The MAS 49 rifle was the result of several early French autoloading rifle designs of the 1930s. It was a direct gas impingement design like the Swedish Ljungman and M16, it used a tilting bolt for locking much like the BAR or FAL. The rifle was chambered for the 7.5×54 French cartridge, which was a significant improvement over the 8mm Lebel round long used in French service. With its huge rim and severe taper (thanks to a design based on the 11mm Gras black powder round), the Lebel was a difficult round to design self-loading mechanisms for.

The MAS 49 was a solid and reliable design. The most common variant was the 49/56, which was slightly shorter than the 1949 model and incorporated a grenade cutoff/sight and barrel ribbed for use with NATO standard rifle grenades.


MAS 49-56 manualMAS 49-56 manual


Until we have our over set of photos taken and uploaded, you can find a very good set of internal and external photos at’s MAS49/56 page.


  1. The Mas49 is a French self-loading gas operated semi-automatic rifle that was adopted by the French Army after the Second World War and used to re-equip infantry units. The Mas49 is chambered for the 7.5 mm M29 cartridge which it takes from a 10-round box magazine and fires with a muzzle velocity of 823 metres per second to an effective range of 600 metres at a rate of fire of 30 rounds per minute. The Mas49 has a 580 m long barrel and is fitted with an integral grenade launcher.
    The MAS-1949/56 has shorter barrel and shorter handguards than MAS 1949 to save weight and made weapon more maneuverable. The grenade launching sights were moved to the barrel, and the gas cutoff switch is mounted at the front of the handguards above the barrel and cannot be engaged when grenade sight is lowered out of use. The barrel is equipped with combination muzzle brake / grenade launching device. Like the MAS-1949, all MAS-1949/56 rifles have the scope rails on the left side of the receiver, and thus could be used as a designated marksmen rifles at the distances up to 600 meters or so. The standard optical sight was APX L Modele 1953 telescope with 3.85X magnification.

  2. I have a book on French autoloading rifles. It states only about 20,000 MAS 1949 rifles were produced. I see this number pop up everywhere and it is wrong. There were actually about 80,000 (Including the Syrian contract rifles) manufactured. I have one from Vietnam that is in the 79,8xx range and have seen many others scattered through the 40,50,60, and 70 thousand range of numbers. Think about it: The Syrian contract rifles go almost up to 40,000. Just FYI if anyone was ever curious.

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