Many Poke fun of French Military history, but the truth is they were, among other firsts, the first to have a military rifle using smokeless gunpowder; the Model 1886 Lebel, chambered for the then revolutionary 8x51mm round. In an era of many single shot rifles, this one had an eight round tubular magazine beneath the barrel. While the rifle itself was rather mundane ( there were other bolt action repeaters with tubular magazines by then) it was the powder and cartridge that made the difference. Gone were the clouds of white smoke, but ballistics and muzzle velocity were increased. It made every other battle rifle on the planet obsolete overnight.
However, developments from Mannlicher in Austria and mauser in germany would make the Lebel itself obsolete in just a couple of years, and by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Lebel was outdated. Due to the impracticalities of the tubular magazine, the Lebel could not be made into a suitable carbine design, so in 1890 the Berthier series of Bolt-action carbines were adapted by the french. These took the same 8x51mm Lebel rounds as the Mle. 1886 rifle but used a clip design based on the Austrian Mannlicher. Due to the fat rim of the 8mm case, the magazine could only hold a measly 3 rounds, and even that required a "pregnant" looking drooped stock in front of the trigger guard. Still it was considered an improvement over loading the Lebel's tubular magazine one round at a time.
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Model 1886 Lebel with cuneform bayonet, nicknamed by the Germans as "the knitting needle" for the puncture wounds they feared.
Berthier Model 1890 Cavalry Carbine- In 1895, the rear sling swivel on this model was moved to the left side to deal with wear on uniforms. This model did not take a bayonet as Cavalryman were not expected to charge on foot in a bayonet charge. That's what their sword and horse were for!
Berthier Model 1890 Cuirassier Carbine- No comb on the stock to allow a mounted rider with breastplate armor to have a proper cheek weld when aiming the weapon. Breastplate armor (cuirass) in 1890- apparently so with the French! Like the Cavalry Carbine, the Cuirassier carbine also did not take a bayonet.
Berthier Model 1890 Gendermerie Carbine- This was issued to french Military Police units and differed in being able to take a bayonet similar to the Lebel's and its fore stock near the muzzle was shortened appropriately.
Done in Prismacolor colored pencils (outlined in a 2H graphite pencil. Scanned in and cropped and minor cleaning up smudges in Photoshop. This was started about a month before posting but I finished most of it (the Berthier carbines) the day I posted it.