Book Review: Chassepot to FAMAS – French Military Rifles 1866-2016

I am very excited to finally be able to formally present to you Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles 1866-2016! After about 3 years of work, it’s finally here and shipping. My goal with this book was to create a reference guide that would allow someone to identify any French military rifle they would encounter, be it in museums, gun shows, auction, and collections.It covers military rifle designed and built in France, and has 10 chapters comprising more than 530 pages: Chassepot, Gras, Kropatschek, Lebel, Berthier, RSC, MAS 36, MAS semiauto, FR, and FAMAS. within each chapter is a history of the design, variations, markings, production dates and totals, combat use, bayonets, mechanics, and more. The photography is outstanding, and it really shows. James Rupley’s efforts in that area have made it the best-looking firearms reference book ever published, if I may be so bold as to make that claim. This is not a typical book full of dark black-and-white photos.

While there are a few other books in English on French rifles, none is even remotely close to the scope of mine. This is a must-have resource for anyone interested in French arms, or who collects them. Perhaps this is a biased opinion since it comes from the author, but I am confident that outside review will back me up.

Available only direct from Headstamp Publishing.



  1. Is it conflict of interest? Ooooaaah, right! That’s attitude of ‘capitalist’ or entrepreneur if you will. But then, solid effort coupled with help of other people – why not! Congratulations Ian!

    • Well, let’s see what happens next! Too bad I can’t afford to buy the book, a car parking accident cost me an entire paycheck…

      • I could do it and as matter fact would like too… but I have no space left. Second thing is that I have enough material on FAMAS and do not intend to get too specialized.
        Besides, this is intended mainly for collectors, as I understand.

          • True, if available. But that would dodge author’s right for due reward. I may be wrong…. or maybe sound ‘too ethical’.

  2. Ian,
    When I was in highschool these videos were all I watched. I followed this subject into my schooling and am now going to school for history and your videos were a huge part of me following that path. I’ve waited eagerly for this book and I am so impressed with the product and am very happy that you are able to keep bringing us this content. Thank you for all of this and keep up the amazing work!

  3. Great effort!

    Just one pet peeve.
    No I am not a language nazi. Perhaps I am the opposite, a lazy linguist. Why bother translating similar words from French to English? The English language is already have french and half germanic.
    Bayonette and bayonet mean the same (sharp and shiny) thing in both languages.

    • “(…)Bayonette(…)”
      Wait, is not français name of this piece of equipment baïonnette?

      “(…)English language(…)”
      I strongly encourage you to NOT attempt finding any logic there. Just look at country vs dwellers for few European countries: Spain – Spaniard, France – Frenchman, Germany – German, Poland – Pole.

  4. Great book Ian!

    Any plans for future books? I have to make a French 75 for brunch this Sunday!

  5. I had originally tried to per-order the ultra-delux version during the kick-starter, but a computer glitch at one end or the other meant that the transaction did not go through, which I did not realize right away, by the time I did the kick-starer was over. So I have re-ordered regular signed copy, now that they are available for normal sale and I am looking forward to it.

    I am especially appreciative of Ian designing it to lay flat open, since I often use books of this sort as he envisioned, along side the gun whilst working on it.

    My only criticisms are the shipping cost, and (ironically), that the quality is too good. Shipping to Canada could be done much cheaper and more simply, but I understand using a facilitator and treating all foreign orders the same makes sense, and I will happily eat the extra cost to get the book.

    As for quality, I think it is a little too good (strange thing to complain about, I know). It will go on my shelf between my other reference books, and the faux leather cover seems like overkill, since everything around it will have a conventional cover. Especially since it will be a book that gets used, either at the workbench, or as Ian envisioned, to be taken to the gun show/auction. I would have been happy with a more conventional cover.

    But these are very minor quibbles, the contents look fantastic, and I can’t wait to get mine, and I am (im)patiently waiting for two of the upcoming titles. With the death of R Blake Stevens and the consequential eventual winding down of Collector Grade Publications, we need ventures like this very much, and I am thrilled to see that is starting so strong.

  6. Congratulations and well done. French design is often refreshingly clever and idiosyncratic with a quite unique aesthetic sense as well. We may not always agree with their choices, but the rationales are always interesting. I look forward to getting a copy. I hope your French collaborators receive the credits they are due?

  7. Congratulations Ian. Full Marks. It would be better to have someone else praise your book – we know you are rightfully proud of your baby.

  8. Ian’s book arrived the same day as my new 9x19mm Ruger SP101 – and the book is in decidedly better shape. Beautiful photography, and the writing is very nearly as good – for a YouTuber, it’s spectacular! Top notch work – Ian has sold me on the Berthier, will pick one up one of these days.

  9. No need to be modest, the book is gorgeous and very informative. I received my book earlier this week and I just had to post a comment that day, so this is a bit of a repeat. None the less, I had to chime in again to say what a fantastic job you did. You have every right to be proud.

  10. The author Anthony Burgess, sometime around 1961-2, was informed by his doctors that he had a year to live. Always a fast worker, he wished to leave his wife and children an income in the form of royalties, so wrote and sold five novels in that year, one of which was the famous/notorious “A Clockwork Orange.” Another was called “One Hand Clapping,” published under the name Joe Kell. The Times of London sent Burgess a copy of “One Hand Clapping,” not knowing who Joe Kell was, with a request to review it for a fee. In an interview Burgess said, “Well, I needed the money for my family, so I gave it an honest review. I said it wasn’t for children, seemed to be written in a hurry, had some important themes in it and was amusing in parts.” Burgess lived another thirty years, wrote twenty more novels, as well as screenplays, translations, and non-fiction studies of literature while also composing several hundred musical pieces.

    So, no shame on Mr. M, congratulations on publication, may he continue like Burgess to be productive, and I shall own a copy for myself in a paycheck or two, even if I never possess or handle a French rifle.

  11. It is an exquisite book, and it is very highly informative!
    I find the notion of people taking the coffee table book to a gun show a bit funny, but “what the hey!” if it serves the purpose, then go for it.

    Funnily enough, I never really considered myself a French arms collector, and yet I do have a French self-loader, a rebuilt MAS Mle. 1936, and a copy of a Charleville .69 musket… The enclosed Mr. Mixologist cocktail menu harkens back to Mr. McCollum’s past job as a bar tender, and is a very nice touch! Personally, I prefer plain “pinard” and biere but it is a neat inclusion. It is an ornate and beautiful book, with tricolor ribbon book marks and whatnot, to the degree that my wife too wondered what book it was.

    A bit of advertising and promotion of a limited print-run book available only from the publisher is well advised, and in view of the content, entirely justified. Bravo!

  12. I am not a French martial arms collector. I still joined the Kickstarter and am extremely happy with this beautiful book! My wife was impressed when I unboxed it due to the obvious quality. I wanted to support the creation of Headstamp Publishing, and invested appropriately.This and all future books you all may produce will be heirlooms. I’m proud to own your signed book, Ian, and I look forward to the upcoming AK book as well!

  13. Since childhood I was interested in guns and everything related to them, because my father had a store where I often spent time, then I started mechanics college where I discovered a lot about guns and I liked it very much but every once in a while we had to do an essay or dissertation (what I’m not good at) that’s why I turned to to buy this, and the time saved to spend on nature walks and hunting. I specifically chose Essaysahrk because it has good reviews and is affordable for me by price. I would be very interested to order a review of this book as I don’t have time to read it.

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