French Rifle Ammunition: 8mm Lebel and 7.5mm French

French Rifle Ammunition: 8mm Lebel and 7.5mm French

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Today we are going through the French rifle ammunition used in the Lebel, Berthier, and MAS series rifles – 8mm Lebel and 7.5mm French.

The 8mm Lebel cartridge began as simply a necked-down version of the 11mm Gras cartridge, because that cartridge was already in use in the French Navy Kropatschek rifles which were the basis of the Lebel rifle design. As a result, the Lebel cartridge was significantly tapered and had a large rim (which would cause a series of problems for use in repeating arms in later years).

The model 1886 ammunition was a flat-nosed long conical bullet, with a lead core. The bullet weighed 15g/231gr and had a muzzle velocity of 638mps/2093fps. This was updated slightly in 1891 to strengthen the case and add a crimping groove to the bullet. Designated Balle 1886M, this cartridge would be the standard for almost 10 years.

In 1898, trials of a new spitzer bullet concluded with the adoption of Balle 1886D. This was not just a spitzer bullet, but actually a solid 90/10 brass bullet instead of a lead cored bullet, as this type was simpler to manufacture. The bullet weighed 12.8g/198gr and had a muzzle velocity of 701mps/2300fps.

In 1932, a new loading was developed to give better performance in machine guns, designated Balle 1932N. This was still a spitzer, but returned to the lead core type of construction. Its bullet weighed 15.05g/232gr and had a muzzle velocity of 690mps/2265fps. It was a more powerful round than the preceding versions, and incorporated a thicker neck in the brass. This required reaming out the chambered of existing weapons to avoid overpressure when firing. Converted weapons were marked with an “N” on the barrel and receiver. It is important not to fire this ammunition in unconverted firearms!

Today on the commercial market, the primary source of 8mm Lebel ammunition is PPU (Prvi Partisan). They make a cartridge loaded basically to Balle 1886D specifications, which can be safely used in both N-converted and unconverted rifles.

In 1924, a new rimless cartridge was adopted – the 7.5x58mm. A problem quickly revealed itself, however, because 8mm Mauser ammunition could be chambered and fired in firearms made for the new 7.5mm cartridge – with potentially catastrophic results. To solve this problem, the case was shortened to 54mm in 1929, and the new standard loading was Balle 1929C. This fired a 9g/139gr bullet at 823mps/2700fps and would be the standard French rifle cartridge until the adoption of the 5.56mm FAMAS in the 1970s.

“Les Cartouches 8mm Lebel” can be ordered here:

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  1. iskandartaib on November 30, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    You wonder why the French didn’t just adopt the 7.9 Mauser after the war. I suppose because they were French… ^_^ Also something interesting I found out was that the 11mm Gras was actually used in aircraft machine guns by the French and the British, and was often known as the 11mm Vickers by the British.

  2. M M on November 30, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    Perfect Video on this kind of french cartrigde, no bad for the prononciation and impressing an American who is interested in something other than 5.56M16

  3. rincewind072 on November 30, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    Ian if you want some original french cartridges (shot by Germans) from ww2 . Send me a message so I can help you with that.

  4. Duane Quam on November 30, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    Excellent presentation.

  5. juraj okasa on November 30, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Those different clips were used in RSC 1917 rifle

  6. Garry Brownlow on November 30, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Another great vid Ian! So watchable!!

  7. N /A on November 30, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    This guy keeps following me around asking if I have 8mm ordinance

  8. SeanSean on November 30, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    I just want to know why an outlet needs to be 5′ up a wall

  9. Yoshi Almighty on November 30, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    230 grain round nosed bullet travelling at 2100 fps

    *1911 owners want to know your location*

  10. Astrid Vallati on November 30, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    The confusion over "bronze" and brass is a nomenclature one. 95/5 is "Gilding Metal", 90/10 is called in the US trade
    " Manufacturing Bronze" — a clear misnomer ( no Tin in 90/10 BRASS).
    In Europe, deriving from a Dutch Indies term, both 90/10 and 95/5 Alloys are called TOMBAC/K.

  11. Street Rat64 on November 30, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    Thank you very buch Iaan for this!! My dad "had" a couple of 8mm lebel berthier and never much ammo. Lately ive been hunting for ammo and didnt know anything about lebel, this video has helped me a ton!!! Thanks for pointing out PPU 8x50R lebel ammo and specs between N and D. I literally just saw 2 boxes of these at my local gun store but didnt buy them because of uncertainty. You just cleared up my confusion!

  12. Kronos on November 30, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    We found a bunch of the unsued 1936 versions in our shed in France. The N stamp on the round is now clear, thanks. Lastly my idiot BIL proudly announced to all our local friends they were 303s- he got the hump when I point out his obvious mistake.

  13. Jesse Sands on November 30, 2021 at 9:10 pm


  14. Jeffrey Sargent on November 30, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    So they had brass bullets instead brass balls

  15. ShinyMeatball on November 30, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    Privi is great if you’re into older European rifles. Theyre my one source of 7.5×55 swiss, and they’re very affordable.

  16. Jake Grube on November 30, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    Me wishing i could post a meme about sneaking a .300blk round into some guys 5.56 magazine: 🙁

  17. TheGearhead222 on November 30, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    Ian-Great video as always. Didn’t the French also perfect the jacketed round? Remember reading that awhile back. John in Texas

  18. Grant Davis on November 30, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Just picked up a MAS 36 at a gun show. Would like to get some 7.5 French but I can’t seem to find any available

  19. Troy Congdon on November 30, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    Thank you for putting the time into making these videos. They are well presented and informative.

  20. Potator on November 30, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    Solid brass or solid bronze? Thats not the same.

  21. Ralph Reagan on November 30, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    I bet the 7.5 would be good for elk.

  22. Steven Clark on November 30, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    As mispronunciations go that is hilarious!

  23. monkeyship74401 on November 30, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    Under powered cartridge right… you still wouldnt volunteer to stand in front of it…

  24. DNchap1417 on November 30, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    2 questions:

    1) in your experience, how does 8mm Lebel compare to the Mauser in terms of velocity, recoil and power?

    2-) How does 7.5 French compare to 308, 7,62 Russian, 7,5 Swiss and even 303 Brit?

    I did not mention accuracy because that depends mostly on the shooter but you can add it if you deem it important.

  25. nam lacrymae on November 30, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    the package of the cartridges tied all around looks like a present for the germans…

  26. RP on November 30, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Any idea why they didn’t keep the bullet and just change the case ? Seems to me the bullet was just fine it was the case that was the problem and it would’ve made it all much cheaper and easier – you can reuse old equipment – you dont need to make new barrels (just rechamber) and so on

  27. lubey111 on November 30, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Perhaps it was called ball-D ammunition because its penetration ability could be described as "balls-deep" compared to earlier black powder round nose ammo.

  28. iskandartaib on November 30, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    Can’t remember exactly when it was but those Hotchkiss feed strips (with the accompanying rounds of 8mm Lebel) were common at gun shows. And coincidentally, at the same time similar Hotchkiss strips of 7.7 Arisaka were also available. I ended up with a strip of the Arisaka ammunition, it came is some sort of hard cardboard case.

  29. Graham R on November 30, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    “Everyone went to a spritzer”

    *hides in the corner*

  30. Simon Magnum on November 30, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    The reaserch was run by a guy named Gal Desaleux, who immediately started regretting ever taking part.
    (Little bilingual bonus-joke on how your first pronunciation makes it sound like "Gal Désolé", which translates as "Gal Sorry")
    Really good work as it has been on your whole channel, you always show serious research and make the presentations interesting. Every time I watch one of your videos, I end up wishing I could buy one of the firearms presented, but that would be unreasonable.

  31. TL Wiz on November 30, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    I press play on the video for the French pronunciations and stay for the knowledge drop!

  32. McDylanNuggets on November 30, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    I really wish you would speak in terms of muzzle energy in addition to bullet mass and velocity. It would make it so much easier for casual viewers like me (I watch every video, but this is my main gun related content consumption) so I don’t have to do a calculation to understand the power output of a cartridge. When you say grains and the muzzle velocity I cannot compare easily to other rounds mentioned.
    The "joule" is likely the preferred unit of energy.

  33. MrReded69 on November 30, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    No wonder Ian loves French Militaria so much. Chin beards like his weren’t just allowed in the old French Army, THEY WERE REQUIRED BY REGULATIONS! Seriously!

  34. Jimmy Two Times on November 30, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    why tf am I watching this

  35. Lee Buchanan on November 30, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    My barrel has a M stamped on it not a N so what bullet would it take?

  36. Steve Cleaver on November 30, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    Ian, you mention in this video that the French had a "problem" with using 8mm Mauser in their 7.5mm French guns (hardly surprising really) but you went on to say that there is a similar issue around today with the 300 Blackout being used in 5.56mm NATO weaponary. I don’t understand how it’s possible to chamber a 300 blackout (7.62mm) in a gun designed for 5.56mm.
    I can see the issue with the French using their 7.5mm guns and chambering an 8mm Mauser cartridge (it’s "only" 0.5mm difference after all) but OVER 2mm difference with the 300 blackout !!! HOW ?????

  37. Ugly German Truths on November 30, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    I cannot believe that they kept those awful Carrot shaped cartridges for over 50 years. Didn’t they see that all the world went to mostly cylindrical casings???

  38. Frank Cadieux on November 30, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    Were can i find that picture with the rifle in the background ?

  39. Jesse Sands on November 30, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Great French Ammunition collection Ian!😀🔫🗼🇫🇷

  40. ViquelOoste on November 30, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Pour la Patrie !

  41. T J on November 30, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    8 mauser is kind of overpowered. I have had a few people at the range ask me if i was shooting 338 or 300 win mag. It does go kaboom pretty loud compared to 308 or similar stuff.

  42. macstmanj3 on November 30, 2021 at 9:42 pm

    These cartridge discussions are fantastic!

  43. Zurgo 2004 on November 30, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    Do you have any .32 French long?

  44. Daniel Aramburo on November 30, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    French: let’s improve the 8mm
    Russians: (in 2020) our 1891 7.62×54 is the same and good enough to this day. No need to change what works.

  45. Kody Davis on November 30, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    He mentioned the 5.56 and 300 blackout problem and I ran into that. Long story short I dropped the mag out, dropped the 300 into the chamber, pulled the trigger and broke the extractor, stuck a bullet about an inch from the muzzle. Didnt blow up the gun (thank God for bull barrels) and about burned my leg with gas from the tube

  46. evil cultist number 68 #stanevil on November 30, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    Has Ian done a video like this on Russian ammunition yet?

  47. Keith Larsen on November 30, 2021 at 9:48 pm

    So why didn’t the French just neck their 7.5 up to 8mm like their old cartige and be able to use both ammos?

  48. Tom McLean on November 30, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    Ian – You have any interest in .30-06 military cartridges made in France for the M1 Garands/Browning MGs we gave them? I have a large collection of various headstamps. Not well thought of ammo I have absolutely no intention of ever firing it.

  49. Daniels _03 on November 30, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    3:10 *Sad Italian noises*

  50. WC Productions on November 30, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    "Is there any.32 French longue in stock" still echos in the back of my mind