France began working on developing military self-loading rifles virtually as soon as the 1886 Lebel was adopted, and they would pursue a pretty elaborate series of trials right up to World War I. One series was developed by Etienne Meunier at the Artillery Technical Section using gas operated mechanisms, and designated the A series. The B series was the work of M. Rossignol at the Musketry School, using mostly direct gas impingement systems. The C series was designed by Louis Chauchat and M. Sutter at the Puteaux Arsenal, and these were long-recoil actions. Trials commenced in 1911 and 1912 on the latest rifles from each series, and ultimately none was judged really ready for military service – although the A6 Meunier would be produced in small numbers (about a thousand) and issued in 1916.
This particular rifle is a C6, from Chauchat and Sutter. The C7 was in the formal testing, and this C6 is a very similar rifle. It uses a long recoil action, a unique locking system with two pivoting locking lugs somewhat similar to the Kjellman system, and a remarkably powerful 7mm rimless cartridge fed from 6-round Mannlicher type clips. It was deemed too complicated at trial, not surprisingly.