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Bolt Action Cartridge Conversion of a French M1822 Rifle


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum, and I’m here today at the Rock Island Auction Company taking a look at some of the guns they’re going to be selling in their upcoming May of 2019 Premiere firearms auction. What we have here today is kind of a
mystery rifle. This is a bolt action conversion of a much older French 1822 rifle. Unfortunately, I don’t know who made this. They didn’t
have the thoughtfulness to stamp their name on it, so I can’t really tell you anything about
who did it, or exactly when, or exactly why. But we can take a look at exactly how
it works, because it does have a couple – or one in particular – unusual feature to it. I will just mention at the beginning
that the 1822 was a firearm, a musket, originally in French service that started off as
flintlock. A great number of them were upgraded, updated to percussion guns and
then updated to Tabatière systems. And this was kind of like just there’s always piles of these things around. So anytime someone wants to do a conversion, they’re cheap, get one of them, try out your new system. So this one has an entirely new receiver on it, with the barrel screwed into the new receiver. So let’s take a look. Just a quick look at the outside of the gun. We do have this cool scalloped cut on the
stock that is typical of the French 1822. We then have some iron fittings here,
as well as a brass trigger guard. And then the rest of the furniture is also brass, going all the way out to the muzzle. Front
sight there, cleaning rod, all the standard things. The rear sight here is a flip-up piece with
three notches. And in particular this 200 [metre] setting is a really deep V notch. And then we can flip that up, and we have a 400 and a 600 metre setting as well. Note that those go way high up because this is a very
large diameter, 17.5mm, black powder cartridge. It’s going to be moving slowly and
it’s going to have a lot of drop at range. Now the action itself. You can see where the side plate, the lock
plate, was originally mounted on the rifle. That has been filled in on both
sides with some new wood. And this receiver is completely
new for this conversion gun. So this would have been a fairly expensive piece to do compared to the conversion
systems that use the existing receiver. And one last detail, we have this really
incredibly crisp intact stamp in the stock. And it’s a little hard to read but
that says Pihet Freres, Paris. So this is the Pihet brothers in Paris, it’s dated 1832, and the traditional French rooster there in the centre. … The Pihet Brothers were a company that
manufactured 1822 rifles for the French government, so this has nothing to do with
the conversion, I don’t think. It’s just a remnant from the
original rifle that was converted. Now this is going to work like a
traditional bolt action rifle really. Lift the bolt up, 90 degrees, comes back. There is an extractor right in here that’s going to
travel forward and then get pulled back by the bolt. Single shot, of course. Drop
your cartridge in, close the bolt. Has only one locking lug which
is the root stem of the handle. It has a really stiff firing pin spring.
So that’s locked ready to fire. When you pull the trigger that snaps forward. Now the most unusual element to
this is this little wheel right here. You can lock the bolt, well, put the bolt
about halfway up, and then this wheel rotates (if I have it lined up just right, there we go), that wheel rotates around and allows
us to lock the bolt in that position. Now this is a little bit unusual in
that it doesn’t act as a safety, because you can still drop the striker when it’s locked. So if I do that, bring it back to here. Now I can lock it and it’ll still fire.
Not entirely sure what the purpose of this was, except perhaps just a lock to prevent
the thing from coming open during movement, I guess. I really don’t know. It’s I think
the first time I’ve seen something quite like that. Now I can show you the inside of the bolt. In typical French style we have a locking
screw here that prevents the bolt from coming out. So we pull that out, unlock it, and then pull the bolt back,
pull the trigger and it slides out. That little guy was our ejector extractor,
which just sits along the side of the bolt here. So it’s not broken. It just is retained by the bolt when
it’s in the rifle. When you take the bolt out, it falls out. You can see the groove here on the
inside of the receiver where it travels. You can see the sear right there,
that goes down when I pull the trigger. Not much else in the receiver to show you. Once we have the bolt out, I can
unscrew the back end here. It’s got quite the hefty firing pin spring. And then that’s pretty much it. When you actually cock this thing in the
gun, this gets held back on the firing sear. So it sits back slightly like this, and then
when you pull the trigger it snaps forward and the tip of the firing pin
protrudes out the front and fires. It really is unfortunate that we don’t have more
information about exactly when and where and who this came from because, honestly, it
looks like a pretty decent conversion system. It wouldn’t surprise me terribly to find out that
this was a relatively late production sort of thing. Something in the 1860s or ’70s. It’s hard to
see it going into the 1880s, by that point this bore diameter was really on its
way out. Much smaller diameter bores, you know, instead of a 17.5 or 18mm,
you’d be looking at more like 11 to 12mm. And quickly on its way down to more like
7 or 8mm once smokeless powder became a thing. So it looks like it’s actually pretty well put together. But of course this never went into any serious production,
because, if it had, we would know more about it. Very cool to get to take a look at some of,
you know, interesting conversion guns like this. It’s the creativity and the different ways
that people take to get to new technology that I think is one of the most
interesting elements of firearms history. So this one, of course, is coming
up for sale here at Rock Island. If you have a collection of this sort of
thing and you’d like to add this one to it, you can check out their catalogue for
their pictures, and description of this rifle, as well as everything else that
they have coming up for sale. Thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “Bolt Action Cartridge Conversion of a French M1822 Rifle

  1. Really a quite attractive piece of fire arms history, fascinated to see what the cartridge would have looked like.

  2. In the swiss canton Neuenburg/Neufchatel(?) there was the ,Neuenburger Gendarmeriegewehr' wich used 18mm cartridges. I am a man, only using my girlfriends account.

  3. That is a remarkably nice looking rifle for its age. There are times im amazed things like this have actually managed to survive as long as they have.

  4. I’m guessing the wheel locking thing is for marching. Carrying the rifle on your left shoulder will keep it from bumping into the body or the right shoulder bumping the person marching next to you.

  5. I had something similar to this several years ago. Mine was a shotgun conversion in 28-gauge. Mine was also very well made and shot quite well (but didn't handle worth a hoot… too long). Wonder if this was actually a shotgun conversion using a proprietary all-brass hull?

  6. I´m a little confused the original M1822 was a musket not a rifle – this conversion has a rifled barrel ?

  7. Pretty cool conversion, looking at the quality of the rifle, I wouldnt exclude the possibility it is converted after 1880s. but maybe just not for military purpose, but just a handy backyard gunsmith converting his old muzzle loader to a breach loader.

  8. That little wheel seems to be for transport reasons in the event it the gets broken in, and worn heavily, with the assembly loosened up (from high black powder charges), the bolt would be accidentally knock open or rattled loose and have the bolt fall out with that extractor pin getting lost.

  9. It is what is known as a “Samain” rifle named after Pierre Samain. The conversion was put forward in 1870 and was to be applied to any musket they could possibly do it on including imported US muskets. Production estimates are around 80000 made by a variety of private workshops. The base idea was sound but the quality of conversions fluctuated wildly. The cockerel stamp is the sign of the “monarchie de juillet”, the rule of Louis-Philippe I from 1830 to 1848.

  10. If you engage the notch, without first rotating the bolt all the way down, doesn't that stop the gun getting cocked?

  11. 3:57 That could be there as a safety measure that helps ensure that the bolt doesn't completely open by accident on firing. Its a problem I've noticed with the smooth action on some SMLEs.

  12. In european countries the huntsman and the poachers had gun fights. The feature in the gun is preventing accidental opening when you go through the bushes. So the gun is always ready to engage on a poacher. What do you think? Is it for this kind of scenario?

  13. that rifle looks like Its in great condition, also It looks like it could still be fired if you could somehow get ammo for that thing

  14. Any chance this is a modern conversion? I can't help but think the receiver looks more recent. Makes me think of a gunsmithing proof of skill but thats just my uneducated opinion

  15. Nice conversion.

    That looks like it was done professionally.

    Very nice clean lines.

    I would want this rifle but I do not collect weapons I can not shoot.

    Getting ammo made might well be impossible or expensive.

  16. Just wondering if you had any access to or plans to look at any of the unusual Australian developments like the Lithgow small arms factory F1 or the McCrudden light machine rifle to name but a few.

  17. As someone who owned and hunted with a rifle with the bolt that sticks straight out like that, I can say it is a pain in the back side how often it gets popped open. I finally had the bolt handle cut off and welded back on a a more friendly angle. Yes I was young and dumb. It was a 6.5×55 rifle from 1913, with all matching serial numbers, that I destroyed. But I hunt with it to this day. 🙂

  18. Could this have been some military trials or experimental conversion? The French liked to use old rifles for that, if my memory serves.

  19. Beaten to the punch by The Chap. It appears to be a Samain conversion. Several receiver variations, but the loose extractor running in a slot is typical.

  20. 4:40 look at the top of the bolt – in this locked position the hole on the top with ejector is covered. Maybe it was some sort of the "dust cover"?

  21. Note to all current gunsmiths and firearms designers/manufacturers: PLEASE mark your stuff properly so that Ian McCollum XVI can give you proper credit in the "Forgotten Weapons" episodes which will be produced in 2470! 🙂

  22. Под дробовик переделали? У нас Берданки под охотничьи ружья переделывали

  23. Love these old clunkers. Fascinating how they went about converting old muskets to breech loaders. Every country seemed to have its own system.

  24. Ian,We have illustrated this rifle in our book, 'The  Needle-Ignition System of The Modele 1866 Chassepot' –  Page 81, which you reviewed.It was designed by Pierre Samane, manufactured by Atelier de la Buire for Cahen-Lyon et Cie, made during the siege of Paris.  In our view superior to the Tabatiere system and stronger around the wrist, which was a weakness of the Tabatiere.The bolt lock was to prevent it being opened accidentally.Other conversions for the 18x35R Gevelot cartridge illustrated:  Mousqueton Hurtu Et Hautin and Hermann-Lachapelle – both bolt actions.This would be a great item for a collector and shooter of French arms, especially during the period  of the Siege of Paris when any arms available were utilised. It at least chambered a mettalic cartridge.Hope this has been of use.Guy and Leonard A-R-West

  25. Not a gun question per say but I thought that the "lucky roaster" symbol was a Portuguese one and not a french one?

  26. These sorts of things remind me to sign anything I make. Even if I'm a nobody, I know how frustrating it is to find unattributable things

  27. It could be a modern conversion that dave did in his garage 10 years ago. Could explain the lack of stamps.

  28. Ive got a bannerman conversion I think was made off the French musket that was converted to 12 gauge. Find one do a video on that,

  29. I'm sure Ian will know about this…. after the Austro-Prussian Ear of 1966, the French army scrambled quickly to arm its men with breechloading, bolt action rifles so I'd bet the rifle discussed wsy probably converted after was 1866 but before the adoption of the Chessepot in 1870 I think.

  30. Защелка на рукояти затвора нужна для того, чтобы затвор самостоятельно не открывался во время военных походов и перемещения солдата. Это не предохранитель, это своеобразная защита от грязи.
    The latch on the handle of the bolt is needed so that the bolt does not open itself during military campaigns and when a soldier moves. This is not a fuse, it is a kind of protection from dirt.

  31. I wonder if 12ga brass could be modified for use? By the very short bolt throw, it's gotta be a short, stubby case

  32. Liking the video and you have done an excellent job on the edit! If you have time let me know what you think of my latest video just need some feedback! 😃

  33. Ian,Ian. If you do read this,one previous comment tweaked a memory.
    The Three Musketeers,1973,then the Four Musketeers. Two wonderful movies that are well made and a joy to watch.
    Raquel Welch,Oliver Reed, Michael York,Spike Milligan and others made these pieces wonderful.
    If possible,acquire the rifle and see if you can clothe yourself as a King's Musketeer,circa Louis XIII. You do have a D'Artagnon beard etc. Proper hat lots of white lace,a duelling sword,appropriate gloves,you would I think have a great time outfitting yourself. No need for a horse,just a sweeping bow like 1930s movies displayed. The costuming alone makes watching these two movies worthwhile. If you have not seen them before,enjoy.
    Eh bien, MonSieur,vous avé resté avec les spirits of place of the likes of Milady de Winter. Faye Dunaway herself. What fun. Hope you do this. Would be wonderful.

  34. Looks like a rather effective system. Simple too….though not really simple enough for a military conversion rather then just new rifles.

  35. The rifle got a new receiver and barrel, so what's original? it seems like the only thing that remained from the original build is the stock

  36. The somewhat odd locking device may have been to keep the bolt handle out of the way for drill or carry (i.e. more like the original flintlock in terms of what is sticking out where, more "up" instead of "out"). Not requiring modification to handling/carrying would be a selling point to the military. Just a guess…

  37. hello ! is there any chance we'll see you again interviewing H.Canaple again ? it was full of knowledge i loved it as all your vids. Thank you

  38. Great video! I wonder if the wheel lock was originally spring loaded to keep it from flopping about, but got lost through time.

  39. The notch that locks the bolt handle looks like it’s supposed to close off the gap on the bolt to keep dirt out.

  40. It is possible that the conversion was done later by a machinist modifying his grandfather's old rifle for personal use.

  41. This gun is aggressively french. Take a good, new idea, and instead of just making it, cobble some old thing together at great expense and make a totally useless pile of trash.

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