A Rifle for International Competition: the MAS 49-56 MSE

Preorders now open for my book, Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles 1866-2016! Get your copy here!

The MSE (Modified St Etienne) version of the MAS 49-56 was developed specifically for international competition shooting by French military teams. The standard MAS 49-56 service rifle was much more of a combat weapon than a target rifle, and the MSE improved several of its shortcomings in that arena. Most significantly, it added a longer stock and a proper pistol grip to improve handling. The MSE also has a substantially improved trigger and iron sights with much finer adjustments that the standard rifle. These elements were combined as a kit of upgrade parts to be dropped onto a regular 49-56; the MSE was not made as a complete new rifle. Only some 900 were originally made, and they are often faked today.


  1. ok i get it but can we have a little less French Military stuff? way too many MAS vids now. couldn’t we just buy the book if we wanted to see this much French Military stuff?

    • So what you are saying is that you are being forced to watch these vedios against your will? No one likes a whiner

      • Agreed, if you don’t like it, don’t watch or read just to complain about it. Whining makes people look extremely immature. I had my fair share of listening to whiny kids complaining about not getting the toys or games they wanted from shopping malls. Let’s don’t add adults into the mix, trust me!!

        • Same goes for the Voltron base on FB: If they hated the 1984 original because it retcons Dairugger as a sequel to Golion through badly done cut-and-paste, the 2017 LD reboot is also hated because it’s a homage to Halo’s rival franchise Mass Effect.

  2. I’m enjoying learning about French stuff

    Especially from Ian, who has an open mind about its merits and it’s failings.

    I’m also a fan of Italian guns, again good info has been hard to find.

    Ian along with Othias & Mae, have been doing an excellent job of correcting that problem.

    A 1950s gunsmithing (Bubbaficating) book, that long since went to the village fete second hand book stall…

    Stated boldly and bluntly “when poor military guns were made, it was usually the French or the Italians who made them”

    Fortunately, our three musketeers of the interwebz are doing a very good job of deconstructing such sweeping and propaganda inspired untruths.

    • when poor military guns were made, it was usually the French or the Italians who made them
      In such situation I could only say The only one who doesn’t make mistakes is the one who doesn’t do anything. /you do not have to agree with all quotes of its author to agree with that particular one/ so every country producing serious number of designs of military guns have smaller or bigger flop in this area of history.
      Problem with above sentence is that it couldn’t be either confirmed or disproved, as long as poor remain without exact definition.

      • I think that “poor”


        “it’s foreign, and I don’t understand it, and it isn’t easy to Bubbaficate it with everyday home DIY tools, into looking like that sporter I saw a picture of in a magazine”

    • “very good job of deconstructing such sweeping and propaganda inspired untruths.”
      This reminded me about one quote. Truth does not win. Truth remains. So truth is not able to eradicate (attractive) lie, but it could be unearthed providing enough effort.

    • Don’t forget them “junk” Japanese rifles and machine guns “that’ll blow up in your face,”to add to the pile of French and Italian firearms. I’ve heard the same garbage too many times to count. It’s like the 90’s myth that pinned barrel Chinese SKS’s would blow up after 1000rds so you better buy the one with the screwed in barrel.

      • I need to measure some receiver rings and bolt locking lugs.

        Arisaka 38 and 99 actions have locking systems that are about equivalent to the current commercial sporters.

        The Weatherby Mk v magnum has a much more modest figure for locking lug shear area, although Lug bearing area is up there with the Arisaka

        The weatherby mkv is perfectly ok for anything that you would want to fire from the shoulder in an actual sporting rifle, as is the Mauser 98

        Interesting thing, I suspect that the ’91 Carcano actually has very similar locking shear area and bearing area to the Weatherby MkV! And excellent breech design as well.

        The carcano has a very similar barrel shank diameter and very similar receiver ring diameter (the advantage is actually to the Carcano!) Compared to the Weatherby

  3. Was there a good reason (beyond unquestioning adherence to tradition)

    for the straight handed stock in the original service version?

    Did it make holding the rifle as a pike or a trench club easier?

    • Try “production simplicity.” There is a good reason why not to introduce a radically new stock for a given rifle: new tooling is usually needed or a new procedure to make the design using existing tools. I wonder if this also explains why potential economy-class assault rifles were not adopted, as adoption of such would require massive nation-wide factory reconfiguration and/or procurement of unfamiliar tooling packages (thus negating the supposedly lower individual gun price tag)! I could be wrong.

  4. This is well balanced rifle/ carbine which has hardly a match in steel and wood format. FAL in short version, maybe?

      • Also, it cost the Italian Army a lot less to develop than the M14 program cost the U.S. Defense Department. And the BM59 and its variants were in continuous service a considerably longer time than the M14 was.

        Yes, my “ideal” 7.62 x 51mm rifle would be a BM59, probably the folding stock MK III, modified to take M14 magazines (which are much easier to obtain than original BM59 items).



        • The main reason why the Beretta development was cheaper was due to having original tooling for the old M1. It is usually a much faster transition process when one does not have to create the gun and necessary tools from scratch! Army Ordnance didn’t check the conditions of the available tools until after contracting the job to the cheapest source, and then realized that all the tooling was either broken beyond repair or sold to Italy!

          • Well, it’s not just a “the tooling was worn out” issue — the M14 doesn’t actually use a whole Hell of a lot of parts in common with the Garand (and the ones it does are all small and simple).

            You can literally build a BM59 staring with an M1 Garand, a handful of parts (mostly for the feeding system), the correct barrel, and some careful additional machining on existing Garand parts (including, notably, the *receiver* and bolt). In fact, I believe the first runs of barrels *were* .30-06 barrels, shortened at the breech and a new chamber cut. The biggest cost items (to a government armory) in converting a Garand into a BM59 are due to the necessity to change the caliber from .30-06 to 7.62mm NATO.

        • “it cost the Italian Army a lot less to develop than the M14 program cost the U.S. Defense Department. And the BM59 and its variants were in continuous service a considerably longer time than the M14 was.”
          If my understanding is correct Beretta engineers developed just M1 Garand replacement, while U.S. forces were asking for rifle able to replace: M2 Carbine AND M3A1 Grease Gun AND M1 Garand AND BAR1918. But to create weapon which would replace them all decently would mean full-filing mutually exclusive requirement (like handy and controllable in full-auto and firing 7,62×51 NATO cartridge).
          Beretta itself produced sub-machine guns alongside BM 59 (see PM 12).

          • The fact that the Italians were “merely” replacing the M1 Garand, versus the US DoD replacing the M1 Garand, M1 & 2 Carbines, M3 SMG, and BAR is irrelevant.

            Their solution accomplished *exactly* what the M14 was supposed to do, even though the Italians were smart enough to realize that a 7.62x51mm battle rifle *couldn’t* replace everything from pistol caliber SMGs used (by this point) almost exclusively by tank crews to the standard squad LMG.

            The Italians managed, from 1957 to 1959, to do what took the US Army Ordnance Corps 14 years, and did it *better*, including actually being able to use most of the M1 Garand tooling (unlike the M14). The US Army *could* have had an American BM59 IN SERVICE by the time the Korean War broke out (although an adoption that early would have likely been in .30-06, since the 7.62x51mm NATO wasn’t yet finalized and standardized), had they wanted — the T20E2 was pretty much ready for final polishing before production by May 1945, and the T22E1 was at the same point a month earlier.

  5. If I had any future direction for Ian, I’d suggest to turn attention to countries of South America. Hopefully, I am not sounding immodest.

    Starting off with Rio’s festival would not be a bad idea 🙂

    • I’d like to see stories on the various “Latin American” Mausers that figured so prominently in the “politics” of the region’s countries. Such as the custom of storing the rifles and their bolts in separate armories to, as one arms historian said, prevent unauthorized target practice on the Presidential Palace.

      Not to mention the Madsen Model 1947, probably the last general-issue bolt-action rifle ever designed and marketed, used in small numbers by Columbia and apparently Venezuela(?)



    • “countries of South America.”
      Certainly a lot of interesting design, if I would have to enumerate some with maybe bit click-bait style, that would be (ordered by countries in alphabetic order):
      HAFDASA C-4 (Argentine) – aluminum before it was cool, 2-in-1 magazine, magazine cut-off – all in one weapon
      IMBEL-made FAL-based sub-machine guns (Brazil) – smaller offspring of FN FAL from Brazil – http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/fal-based-submachine-guns-from-imbels-fabrica-de-itajuba/
      Mekanika Uirapuru (Brazil) – how Brazilians get own machine gun design instead of FN MAG
      FAMAE PAF (Chile) – your country is under arms embargo? Chileans found solution
      MGP-84 (Chile) – getting own compact sub-machine gun in place of Micro-Uzi
      Naturally that list is incomplete.

    • There’s still so much for Ian to go at.

      Anything Mauser is interesting, same goes for “Mannlicher” (cough, G88 developments)

      OK, the bits of Asia that were Spanish became American

      and most of the rest was British, French or Dutch…

      But the bits that were respected, or just didn’t offer the prospect of paying off the cost of adding to empire (the only one in history to both take and hold Afghanistan was Alexander the great) have some seriously interesting guns.

      And the also ran empires…

      The sick man of empires, the Ottomans,

      The first of the previous modern European empires; the Portuguese (600 years ahead of the others!)

      The bits of the decadent Ottoman and Hapsburg empires; Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, and yeah, that sickest of sick man failed states… the modern Greek state

      Have I mentioned Africa yet?

      No? OK, let’s talk about the Dark Continent now. Ian’s got so much more to cover in the united States…


      • That’s the other place for Ian to discover: countries of Balkan – Romania, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria. They have (for good part) sound small arms tradition. I would strongly recommend two – Zastava in Kragujevac (Serbia) and Bulgarian Arsenal; companies with great tradition. We have lots of future with FW!

  6. The pistol grip spoils the looks of a handsome, warlike iron, IMHOP.

    Of course, if it was mine I’d be bench testing it for years to come.

  7. Lots of stocks for this rifle minus the pistol grip were sold at french gunshows about 6 years ago for 10 euroes
    just a heads up many of our small french gun shows are disappearing such as the one at Villars in the dordogne this weekend
    They were great for finding odd stuff as veterns would often bring in interesting items
    But apparently our new eu laws when applied in Fance forbid individuals selling their guns directly to another person without a gunsmith being the intermediary meanwhile back in Marseille anything goes

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