Belgian 1886 Rifle Trials Report (Translated to English)

Our friend Thibaud has spent some time translating a report from the Belgian 1886 rifle trials into English – thank you, Thibaud!

He notes that the text has a lot of specifically Belgian terminology and phraseology from that period which is not in common use anymore, and has included explanatory details in [square brackets] when necessary.

I would like to draw attention to the severity of this testing regime – which was not uncommon at the time but is far more extreme than most people seem to expect today. In the course of firing more than a thousand rounds of black powder ammunition, the rifles would be soaked in salt water and left to rust overnight, buried in sand with actions open, and fired with deliberately ruptured casings.


Dispatch of the Chief of Weapon [“Arme” in the old French language also means “subdivision of the military” (Navy, Army, Air Force, etc.), so the name “Chef de l’arme” can be translated as “Chief of Weapons” or “Chief of the Army”, but it is unclear which one shall be used in the present document], July 14, 1886, n°544/188.

Dispatch ### [unknown abbreviation], August 10, 1886, 3rd ### [unknown abbrevation] n°6013.

Dispatch of the Chief of Weapons, 11 ### [bizarre abbreviation] n°544/220

Contest between simple weapons [the word “simple” seems to mean “light” or “portable”]

Executing orders from Mr Colonel Inspector of Weapons of War, a Committee…

Composed of Major Sub-Inspector of Weapons Mr Guillaume, Captains ### [unknown word] Davreux, Duvivier, Rigaumont, 1st Class Employee Dejaer, Vandenbogaerde, Baesens, Ducoffre, Fraikin, Second Captain Depouhon, Sublieutnant Corain, Principal 1st Class Controler Hanson, Principal Controler Duchesne, Albrecht, Chaumont, 2nd Class Controler Peck [or “Jeck”, maybe], Neuprez, Charlier, 2nd Class Employee (mechanic) Delderenne,

…proceeded to a contest between the “simple weapons” listed below on August, 16, 1886:

2 Comblain rifles model 1882, n°8445 and 8804
1 Jarmann rifle of 11mm [.44] caliber, n°188
2 Martini-Francotte rifles, n°777 and 778
2 Nagant rifles, n°289 and 1204. [Ed. Note: I cannot find a good online reference on this pattern of the Nagant (which is not a Mosin-Nagant). The closest I have is the followup version, which was trialled by the Belgian military in 1888]

All of these weapons were chambered for the model 1880 cartridge [11x50R].

Experiments occurred following this planning:


of the contest between all models [literally it is written “kinds”] of simple weapons.

All weapons will be tested in the same conditions and shall differ only by their breech mechanism, stock, fore-end, bayonet, sabre-bayonet or poignard [which, in French, is a word that means nothing. It is alternatively used to talk about knives in general, daggers, single-edged escrima knives, and tucks. It doesn’t really means anything and is rarely used by blade connoisseurs].

I. Ease and security of of handling.

Make sub-officers, corporals and infantry soldiers shoot the rifles and note differences noticed during reloading, functioning of the mechanisms and brass extraction.

Investigate carefully risks of accidents, premature discharge of the cartridge, mechanism stoppage, gas leakage, etc.

Each weapon will shoot 360 cartridges. They will be disassembled and cleaned after the first 20 shots. They will be disassembled and cleaned each time a failure will be noticed, which will at the same time train the soldiers to handle, clean and assemble these weapons.

II. Resistance of the mechanism to the more unfavorable circumstances of service [it’s so beautifully said!].

Investigate carefully the mechanism after each trial. If it shows some alteration, search for its cause and solve it if possible.

  • a. Shoot 50 cartridges with each weapon and leave them resting during 24 hours without cleaning. Repeat the same trial the next day. The following day, shoot 50 cartridges again then water them and dismantle them whitout cleaning. Expose them one complete day. Then, the fourth day, shoot 50 rounds and finish with a complete cleaning.
  • b. Plunge each rifle into salt water from stock to rear sight with and without cartridges for 15 minutes. Expose to fresh air for 24 hours then shoot 25 rounds per rifle.
  • c. Put the guns on the ground and cover their mechanisms with dust and fine sand. The mechanism being closed, take the guns, shake them and shoot 25 rounds with each. Repeat with opened mechanism. If the mechanism is obstructed, clean it and note the time needed to make the weapon ready to shoot again.
  • d. Shoot 300 rounds with each gun. At this point of the contest, each gun should have fired at least 1000 rounds.
  • e. Drop the weapons five times from 1 meter [1.1 yard] high on a (non rocky) ground on the mechanicaly more fragile side. Weapons rested on their buttplates, let them fall 5 times on wooden floor then 5 times on cobblestone floor. This trial will occur after the rapid fire test.

III. Speed of shooting.

Make corporals, subofficers and solders shoot all guns 2 times, with 25 shots on a target of 0.80 meters wide [0.9 yard] and 1.80 meters height [2 yards] at 25 meters [27.5 yards] distance. Record time needed by each shooter and make an average. Three quarters of the shots must hit the target. If not, repeat the test.

IV. Proof load trial.

a. Shoot with cut cartridges to simulate sensible gas leakage. Ten such rounds will be shot by each gun with standard loads.

b. Shoot with heavy loads. Shoot 10 rounds per weapon with chamber full of hunting powder and a spitzer bullet of 10,5 mm [0.413] caliber and weighing 44 grams [680 grains]. [This appears to be approximately double the standard projectile weight, but significantly smaller than the bore diameter]

V. Cleaning and maintenance.

Make armorers then subofficers, corporals and soldiers field strip the guns.

Clean the rifles and carefully investigate bendable, breakable and losable parts during cleaning and disassembly. Note time needed to proceed.

VI. Ease of production and cost.

The committee will consult the principal employees and will be given all necessary information by producers and developers.

Report of tests results

All firing had been done by sub-officers, corporals and four infantry soldiers except the cut cartridges and heavy load shooting. These men also executed assembly, disassembly, cleaning etc. of the rifles.

I. Ease and security of of handling

360 shots per gun has lead to these observations:

Comblain rifle, n°8804 and 8445.
(1) mechanism stoppage.
(1) premature discharge when the back of the thumb hit the trigger [what?].
Inspection after shooting: nothing to report.

Jarmann rifle, n°188.
(5) failure to strike on first round.
(1) difficulty to open the mechanism.
Inspection after shooting: nothing to report.

Martini-Francotte rifle, n°777 and 778.
(2) brass thrown at the face of the shooter by the extractor.
(2) impossible extraction.
Inspection after shooting: nothing to report.

Nagant rifle n°1204 and 289.
(3) fall of the hammer at rest position when brutally closing the mechanism during the first 20 rounds shooting. The hammer shape had been fixed but the hammer still sometimes falls down to rest position during other shooting strings. [not sure what this
(7) difficult extraction.
Since the second serie of one of the two rifles, frequent closing difficulties.
Painful right hand of the shooter.
Inspection after shooting : light hammering of the upside of the breech.

When infantry soldiers where sufficiently used to the rifles, the committee took the time to shoot some salvo, the cartridges being placedon a table at direct proximity of the shooter’s right hand.

Rifles shot 20 rounds in :

Martini-Francotte, 1 minute 19 seconds
Comblain, 1 minute 24 seconds
Nagant, 1 minute 29 seconds
Jarmann, 1 minute 38 seconds

II. Resistance of the mechanism to the more unfavorable circumstances of service.

On August 21, weapons shot 50 rounds before being exposed to air during 24 hours without being cleaned.

Comblain rifle.
Nothing to report.

Jarmann rifle.
(1) difficult extraction.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
(2) difficult extractions
(1) impossible extraction.

Nagant rifle.
(5) Hammer fell down at rest position during mechanism closure.

On August 24, rifles shot 50 rounds, same operation.

Comblain rifle.
Nothing to report.

Jarmann rifle.
2 failure to strike on first shot.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
2 impossible extractions.
1 trigger blockage (stopping screw of the indicator switch [what?] was unscrewed).

Nagant rifle.
2 difficult extractions.
Hammer felt down 3 times at rest position during mechanism closure.

On August 28, rifles shot 50 rounds, same operation.

Comblain rifle.
Nothing to report.

Jarmann rifle.
Difficult lever handling since the thirty-first shot.
5 failure to strike on first shot.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
Impossible extraction on one of the rifle since 35th shot.
Difficult extraction since 45th shot on the other rifle.

Nagant rifle.
Hammer falls down when closing the mechanism.
Extraction becomes difficult from the 35th shot on one of the rifles.
Shooter’s right hand feels painful.
Extraction becomes difficult from the 45th shot on the other rifle.

On August 29, rifles were soaked in water then exposed to air during 24 hours. On August 30, 50 rounds were shot per gun.

Comblain rifle.
(13) difficult mechanism openings.
(7) very difficult openings. One is compeled to use a screwdriver to disengage the triggerguard tail

Jarmann rifle.
(3) absolute failures [the language definitely is elegant!].
(1) difficult extraction.
(5) failure to strike.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
(15) difficult extractions.
(5) very difficult extractions.
(19) impossible ones.
Shooters feel pain on the right hand and on the right side of the body.

Nagant rifle.
(1) failure to strike.
(8) difficult extractions.
(5) very difficult extractions.
Shooters feel pain on the right hand.
(1) fall of the hammer to rest position when closing the mechanism.

Shooting became very unpleasant after 40 rounds, committee pours water inside the rifle mechanisms then the 10 last rounds are shot. Here are the results:

Comblain rifle.
(4) impossible openings (usage of screwdriver to open)

Jarmann rifle.
(2) failure to strike

Martini-Francotte rifle.
(1) impossible opening.

Nagant rifle.
Nothing to report.

Weapons Inspection:

Comblain rifle.
Nothing to report.

Jarmann rifle.
Little scratch on the grip.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
Scratch on the trigger of one of the rifles.
On both rifles, the stopping screw of the indicator switch was partially unscrewed.

Nagant rifle.
Light scratch on rest notch, scratches on the breech head.
N°1204 has light hammering on the breechface.

Shooting of 25 rounds after the mechanism had been soaked in salt water.

They have been soaked from stock to rear sight during 15 minutes. Comblain n°8804, Jarmann, Martini-Francotte n°778 and Nagant 1204 were loaded. They then had been exposed to air during 24 hours. Here are the results:

Comblain rifle.
None [in fact it is “néant”, which translates in something like “void” or “oblivion”].

Jarmann n°188 loaded.
(6) failure to strike including one on first shot.
(1) difficult extraction.
At fourth string, shooting stopped. Still considerable difficulties to actuate the lever. To continue shooting, the shooter had to lubricate the mechanism with saliva.
Inspection after shooting: nothing to report.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
(5) difficult extractions.
Impossible extraction after the first shot. Disassembly of the weapons: the trigger spring is broken and rusted. It is replaced.
Following shots show nothing abnormal.
Inspection after shooting: nothing to report.

Nagant rifle.
(1) difficult extraction.
(1) fall of the hammer during closing.
(1) fall of the hammer when just touching the trigger.
At the 5th round of the last shooting string, extraction is difficult and shooter’s hand is hurt.

Fine sand is dust on the rifles and 25 rounds per weapon are shot.

Comblain rifle.
(8) operating stoppage.
(1) difficult extraction.

Jarmann rifle.
(2) failure to strike.
(4) absolute failures.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
(3) difficult extractions.

Nagant rifle.
(1) fall of the hammer on rest position when closing.
(1) fall of the hammer on rest position when pulling the trigger.
(3) difficult extractions.

Remarks: shooters say that the Nagant has the more powerful recoil and the Jarmann the less powerful recoil.

Sand is dust on the opened mechanism of the rifles.

Comblain rifle.
(5) difficult extractions.
(10) operating stoppage.

Jarmann rifle.
(10) failure to strike on first shot.
(1) failure to strike.
(1) absolute failure. Rifle is dismounted and fixed in 3 minutes.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
(1) operating stoppage.

Nagant rifle.
(2) difficult extractions.
(1) failure to strike.

Shooting of 300 rounds per weapons in 15 strings of 20 rounds.

Comblain rifle.
N°8445 :
(1) failure to strike.
Trigger-guard screw partially unscrewed on 12th shot of the 10th string.
N°8804 :
(5) failure to strike.
(1) difficulty to opppen mechanism.
(2) times the trigger-guard screw unscrewed partially.
Inspection after shooting: Nothing to report.

Jarmann rifle.
N°188 :
(21) failure to strike.
(1) absolute failure.
Inspection after shooting: Nothing to report.

Martini-Francotte rifle.
N°777 :
N°778 :
Inspection after shooting: Pedal [? Lever I think] of the n°777 had been bent a bit to ease extraction.

Nagant rifle.
N°289 :
Hammer falls down on rest position 56 times when closing mechanism.
(1) fall of the hammer on rest position when pulling the trigger.
(1) failure to strike.
(1) difficulty to extract.
(2) failure to strike.
Inspection after shooting: Nothing to report.

Dropping tests.

Drop five time the weapons from 1 meter [1.1 yard] high on a (non rocky) ground on the mecanicaly more fragile side.

The cap [?] that goes through the stock of the Martini-Francotte rifle was slightly bent, preventing closure of the mechanism. Rotating the cap was enough to fix the problem.

Weapons rested on their buttplates, let them fall 5 times on wooden floor then 5 times on cobblestone floor. This trial will occur after the rapid fire test.

Nothing to report.

III. Speed of shooting.

Here is noted only the average of the four shooting strings (2 strings for each gun, 2 guns per model).

Comblain rifle:
Second with 2 minutes 4 seconds. Nothing to report.

Jarmann rifle:
Fourth with 2 minutes 52 seconds. Several difficult extractions.

Martini-Francotte rifle:
Third with 2 minutes 26 seconds.
N°777 : Too many failures to take account of the time noted.
N°778 : Several failures to extract.
1 brass on each rifle hit the eye of the shooter.

Nagant rifle:
First with 1 minute 57 seconds. Shooter’s right hand is painful.

Worst time : 3 minutes 7 seconds with the Jarmann.
Best time : 1 minute 34 seconds with the Nagant.

V. Cleaning and maintenance:

Average of all rifle for disassembly and reassembly:

1st – Comblain rifle, 2 mn 33
2nd – Jarmann rifle, 2 mn 53
3rd – Nagant rifle, 3 mn 36
4th – Martini-Francotte, 4 mn 29

IV. Heavy Loads Trial:

Shooting of 10 cut cartridges with each gun.

Comblain rifles.
(13) upward leaks.
(11) downward leaks.
(16) partial opening of the mechanism.
(2) complete opening.
(2) throwing of residue to the rear.
Forced 1 time to lubricate the mechanism to open it.

Jarmann rifles.
(10) upward leaks.
(4) difficulty to extract.
At 5th cartridge, forced to disassemble the rifle to oil the mechanism to continue shooting.

Martini-Francotte rifles.
(14) partial opening of the mechanism.
(15) upward and downward leaks.
(2) difficult extractions.

Nagant rifles.
(13) upward leaks.
(11) light downward leaks.
Forced to lubricate 3 times with water to operate.

Shooting with heavy loads:

After this test, all rifles were diassembled and inspected. No damage to report. [The use of significantly undersized bullets in this test would explain the remarkable lack of damage incurred]

On September 17, the committee had a vote to sort the rifles. Were present this day [all the names given at the beginning of the document].

Here is the “worth” ranking:

1 – Comblain rifle
2 – Nagant rifle
3 – Martini-Francotte rifle
4 – Jarmann rifle

A second vote occurs to sort the easier to produce, disassemble and clean. Here is the result:

1 – Comblain rifle
2 – Nagant rifle
3 – Jarmann rifle
4 – Martini-Francotte rifle

### [unreadable word] on September 18, 1886.

The committee [all the names given at the beginning of the document]

To copy.

Mr. Inspector of Weapons.


  1. One thing i did not see (but would be interesting is the cost of each gun).To compare with the cost to day of same guns.Would the Nagant come out on top.Just wondered.Any way a very interesting article, thanks.

    • French. At the period, there was massive discrimination against the Flemish, so nothing official like this would EVER have been written in Dutch.

  2. In the above the author said: “1 trigger blockage (stopping screw of the indicator switch [what?] was unscrewed).”

    If the “what?” was in reference to questioning what part of the rifle was being referred to, I suspect it was the cocking indicator arm on the right side of the receiver (arbre fleche in the diagram). I assume the screw holding it to the receiver had come loose and that this somehow interfered with the mechanism inside.

    It’s interesting to note the visible differences between the Martiny-Francotte and the Martini-Henry, including the shape of the cartridge feed ramp (or whatever it’s called).

    One thing the British changed after experience with the Martini-Henry in Africa was to lengthen the lever to help deal with difficult extraction. A similar change might have helped with some of the problems in this trial. However, this version of the Martini-Henry didn’t go into service in the UK until 1888, 2 years after these Belgian trials.

    • Thank you.
      The name of the part was convoluted and, not knowing the Martini-Francotte rifle, I didn’t understand what it reffered to.
      I suspected an early XXth century belgian non-gun connoisseur term.

    • The longer lever didn’t really help. All it did was make it easier to tear the head off the cartridge case.

      The .577/.450 cartridge case was the real problem. It was a “composite” case, with a wrought-iron or bronze “battery cup” head, and a body made of copper foil. The structure was not unlike a modern shotgun shell;

      The one at the left is the early version with a pure copper foil body. The next two are brass foil, the last is a drawn-brass case. The .22 LR at the far left gives some idea of the size.

      The copper foil case was noted for “soldering” itself into the chamber, especially when fired in an already-hot barrel. Attempted extraction had about a 50-50 chance of tearing the head off, and the foil was too flimsy for the use of a patent case extractor. It literally had to be scraped out of the chamber.

      Tropical conditions of heat and humidity, which affected the burning characteristics of the black powder charge, exacerbated this problem.

      The solution of course was a one-piece, drawn-brass cartridge case. Which was finally OK’d by the British government in 1889.

      By which time the U.S. and most other armies with metallic-cartridge breechloaders had been using drawn brass cases for about two decades. (The U.S. Army adopted them for all new rifle and other designs in 1865.)

      Since drawn-brass cases were used exclusively in British sporting arms from the 1860s on, there was clearly no shortage of “plant” to manufacture them.

      The reason for the lag in adopting them was purely and simply money. The Parliament wanted an army that could control their colonial empire and take on any enemy. They just didn’t want to spend any money on its equipment.

      The bill came due at Isandhlwana and Majuba Hill, where jams due to case separations were a major factor in the annihilation of the 24rd Regiment of Foot in the former, and major losses and loss of the position by the 92nd (Gordon)Highlanders, 15th King’s Hussars, and 60th Rifles in the latter.

      There’s an old saying that two things tend to kill soldiers; the unrealistic beliefs of diplomats and the parsimony of politicians.

      The .577/.450 cartridge case is a “case” in point.

      clear ether


      • The Boxer 577/450 was never in copper (Eley did some in tinned steel). The case problems were due to storage and the weak MH extractor. Boxer cases were indeed cheaper which is why they were made until the 1930’s for the civilian market. Stuck cases did not stop them working at Rorkes Drift for one. Easily driven out with the cleaning rod. The ammunition boxes were held by only one screw which could be swiftly removed with the armourers turnscrew, the turnscrew on each soldier’s combination tool, the butt of a rifle or a stout boot. No problem.

        No argument that the drawn brass case is superior nor that cost was a factor but the Boxer wrapped brass case was a viable option still being made and sold 50 years after the Zulu War.

        • I should add that the Comblain used Belgian made wrapped brass cartridges like the MH 577/450 (without the bottleneck) for many years before introducing drawn cases.

          Bien fait Thibauld pour votre traduction. Il est assez difficile de traduire idiomatiquement sans les problèmes du langage d’Ordnance qui diffère entre le Français et l’Anglais, le langage de l’armée Belge et les différences entre la Wallonie et le Français.

  3. “Arme” in French (and Italian as well) can mean the following: Weapon or Arm, Branch of the Service (The correct interpretation), Corps ( as in “Arma dei Carabinieri (Ital). It can also mean as an abbreviation, “L’Arme de l’Artillerie” ( the Artillery Branch, which supervised all “Ordnance” activities, in most European Armies.
    When capitalised, it means Branch of the Service.

    Several of the Other “Untranslatable” words should have been rendered in French Original with context…there are a lot of us out here with good “Ordnance French” (both recent and ancient) who could render a meaningful translation of the missing terminology.

    Sometimes, a Technical translation needs a double barrelled approach…in this case, One French native speaker, one English Native Speaker, both reasonably fluent in each other’s Language (“Ordnance Speak”) as sometimes (often) the Military Jargon or Idiom in not easily translatable either way. German Is worse…in this regard.

    IN my case, The Translation is a good, reasonably clear one; some Idiomatic usages need modification, but otherwise perfectly comprehensible.

    Merci Beaucoup, un Opus tres bien fait.

    Doc AV

    • De rien, merci à vous.

      Though now it is published, I find it hesitant, not very fluent.
      I didn’t practiced english “in real life” for long, so my language is not very flowing, including when writting.
      You reassure me by saying it is a good one.

  4. Yikes. Testing all competitors for wartime durability was really grueling, wasn’t it? At least these guys were being realistic to some extent about simulating the hardships of the front for each weapon. Most people today probably won’t consider tossing a rifle or dropping it from a tree a realistic durability test, but I could be wrong. In one particular trial, a Maxim gun was thrown overboard at sea, recovered three days later, and test-fired with no apparent loss of performance (by the way, Maxim wasn’t allowed to clean the gun before firing). Strange, isn’t it?

    • What striked me was that the weapons suffered ALL the tests without rest nor repearing.

      A rifle in combat may be soaked in salty water, or fall on the ground, or fire a ruptured round, or not be cleaned for a long time or rust in the air, or two of these.
      But the test clearly simulated an only one rifle that suffered all of those hazards : a rifle that had been dropped on the ground after 24 hours of rusting after being soaked in salty water when shooting a ruptured case, half-way dug in sands.

      It’s like testing a car that miss a sparking plug, whithout oil lubricant, after having encountered a plane tree at high speed, when it’s less 40°c outside, by night and without lights.

      Looking to the actual tests which exhibit “20 000 rounds shot in a clean and closed shooting range without part-breakage” is now quite funny.

      • “20 000 rounds shot in a clean and closed shooting range without part-breakage”
        I’m wondering which would be result of test: fire until part breakage? 30000 rounds fired? 50’000? 100’000?

        • I think it will be pretty high for some weapons, but it would be out of the reality of combat in my opinion.
          These “endurance” tests we do today are economical tests. They aim to prove to a government it will not spend too much money on repearing the guns during their (expected long) service life.

          I remember the Beretta PX4 Storm tested for shooting about 40 000 rounds until part breakage. Which is totally unrelevant for a police pistol, which (in my country at least. I don’t know how it is in others) would be unlucky to shoot just 3 000 rounds in its entire service life.

          What is really important is simulation of combat and mean round between stoppage (which is the aim of this very harsh belgiian test) : a soldier would be issued a moderatly used gun anyway so what is important for him is just that when he take the gun and press the trigger, a bullet is fired.

          It’s like the accuracy test for an assault rifle. What is important is not its inherent accuracy, especially at long range. What is important is that the rifle can group on a 40×40 cm target until 300 yards.

  5. The “hammering” of the Nagant breechface sounds like peening to me. I’m wondering if there might have been some heat-treatment problems there.

    I’m inclined to suspect that the Nagant was either the lightest weight rifle tested, had a narrow buttplate, or both,. The remarks about actual physical pain due to recoil would indicate one or the other. Or else its cartridge was significantly more powerful than the others.



    • I think it might be the action, the mechanism looks like it functions sort of like that rifle from the 1888 tests the Liegeoise 1888 Trials Rifle straight pull sort of… To fire fast you’d “rag it” pull it back with force, perhaps this slammed the rifle into your shoulder when the bolt stopped over time hurting you. Then when you fire with a hurt shoulder you think ow, more. It does say they shooter had a sore hand with this Nagant, so if it is similar to the 1888 version we have a picture of that “ragging it” would explain that also perhaps, with fouling.

      • How about, you could operate it that quickly pressure was higher so your hand was assisted opening bolt this inturn helped smack the bolt against it’s stop when fully opened. “Remarks: shooters say that the Nagant has the more powerful recoil and the Jarmann the less powerful recoil.shooter’s hand is hurt.” It says that after “Fine sand is dust on the rifles and 25 rounds per weapon are shot.” But before “Sand is dust on the opened mechanism of the rifle” so was the comment on recoil in regards a type of muck, genral muck, or not related to muck. With muck though as with fouling, you can see the “ragging it” open, having some effect on the shooters body I think.

      • “The bolt designed by NAGANT has longitudinal movement and is the essential characteristic of this mechanism.”
        That’s a comment pertaining to the 1888 Nagant model, and to me it looks like you pull it up a bit and back, then forward and down a bit- Straight pull’ish. Is longitude, along the corridor or up the stairs… I.e. Horizontal rather than vertical?

  6. А.А. Малимон in his book Отечественные автоматы (записки испытателя оружейника) states that testers of fire-arms in Soviet Union were high-regarded by weapons designers, as they point where fire-arm is weak and direction of development. In this book whole chapter is dedicated to testers (you can read whole book (in Russian) here: for testers scroll to Глава 3 Испытатели). This book will be useful also if you are interesting with history Russian/Soviet fire-arms (not only avtomat but also machine guns and others) from Fyodorov Avtomat to Nikonov Avtomat (AN-94), but it mainly concern AK and its competitors (like Bulkin Avtomat AB-46 or Korobov TKB-408)

    • Some Russian/Soviet gun designer wrote book describing their work:
      В.А.Дегтярёв (designer of DP machine gun, DA machine gun, DT machine gun, PPD-34 sub-machine gun, DK big-bore machine gun, DShK big-bore machine gun, PTRD anti-tank rifle) wrote book titled “Моя жизнь” (My life):
      Дегтярев В. Моя жизнь (1951) available here:
      М.Т.Калашников wrote Записки конструктора-оружейника
      V.G.Fyodorov wrote multiple books mainly concerning fire-arms history (Эволюция стрелкового оружия, Оружейное дело на грани двух эпох, История винтовки) and fire-arms designing (Составление рабочих чертежей и технических условий для образцов стрелкового оружия), he described also (in В поисках оружия) his searching of fire-arms for Imperial Russia during First World War [during this war Russia has heavy fire-arms shortages so they buy any weapons at any price]

  7. Hi !

    The first abréviation is : M^elle : ministérielle
    -> Ministerial dispatch.

    Abréviations after “Capitaines” is commandants -> capitaines-commandants. It’s a specific grade to the Belgian army.

    Thibaud made a very good job.

    The Nagant Rifle was this one :

    For Thibaud :

    Tu as fais un travail génial dans cette traduction.
    Comme noté plus haut : la première abréviations est ministérielle.
    Le grade de capitaine-commandant n’a pas d’équivalent en dehors de la belgique, il aurait donc été difficile pour toi de le traduire.

    • That Nagant says it’s 8mm, is it 8x50R Mannlicher, also it says it’s from the 1888 trials as oppose this 1886 11x50R trial “All of these weapons were chambered for the model 1880 cartridge [11x50R]” Link about the 11mm cartridge aforesaid :
      What 8mm does this Nagant take? Or is it 8mm i.e. 7.65x53R Belgian, which evolved into the 7.65×53 Argentine as is my understanding and the rimmed cartridge may possibly be based on 7x57R in my opinion as it shares the same base diameter as the Argentine round. Or maybe the Nagant was originally in 11mm for the 1886 trials…

        • “2 Nagant rifles, n°289 and 1204. [Ed. Note: I cannot find a good online reference on this pattern of the Nagant (which is not a Mosin-Nagant). The closest I have is the followup version, which was trialled by the Belgian military in 1888]” The follow-up model is the one made reference to by Heylighen I think. Which was the quickest to operate, by the looks of the report- This model of Nagant looks to be kind of straight pull.

          • “Speed of shooting. Here is noted only the average of the four shooting strings (2 strings for eacorst time . Best time : 1 minute 34 seconds with the Nagant.” I wonder why the Nagant reputedly had more recoil, they all look similar sized “If the 1886 Nagant is similar to the 1888 one” B.P fouling really seems to have an effect on all of these rapid fire* weapons doesn’t it.

            *At the time.

          • Perhaps it wasn’t recoil but the force of the shooter physically pulling the action into the shoulder which cumulatively had a effect, and caused confusion as to the cause i.e. They really just had a sorer shoulder.

      • It’s likely the Nagant pictured is 8mm as it says, given the rifles in 1888 were all in 8mm as oppose them all being in 11mm during 1886 thus this Nagant could be the same rifle more or less but they just changed the calibre, I think the Liegeoise 1888 Trials Rifle was based on this Nagant 1886 model… But the designer improved it ergonomically amongst other things, it’s a similar action idea but “reversed” if you will, easier on the hand perhaps- A more natural motion.

    • @Heyligen : Merci à vous, Heylighen, votre considération me touche. Et merci pour vos précisions.

      Malheureusement, mes quelques amis Belges sont tous anti-armes et anti-militaristes, ils n’ont donc pas pu m’aider.

      Je suis heureux que ma traduction ait été utile. J’en ferai d’autres si possible.

    • You can see how smokeless powder was much more practical for smaller diameter “modern” battle rifle calibre “rapid fire” rifles, which probably was instrumental in it’s development. The Belgian 1889 Mauser was better than the g88 Man’itch’er, man’licker whatever, with ze German Gewehr-Prüfungskommission having a leading role in it’s design. Once the French invented smokeless powder and everyone else nicked the recipe, the improvement between 1886 rifles and 1888 is apparent. I read “The original 1898 pattern military ball ammunition was loaded with a 13.65 grams (210.7 gr) round-nosed bullet fired at a muzzle velocity of 650 m/s (2,133 ft/s) with 2,884 J (2,127 ft·lbf) muzzle energy.” About 7.65x53mm Argie, but this calibre is that of the Belgian Mauser in 1889 it having evolved from a rimmed version I think which was used in the 1888 tests. “8mm Lebel is also the first rifle ammunition to feature a spitzer boat tail bullet (Balle D), which was adopted in 1898.” I think the Argentine so Belgian might have gone for a spitzer in 1898… The 1905 pattern 7.92x57mm Mauser used the Spitzer, it says “Following the lead of French and German army commands in developing the spitzer – a pointed-tip – bullet shape” about the Argentine, which was the Belgian but the g88 was behind the curve really particularly in relation to ditching the Mannlicher clip which it did when it adopted the new spitzer cartridge as is my understanding given the Belgians had adopted it in 1889 why wouldn’t they have adopted it before Germany like France. Would it be correct to assume, if you don’t have the clips they wont fire from the magazine in the Mannicher. You could say well the ammo comes in clips anyway so you would have a clip, but a magazine which works as such without a clip is surely a better military design. Vested interests perhaps held Mauser back in Germany, in regards his stripper clip lark.

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