2-Gun Action Challenge with a MAS 49/56

This month I chose to shoot the 2-Gun Action Challenge Match with a French MAS 49/56, in the original 7.5×54 caliber. I really like the handling of the rifle, and I was curious to see how the sights (rear aperture and a large front post) would work in a practical setting like this competition. As it turned out, I rather like the sights, Not great for target work, but they are pretty effective for making shots like this match is designed around. I do want to see if I can improve the trigger, though, and I may look into making myself a couple extended mags from 24/29 Chatellerault mags.

As usual, my pistol was a late 1940s Argentine Ballester-Molina in .45ACP (which served me well on stage 3, compared to the folks using 9mm). Overall, I placed 28th of 47 shooters.




  1. Hey, some observations and questions:
    1) You shoot left-handed and run right-handed in the first stage. Why?
    2) Wouldn’t you be the perfect candidate for some HSGI TACOs, considering how many different mags you use?
    3) What is the width of the front sight and what is its distance to the rear sight and the user’s eye?
    And, as usual: I really like the stage ideas the organisers have. The “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature approach” with having to move one plate in between shooting strings is awesome.

    • “1) You shoot left-handed and run right-handed in the first stage. Why?”

      Keeps the muzzle pointing downrange when running like a mad thing left-to right 🙂

      • Darn, good point. Didn’t see anyone watching, so I didn’t imagine anyone else being there. Of course there was. My mistake.
        Also: The weird things competitions force on us… 😉

        • There’s nothing competition or weird about not sweeping people with your muzzle, if possible to avoid it, with dynamic movement.

          Matches require muzzle discipline as does real life.

          • There was a reason why I used that smiley.
            And I should probably leave it at that, but in every jest there is a grain of truth which you picked up on, so I cannot let “Matches require muzzle discipline as does real life.” stand like that:

            Yes, both do. But, using systems that I am familiar with, IPSC (with the 90° muzzle cone and the 180° safety ares) uses different rules than the Swiss militia (the “two thumbs” and “two fists” rules people around here might know from Oleg Volk’s writings).

            In this specific case: If I run with a rifle, I carry it either football-style (in the cradle of my arm) or spear-style (meaning underhand, not ready to throw). Both ways, I sweep about a 45° cone on the ground in front of me. When running parallel to the rear end of a square range, that does not square with IPSC rules, but with the aforementioned Swiss rules. I’ve thought about this long and often and I came to the conclusion that I am okay with that.

            Of course if you play a game, you play by the rules or not at all. So Ian had to do that, no question. As said, I just did not think of that when asking, as I did not see any bystanders on the video and forgot about this being a competition.

            Just don’t try to sell it as a good general rule or implying that it is identical.

  2. That third stage was evil, was Karl one of the people that managed to get it to spin with the rifle? Do competitors know what plate sets up are going to be used before the match? If so it could have been interesting having people debate going with harder hitting rounds that may be slower in the rest of the event to gain more time in that stage. Is losing the two pistol magazines on the run going to inspire any gear changes or were their open snaps that could have been holding them in better?

  3. Great review of the MAS FSA 1949/56! I loved the “helmet cam” footage!

    A few minor quibbles: The MAS FSA 1949 was used in “Indochina” but the FSA 1949/56 was not. Dien Bien Phu was 1954 afterall…
    As for Algeria, yes, the rifle was used late in that war. Also various French interventions in former colonies in Africa, and the 1978 Kolwezi operations in Zaïre/Congo vs. the Katangans alongside FAL-equipped Belgians.

    I share your appreciation for the FSA 49/56! I tried to use mine in a stationary high-power match. I’m not sure I could do all that running in the high desert, but certainly those portions of each “stage” are great additions. Reminds one of the so-called “practical rifle” matches of old… Will we see you in a gas mask or something like that in the near future?! Hah!

    Thanks for the recent observations and evaluations of the FSA 49/56. Cheers.

  4. Yes, I was one of the three who was able to spin the rifle plate…although I was surprised by that result myself.

    I was using an experimental rifle and had never engaged a spinning target before this match.

    Competitors have no idea what the stages are going to be before the match.

    Sometimes your gear is a great fit to the stages presented and sometimes you’re going to be behind the curve.

    One of the failings of many types of these events are that they fall into a rinse-and-repeat paradigm of stage design and the stages become designed around the popular gear rather than “reality”. We attempt to avoid that pitfall.

    Some months a SMG is the perfect gun for the match and other months you’re presented with a 100 yard spinner target and you have an SMG. Oops. Welcome to an unexpected simulation fo the battle of Crete? 🙂

  5. I would like to see the MAS 49/56 against a AG-42… More because I want to see how well the AG42’s strange ‘charging handle’ works in practical situations than anything.

    Excellent shooting with a gorgeous rifle Mr. McCollum. I always enjoy these videos.

  6. This is challenging match and any placement is good as long as you are ‘in’.

    Now, seeing MAS 49/56 in action I can sense its qualities. It is at least as good as anything in that category.

    • You could have the MAS FAS49/56 MSE Kit for Military competition & DMR (chad, Liban …and manies smalls wars in Africa):
      – Triger pack with wiegh betwen 2.5 et 2.8 Kg (3.5Kg for std version)
      – sight (front & back),
      – stock with pistol grip with check piece (High & Low) & wood spacer fot the lenth
      – Optic X4 APX L806 mod 53 …

  7. Ian,
    What type of ammunition were you using…French surplus, PPU, Portuguese, etc? I own a MAS 49 that I have not fired yet and was wondering if you used commercial loads and if so, did you experience any slam fires during your courses of fire. Also, I think a match with the APX scope would interesting. Thanks!

  8. It looks a good tool, for the job, that rifle.

    Maybe Stgw57 Magazines in 7.5x55mm Swiss would hold the French 7.5x54mm cartridges they sound pretty similar, for a magazine modification.

    The trigger group of the Stgw, might well fit with some alterations to the Mas, the Swiss gun has a nice trigger by the looks of it.

  9. One easy way to improve MAS 49/56’s trigger pull is by pull off one of the “leg” from the hammer spring. Lighten the trigger pull and totally reversible.

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