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Berthier M1916 Carbine

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As the 20th Century approached, France was equipped with the Lebel M1886, a revolutionary, yet quickly-aging rifle that, eventually became known for its own shortcomings despite introducing the concept of smokeless powder. Its long 8-round tube magazine made reloading difficult and cumbersome in certain situations, and shortening the barrel for carbine configurations often led to more issues than initially expected. As a result, France began looking into other options to adopt a standardized military carbine.


Thus, the Berthier Carbine was created to suit the requirements of the French military while still being chambered in 8mm Lebel. It originally ditched the 8-round tube magazine for a 3-round Enbloc Clip, which was immensely compact and could be instantly reloaded within a matter of seconds, solving the several problems that the Lebel was known for. However, it also introduced a new problem, as its short 3-round capacity meant that ammo consumption was a major concern. Nonetheless, it was effective enough that France would even design rifle variants of the original Berthier to supplement the standard Lebel.

When the First World War forced France into constant trench warfare on the western front, it became very apparent that neither the Lebel or Berthier designs were adequate enough for most trench conditions; the Lebel's long length and unbalanced weight made it very unwieldy in close quarters, whereas the Berthier's short ammo capacity made the design riskier to use in close quarters, along with the bottom ejection port letting mud and dirt make it more unreliable than other firearms. Due to this, France made some of the final and most successful modifications to the Berthier halfway through the war.


Introducing a 5-round enbloc clip, along with a hinged dust cover for its ejection port, the Modèle 1916 Berthier was designed to successfully solve problems that French soldiers encountered in trench conditions. While rifle variants were meant to be introduced, the carbine variant was ultimately the most produced version throughout the entire war, becoming the most successful variant to date. After the war finally ended, the French military would stick to this carbine for years, even after the introduction of newer rifles. After the outbreak of the Second World War, equipment shortages meant that many soldiers suddenly had to rely on their former Lebel and Berthiers, with the M1916 being the most favored before and after France's quick defeat.

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Edited by TheLuigiNoidMan
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