The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Curios and Relics

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old December 29, 2012, 11:41 PM   #1
barnbwt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2012
Posts: 659
MAS 1873?

Finally got around to visiting one of the LGS, and saw a rather peculiar and elaborate old revolver behind the case. Says "MAS Revolver, DO NOT FIRE" with a price tag of 150 bucks. I likes me weird designs, more so when they're cheap, so I did a bit of searching on the MAS guns.

I think it's an 1873 since I don't recall large scallops in the cylinder, and I also remember the cylinder pin was "solid" with no gap between it and the barrel (like the 1892). It's apparently the first centerfire pistol adopted by the French military. I believe (through the fog of memory) it was a light color (worn, but not blued or browned).

Should I even bother looking into this further, or are these old warhorses just junkers? I wouldn't think of shooting this guy (mainly since ammo would be a nightmare) in any condition, but are the internals particularly notable or intersting should they be functional?

(Random question: why are the proportions of French guns always "off"? )

TCB
__________________
"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
barnbwt is offline  
Old December 29, 2012, 11:47 PM   #2
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 35,865
Sounds like a standard Mle 1873 French Ordnance revolver in 11mm.

Mine was manufactured in 1873.

MAS is simply an acronym for Manufacture d'armes de Saint-√Čtienne, where these guns were made by the French government.

The lockwork is a Chamelot-Delvigne design, which was probably the first truly successful, truly reliable double action designs anywhere -- simple, reliable and quite robust.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old December 30, 2012, 11:18 AM   #3
tater134
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 22, 2009
Location: NE,PA
Posts: 390
$150????? BUY BUY BUY!

Even if there is something wrong with it the gun is worth more than that in parts.
tater134 is offline  
Old December 30, 2012, 12:17 PM   #4
Webleymkv
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 20, 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 9,865
I concur with Mike Irwin in that it's most likely an 1873 Ordinance revolver. Here is a Wikipedia article on the revolver we think it is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAS_1873_revolver

This revolver is probably most widely known for the pair of them that Brendan Frasier used in the film The Mummy. I've wanted one of these interesting revolvers ever since seeing that movie as a kid and for $150, I would certainly buy it were I in your shoes.
__________________
Smith, and Wesson, and Me. -H. Callahan
Well waddaya know, one buwwet weft! -E. Fudd
All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures. -J. Caesar
Webleymkv is offline  
Old December 30, 2012, 08:53 PM   #5
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,270
They are actually pretty good guns, tough and reliable DA revolvers issued when the U.S. was using the Colt SAA. The ammo is, AFAIK, unavailable, but cases can be made from .44 Special with a bit of work.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old December 30, 2012, 10:38 PM   #6
barnbwt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2012
Posts: 659
Well, at least I didn't have to waste my time waiting on NICS for this...



It is only missing the left grip panel (which has no screw so I'm a bit confused as to how it was held in place to start with), but everything else looks present. This gun is so much better made than my Belgian S&W rip-off break-top. That thing has anvil-formed internal bits, this thing has a knurled spring tension lever--inside the gun! I also see evidence of actual machining :P. The metal is all very good, too. The non-accessible surfaces inside the frame are still shiny despite the gun being "in the white" from the factory. Very pretty stamped text stating the "modele 1873" and the "Mle d'Armes St Etienne" make. Everything on this gun is threaded; even the dang pin holding the lanyard loop! All the various springs (except maybe hand/sear springs) seem at full power (I had a hell of a time getting the gun apart with bare hands--people must've been stronger back then)



I "field stripped" it and found the cylinder pin was slightly bent, but I think the bend may be outside the frame (i.e. doesn't affect (lack) of function). The cylinder stops are slightly worn with little noticeable ring. There is zero detectable end-shake. Cylinder gap is ~.02". The hand is worn badly, the timing surfaces are worn to hell (but not peened much, suprisingly). In DA, the hand does not engage the cylinder much at all (worse DA trigger pull than my Belgian S&W No. 3 knock-off). In SA, the cylinder almost gets to where the bolt can engage the stop in the cylinder. When cocked, cylinder has a half-chamber of rotational play. The SA trigger is heavy, but suprisingly abrupt and clean in its release. I was suprised to see this gun has a half-cock notch (needed for turning the cylinder to load) which would make subsequent SA/DA shots a bit easier on the muscles.

I haven't detail stripped it yet (using the cylinder-pin/screwdriver), and probably won't unless repairs are possible, but I think the mechanism is similar to the Belgian No. 3 clone I have; the hand and bolt press against the cylinder to lock it up, and both get beat up under recoil.



Now, I hate "only dropped once" jokes about the French (especially for a gun of the WWI vintage ), but the bore of this thing is pretty dang good. The outside of the gun is far more "pitted" (may just be mould artifacts and dings) and beat up, and the dark bore appears both sharp and clean. Maybe the previous owner just dry-fired a lot to wear out the gun. The lack of rust of any sort under the grips and the barrel condition lead me to believe the exterior was never in such bad shape that the "pits" were caused by rust. Mere supposition, though.

If this thing is completely iredeemable from "wall hanger" status with little value, I'd be tempted to shine it up into a "steampunk" barbeque gun with some brass-inlayed grips and Victorian engraving. Hopefully, I can find a way to get this gun back into good enough shape to shoot marshmellows on top of a couple granules of black powder. In that case I'd be more inclined to leave it alone, even if it has no value, and merely replace the missing grip.

Is removing patina on a gun issued "in white" considered a restoration, or bastardization?

^Thanks for the tip on brass; I wonder if 44-40 or 44 Russian would work as well (since that's what my S&W clone "shoots")

TCB
__________________
"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater

Last edited by barnbwt; December 31, 2012 at 02:34 PM.
barnbwt is offline  
Old December 30, 2012, 10:57 PM   #7
barnbwt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2012
Posts: 659
From ArmesFrancaises.fr:
(Apparently Spanish is close enough to French I can sorta-kinda read the website )



Good, so now I don't have to tear mine apart to see how it works :P


What an ugly little bullet
__________________
"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
barnbwt is offline  
Old December 31, 2012, 02:06 PM   #8
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,270
As you can see, the left grip is held on by the sideplate and the butt cap. When the sideplate is removed, the grip lifts right off and the mechanism is fully exposed for cleaning or repair.

The grip can be made quite easily and even checkered to match the other one. As the joke goes, find a block of walnut and cut away anything that doesn't look like a Mle 73 grip.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old December 31, 2012, 02:32 PM   #9
barnbwt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2012
Posts: 659
Ah, so a lip or tab on the grip that slips under the side plate must've broken off (since the screws look like they've never been messed with). Well, I do have a block of walnut sitting around doing nothing...

I wonder if the timing can be revived in any way (again, it looks worn, not deformed). I dunno, TIG-ing a little blob back onto the timing star and hand then whittling them back down to where it cams properly? I suspect the pawl spring may be weak/broken (hammer seems like it releases way too early) and that could the real factor in the timing problems.

TCB
__________________
"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
barnbwt is offline  
Old December 31, 2012, 02:39 PM   #10
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,270
In my experience, the ratchet is seldom really bad and if it is, is not worth fixing, as any attempt to do so usually results in total ruination. a bit of welding on the hand or even making a new hand might be the better approach.

As to the grip, you can see in the picture the little "lips" that go under the sideplate. Many of those old revolvers, including the French 92 and the Russian Nagant work the same way, with the sideplate either removable or swinging out on a hinge.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old January 1, 2013, 09:26 AM   #11
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 35,865
I fired mine years ago.

Made blackpowder rounds out of .44 special cases cut down, cast a bullet (can't remember the mold I used) as close to proper diameter as I could get using pure lead, then hollowed the base with a drill press to form a skirt that would blow into the rifling.

Accuracy was passable at 10 yards, minute of Chadian Resistance Fighter.

The French were never known for adopting handguns of anything even remotely resembling power. The 11mm, in various loadings, developed between 100 and 200 ft. pounds of energy.

$150 is a great price for one of these guns in decent condition. Years ago I passed on one in ever better condition than mine for $75. Stupid me.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old January 6, 2013, 10:59 PM   #12
barnbwt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2012
Posts: 659
Inletted a new pair of grips made from a block of walnut I had gathering dust this weekend. I still need to shape the outer profile/contours, but they fit the gun like a glove . I'm still trying to decided how I want to procede as far as aesthetics.

Right now, the plain straight-grain raw walnut makes it look almost like a Cowboy revolver for some reason--gotta fix that.

Option 1: "Preservation"
Get some tung or other oil to greatly darken the walnut. The stuff I have is very light green/brown in color, with very straight (boring) grain running along the grips. The originals used either a walnut or finish that was very dark brown, the grip that came with the gun being a dark chocolate color with no visible grain. I'd also try to approximate the original checkering, which would obscure the boring wood grain (and a glue repair line from a split during carving that's barely noticeable). The rest of the gun would be lightly buffed with some bronze wool or softer, leaving the patina intact but a tad smoother. I could attempt a "restoration" by removing the patina altogether, returning the gun to the "white" finish it served in.

Option 2: "Enhancement"
Either engrave or inlay some sort of pattern (Fleur 'd Lis?) on the grips and finish them shiny with either lacquer or oil/polish. Depending how it looks on a test piece I may stain them darker and do a light colored inlay. I'll probably try to work brass into the inlay as a highlight. The visible areas of the frame would be polished to bare metal, and the pitting removed as much as possible without damaging markings (hell, despite damaging markings. Not like it'd have any collector value after this anyway). At that point, I could add engraving/inlay to the frame/cylinder, solder on brass highlights, or even nickle plate the thing. The goal would be to make it look even more "ornate-Victorian" than it does, for the purpose of a psuedo-steampunk BBQ gun (since I have no BBQ gun )

Quote:
In my experience, the ratchet is seldom really bad and if it is, is not worth fixing, as any attempt to do so usually results in total ruination. a bit of welding on the hand or even making a new hand might be the better approach.
I think there is enough metal left on the ratchet that "growing" the hand is all that's needed. For whatever reason, DA times to within 1/16" but SA to within 3/8". The hand moves away from the ratchet halfway through its travel when the hammer is pulled back, which limits the cylinder turn. If I pull DA quickly, the cylinder "throws by" enough to get the firing pin to dimple some playdough in the right spot--maybe the shop was too quick to sell it as non-firing?

TCB
__________________
"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
barnbwt is offline  
Old January 7, 2013, 02:45 PM   #13
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,270
The easy way on the grips is to simply copy the checkering on the other one, reversed as necessary. As to matching colors, Home Depot or any paint store will have a variety of stains that can duplicate about any color out there.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old January 8, 2013, 08:27 PM   #14
SPEMack618
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 21, 2010
Location: Central Georgia
Posts: 1,384
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Irwin
Accuracy was passable at 10 yards, minute of Chadian Resistance Fighter.
Mike, I was reading through this thread and enjoying the great history lesson and then nearly shot Mountain Dew out my nose. That was hilarious. Can I pretty pretty please use that as my new sig?
__________________
NRA Life Member
"Had King Kong showed up in Texas, Frank Hamer would have taken him down with his Model 8 in .35 Remington...well, he was kind of big, so maybe his BAR"
SPEMack618 is offline  
Old January 8, 2013, 11:11 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 35,865
sure. go nuts!
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old January 11, 2013, 01:59 PM   #16
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,270
I never had ammo for an 1873, but I have fired a French 1892 and it is pretty accurate, at least as good as most military revolvers of the day, in spite of the "less than optimal" sight picture and single action trigger pull. IIRC, I got around 1 1/2 inch groups at 7 yards. (I have not measured any Chadian resistance fighters lately.)

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old January 11, 2013, 11:16 PM   #17
barnbwt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2012
Posts: 659
Hey, the sight picture is better than my CZ52! (really not saying much)

Apparently these guns can "plink" well enough even with round ball () so that may be a cheap option I could play with (did I say play? Guns are always serious business. Harumpf!). At this point I'm certain the hand spring is played out; pushing the hand into the frame when cocked, it only slooowly slides back to engage the ratchet star. It also looks like the SA sear may be a bit worn, and is causing the hammer to fall too early (either that, or it's designed to fall early and be "thrown" into position just in time by a firm trigger pull). I'll try to find some info before I even think of screwing with it, but it looks like increasing clearance between the hammer and sear disengagement surfaces may be the remedy (these cause the sear to actually disengage--filing them would retard disengagement I think without affecting sear engagement strength)

At any rate, I got a pair of new grips thrown together from a block I had; not terrible for something freehanded with no originals and no planning. These will be my dedicated "range/beater" grips if I ever get this thing firing. I did learn what I need to do different next time (with some fancier wood) to make some truly impressive grips, though. Here they are, rough from rasp-shaping and unfinished (for now).



That first shot really shows off the pitting on the sides--It's actually not that noticeable with the patina. I think this gun was improperly stored in a case at some point, since the pitting is only present on the exposed sides of the frame and cylinder. After tearing apart everything on this gun but the innards, I've come to the conclusion that the S/N is stamped on everything but the frame itself

I must say, walnut is the funnest wood I've worked with so far. Aside from a split in the left grip at the mainspring channel (which I stupidly carved along the grain) that glued up perfectly, it was about as easy as carving basswood and just as forgiving. I've leaned towards fancy tropicals in the past, but now I see the allure of "boring old" walnut

TCB
__________________
"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
barnbwt is offline  
Old August 10, 2013, 01:09 PM   #18
jab17331
Junior Member
 
Join Date: August 10, 2013
Posts: 1
mas 1874

I have one of those guns. It's a mas 1874. Missing two parts that i know of. Is it worth anything..
jab17331 is offline  
Old August 10, 2013, 05:23 PM   #19
barnbwt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2012
Posts: 659
It probably depends which two parts?

Mine was missing a grip piece, and I bought it for 150$. I've come to think that was a pretty good deal, since I haven't seen them below 300$ in any condition online recently.

BTW, the thread's 6 months old, just open a new one

Oh yeah, I still haven't shot or messed with this gun, FWIW. I did pick up some 44mag dies to use for making shortened BP loads for this gun and my no. 3 Russian knockoff. If I could only find bullets this might happen in my lifetime

TCB
__________________
"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
barnbwt is offline  
Old August 13, 2013, 08:59 AM   #20
Magnum Wheel Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 26, 2006
Location: Southern Minnesota
Posts: 8,178
I have an American Bulldog that looked unfired when I bought it ( could have just been very well cleaned up a long time ago though )... mines chambered in 44 Bulldog

I shortened 44 special cases & used a light weight soft cast bullet & started with light loads of Trailboss... I was conservative, & my 1st loads too light, causing the primers to push back, & not re-seat... I have some soft lead round balls I plan on loading as well, when I get back at it...

just wanted to tag along, for if / when you decide to try shooting it
__________________
In life you either make dust or eat dust...
Magnum Wheel Man is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:08 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11631 seconds with 9 queries