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The French began experimenting with semi-automatic rifles as far back as the 1890’s with the testing of the Meunier rifle and by 1900 they were considering the replacement of their bolt action rifles with semi-automatic rifles, but budget constraints and bureaucracy meant that not much happened in practical terms and therefore France entered the Great War with the Lebel Rifle. As the war progressed the French again had a look at their earlier experiments and in 1917 three designers, Paul Ribeyrolles, Charles Sutter and Louis Chauchat, developed the Fusil Automatique Modèle 1917, also known as the RSC M1917 (named after themselves) at Manufacture d'Armes de Tulle, which became the first widely introduced semi-automatic service rifle in the world with some 85,000 being built and issued over a two year period. The M1917 was however still chambered for the 8mm Lebel.

Paul Ribeyrolles, who was the plant manager of the Clément-Gladiator automobile and bicycle factory, which during the war manufactured firearms including their Chauchat M1917 for the French army, also did some work during 1917 on an experimental carbine and in 1918 introduced the Carabine Mitrailleuse. It was based on the 351 Winchester Self Loading necked down to 8mm and using the standard Lebel 8mm Balle “D” bullet. The 8mm Ribeyrolles can be described as the first purpose designed, intermediate select-fire assault rifle in the world. It was first tested at Versailles proving ground on the 6th of July 1918, but the RSC M1917 was still at that stage deemed satisfactory. More thorough testing was done during July and August 1921 at Camp de Chalons. The tests were unsatisfactory for several reasons, namely the gun was deemed too heavy at just over 5kg (11lbs) and suffered from malfunctions. Interestingly one of the reasons given for not adopting the rifle was that accuracy was poor beyond 400m, a strange decision given that the average distance of engagement during WW1 was between 100 – 250m. The war also ended in 1918 which also led to many military tests being discontinued as they were no longer deemed necessary.

   Commemorative cartridge for the French cartridge club (Association Francaise d'Etudes et de Recherches Historiques sue les Munitions). Cases made for them by Megret.