Made by St. Etienne Arsenal in 1882. All matching serial numbers. Brass buttplate, trigger guard and barrel bands.
Turned down bolt handle. The buttplate displays following regimental markings, "10 E.T.". Fading cartouche on the right side
of the buttstock with a "Holy Water" plug. Missing the cleaning rod. Provision for M.1866 saber bayonet.
Overall length: 46.25 inches.



Model 1874-80 Gras Artillery Musketoon.





GRAS 1874/80/14 RIFLE.
Cal. 8 mm Lebel



GRAS 1874 M14
CAL. 8 mm Lebel.


Gras 1874 M14 Rifle, this rifle is special because it was not modified to 1880 specification.