Right side view of MAS 49/56 self-loading rifle with APX 806L optical sight and rifle grenade sight in raised position.
Source: Atirador - © GNU Attribution Share Alike license
The MAS 49 is a self-loading rifle of French origin. It was developed after World War 2 to replace the various bolt action rifles in French service. As France was not part of NATO during the Cold War the MAS 49 was one of the few European standard issue firearms that was not chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO round.
The MAS 49 is a self-loading rifle that fires the same 7.5mm ammunition as the earlier MAS 36. It is gas operated and uses the direct impingement gas system with a tilt-locking bolt. The MAS 49 looks like a classic rifle with its wooden stock and furniture that covers a large part of the barrel. The MAS 49/56 is an improved version and the most produced model of the MAS 49. For use a sniper rifle an APX scope and rubber buttpad can be fitted.
The MAS 49 fires the French 7.5x54mm round from a 10 round detachable box magazine. The MAS 49 fires semi-automatic only. The maximum effective range is 400 m with iron sights and up to 800 m when using a scope. The MAS 49/56 is the most common version of the MAS 49 rifle and is able to launch NATO standard 22mm rifle grenades.
France was the first and foremost user of the MAS 49. In French service the MAS 49/56 was used until the year 1990 when the last rifles were finally replaced by the FAMAS. The MAS 49/56 was the most widely exported version and was adopted by most ex-French colonies and several other nations.
The MAS 49 is the first version of the MAS 49 rifle. It can be identified by its much longer wooden forearm. The performance was good, but the design was upgraded to make it lighter and shorter. The MAS 49 was common in French service but the production number was lower than that of the improved MAS 49/56.
The MAS 49/56 is an improved model of the MAS 49 rifle. Lessons learned during the Indochina War were incorporated in the design. The MAS 49/56 has a slightly shorter barrel and much shorter wooden forearm to reduce weight. The grenade launching ability is also upgraded. The MAS 49/56 was more widely exported than the original MAS 49.
The Belgian SAFN-49 is a contemporary self-loading rifle. The older MAS 49 and SAFN-49 much alike, especially in older photos of limited quality.
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