Modern Firearms - Meunier A6 M1916 rifle
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Meunier A6 M1916 rifle (France)

Meunier M1916 rifle

Meunier A6 M1916 rifle

 

Meunier A6 M1916 rifle - diagram

 

Caliber

7x57mm Meunier

Action

Long recoil, semi-automatic

Length, overall

1295 mm

Weight

4.03 kg empty

Barrel length

715 mm

Magazine capacity

5 rounds

French army began experimenting with autoloading (self-loading, semi-automatic) rifles as early as 1894. The work commenced at several development centers with design of several new advanced cartridges of reduced caliber (in 6-7 mm range), loaded with smokeless powder and having rimless cases, better suited to automatic loading than original 8mm Lebel rimmed cartridge. First French autoloading rifle was developed by 1897 by Etienne Meunier, and it was known as STA A1. It was gas-operated rifle firing experimental 6x58 ammunition from integral 8-round magazine. Several other designs were made by other designers and tested by French Army, and in 1909 French Supreme War council announced official requirements for a new self-loading rifle for French infantry. Several designs were developed and tried under these requirements, but the one that formally filled the bill was the STA A6 rifle by the same designer, E.Meunier. It was presented in 1910 and tested in 1911-12. Limited production of the Meunier A6 rifle was started in 1913, but the growing threat of a coming war put it to an abrupt end. In 1916 the Meunier A6 rifle was resurrected and limited production was ordered to fill the gap while solving problems with Mle.1917 RSC self-loading rifle, which fired standard issue 8mm Lebel ammo and was simpler in manufactiure than a Meunier. Overall, about 1,000 of Meunier A6 M1916 rifles were manufactured in 1916 and 1917 and delivered to French army.

Meunier A6 M1916 rifle fired non-standar 7x57mm Meunier ammunition with rimless case and pointed bullet. Bullet weight was 9 gram and muzzle velocity 850 meters per second, resulting in muzzle energy of 3,250 Joules. In the field the Meunier rifle gave generally good results, although it was complicated in design and maintenance and somewhat sensitive to dirt and fouling. However, its main flaw was the non-standard ammunition, which was hard to come by in the trenches of WW1. Once the 8mm M1917 self-loading rifle entered full-scale production and was issued to troops, the Meunier rifle was recalled from service. In 1916 Meunier also proposed a carbine version of his rifle, which was about 1,1 meter long and employed 15-round detachable box magazine. It was one of most advanced designs of its time, but its non-standard ammunition and complex design made its production unreasonable under the circumstances of the Great War.

 

The Meunier A6 M1916 rifle was long recoil operated, semi-automatic firearm. It used rotary bolt locking with three interrupted thread style locking lugs at the front of the bolt. The barrel return spring was located below the barrel inside the stock, while bolt return spring was located inside the shoulder stock. Rifle was fed from integral box magazine with 5-round capacity, loaded from the top, through the opened action. An automatic bolt catch was provided to keep bolt opened once the magazine is fully depleted. Rifle was fitted with conventional wooden stock, with bayonet lug and stacking rod at the front.