The Berthier rifles and carbines were a family of bolt-action small arms in 8mm Lebel. The Berthier was originally introduced as a partial replacement for the French 1886 Lebel rifle, a revolutionary concept.
At the outbreak of World War I, the Model 1907 Berthier rifle was modified for mass manufacturing, resulting in the Mdle 07/15. The sights, barrel band, and stacking hook were simplified to increase the rate of production. While the original 1907 rifle incorporated a cruciform bayonet, the 07/15 was modified to take the same bayonet as the Lebel, simplifying supply. The turned-down bolt handle was changed to a simpler straight bolt.
During World War I, it was quickly recognized that the Berthier's three-shot magazine was simply too small in comparison to foreign weapons, requiring too-frequent reloading. Additionally, it was found that trench mud and grit could enter the weapon through the opening in the bottom of the magazine. To correct these issues, the Model 1916 Berthier rifle was introduced with a five-round en-bloc clip. The clip discharge opening at the bottom of the protruding magazine was replaced by a spring loaded trapdoor to keep out dirt and debris.
Berthier rifles and carbines continued in service during the Second World War in all branches of French service, including infantry and mounted units. Colonial and Foreign Legion forces in particular continued to use the Mdle 1916 Berthier due to a shortage of the new MAS-36 bolt-action rifle. Despite the advent of the MAS-36, the French Army did not have enough of the new rifles to equip even half of its frontline interior troops. Berthier Model 1916 (original and converted) 5-shot rifles and carbines saw action in both France and Norway. After the fall of France in 1940, the Berthier could be found in service with both Vichy and Free French units.
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