Shooting the Mle 1866 Chassepot

A while back, I visited @CanadianGunLover, and we did a bit of shooting with an 1866 Chassepot. I lost track of the footage and only just now found where I had put it – so today is some Chassepot shooting! A couple things to note; the rifle sounds very quiet because my microphone was clipping it off, sorry. And yes, we are on a very short range bay – it’s what was available at the time. The ammo we are using was made by CGL, and was a bit longer than military spec, which led to the bolt getting tight to close more quickly that would have originally been the case. But even with that, the rapidity of fire offered by the Chassepot completely outclassed all the muzzleloaders still in service.


  1. At least the manual cock-before-opening and good training on NOT POINTING the rifle at one’s squad-mates prevented any instances of “Oh no I just shot Pierre in the knee.” Just kidding!

    • More likely it is a permanent combined sound moderator/flash suppressor. Like most “small-caliber/high-velocity” rounds, the 6.8mm family are noted for their loud crack, which both gives away your position and over time can damage hearing.

      The usual bright muzzle flash can dazzle you in reduced lighting (not just night but even an overcast day) and again advertises your position.

      A permanent “dry” suppressor would tend to alleviate both problems.



  2. I am guessing you have to make your own ammo to shoot the Chassepot. Maybe sometime you could make a video showing that process and where you learned how to do it. Thanks for another great lesson in gun history.

  3. I’m rather amazed at the long lock time shown in the slo-mo. The time between the CLICK and the BANG is almost like a flintlock.

  4. The Chassepot is a “weapon designed to kill people on a battlefield”. If those of us in the collecting/historical firearms community think Beta O’Dourke won’t be knocking down our doors, we are sadly mistaken. Your SVT-38? An ‘assault rifle’. Your collection of 25 historically significant firearms? An ‘arsenal’.
    Is this the future we want?

  5. Chase-a-pot. Looks entertaining.
    No wonder soldiers had to clean rifle, sometimes in middle of battle. We do not appreciate enough what we have in smokeless.

    • 1866: We have a rifle that is the best thing ever…but its got a minor design flaw that results in the action fouling up and a resulting inability to cycle ammo, so you might have to clean mid battle.

      1966: have a rifle that is the best thing ever…but its got a minor design flaw that results in the action fouling up and a resulting inability to cycle ammo, so you might have to clean mid battle.

      The only diffetence in 100years? The M16 didnt have a built in cleaning rod!

    • “(…)We do not appreciate enough what we have in smokeless.(…)”
      Cleaning is one thing, but maybe even more important, that you have view unobstructed by smoke (keep in mind that then-used tactics called for fire of whole formation).

  6. I find it sort of interesting that some accounts written in the immediate post civil war era referred to “needle guns”. Its obvious that they weren’t talking about the Chassepot – I doubt that a cowboy on the western frontier would be carrying the latest model French military rifle – but the authors were using a generic term for a rifle with a firing pin rather than a rim fire or percussion weapon. I guess that journalists were no more accurate back in the day than they are today.

    • Early models of the trapdoor Springfield were referred to as needle guns. Apparently Buffalo Bill called his trapdoor a needle gun. I guess those pesky journalists were on to something.

  7. Bill Cody was probably referring to the firing pin of his trapdoor. To Bill’s generation, a separate firing pin would be a tarnation odd doohickey, and they’d have to hunt around for a word.

  8. I have a 1866 chessapot with a bayonet. Here in Arkansas no one knows about this gun. I really would appreciate any help on ammo. Where to buy or dye and paper for it.

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