Book Review: Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles 1866-2016

Ian’s book is out. How is it?

Disclosure time: I was a backer of this book on Kickstarter, for what that’s worth. Mostly because I wanted to support Ian and his new publishing company. Take that as you will. I was pretty ambivalent about French Military rifles when I backed it.

First off, the production values of the book are amazingly good. The book itself has a really nice cover: it’s hardbound in a leathery, old-world sort of way, and it’s full of really good color pictures. These pictures were done carefully with good lighting, and they are always very clear. I don’t think I have nicer reference books, and Fishbreath can confirm I have lots of reference books.

Next, the material. French rifles aren’t commonly discussed in a book in English, which makes this a pretty unique work. And, the French tend to go their own way a lot, so lots of the engineering is unique. The reasoning and doctrines may also be not what you are used to. I’m not an expert on French Rifles, so I can’t attest to how thorough the book is. But Ian is pretty well known as a knowledgeable source on firearms in general and French military firearms in particular, so this is as good as you’re likely to get in English.

The French often come up with their own answers to doctrine or engineering questions. Or, perhaps that’s because the American stuff I’m most familiar with usually cribs from someone else for small arms. Anyway, because the French stuff is usually somewhat different, it’s a more interesting book than it would be if we were just revisiting clones of the Mauser action.

So let’s get down to it. Should you buy this book? I’m gonna go with a ‘yes’ if you’re even remotely interested in firearms or enjoy Ian’s content over at Forgotten Weapons. And I really do, even if I sometimes disagree with him.

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