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Any of you good folk own a French Lebel revolver?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by aarondhgraham, Apr 16, 2019 at 11:36 AM.

  1. aarondhgraham

    aarondhgraham Member

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    So, do any of you folk own a French Lebel revolver?

    lebel.jpg

    I own one of these gems and it's a fine shooter,,,
    But ammo was a bit difficult to find.

    Fiocchi makes factory new ammo for it,,,
    But according to Fiocchi they only make a run every 3-4-5 years.

    The last time it became available I purchased 500 rounds,,,
    Now sgammo.com again has it in stock.

    Get it while you can my friends.

    Aarond

    P.S. Gads Custom Cartridges will reload the empties for you,,,
    Or you can reload them yourself with this data.

    lebeldata.jpg

    .
     
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  2. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Always wanted one but as you say ammo can be hard and somewhat costly to come by. Buying the ammo first without having the gun might seem like putting the cart before the horse but it does make sense in this particular application.
     
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  3. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Fiocchi comes out with it occasionally, as you already know. There are also Spanish copies of the S&W chambered in this caliber-I had one for a while.

    Eibar32_zps1a99562a (1).jpg
     
  4. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Well, if you saved all that brass then RCBS can make up a set of dies on special order. It's on their list.
    And, Accurate or Mountain molds can make you a bullet mold.
    Then you can keep shooting for many years.
     
  5. Monac

    Monac Member

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    The French "Lebel" revolvers are really beautifully made. They were a very advanced design. The grip is poorly shaped, but that does not matter too much because of the light recoil of the 8mm round, which had nothing BUT light recoil going for it. It has a squinch more power than 32 S&W Long, and a couple of squinches less than 32 ACP. Oddly, the French did exactly the same thing with the gun the replaced the Lebel, the Model 1935 automatics. (There were two modestly different types of 1935.) They were both quite decent designs, chambered for the almost equally useless 7.65mm French Long cartridge.

    PS - Upon actually looking up the figures on 7.65mm French Long, I found that the standard load has 240 ft-lbs of kinetic energy at the muzzle. This is respectable (it is about what the 158 grain 38 Special +P does) But no one else thought it was a good idea, and the French Army got rid of it as soon as they could afford new pistols. The French police hung on to it longer, but European cops considered 32 ACP an adequate load.

    The small size of the round could have made it easy to have a high-capacity magazine without an unduly bulky grip, but the French Army wasn't having any of that, so one of its few advantages was thrown away.

    Just to ramble on further, the other odd thing about the 1935 French pistols was their similarity to the Russian 1933 Tokarev. Both were extensively modified Colt 1911 copies, both had "packaged" firing mechanisms, both were chambered for high-velocity .30 caliber rounds...and both were quickly dumped when WWII was over, although the Tokarev soldiered on for decades in China and in the smaller Communist armies. In fact, the Serbs still make it today, and the Chinese may too.

    Sorry to go on so long about the 1935 automatics in a thread about the 1892 revolver. The craftsmanship of the 1892 pistol approached artistry...so the French had to stop making it about 1916, and resume only when the war was over. It was just too time consuming for a wartime weapon, and the Spanish could supply lots of cheap automatics and revolvers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019 at 6:23 PM
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  6. aarondhgraham

    aarondhgraham Member

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    I do save my brass but I'm no reloader,,,
    When I finally have 100 empty cases I'll use Gads service to reload them.

    I bought 500 rounds but I only shoot a few cylinders each year,,,
    I simply couldn't stand having a fieryarm with no ammo.

    I hope other Lebel owners can now enjoy shooting their guns.

    Aarond

    .
     
  7. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I've got one from 1912. Yep, the ammo can be hard to find and rather pricey.

    Beautiful guns IMO and a cool remnant of the past. Interestingly enough it's one of the few revolver designs where the cylinder swings out to the right, rather than the left.

    Interesting enough Lieutenant Colonel Lebel didn't actually have anything to do with the design of this revolver as I understand it, and the naming is a misnomer.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modèle_1892_revolver

    He did contribute to the development of the 8mm Lebel rifle round.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebel_Model_1886_rifle


    This is the tightest revolver I own. When in full lockup the cylinder has absolutely no play in it at all. The sights are very wee, and hard to see in dim lighting, but in full sun they are ok. The trigger on mine in DA is pretty heavy, but SA is acceptable.

    I'm reluctant to shoot mine as it's in really nice shape, and due to the cost of ammo. It sure is nice to look at in the cabinet though. I've thought about trading or selling it to a collector for a shooter, because I'm not really a collector at heart. But every time I think of that notion, I don't really want to do it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 1:51 PM
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  8. aarondhgraham

    aarondhgraham Member

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    Thanks for those links 460Shooter,,,

    You should order at least 50 rounds,,,
    Just in case of a French Zombie Apocalypse.

    Aarond

    .
     
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  9. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Agreed! I actually need to buy some more HSTs, so I may grad a box of these also.
     
  10. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    460Shooter

    I remember reading somewhere that perhaps the reason the cylinder swung out to the right is that for the cavalry the saber was still the primary weapon in combat and was to be used with the right hand. The revolver would then be held in the left hand and reloaded with the right, provided of course that the saber was back in it's scabbard!

    Qu'est-ce que tu penses?
     
  11. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    What do I think? I think that’s a perfectly plausible explanation, though I’ve never really researched that particular design aspect for the reason why.

    It may be as simple as the disassembly. The entire frame opens on the left side for service and detailed cleaning. Swinging the cylinder in that direction may have interfered with that aspect. Makes me want to do more reading.

    F87CE4C9-AD12-493B-AF32-D4395BC843B1.jpeg
     
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  12. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    460 Shooter

    Indeed the Mle. 1892 was a revolver design way ahead of it's time. Pity it was chambered for such an underpowered round, much like it's semi-auto counterparts: the Mle. 1935A and Mle.1935S.

    Thank you as well for the photos of your revolver. I can readily see why you enjoy having it in your collection!
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 4:32 PM
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  13. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Jan Stevenson suggested the 1892 be upgraded with a high strength steel cylinder for 9mm Mauser, bull barrel, and ergonomic grip. It would then be as "modern" as any revolver.
     
  14. aarondhgraham

    aarondhgraham Member

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    Several times (during my non-gun-ownership period) I considered selling Margaux,,,
    But I've owned her for a long long time and always kept her around.

    There's something elegant about her design,,,
    Reminiscent of steam locomotives,,,
    Almost steampunk so to speak.

    Were I a turn of the century man,,,
    I would feel adequately armed carrying her.

    Aarond

    .
     
  15. Monac

    Monac Member

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    I always assumed the French had the cylinder open on the right because just about every gate-loaded revolver had the loading gate on the right. When you think about it, it's odd that the "loading side" changed the way it did. My guess is that Colt actually did some testing to find out which side was more convenient with a swing-out cylinder, while the French proceeded on the basis of theory, without empirical research. The French military had a bad habit of doing that, until it got beaten out of them.
     
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  16. entropy

    entropy Member

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    No, they still do it; I cite the FAMAS.
     
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