SOLD FOR: $3275
Make: Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS)
Model: MAS Modèle 1936 CR39
Serial Number: F22231
Year of Manufacture: 1951 (Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles 1866-2016 by Ian McCollum, pg. 375)
Caliber: 7.5x54mm (7.5 French)
Action Type: Bolt Action, Internal 5 round magazine
Markings: The left side of the receiver is marked “MAS MLE 1936 CR39”, “F22231”. The magazine floorplate is marked “L22231”. The bottom of the trigger guard is marked “F22231”. The rear of the bolt plug is marked “D”, “M”. The rear sight is marked 2-12. The bolt handle is marked “FH23134”. The top-rear of the buttstock is marked “F22231”. The rear of the bayonet is marked “20”.
Barrel Length: 17.7”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a hooded post. The rear sight is a sliding aperture marked from 2-12.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The two piece upper and lower handguard and folding aluminum buttstock has a shortened semi-pistol grip, front barrel band with underside sling loop, post-war nose cap with hooded front sight and stacking rod, underside bayonet, and winding sling spool contained within the buttstock. The buttstock has a few scuffs and scratches to the black paint, as well as light divots to the metal throughout. The wood is very clean aside from a few minor storage and handling marks. The wood has been refinished, evidenced by the lack of serial number on the underside of the lower handguard, near the receiver. The LOP measures 12.5” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttstock. The stock rates as Excellent overall condition.
Type of Finish: Black paint
Finish Originality: Paint may be original (See assessment section for more information). The wood has been refinished.
Bore Condition: The bore is dark, with shallow rifling. There is moderate erosion throughout.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 95% of its metal finish. The screw heads are sharp. The markings are clear, though the ones on the left side of the receiver are faded. There are spots of finish loss on the buttstock, along the edges of the receiver, the muzzle, the stacking rod, and the front sight. Overall, this rifle rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle. As with all MAS 36s and its variants, this rifle was made without a safety. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This rifle comes with an intact post-war leather sling in Very Good condition. The correct length underbarrel-stored bayonet is also included, in Very Good condition with minimal finish loss.
Our Assessment: Originally conceived as a rifle for rear echelon and auxiliary troops, the MAS 36 was elevated to the position of standard service rifle for the entirety of French troops upon the outbreak of the Second World War. Reliable and simple to use and maintain, the MAS 36 became well liked by its users and would serve, along with a number of variations, as the primary rifle of French troops until being replaced by the MAS 49/56 in 1958. One such variation was the CR39.
The CR39 (CR standing for Crosse Repliable, French for ‘folding stock’) was initially designed for use by airborne troops. The hope was that the folding stock would enable paratroopers to keep the rifle on their person as they dropped, doing away with the need for rifles to be air-dropped into a combat zone in a container. Due to the nature of the war, many CR39s ended up being used by alpine troops, notably in Norway and in the Alps. After the war, the CR39 would be used more for its intended role, seeing action in French Indochina and Algeria with French airborne troops. Eventually the CR39 was replaced by handier and more modern firearms, such as the MAT-49 submachine gun. A rough total of just under 34,000 CR39s were built, with most being destroyed rather than being surplused once they were no longer needed.
This particular example of a CR39 is an oddity. While the receiver rollmark, serial number, and receiver tang are correct for a real CR39, there are a few things that stick out as being strange. The black paint is the main one, most examples of CR39s out there either have their aluminum stocks in the white, or they have a green rubber coating. While the black paint is similar to the black enamel paint on other French rifles, namely Lebel R35 carbines, it is interesting that there are seemingly no other examples. That is not to say that it couldn’t be an arsenal original paint scheme, as there are references to (at the very least) suggestions that paint could be used to reduce the heat that would radiate off of the metal stock. Something else that is of interest is the location of the serial number on the stock. According to Ian McCullom in his book on French rifles, the location on the buttstock of the serial number for a post-war CR39 (which this one is, based on the serial number) should be above the folding lever on the left side of the wrist. But on this example, the serial number is at the heel of the buttstock, which would be consistent with a pre-war CR39. This would make more sense if the serial numbers didn’t match, pointing to a grafting of pre and post war parts, but the serial number on the stock matches that of the receiver. This is an interesting example of a rare French rifle, one that still has a functioning sling winder.