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CHASSEPOT, officially "fusil modèle 1866," a military breech-loading rifle, famous as the arm of the French forces in the Franco-German War of 1870-71. It was so called after its inventor, Antoine Alphonse Chassepot (1833-1905), who, from 1857 onwards, had constructed various experimental forms of breech-loader, and it became the French service weapon in 1866. In the following year it made its first appearance on the battle-field at Mentana (November 3rd, 1867), where it inflicted severe losses upon Garibaldi's troops. In the war of 1870 it proved very greatly superior to the German needle-gun. The breech was closed by a bolt very similar to those of more modern rifles, and amongst the technical features of interest were the method of obturation, which was similar in principle to the de Bange obturator for heavy guns (see Ordnance), and the retention of the paper cartridge. The principal details of the chassepot are: - weight of rifle, 9 lb 5 oz.; length with bayonet, 6 ft. 2 in.; calibre, .433 in.; weight of bullet (lead), 386 grains; weight of charge (black powder), 86.4 grains; muzzle velocity, 1328 f.s.; sighted to 1312 yds. (1200 m.). The chassepot was replaced in 1874 by the Gras rifle, which had a metal cartridge, and all rifles of the older model remaining in store were converted to take the same ammunition (fusil modèle 1866/74).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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