The CR39 (“crosse repliable”, or folding stock) is the paratrooper version of the MAS 36. The need for a more compact and transportable pattern was recognized almost as soon as the MAS 36 was finalized, originally for paratroops but in practice also for alpine troops. Two years were spent devising the new rifle, starting in 1937, and in 1939 is was formally adopted. The barrel was shortened about 5 inches (from 575mm to 450mm), and the wooden stock replaced by a cast aluminum stock that folded underneath the action. A unique and very cool sling design went Alon with the new stock; a spring winder (like a car’s seat belt) was fitted in the stock so that the sling would coil up neatly as the stock was folded. These winders are rather fragile, however, and usually broken today.
A small number of CR39s were produced before the 1940 armistice, and production restarted almost immediately upon liberation of St Etienne. The CR39 would remain in production until 1960, with almost 34,000 made in total. For more information, check out my new book, Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles 1866-2016 – now in stock and shipping!