Shoot that 7.5 French Rifle
Shoot that 7.5 French Rifle
By Mel Chung
Originally published 9/1999
Shotgun News and Gun List have many ads that show surplus French rifles at cheap prices, primarily due to a lack of reloadable, cheap, non-corrosive ammo available. Having learned my philosophy of economics (‘THE CHEAPER IT IS, THE MORE FUN IT IS’) I was quick to acquire a MAS 36 bolt action rifle and then lately a MAS 49/56 semi-auto rifle (both in 7.5×54 French MAS Rifle caliber). The 49/56 came with all accessories and despite initial problems (no feed, no function, I sent it back, they sat on it for two months, then finally replaced the gun) it now works fine.
I had some military ammo (in 15 rd. white boxes with Arabic writing) I previously acquired for the 36, so I loaded up the 49/56 and tried to shoot it. Mostly duds with one hang fITe. I then tried some reloaded ammo with reformed cases from 6.5×55 Swedish and had slam fires. This promptly scared the hell out of me. A quick call to a reloading buddy made me realize that the primers I was using were too sensitive. I then switched to a harder primer and encountered no problems. Apparently the heavy floating firing pin in the 49/56 promotes slam fires. The Ml Garand, on a smaller scale, has the same problem with dimpling the primers of loaded but unfired rounds and the Garand firing pin is a lot smaller and lighter then the 49/56.
Being that the company that supplied me the reformed 7.5 cases is no longer in business, I then decided to reform 6.5×55 brass. I used a set of RCBS dies in 7.5 and changed the expander to .30 cal tapered. Trim cases to specs and reload with Lee data. The gun shoots well and is comfortable to shoot with a commercial slip-on pad. The 36, being a lighter rifle, kick more and really needs the pad. I plan to take the gun hunting someday but after all that work making the cases I will have the SEMI-AUTO CURSE: chasing the empty cases and trying to find them in the grass. However, I am very happy with my MAS 49/56. When you can get an almost current (made obsolete in the 80’s) semi-auto rifle with all accessories for that low a price – you can’t help but have fun. 1 plan to keep the guns and all the accessories in good shape, mainly because I don’t want my future grandkids to say, “My gods, why did Grandpa do this to a collectors piece?!”
Now if I can only figure out a way to use that launcher adjustable ring as an abacus or whatever, I’ll be all set…!
Regards from MC
Disclaimer: if you plan to do any kind of reloading be sure to stick to published loads,do not exceed these as your safety will be at stake. If you are not familiar with reloading,see your local full service gun store with their knowledgeable and friendly personnel. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily coincide with those of the Hawaii Historic Arms Association and neither they or the author of this article are responsible for your spouse or love interest complaining “why you like buy one mo’ gun, you got so many already.” And don’t forget, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNSMITH•••
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