The Carabine "Buffalo-Lebel" Cadet and School Training Rifle
by Manufacture Francaise d'Armes et Cycles de Saint Etienne
This model, as intended, bears a resemblance to the French Lebel Service Rifle
The next two images can be rotated and zoomed, either as initially loaded or full-screen for higher definition.
DATA TABLE - ALL MEASUREMENTS AS VIEWED FIREARM IMPERIAL METRIC Designation or Type : Military Style Cadet Rifle - Action Type : Turning bolt - Nomenclature : Carabine "Buffalo-Lebel" with serial no. Calibre : .22RF Long Rifle - Weight : 5 lbs. 4½ ozs. 2.40 kgs Length - Overall : inches cms Length - Barrel : inches cms Pull : inches cms Furniture : Walnut -
Rifling - No./Type of Grooves :
6 - square cut - Rifling - Twist : 1 turn in 15¾ inches - RH 1 : 40 cms Rifling - Groove width : inches mm Rifling - Land width : inches mm
Rifling - Groove depth at muzzle :
inches mm Sight - Fore : - Sight - Rear : - Sight - Radius : inches cms
The somewhat unorthodox design of the action is well illustrated below.
The bolt body is mounted on a circular sectioned sliding bar that has an accommodating upper groove for the extractor;
itself more of a shotgun design than the equivalent small-bore rifles of the day.
The bolt bar engages in a circular groove machined in the receiver.
Both the bar and extractor slide forward underneath the barrel's breech.
The bolt is forward locking, which is achieved by the internal lugs, within the frontal sleeve of the bolt, engaging with the slots machined circumferentially around the breech face - and visible in the image below.
Below is the rifle shown on a page from Manufrance's 1913 catalogue.
The Buffalo-Lebel rifle is shown below along with the Populaire-Scolaire model in the Manufrance 1925 catalogue,
The "Double Culot" (double base) 6mm 'Bosquette' cartridge is illustrated with its conical bullet. The ammunition was then priced at 15.50 francs per 250 rounds, and the rifle at 275 francs; this when 1 franc was approximately the equivalent of 3.5p. Thus the rifle cost £9.63, and the ammunition about 54 new pence - or around a fifth of a decimal British penny - per round. [Ed: For a retired Brit., it rather goes against the grain to use the obviously plural noun ' pence' to describe a singular new penny!]. The Buffalo-Lebel was significantly more expensive than the accompanying "Populaire-Scolaire" Carbine indeed by a factor of practically 45%.
The full name of the well-known French manufacturer
is stamped on the bolt's breech shroud,
and the rifle's name on the bolt body
"MANUFACTURE FRANCAISE D'ARMES ET CYCLES DE SAINT-ETIENNE"
often afforded the sensibly and officially shortened trade name of
To the right is shown the bolt-way with extractor, which is unusually located on a
slider which locates forward in a groove that runs beneath the breech, rather than
rearwards under the bolt body as is more commonly seen.
Rotation of the extractor "forks" is prevented by a pair of pins on the recess in the face of the breech,
which pins firmly locate the extractor.
The reduced diameter of the rear part of the barrel reinforce is shrouded
by the bolt-head when the bolt is closed, thus both shielding the firer from gas escape
in the event of a split cartridge case,
and centralising and locking the frankly rather loosely running bolt and extractor.
Below: the action and extractor are viewed from above.
and the barrel stamping
As the barrel marking indicates, this rifle was produced for, and specifically adoped by, the then French National Shooting Federation,
the " Fédération Nationale de Sociétés de Tir".
This was a situation equivalent to that which applied in the U.K, with British rifles manufactured or converted especially for our then Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs.
As can be seen, the Société de Tir then covered all France, Algeria and the Colonies.
The rifle was also earlier advertised, in the 1906 Fry's Compendium, alongside the contemporary Martini Francotte Cadet Rifle.
Both rifles were offered for sale by Martin Pulvermann & Co., of The Minories in London, which company was the Sole Agent for Great Britain and Ireland.
The Buffalo carbine is noted as complying with the regulations of the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs.
For those whose French language capabilities have deserted them over the years, the cartridges recommended for the "Buffalo-Lebel and Buffalo-Stand" were the 6mm Flobert of the Bosquette system - with conical bullet - intended for ranges up to 25 metres, and the similar 6mm "Nationale" cartridge, also double-based and 'percussion annulaire' (rimfire) - with round-nosed bullet -for ranges up to 40 metres. The Buffalo-Lebel was also available chambered for the .22RF Long-Rifle cartridge, which here has a stated maximum suitable range of 150 mtrs.
The rear-sight has a calibrated elevation slide that runs along the elevating ramp on the sight's barrel mount.
It is also fitted with a fine windage adjustment slide.
Below: the two opposed front locking lugs can just be seen inside the front of the bolt sleeve
Three images of the breech, muzzle and rifling are shown below.
CLICKING ON THE CENTRE IMAGE WILL SHOW
A SHORT VIDEO CLIP OF A PASSAGE THROUGH THE BORE
Below is an image of a lead slug - in the form of a .22 bullet - that has been passed through this barrel.
The very slightly slanted indentation from a land is in the centre, and the compression of the bullet in the grooves can be seen either side,
where it is just possible to discern the original twin peripheral rows of indentations which held lubricant on the driving band.
See the Measurements table above for dimensions
< land impression >
The lubricant indnts are barely touched by the rifling grooves, indicating a comparatively loose fit, as suggested by the measurements given in the earlier data table.
As with the Carabine Populaire-Scolaire from the same stable, the Buffalo action was also utilised in a range of pistols.
A 1913 advertisement for these is shown below.
Prices for these pistols were remarkably close to those for the rifles, and the finely engraved Hercule model was significantly more expensive.
The Manufrance factory at Saint-Etienne
Manufrance started as a sporting goods mail-order company in 1885. By 1893 they were producing fishing tackle, at the same time as construction of the above new factory had begun. In October 1887, as the "Manufacture Française d'Armes", they patented their "Ideal" Rifle. With the invention of the bicycle, the company produced their own using the name "Hirondelle". By 1901 the company name became as shown in the illustrations, the wording "et Cycles" also having been added. In 1904, the company were manufacturing their own ammunition, and by 1906 a range of sewing machines had been introduced.
The Company's Paris outlet
At the date of this catalogue, immediately before the First World War in 1913, the company, that had become "Manufrance" two years earlier, boasted retail outlets in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Lille, Toulpuse, Nantes, Rouen and Nancy. By 1973 the outlets number had increased to 64; but, after almost a hundred years of successful operation, bankruptcy was announced in 1980, and liquidation took place in 1985.
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