French Underfolding Paratrooper Rifle: MAS 36 CR39

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!


    • 450mm converts to 17.7″ so in the US it’s still an NFA title I firearm and does not require a tax stamp.

  1. Hang on, I thought the MAS 36 was intended for the “normal” soldier, and that the frontline troops would get a semi auto. With nothing more elite than the alpine and para troops, why did they end up with a purpose build “normal” carbine?

    And when do we get a book review of The General? Are you that slow a reader?

    • “(…)alpine(…)”
      My understanding is that for mountain troops lightness of weapons is desired.
      MAS 36 rifle weights 3,7 kg.
      I do not have data for MAS 40, but I assume it should be close to MAS 49 which weight is 4,7 kg. Even lighter derivative of MAS 49 namely 49/56 weight is 4,1 kg – more than base of MAS 36 CR39.

      • Manually repeating weapons have less mass than self-loading weapons of same “role.” Bolt-action infantry rifle is therefore lighter than semi automatic infantry rifle for the same cartridge.

  2. I didn’t see you mention a sponsor organization or person who permitted you access to this rifle. Is it yours? (And if so, that is an incredibly cool thing to own.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.