Exploded View of the French MAS 49/56

201072192610-frenchexp_f.jpg

Developed by the state-owned manufacturing company Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS), the MAS 49/56 in 7.5x54 mm (French) was accepted by the Armee de Terre, or French Army, as a standard-issue semi-automatic-only rifle on May 24, 1956, and soon thereafter served as the primary infantry arm until the acceptance of the 5.56x45 mm NATO FAMAS F1 in 1979.

The precursor to the MAS 49/56 was the MAS 49, which was essentially the culmination of a decades-long search for a suitable infantry rifle. Incorporated was the Rossignol direct-gas-impingement system first seen in the prototype French ENT B1 fusil automatique, or “automatic rifle,” in 1901, resurrected in the 1920s, used in the Swedish Ljungman, or Ag m/42, and later found in Eugene Stoner’s AR-15. Also featured was a rear-locking, tilting bolt first seen in the MAS 1928. MAS continued to design a number of relatively short-lived semi-automatic rifles from the 1920s through the ’40s, and the French Army approved the MAS 49 for standard-issue on July 12, 1949.

According to Jean Huon in “Proud Promise, French Autoloading Rifles 1898-1979,” only 20,600 MAS 49 rifles were produced before the French government recognized that modern design changes were needed. Part of the French battle strategy at the time called for the use of rifle grenades, and the MAS 49 was incompatible with the new NATO-standard 22 mm finned projectiles. Hence the MAS 49/56, which was fundamentally the same rifle as the MAS 49, but had a number of modifications. Changes were made to the sights, fore-end and receiver. The gas tube was lengthened, and upward rotation of the new gas cut-off lever, which was hinged to the gas port bushing, allowed the launching of both direct-fire anti-tank and indirect-fire anti-personnel grenades. The fore-end was shortened, and cannelures and a ring spigot regulated the grenade tube’s position on the barrel. Rubber stock extension pads were also available for shoulder or armpit padding during grenade launching.

The French Army was uniformly equipped with the MAS 49/56 by the mid-1960s and production numbers reached approximately 275,240. Many surplus rifles were exported after the adoption of the FAMAS F1. Century Int’l Arms imported a number of the rifles into the U.S. in the mid-1990s and converted about half into 7.62x51 mm NATO/.308 Win., with the remaining rifles left in 7.5x54 mm (French).

Initial disassembly of the MAS 49 and MAS 49/56 is the same and is described below. Further steps require a special tool, as the French military preferred to dissuade its soldiers from completely disassembling their rifles.

Disassembly
Depress the right-side catch on the magazine (64) to remove the magazine. Pull the cocking handle (20) to the rear and visually inspect the chamber to ensure the chamber is empty, and then release the bolt (2). Leave the hammer (56) cocked and lower the safety (82).

Depress the bolt cover latch (6) found on the back of the receiver (79), and push the bolt cover (5) forward. Raise the rear of the bolt cover to remove it, and be aware of rearward recoil spring (80) tension.

Withdraw the recoil spring. Pull the cocking handle/bolt/bolt carrier (3) assembly to the rear and pull up to withdraw the assembly. Separate the bolt from the bolt carrier. Remove the firing pin (26). Reassembly is in reverse order.

Latest

Qamain
Qamain

Rifleman Q&A: Bullet & Primer Sealant

From the archives of American Rifleman, one NRA member questions the importance of the colorful or black-colored paint-like coating around the cartridge necks and primer pockets of surplus ammunition.

Preview: Zero Tolerance Knives 0357BW

The U.S.-made Zero Tolerance 0357 Black Wash liner lock features a 3.25" blade of hard, wear-resistant CPM 20CV steel treated with a scratch-hiding blackwash finish best suited for everyday carry.

The French FR F2 Sniper Rifle

Conceived during the Cold War and after thirty years of service, the French are beginning to phase out the FR F2 bolt-action sniper rifle, with the surplus rifles available for sale from Navy Arms.

SIG Sauer P210: The Long-Lived Swiss Service Pistol

First designed in 1947, and formerly the official sidearm of the Swiss Army, the SIG Sauer P210 is still in production today, with a few modern upgrades.

The Winchester Model 94: History & Disassembly

Compact, reliable and powerful, Winchester's Model 1894 lever-actions may not have the popularity it once had with Western settlers, prospectors, law enforcement officers, hunters and ranchers, but its legacy remains today and is a fan favorite in Winchester's current product line.

NRA Gun of the Week: Fabarm USA Autumn

On this week’s “Gun of the Week” video preview, American Rifleman examines a first from Fabarm, a side-by-side break-action shotgun called the Autumn.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.