History of the MAS-49/56

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

Tam has written about the history of the French MAS-49/56. It is very interesting, well worth a read.

A handy, compact weapon, the MAS-49 was roughly the same size as the contemporaneous Soviet SKS. Also like the SKS, its prewar heritage was evident in its elaborately machined steel receiver, designed before metal stamping technology had become a tool in the gun maker’s box. Unlike the SKS, it fired a full-power round, with much the same ballistics as the later 7.62×51 NATO, the famed .308 Winchester.

Photo by Oleg Volk.

More here.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Mike Flynn Mike Flynn on Oct 09, 2008

    I’ll tell you, the 49/56 is a great Battle Rifle, it is simple like an AKM (“AK-47"), stout like an M1 Garand, accurate like an AR and shoots a round as powerful and manageable as the M-14s 7.62x51. It is relatively short for this style of rifle, which lends to a solid handling characteristic, despite its hefty weight.

    The sights on the rifle have a very long radius, and are viewed through a “peep” style format. There is also a hard mount on the side of the receiver for an optic mount. You could use it to mount an aftermarket weaver rail, or the stock French Army APX 806 scope.

    The magazine changes are quick due in no small part to its large magazine latch that is located on the magazine itself, as opposed to a latch mounted on the rifle itself. I view the curiosity of the Magazine mounted latch as “one more thing that will never break on the rifle”, and see it as a positive feature that not many other rifles duplicate within the class.

    The weapon operates via a “Direct Gas Impingement”, system mush like an AR-15 pattern rifle; however since the breach exposes the receiver innards, you do not trap the large build up of carbon in the weapon that can lead to failures.

    The gun is found in two calibers, the popular and potent .308 Caliber (7.62x51 NATO), and the equally effective 7.5 French. While there is not a lot of differences in the two round’s respective performances, there is a difference in reliability of the rifle in the case of the NATO round, and the availability of the 7.5 French round in general.

    The Gun originally came in the 7.5 caliber, and it operates flawlessly with it for the most part. However, you wont be able to walk into Sportsmen’s Warehouse and pick up a box of shells, you will most likely need to order it online or pick it up at a gun show.

    There were also weapons that came into the country that were “Modified” by Century Arms International to handle the more popular .308 Cal. While this conversion makes sense at first, the conversions were done in a characteristically shoddy manner, and the weapons perform poorly in as a result. It seems as though about 1 and 4 of these modified guns exhibit this problem. I would (and have) steer clear of these modified guns.

  • Steve Steve on Oct 09, 2008

    Thanks for the very interesting review Mike.