Small Caliber Book Reviews: Proud Promise, by Jean Huon

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Jean Huon is a – possibly the premiere – French military small arms historian of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Proud Promise is his effort to document the story of the French military selfloading rifle, up to the year 1979. Along with its companion Honor Bound detailing the history of the CSRG 1915 machine gun (better known as “Chauchat”), it is one of two Collector’s Grade Publications’ resources on French military long arms, both of which should be required reading for the student of the subject.

For anyone interested in the history of self-loading rifles, Proud Promise covers a great chunk of their early history, as so much of it is French history. While the Americans were the first in the late ’30s to adopt a self-loading rifle, there is a compelling argument to be made that it was the French who had by far the most experience with them until that point. The capstone weapon of the book – the MAS 49 rifle – arrived after World War II, and was primitive in some ways compared to other contemporary weapons, but in other ways it was still more advanced, and it embodied the great corpus of French work on the type going back to before the Boer Wars. Indeed, the argument that the French may have known a thing or two the Americans didn’t carries some weight, especially considering some of the recent testing done by Ian of Forgotten Weapons between the MAS 49/56 and the M14.

Like A History of Modern U.S. Military Small Arms Ammunition, Proud Promise is essentially authoritative. It’s difficult to imagine a book covering so much with as much depth; on the subject of French selfloading rifles, it is difficult to find another resource that competes with it. Its biggest limitation is that more introductory audiences may find the subject boring, or lacking in wider context. However, for the patient, truly interested reader of any stripe, Proud Promise offers a compelling, lush view of its subject matter.

Proud Promise is available on Amazon for around thirty dollars (US).



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • For those searching for other Huon titles, be aware that the English edition of “The M16” is horribly executed. I suspect the editors used a machine translation, or if human translators were involved, they had no knowledge of firearm technical terms.

    • I really want an English version of his “French Assault Rifles”, but I cannot seem to find one.

      Thanks for the heads up on “The M16”.

  • French auto loaders are fun, but finding and buying ammunition for them is not!

    • Fortunately, Prvi makes 7.5×54. If you shoot a Meunier, though, you may be out of luck!

      • Yes, privi is all I can find (and it isnt easy to come by). 8mm lebel is hard to find for me as well. Thus my French rifles have fallen silent 🙁

        • Patrick R

          Le going bang has made me le tired.

    • Zachary marrs

      Ive been on the lookout for a mas 36, all the ones I’ve seen got some surgery from dr. Bubba and were put in an intensive tapco unit

      • mosinman

        i saw one in a pawn shop that was completely chromed with the furniture painted black… no joke

        • Iggy

          That sounds both hideous and kinda amazing all at once.

          • mosinman

            it was pretty well chromed but an all chromed rifle transforms you into a disco ball of light the minute you step into the sunlight

  • Joe Smith

    That would actually be a very interesting read.

  • Dave

    Jean
    Huon is a – possibly the premiere – French military small arms
    historian of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. – See more at:
    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/11/12/small-caliber-book-reviews-proud-promise-jean-huon/#disqus_thread
    Jean
    Huon is a – possibly the premiere – French military small arms
    historian of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. – See more at:
    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/11/12/small-caliber-book-reviews-proud-promise-jean-huon/#disqus_thread

  • Wetcoaster

    Does the author tackle the Belgians as well?

    There’s a short post-WW2 transition between general-issue bolt-actions (Mausers, Mosins and Enfields) and ‘modern’ semi and select-fire weapons with large magazines (AK, M14, G3, FAL), but it feels like the SKS, FN49, vz. 52, Hakim, Rasheeed and the MAS all fall into that category (which might be stretched to include the Garand, Ljungman (AG-42), G43, and SVT-40 if you include WW2 rifles*)

    *I know the SKS technically came in at the very tail end of the war.

  • Lanyard Ring

    Horrible sentence “Indeed, the argument that the French may have known a thing or two the Americans didn’t regarding selfloaders carries a little more weight considering some of the recent testing done by Ian of Forgotten Weapons between a MAS 49/56 and an M1A.” Sorry to be a grammar facist ………..

    • It’s a couple of fragments stuck together by accident. I’ll fix it.