A A Chassepot

Invented the Cbassepot needle gun

Born—Mutzig, France, 1833 Died—Paris, 1905

Antoine Alphonse Chassepot . was born and reared as a gun-maker. His father was an armorer at Mutzig, and the younger Chassepot early decided to follow his father's profession. At 23 he was sufficiently skilled to obtain work in -the government arms factory at Mutzig, where lie made su'ch an outstanding rccord that he was transferred to the ccntral arms plant in Paris within 2 years. There lie quickly bccame director of the factory and Controller of Arms for the nation.

It was while he was working in Paris that Chassepot began his experimentation in rifle design. In 1863 he invented his first breech-loading percussion rifle. It was a good arm, but never became popular, probably because the percussion system was on the way out. Three years later, in 1866, lie developed his famous brccch-loading bolt-action necdlcgun which took a center-primed paper cartridge. The new rifle was an immediate success, being adopted by the French Army as the Mo'dcl 1866. It was the first brecch-loader used by the French Army, and the system was adopted for carbines and musketoons as well as for rifles. In 1874 it was modified by Gras to take a metallic cartridge, and continued in use until supplanted by the Lebel in 1886. The Saxon Army also adopted the system in 1873 (captured arms from Franco-Prussian War converted to handle 11 mm. Mauser cartridge).

For his invention Chassepot received the cross of the Legion of Honor in 1866. He remained at his job in the arms factory but seems to have ceased his experimental work and gradually drifted into obscurity until his death at the age of 72.— Harold L. Peterson

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