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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi:
Picked this up last night. This is my first Gras, and an odd one to boot, so I have loads of questions. It's intended to be a project gun, so looking for parts will start next paycheck. I plan on replacing the missing parts and cleaning it up, but leaving it as a tribal piece rather than trying to restore it to military condition (can't put the toothpaste back in the tube).
Questions:
1. The first, most obvious question is where has it been since leaving the factory? Any ideas, educated guesses or SWAG's would be appreciated.
2. Blond stock, is that normal?
3. The pic's of Gras I found on Google showed two barrel bands, this one has three, with the old slot filled in. Is that normal? I don't think the band there is right, so I don't know what to look for.
4. Behind the bolt is what looks like a replacement screw, what's supposed to be there?
5. is the tang screwed to the trigger guard normally? I don't think that hex nut is antique.
6. Obviously there were some tacks decorating the butt, does anyone have any pic's of anything even remotely similar? The holes aren't all the same size.

Thanks in advance for your comments. I seem to be attracted to orphans...

Dave M.
 

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Are there any other marks on the receiver. If there is a model # preceded with a Y then it is Greek.
This site has some pics of Greek Gras Rifles. Nice find I am very inerested what other members think. I am sure someone will identify it for you.
http://www.militaryrifles.com/Greece/GreekGras.HTM
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No Y=1874. Markings:
Right side under the rear sight: "S1879", then "MA" underneath.
Top face of receiver: Diamond-shaped stamp with maybe a "U" inside. There's a tiny stamp kind of round-ish right behind the rear sight.
Left side under rear sight: Possibly something light and indistinct immediately under rear sight, followed by a circle partially hidden by the rear sight, then a "T" in a circle. Under that the serial number P 59594.
Left side of receiver: "Manufacture D'Armes St Etienne, Mle 1874" then under "M80"
Bolt" RE 42305 on bolt head, G 30535 under handle, two diamond-shaped stamps and a "T" in an oval on top of handle, then H 73631 on right side cocking knob and a shield and diamond on the left side.
Stock: the remnants of a number stamped on the right side up against the buttplate, maybe "75", a 1/2" hole filled in centered on the right side of the butt, with two 1/4" holes filled in on the bottom of the butt.
 

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Large Numbers of Gras rifles and other "BP" type rifles were sold into the Red Sea area and Ethiopia from the late 1800s onwards. Many were used by the various ( Ras==Tribal Lords) in the Italo-Abyssinian War ( late 35-early 36) I have photos of stacks of these Long, single shots in captured Abyssinian positions in a contemporary book ( Graziani's "Fronte Sud" --the advance to Addis Abeba from Mogadishu (Somalia), to join up with Badoglio's Push from Eritrea south to Addis.)

To be Officially Abbyssinian, there should be some Amharic letters stamped into the barrel past the rear sights; or Arabic writing on the Receiver ring area.
Profusion of pressed-in primer cups, upholstry tacks, and simple Nail points in the wood, are all typical signs of Ethiopian tribal Use ( same thing found on Werndls from Ethiopia.)

Some of these rifles are still floating around the more remote areas of the Horn of Africa, using home loaded ammo; places where the omnipresent AK has either not reached, or is too expensive in capital outlay or ammo supply to contempate a change to modernity... for a herdsman, a heavy lead slug is usually ewnough to send a four-footed predator, or a two-legged rustler packing, if the bullet comes even near hitting it.

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'll buy Ethiopian, it describes to a T what this gun looks like. From the pictures in your book, do you remember seeing any slings, I can't imagine leather would last too long in that enviromnent?

I've been looking around on the internet for more pic's of cavalry carbines, and am finding almost nothing. Most seem to be artillery carbines. I take it cavalry carbines are rare? Finding parts is going to be problematic...

BTW, are there any good reference works on Gras rifles? Preferably ones that are available?

Thanks guys, the knowledge on these forums continues to amaze me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, I took the receiver and barrel off the stock and found much to my surprise no woodline pitting. The bluing under the woodline is thick and complete on both stock and receiver, and there are tons of marks on both, including two E's with crowns over, and four diagonal slashes on the barrel matching four in the barrel channel on the stock. If anyone wants a pic I'll be happy to comply tonight.

On the other hand, cleaning the bore I ran about 10 swabs down it and got equal amounts of red rust on all. Looks like there's more work to be done there. The exposed parts of both barrel and receiver are an even shade of dark brown, so I'll probably leave them be.

The stock was so light because it was completely dry. The first coat of Kramer's darkened it up significantly.
 
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