French Rifle Ammunition: 8mm Lebel and 7.5mm French

Today we are going through the French rifle ammunition used in the Lebel, Berthier, and MAS series rifles – 8mm Lebel and 7.5mm French.

The 8mm Lebel cartridge began as simply a necked-down version of the 11mm Gras cartridge, because that cartridge was already in use in the French Navy Kropatschek rifles which were the basis of the Lebel rifle design. As a result, the Lebel cartridge was significantly tapered and had a large rim (which would cause a series of problems for use in repeating arms in later years).

The model 1886 ammunition was a flat-nosed long conical bullet, with a lead core. The bullet weighed 15g/231gr and had a muzzle velocity of 638mps/2093fps. This was updated slightly in 1891 to strengthen the case and add a crimping groove to the bullet. Designated Balle 1886M, this cartridge would be the standard for almost 10 years.

In 1898, trials of a new spitzer bullet concluded with the adoption of Balle 1886D. This was not just a spitzer bullet, but actually a solid 90/10 brass bullet instead of a lead cored bullet, as this type was simpler to manufacture. The bullet weighed 12.8g/198gr and had a muzzle velocity of 701mps/2300fps.

In 1932, a new loading was developed to give better performance in machine guns, designated Balle 1932N. This was still a spitzer, but returned to the lead core type of construction. Its bullet weighed 15.05g/232gr and had a muzzle velocity of 690mps/2265fps. It was a more powerful round than the preceding versions, and incorporated a thicker neck in the brass. This required reaming out the chambered of existing weapons to avoid overpressure when firing. Converted weapons were marked with an “N” on the barrel and receiver. It is important not to fire this ammunition in unconverted firearms!

Today on the commercial market, the primary source of 8mm Lebel ammunition is PPU (Prvi Partisan). They make a cartridge loaded basically to Balle 1886D specifications, which can be safely used in both N-converted and unconverted rifles. For more information on the 8mm Lebel cartridge, I would recommend “Les Cartouches 8mm Lebel” by Jean Huon and Alain Barrelier.

In 1924, a new rimless cartridge was adopted – the 7.5x58mm. A problem quickly revealed itself, however, because 8mm Mauser ammunition could be chambered and fired in firearms made for the new 7.5mm cartridge – with potentially catastrophic results. To solve this problem, the case was shortened to 54mm in 1929, and the new standard loading was Balle 1929C. This fired a 9g/139gr bullet at 823mps/2700fps and would be the standard French rifle cartridge until the adoption of the 5.56mm FAMAS in the 1970s.


  1. Never assume that soldiers will read warning labels on the ammunition boxes before breaking them open. From what I have seen, most people assume that if the cartridge fits, the gun will shoot as expected. Sadly this was the case when Type 38 training rifles were mistaken for regular weapons. The training rifles had receivers designed for weaker gallery ammunition whose wooden projectiles were substantially shorter than regular jacketed bullets, although it was possible to force a regular cartridge into the chamber (no doubt some idiots did exactly that under the assumption that any gun is any other gun and that they should all shoot the same ammunition). Guess what happened, since American occupation troops didn’t ask about gallery munitions. I could be wrong, but someone has to question Wikipedia sources.

    • “(…)read warning labels(…)”
      Reading is one thing, understanding – another one.
      Problem that “it fits” also apply to Colt 1892:
      this weapon should be loaded with .38 Long Colt, but .357 Magnum will also fit, despite it working pressure is higher than on .38 Long Colt.

  2. This was very enlightening, I have to wonder why the French didn’t just copy the Swiss GP11 in 7.5×55. It goes to show how advanced the GP11 was for it’s day.

      • I am not sure if Switzerland would like to sell their cartridge design.
        Apparently Switzerland until World War II, divided fire-arms into “domestic” and “export” ones. During World War II they ended with sub-machine gun designed by Furrer:
        rather by adopting existing SIG MKMO or MKPO design, which were simpler.
        I am not sure if it apply also to ammunition.

        • The Swiss were notorious for not wanting to buy foreign weapons, and they tended to keep their own models to themselves, pre-WW2.
          Take standard issue rifles, for example. The last foreign-adopted rifle used by the Swiss was the M1868 Peabody rifle from the USA!
          Before the Furrer they developed the S1-100, later to be known as the Austrian-made Steyr MP34. Also, the Furrer M1925 was a Light MG that was sold before the SMG version (nice link), not to mention most of the Solothurn products (S-18/100, 1000, 1100 AT rifles) and Oerlikon guns. But I think you are right; they retained many of their designs for themselves; chalk it up to ‘armed neutrality’.

    • I have to wonder why the French didn’t adopt 6.5x55mm Swedish, or, for that matter, the same 7.65x53mm Belgian Mauser cartridge to have commonality with them. Then again, I have to wonder why the U.S. bothered with 7.62x51mm instead of, say, 7.5x54mm French or 7.65x53mm…

      Then again, perhaps eon is onto something with the 7x57mm Mauser cartridge? Or maybe the 7x49mm Liviano used only by Venezuela, and even then shortly overthrown by 7.62x51mm?

      • In case of inter-war period France, answer might be simplest possible:
        Then French forces sticked to rule: French forces must adopt French weapons.
        eon once mentioned that when American HAWK aeroplane was tested against French ones, it was very far from being fair.
        If not that method of operation they probably might adopted 7,65×53 mm (7.65 ARGENTINE MAUSER in U.S. parlance), also if 7,5×54 would be adopted as-is instead of inventing 7,62×51 they would get also ready working high-capacity magazines (150 from Reibel tank machine gun).

    • The Swiss 7.5mm boat tail bullet was copied by the united state military for the .30-06 m1 ball. The M1 overshot range danger areas and the recoil was unpopular, hence the return to the still hard kicking but ballistically underperforming 150gr bullet in the M2. See Hatchers notebook for the full story.

      8mm Balle D outperforms the 150 gr .30-06 loadings on energy, velocity and wind drift from 100 yards onwards, and very soon overtakes .30 on flatness of trajectory. As a machine gun round, both 8mm Lebel Balle D and .303 mk 7 can lay down a barrage at around 50% greater range than the 150gr .30-06 loads.

      After explaining all of that, Hatcher still had the nationalistic insolence to state that the delay in united state adoption of the Lewis gun was due to the difficulty of adapting it to the “vastly superior” .30-06!

      The Swiss boat tail bullet was also copied commercially by Kynoch for.303, and that adaptation was copied in turn for the .303 Mk 8z machine gun round.

  3. Glad to see a French post since I have an odd question for the readership…. lately I’ve become a fan of “historical espionage” writer Alan Furst (who is one of those thriller writers whose motto is obviously “don’t tell anyone I’m writing literature, I’ve got bills to pay.”) Anyway, I was reading his “The Polish Officer” about Polish Intelligence in Occupied Paris and it’s a hell of a read, but the protagonist is packing a “US Colt .45” (we assume a 1911 of some type) that has been rechambered for 7.62 French Long. Furst’s stuff is pretty well researched and he seems to know his guns – also it seems to me that I recall a distant reference to a re-barreled and re-magazined 1911 in French Long. Does anyone know of such a Colt? Incidentally, the 1935A has my record for “a really cool gun I thought long and hard about at a gun show in 1992 before deciding I would never find ammo for it.”

    • The French used the 7.65x20mm Longue in the Mlle. 1935A–SACM–and the Mlle. 1935S–M.A.S. St.-Etienne. They made some pretty interesting SMG prototypes in the caliber, along with the “gun that killed Benito Mussolini” MAS38 “mitraillette” too.

      • An ironic observation: 7.65×20mm Longue seems to be some English-speaking person getting more clever with French grammar than actual native French speakers. In French sources it is always “Long” (masculine), not “Longue” (feminine). The confusion probably arises from the fact that the grammatical gender of “cartouche” is feminine.

        • How many times I saw vz./vzor(or wz./wzór) translated as model – instead pattern, while only “užitný vzor”/”wzór użytkowy” should be translated as “utility [u]model[/u]”.

          • Similar case is with Russian образца which also should be pattern.
            Additionally, for reason unknown, Russian пушка is translated to gun instead of cannon.

          • “Cannon” is old-fashioned in English military vocabulary and fell out of use for current large caliber artillery pieces after the 19th century. Breechloading rifled artillery pieces are called “field guns” instead of “cannon”. For the last 100 years it has been used pretty much only in conjunction with “automatic” as in “automatic cannon”, these days often abbreviated as “autocannon”.

          • I forgot to add one qualifier: field guns are breech-loading rifled artillery pieces with maximum elevation of less than 45 degrees. Or rather they were before WW2, after which it gets “complicated” with widespread introduction of gun-howitzers.

        • Hilarious answers and double dendrites, but no one has answered “Was there ever a 1911 in 7.65 French Long or Lounge or Whiskey Tango Foxtrot you call it?”

          • “(…)no one has answered(…)”
            I would say, for my current state of knowledge, answer to your question is: LACK OF EVIDENCE.
            Maybe, after a lot of work, you might get working 1911 in 7,65 L but first question would be: why to make such gun?

        • Indeed, the French name is “7,65 Long”, because it is note the “cartouche” 7,65 (féminine) but the “calibre” 7,65 (masculine). Then, the adjective is written and spelled as masculine : Le calibre 7,65 long.

    • “(…)“US Colt .45” (we assume a 1911 of some type)(…)”
      Notice that Colt Model 1917 revolver or Colt New Service revolver would also satisfy requirement to be US and Colt and .45 (not all New Service).
      Technically it would be possible to rework said revolver for 7,65 L cartridge, but it would need half-moon clips (unless you don’t mind loading/unloading one-by-one) and would be unnecessary heavy.

  4. One of the peculiarities of the French 7.5mm arms, as well as the Swiss 7.5mms, is that both have a nominal bore spec of .308″, i.e. 7.62mm.

    Back in the Nineties, I saw surplus MAS 49/56 rifles for sale advertised in 7.62 NATO. I at first assumed they had been rebarreled, but found out that they had actually just been rechambered. Similarly, the SiG AMT semi-auto version of the Model 510 in .308 Winchester did not have a different barrel spec than the official Swiss StG 57 version, it just had a different chamber, just like the 510-4 selective-fire version sold to the Bolivian and Chilean armed forces.

    I’ve often wondered why they called them 7.5mms when they were just plain old 7.62mms like everybody else’s.

    Oh well, life is full of little mysteries.



    • Same reason .303 British is actually .311? Wasn’t the european convention to measure land to land, and not groove to groove?

      • Correct. I believe 7.62x54R also uses .311 projectiles.
        7.5 Swiss has a nominal .308 bore due to the unusually deep grooves. At least this is my understanding, I’ve only shot factory PPU through my K31 so far. A lot of trusted sources have told me that if you want to reload 7.5 Swiss, .308 bullets are the way to go.

        • Swiss 7.5 boat tail bullets were used for the development loadings of .30-06 M1 ball. They are indeed .308″ diameter.
          Ref for that is Hatcher’s notebook.

      • It’s not specifically a european fashion. French, Belgians, Polish, Spanish or Italians did not use this system.

    • In fact, naming a cartridge is the same here in France than anywhere else.
      Why the .38 are called .38 ? They are NOT .38.

      Also, remember that France used the internationnal system of measures, which is a rationnal, scientificaly developped system. Then, having a bullet diameter of 0,3 36th of the distance between the nose and the fingertip of Henry Ist (Yes, that’s why your inch measures an inch) is definitely NOT something natural for French people.
      Then, even if the bullet diamater is indeed 0.3 36th of an Anglo-Norman yard, which the 7,5 French bullet is, it makes not sense.

      Let’s see the problem on the other side : a soldier takes the package, looks at the diamater written on it and asks “Why the hell did they make a “7,62” diamater bullet ? Wasn’t it easier to make a 7,5 bullet ?”
      I don’t know why the 7.62 mm bullet was chosen. Maybe because France already produced 7.62 bullets and used the same machines to produce its own cartridges.
      But for simplicity’s sake, calling it 7,5 is a good choice.

      • “(…)France used the internationnal system of measures, which is a rationnal, scientificaly developped system. Then, having a bullet diameter of 0,3 36th of the distance between the nose and the fingertip of Henry Ist (Yes, that’s why your inch measures an inch) is definitely NOT something natural for French people.(…)”
        This reminded me one comic:
        Also I am not sure about that scientificaly developed, what you understand about that? I always though they made metal thingy and declared “it is 1 meter long”

        • SI units have always been based on physical constants rather than arbitrary values; the current meter is defined as ‘the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,854 sec.’ The original SI meter established in 1793 was described as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. So, scientific insomuch as it relates to a concrete and observable quantity rather than, say, an ideal human proportion like many Imperial units of measure (inch, foot, et c).

          • It must be noted that while all SI units were based observable physical values even originally, they were actually defined by the object (artifact). You couldn’t just make your own measurement, but had to follow the official model artifact. In the 20th Century most base unit were redefined by an actual physical constant (circumference of Earth is not constant, for example, but speed of light in vacuum is), but kilogram is still defined by the artifact, due to difficulties in finding a suitable physical constant, which would allow the mass to be exactly defined by a practical and repeatable measurement.

          • “So, scientific insomuch as it relates to a concrete and observable quantity rather than, say, an ideal human proportion like many Imperial units of measure (inch, foot, et c).”
            There exists so-called Natural units which derive from physics constant, for example STONEY:
            notice that, for example Boltzmann constant is here equal 1, unlike SI in which it is ~1,38 x 10^-23

        • No, it’s really (I swear) a scientifically pertinent system.

          a meter is 1/100000 of a gradian of Earth.
          Why 1/100000 ? Because, considering the scale of Earth, dividing it by 1000 would have made a way too long basic measure (100 meters of today) and dividing it by 1000000 would have made a too short basic measure (0,1 meters of today).
          Then, it was decided to divide the gradiant by 100, which is coherent with a base 10 system (which itself is coherent, as our number system AND caculation system – even yours, you unscientific Americans ! – is on base 10), giving the kilometer which itself is 0,09° of angle of Earth’s perimeter. 0,09° of angle is a scientifically consistent number because it is a round subdivision of 360, which is the number of degrees in a circle, helping calculations.
          The Km was then chosen and, as the name implies, it is itself divided by 1000 to make a meter, a short, handy, pragmatic, scientifically obtained, coherent with our calculation and counting system, unit of measures which is moreover adapted to measuring things on Earth and COMPARED TO Earth.

          1 cubic centimeter of water is 1 milliliter and weights 1 gram. 1 cubic decimeter of water is then 1 liter, which is thus 1 kg. 1 cubic meter of water is then 1000 liters, which is thus 1 tonne. 1 calorie is the amount of energy needed to heat up 1 milliliter of water by 1 dregee celcius, which is 1% of the difference between water’s freezing and boiling point a FL0 (sea level). Talking about temperature, 1 Kelvin is exactly the same augmentation of temperature as 1 degree celcius but Kelvins begin at absolute 0. Using that same weight of hydrogen, there is exactly 1 mole of hydrogen atoms in it. Why hydrogen ? Because it is the “first”, lighter, simpler, atom on the periodic tables of elements.

          You see ? Everything is linked, everything is on base 10, everything is based on pragmatic, verifiable, static, immutable amounts of stable bases.

          Whereas, in US system (which uses Imperial names but is NOT the imperial system. Even though it is similar), there is not any link between any measure, there is no common base and the measures are arbitrary chosen.
          If you want to know exactly with extreme accuracy (well, in fact, with just at least SOME accuracy) what temperature is X° Frenheit, you need a time machine to go back to February 1709 in Danzig and a resting horse (yes, that’s how the Farenheit system was created). You also need a thermometer written on another measuring scale to see where to put your zero.
          And then, you need to calculate because the temperature of the blood of the horse is not the 100th°, is it the 96th° because the scale is made on base 12 AND 8 (yeah, to calculation bases for a single unit. Simple and clever !), obviously for not any pragmatic reason.

          And if you want to have a galon of water without a scaled bottle, you are… well, the F word, because there is absolutely NO link between these two units (as between any other unit in the US system). If you want to have a litre without a sclaed bottle, you just need to weight 1 kg of water. If you do not have a weighting scale, you just pour water in a 10x10x10 cm jar and you have a litre.
          If you want to calculate of many grams there is in a weight in kg, you juste move the comma to the right three times. Is you want to know how many grains there is in a weight in pounds, you need to multiply it by 16 then multiply it again by 437.5 (or directly multiply it by 7000). Because… Because !

          • Excuse-me, I didn’t proofread what I wrote and it’s full of missing letters and mistakes… Hopefully it is readable.

          • In terms of being a measurement that engineers artisan and buying customers could check for themselves, a fraction of the distance between the pole (a place where no one had ever been at that time) and the equator (and in pre GPS days how do you even know with any degree of accuracy better than ten miles either way when you are there!)

            Was at best a veneer of scientism to intimidate and bamboozle the peasants with, on top of an equally arbritary measurement as the yard.

            Incidentally, from a practical point of view, the 36 inch divisions in a yard, and base 12 divisions of a foot provided a far easier way to more whole number divisions for ordinary people than the decimal system of the metre.

            The royal standardisation of the yard was for taxation purposes, not for any scientific or engineering purpose. It was only a perverse search for “warrant” that lead engineers to attempt accurate measurement of the wooden royal standard.

            Not only was the damned thing wood, which is hardly dimensionally stable at the best of times, but it had also been broken and dovetailed back together, and that joint was loose!

            Hence the one-time difference between English, American and Canadian engineering inch standards. A difference settled by settling on the Canadian inch.

            Inch and metre, are now based on a common single standard, arguing that one is now more rational or scientific than the other is as pointless as arguing over whether the number four is two twos, or whether two is merely a half of four.

          • Considering that the origins of the meter has no link to its common usage, I have trouble seeing how it could be a way to “intimidate” and “bamboozle” the peasants. By the way, the adoption of a “rationnal” way of measurement which lead to the meter we know today was actually a demand of the people of France during the french Revolution and not only a scientific project. They asked for something not link to a man in particular, but something universal and stable, without links to arbitrarity (is it a word ? I improvised it but am not sure…).
            A unit called “meter” already existed at that time and its length was approaching the meter we know today, even if it wasn’t used by anyone except some scientists. It was decided to change the unit to comply with that wish made by the people of a standard, rationnal, scientific and not human-related unit.
            Thus, the current meter is indeed not an obscure scientific way to impose a system, but actually a wish lowborn people made.
            Even though I appreciate to debate about such a topic, remember that the meter, and the internationnal system, is tightly linked to the history of my country, thus it has little to no secrets for us French (well, for at least properly educated French, let’s say).

            As for the arbitrary 8, 12 and whatever number of divisions between a unit and another, I have trouble considering that it’s easier for people to sub-divide their units than just moving a comma one caracter to the right of left.
            How many centimeter are there in 0,153 decameter ? 153. Just move the comma. How many liters are there in 8,786 kg ? 8,786. How many How many meters is twice my high ? 3,44.
            How many inches are there in 0,153 pole ? Well… Let’s count… 0,153x12x3 (or 0,153×36, as you wish)… How many galons are there in 8.786 pounds of water ? In fact, you couldn’t even answer easily if I said 3 pounds of water. How many poles is twice my high (I’m 67.7 inches tall) ? Well, let’s count again ! We need a paper, a pen and 3 minutes to know.
            You really are saying to me that “from a practical point of view” it is far easier to do THIS than just moving a comma ? Without a calculator ? Without a paper, a pen, spare time and sometimes even without a school to learn how to calculate ?

          • Thibaud: 12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. 10 is divisible only by 1, 2 and 5. Therefore, for the needs of handcrafts and simple pre-industrial engineering, where calculations are done by fractions, 12 is indeed easier. For real science and advanced engineering the decimal system is, without a doubt, superior.

            Keith: the metric system may not have been THAT scientific originally. It was, however, like Thibaud already wrote, independent of purely historical definitions. The decimal system was also better for serious science even if the actual definitions of base units were, more or less, arbitrary. As I wrote earlier, in the course of the 20th century the base units except the kilogram were redefined by actual measurable physical constants, such as speed of light in vacuum. Modern definitions of imperial system are based on those. In fact even the pound is now based on the kilogram, although the actual kilogram is still defined by the kilogram artifact, at least until 2018.

          • I admit it, 12 is not a bad choice for who doesn’t know how to count, calculate, or has no tools for precise measuring.

            Nevertheless, 12 is just ONE of the many scales used : it is not like 12 fingers make an inch, 12 inches make a hand, 12 hands make a foot, 12 foot make a yard. No, there is 1,33 fingers in an inch, 4 inches in a hand, 3 hands in a foot (so 12 inches and 16 fingers in a foot), 3 feets in a yard, 5,5 yard in a pole, 4,1 poles in a chain and 10 chains in a furlong.
            That’s not a base 12 system, that’s a “base whatever” system. And it depends on a man (Henry Ist, Richard III, etc.) or on “ideal proportions” like Vitruvian man or others which are not static measures. Let alone the temperature ! Farenheit scale… seriously ? The blood of a resting horse ? How did it just came to the mind of a man ?

          • I can apreciate the nationalistic significance. I disagree, but I won’t bore the other regulars by arguing. I have still to find a national myth which withstands scruitiny, and I’ve only found a very few people who were raised with a myth who don’t simply wrap themselves in a flag, when the myth they were raised under is questioned.

            I admit it, 12 is not a bad choice for who doesn’t know how to count, calculate, or has no tools for precise measuring.

            here’s the interesting one – how are such tools made in the first place?

            with 12 divisions, it was relatively simple for Whitworth, Naismith etc in England to divide their copy of the standard yard, in half each time, to end up with inches and fractions of an inch, for their engineering purposes.

            They simply scraped the ends of iron bars, until the two bars together were the same length (checked with a spitit level, which can be calibrated even without a level surface, simply by reversing it) as the “yard” and the same length as each other.

            these gave early versions of Johanson’s guage blocks.
            all that is needed is some way of checking “same as” or “diferent to”, and Whitworth’s generation of accurately scraped flat surface plates by the three plate method, and a spirit level, allowed that.

            It is possible to accurately divide into ten equal parts (or it wouldn’t have been achieved) but it is a lot more involved process.

            insidentally, the “furlong” is an update of the approximate distance that horses or oxen could pull a plough before needing a rest. it is approximately the length of a cultivation strip, when Britain farmed on the strip system in communal fields. beyond that, its only use was in horse racing.

            measurements come into being for uses, and sometimes hang on after that use has gone.

          • Jeeez. Are you actually claiming that it is impossible to know the weight (OK, mass, or weight adjusted for temperature and pressure) of a gallon of pure water?

            Nobody would be happier than me to see the entire world using the metric system, but let’s stick with reality. As inconvenient and sometimes illogical as the measures used in the US are, they are still subject to the principles of mathematics. Proportions are proportions, every day, all day long.

            Perhaps I am “wrapping myself in the flag” here. I do, however, own a calculator.


  5. So, a side note. When Allied WWI aviators needed effective incendiary ammunition for use against observation balloons, out came the old 11mm Gras case, for which Hotchkiss and Vickers produced machine guns, and thus the need was met. A .30″-range incendiary was not produced until the second war. Another example of using what you have on hand to meet the needs that come up.

  6. My wifes greatgrandfather joined the french marines in about 1880.So we have both paper patched gras and flat nosed lebel cartriges around the house
    Apparently her grandfather who was a captain in the french artillery during the first war never brought back any of the lebal spitzer bullets as a souvenir

  7. I reserve French-made surplus Mlle. 1929 C 7.5x54mm cartridges for the Fusil Semi-Automatique 49-56, and the PPU Serbian made commercial ammo for my MAS Mlle. 1936 bolt action rifle. Some folks have experienced discharges when the bolt closes and locks on the FSA 49/56 because it has a heavy firing pin that is free to slide forward. Unless the primer is sufficiently hard, or the firing pin is modified somehow, there is at least a risk when the bolt goes into battery with a cartridge in the chamber. Both are fantastic rifles.

    • I have three Mle. 49-56’s and Mle. 49. All function just fine, unmodified, with PPU ammo. The firing pins are dirt cheap, so removing .5mm and blunting the tip in order to operate with softer primers is no big deal if one’s rifle requires it. My Mle. 36’s and 36-51 eat the same stuff. Good brass, too. As an aside, French 1950’s surplus ammo is the most corrosive ammo I have ever shot.

    • Heh. U.S. ammo: .45-70, .30-40 Krag, .30-03–no! wait! spitzer! .30-06! WWI… no! wait! .276 Pedersen! Uh, wait, Douglas MacArthur called! .30-o6 is as ‘Murica as the pantalons Rouges used to be France! No change! Uh, wait, most soldiers are so many head bearers and ammo carriers… Why the heck did we develop an 11pd. rifle and 20pd. automatic rifle but no LMG?! And what are the non “point of the spear” general inductees supposed to carry, encumbered as they are with all kinds of MG ammo, mortar rounds, artillery shells, or other duties?
      Give us a lighter rifle! uh, something that’d be good out to 300 yards… So no pistol cartridges, please… But something we know Winchester Western could make in a jiffy for cheap… How ’bout the intrinsically accurate .32 WSL derided as inadequate for medium sized game, but done as a .30 cal…. Yeah! M1 carbine!

      6.5x50mmSR… so danged lethal… Dirty little yellow b*******! 7.92x33mm? What the heck? Some kinda SMG round, I’d guess…

      Postwar: WTF?! 7x43mm? What’s that good for? ‘Murica’s all about .30-06! Why, we won two world wars with that’n! Oh, OK, all right, we’ll contemplate similar ballistics from a somewhat more efficiently designed cartridge and then insist everyone who is pro-‘Murica use it… So there!

      Uh, wait! We’ve got this here newfangled small caliber, hyper-velocity cartridge the 5.56mm and the space-age Wunderwaffe to use ’em! We’ll adopt this… along with 7.62x51mm until our awesome space-age scientists design the SPIW that’ll be a, well, Revolution in Military Affairs… Wait, uh …

      Talk about a cluster ….!

      • C’est une forme d’ironie dans un style très oral.
        Il faut le voir comme dans un spectacle où il serait seul en scène, à interpeller le public par une succession de fausses bonnes idées.

        • C’est ça…

          Ma réponse a été faite au commentaire précédent “calibres français”.

          I’m not sure my comment added much, compared to the other relevant responses from Hatcher’s Notebook, however. Je m’excuse, s’il vous plait.

  8. This lecture may be of use primarily to collectors and vintage gun shooters, but it was definitely use for me too; namely some technical justifications for keeping or changing certain features.

    Btw., I peeked into In Range venture, Ian and Karl. Gentlemen – I am impressed. You are not just shooters, authors, technicians and historians… you are social thinkers on edge of practical philosophy. Knowing this prompts me to make my occasional contribution into regular annual. All the best in your project(s)!

  9. I think it’s worth adding that the brass Balle D 8mm bullet was not just the first spitzer bullet in military service, it was the first boat-tailed spitzer as well – and its ballistic coefficient is still remarkably good by the standards of military ball ammunition today.

    There’s a detailed technical history of French military rifle ammunition from the Lebel onwards, including lots of experimentals, in an article by Emeric Daniau which is on my website here:

  10. Very informative. I have thoughroughly enjoyed your series on one of my favourite family of rifles.
    You might want to look more closely at the differences between Balle D and N projectiles. It appears that while the maximum diameter didn’t change between the rounds, the location of the point of maximum diameter shifted from outside the neck in the Balle D to inside the neck of the Balle N.
    If your french is like mine, google translate is your friend.

  11. Hilarious answers and double dendrites, but no one has answered “Was there ever a 1911 in 7.65 French Long or Lounge or Whiskey Tango Foxtrot you call it?”

    • Jim,
      you are asking for a negative proof, which is impossible.
      But why would anyone build an M1911 for the comparably weak 7.65 mm long? This would predictably be a seriously underpowered and therefore jam prone pistol. Would you want to carry a pistol two times too heavy for the cartridge it fires? There is no reason to think there ever was a M1911 in 7.65 mm long.

  12. Marcus M,
    you got it. The balle D 8.3 mm diameter sat on the case mouth. The balle D part inside the case still had the smaller diameter of the previous balle M.
    With the introduction of the 32N bullet, this was no longer possible. So the French did the same what the Germans had done in 1903/1905: reaming the neck part of the chamber to accomodate the new case with the larger neck diameter. Both left the bore dimensions unchanged.
    The Russians must have done a similar thing in 1908 when a pointed bullet of larger diameter replaced the round nose bullet. But in the West nobody seems to have taken notice what the reason for the “larger 7.62 mm” of the Russians really was.
    The UK and the USA did not switch to a larger bullet diameter when adopting pointed bullets (Mk VII, M1906) which spared them a lot of trouble.

  13. There was one of machinery magazine’s booklets comprising a thematic collection of articles on “ammunition making” up on

    It had a detailed article on American loading of the 8mm Balle D, including toleranced drawings and full processes for forming both the cases and the bullets – dating from the war to make a world safe for Lenin, Trotsky, Mussolini, Hitler and Franco.

    Last time that I looked for it, I couldn’t find it, I don’t know whether that’s just because I searched from Britain, or whether the latest outbreak of book burning has become more widespread.

    If people cannot find it, I can send a copy to Ian.

  14. PS
    The copper zinc alloy used for the Balle D is generally called “commercial Bronze”

    I suspect that the change to the lead core bullets, was at least in part influenced by the lower cost and greater availability of lead compared to copper, as well as the greater ease in forming the lead cored bullets.

  15. One point raised in the video, the video

    In united state production, Balle D bullets were swaged from blanks cut from thick bronze wire / rod. They were not lathe turned.

    Popular sugestions of “under power” completrely mis the point, from approximately 100 yards onwards, twentieth century 8mm lebel loads all surpass .30-06 in its original and M2 iterations, in all figures, velocity, flatness of trajectory energy…

    • “surpass .30-06 in its original and M2 iterations”
      This seems quite ironic considering that American M1903 rifle has sights scaled up to 2,5 km (2700 yards).

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