Category: guns

Spanish wheellock carbine, 16th century.

Spanish wheellock carbine, 16th century.

from The Art Institute of Chicago

The Gras Rifle Part III — The Greek Gras…

The Gras Rifle Part III — The Greek Gras 

In Case you missed Part I, Part II

In the previous post I detailed the conversion of the Chasspot needlefire rifle into the metallic cartridge Gras rifle. It wasn’t long after adoption of the Gras by the French Army that foreign powers became interested in the design. One nation was Greece, which became interested in the Gras rifle as part of its modernization of the military. 

Greece was a relatively new nation, just becoming independent from the Ottoman Empire in the 1820-1830′s. Many violent clashes with the Ottomans still occurred, mostly to reclaim Greek speaking lands and fend off Turkish incursions. Greece wanted a modern army and the Gras rifle was ideal in that is was sturdy, reliable, and most importantly economical. However, the French were unable to supply the rifles, being barely able to produce enough for themselves. Thus, France granted a contract to the Austrian company Steyr to manufacture export models of the Gras. 

The Gras rifle used by the Greeks was no different the standard French service rifle, the Mle 1874, with the exception of Steyr markings  stamped on the receiver, with a Greek cartouche on the buttstock.  Around 60,000 rifles were purchased by the Greek Army, with models being purchased on the civilian market as well. 

The rifle was commonly used in many of Greece’s conflicts with the Ottoman Empire up to the Balkans War. By World War I it has largely been replaced by the Greek Mannlicher, however it was used as a reserve arm and more popularly used by civilian militia units. France would sent tens of thousands more Gras rifles, both in 11mm Gras and 8mm Lebel, along with more modern weapons such as the Lebel and Berthier. By World War II the Gras rifle had become seriously dated and obsolete but was still used as a reserve arm of the Greek Army, with some being used against the Germans at the battle of Crete.  However, like during World War I, the Gras was more popular with civilian militias and resistance fighters. Seemingly every Greek home had one hanging on the wall, and the rifle even developed a folk status with songs and poems composed in it’s name. Despite using an obsolete cartridge that was no longer manufactured, there seemed to be an endless supply of ammunition that poured out of the Greek hills as the Greeks made their own cartridges from scrap brass, hand casted lead bullets, and home made gunpowder. 

Engraved Marriette pepperbox revolver, mid 19t…

Engraved Marriette pepperbox revolver, mid 19th century.

from Czerny’s International Auction House

Miquelet musket oringating from the Balkans, 1…

Miquelet musket oringating from the Balkans, 19th century.

from Czerny’s International Auction House

Kumul rebels using Lee Enfield rifles mounted …

Kumul rebels using Lee Enfield rifles mounted with antler horn bipods. Kumul Rebellion, Xinjiang Province China, 1931-1934.

Such bipods were commonly used by hunters with matchlocks living in Mongolia, Central Asia, and Tibet.

Silver nielloed miquelet pistol from the Caucu…

Silver nielloed miquelet pistol from the Caucusas, mid 19th century.

from Czerny’s International Auction House

Colt Commander in .38 Super with Mexican Eagle…

Colt Commander in .38 Super with Mexican Eagle grips.

from Collectors Firearms

Gold plated Hopkin’s and Allen vest pistol wit…

Gold plated Hopkin’s and Allen vest pistol with pearl grips, .22 long rifle. Produced between 1911 and 1915.

from Rock Island Auctions

Brass mounted Afghan flintlock jezail, 19th ce…

Brass mounted Afghan flintlock jezail, 19th century.

from Czerny’s International Auction House

Turkish miquelet pistol with copper and bronze…

Turkish miquelet pistol with copper and bronze stock, early 19th century.

from Czerny’s International Auction House