MAS 36 Run and Gun: France’s Right Hook

The French MAS 36 is often dismissed as garbage, if not outright overlooked by most shooters. That is however a shame, as these incredible little rifles have a lot to offer at a very affordable price point. So, let’s take a look at what it can do.

Old MAS 36 video:

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Transcript …

– [Voiceover] Hey guys, it’s Alex C with TFBTV and for today’s run and gun we’re going to be using a French MAS 36 rifle.

We’ve actually done a video on the MAS 36 in the past.

That kind of stemmed from an argument I had with some people online who were saying it was one of the worst bolt action rifles ever fielded and I didn’t feel like this little rifle got due credit.

So, I did some research and basically made a video explaining why I thought it was not only not bad, but actually one of, if not the best bolt action rifle ever fielded from a military perspective.

I’ll link to that in then end card as well as in the description.

There’s several features that make this just incredibly easy to use and very fitting for a soldier of the time.

They had a bayonet that stowed very easily, they cycle very quickly, and they had a modern, rimless cartridge with a very short action.

With practice you can actually cycle and maintain a sight picture too and they’re incredibly easy to use with the stripper clips that come with them.

At the time they were also, had the ability to share tooling with semi-automatic fire arms.

Optimal bolt handle placement also means you can cycle them quickly.

Other great features like they’re counterbored so you can’t intentionally damage the ground very easily.

They’re rear locking for mud and sand resistance.

Simple and cheap to make.

They had a fixed rear aperture sight so they couldn’t really be knocked from zero.

Above all they are short, light, and very very handy.

These rifles were, they look crude, let’s get real here.

They don’t have a manual safety.

Soldiers were expected to carry these without a round in the chamber and just quickly bolt the rifle basically to get one in their and get to business if they saw an enemy or were engaging a target.

And these were used to great effect in World War II.

And after, of course, there was a 3651 that could launch rifle grenades and stuff like that.

I will say the one thing I don’t like from a hobbyist shooters perspective is that if you want to change the windage you actually do have to order a rear sight leaf from somewhere like Numrich.

But that’s not that big a deal most of these come sighted pretty well realistically.

You didn’t want soldiers to knock it from zero and that’s why they did that.

They wanted these to be effective for basically getting the most out of their dollar and they certainly did.

Let’s take a look and see how it does on the new and improved run and gun course versus the old one which, was in a way, the original.

And we’re going to do the same thing, fire 25 shots with four reloads, engaging at the targets starting at about 75 yards out.

Let’s check it out.

– Alright, French M. A. S. or MAS 36, here we go.

(gun fire hitting metal) – I like this little gun, let’s go talk about it.

Alright guys, we’ve had very few perfect run and guns since we’ve been doing this series.

And I believe I just got 25 out of 25.

I’ll verify that and put the hits versus misses here.

But people always ask me if I could take one bolt action to war what would it be? And that’s this one right here.

It’s short, light, handy, great mud and sand resistance, the clips work easy.

The one hiccup I had is actually a round separated from one of the clips so I had to single load one.

But still, you can work the action very fast and damn I love these things.

Anyways, let’s go back to the room and finish this one up.

– [Voiceover] So I think the results of this run speak for themselves.

We’ve had very few 25 out of 25s since we’ve been doing this whole run and gun thing.

And this one can rightfully take its place near the top of the hierarchy of bolt action rifles we’ve used for this.

Everything is just so well thought out.

It’s the result of French learning experiences in World War I and so on.

And everything comes together well.

It’s quick to cycle, easy to run, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s so fun to shoot.

Anyways guys, big thanks to Ventura Munitions.

We hope you enjoyed this.

Click the link in the end card here or in the description again if you’d like to see our old MAS 36 video.

We’d also like to thank you for watching this one and we really hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed shooting it.

See you next time.



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • gunsandrockets

    The main thing that bothers me about the French 7.5mm rifles are the triggers tend to be too heavy and the peep-sights aperture are too small.

    • Really? The aperture is huge on my MAS-49/56. My biggest complaint about it is that the geometry of the rear sight tends to catch light and obliterate the sight picture in low light conditions.

      • gunsandrockets

        I only know of the multiple 7.5mm rifles I have handled, not yours. Including MAS-36, my MAS-44, MAS-49, MAS-36/51, and my pair of MAS-49/56.

  • Major Tom

    If the MAS-36 was really borne of lessons learned from World War One the French would have gone for something more akin to the M1 Garand. A self-loader rather than yet another bolt action.

    All the forward thinking armies of the the 1930s were either trying it out, thinking about it or getting it. Soviet, American, British and more, yet the French decided to stay on the level of 1917 rather than 1937. No wonder they lost.

    • Mike Burns

      Now that’s unfair. The French were looking at semiautos even before WW1, actually adopted one in large numbers during ww1, and adopted the MAS 1940 semiauto in 1940. Then the German invasion intervened. The French also had a mass conscript army of millions based on calling people in from the reserves after a period of compulsory military service, and bolt actions are far cheaper and more suitable for such an army at that time..

      • Major Tom

        It’s totally fair. There was nobody who wasn’t a “mass conscript army of millions” in the war so that’s not a valid reason. The MAS-36 was plain and simple a rifle designed for the last war, not the next. And unfortunately for the conservative and incompetent French leadership who never even fielded the MAS-36 fully, the realities of WW2 destroyed any idea that the bolt action rifle was here to stay as the primary arm of the front-line infantryman. Instead it went to weapons which were borne of lessons learned from WW1 such as self-loading rifles like the Garand, submachineguns like the MP-40 or PPSh and more mobile firepower.

        • Mike Burns

          *During* the war, yes – but the French model, even between the wars, was a short period of conscription followed by years on the reserve lists and called up at short notice in time of war and chucked into battle. The British and US armies of the time were all-professionals / Territorials who were then supplemented by conscription followed by long training periods when the SHTF. Just like for WW1. In any case, had the war held of for another year, at least some of the first-line French troops, unlike the British and German, would have been carrying the MAS 40 semi-auto. The French were, honestly, way ahead of the European curve on self-loaders, right back to the turn of the century – it’s just that wars happened to get in the way at inconvenient moments.

          By the way, I had the privilege to see my friend’s great-grandfather’s military record – after more than a decade on the reserve list (after his conscription period) he was called up in August 1914 and on the two-way range three weeks later! That’s the French model I’m talking about 🙂

    • gunsandrockets

      The French were certainly guilty of many mistakes, but the got the LMG right and that was much more important to actual infantry combat effectiveness than any kind of rifle. They also got mortars right.

      When you consider the costs vs benefits of a military force, infantry rifles are at the bottom level of priority. I’m not going to ding the French for being too slow to adapt semi-auto rifles considering everything else that had to be dealt with.

  • LG

    Originally I enjoyed the “Run and Gun” concept. In my humble opinion it has turned away from reality. This has turned into a pure test of muscle memory and experience. The results specious, to say the least, when an M36 bolt gun comes out ahead of the M1941. Why not say that you like the M36 because you use it frequently and are most familiar with it’s drill. The M1941 is at least a generation ahead of the M36. Even the French military would have said that their parallel developed auto loader was superior to the M36. Either compare with shooters of equal skill and familiarity with the different weapons or just call the series Pot Luck.

  • Don Ward

    More like French MAS 36 Run – And Surrender!!!

    Yeah. Amirite guys?!?

    High Five!

    ‘Merica!

  • Tassiebush

    This video makes me want one