M1886 Lebel Video

The French M1886 Lebel was the first smallbore smokeless powder rifle adopted by a major military, and was a game changer in the European arms race in the 1880s. It wasn’t an outstanding design in many ways (like the slow-loading tube magazine and requirement to use a screwdriver to remove the bolt), but its 8mm smokeless cartridge jumped France to the front of the technological race regardless. Today, we’re taking one out to the range to see how it shoots.

Lebel rifles can still be found without much trouble, although most of them have led a rough life through two world wars. Simpson Ltd has one right now that looks pretty nice. It is rather pricey, because it was made in 1888 and is thus legally not considered a gun and can be shipped directly to a person. Others of varying condition and price can be found on GunBroker.