• Modèle 1907-15 Mannlicher Berthier (Turkish Forestry Service Carbine)

    Modèle 1907-15 Mannlicher Berthier
    (Converted to Turkish Forestry Service Carbine)
    (Mfg by St. Etienne, converted in 1948 in Turkey)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: ........................ 8 x 50R Lebel (8mm Lebel)
    Rifling & Twist: .............. 4 groove, right hand twist.
    Barrel Length: ............... 22.0 in.
    Overall Length: ............. 41.5 in.
    Weight: ........................ 7.6 lbs.
    Magazine Capacity: ....... 3 rounds
    Qty Mfg: ....................... Approximately 8000

    Source: ....................... La grande aventure des Fusils reglementaires francais 1886-1936 (1996) by Henri Vuillemin (no ISBN number), Springfield Sporters 2001 Catalogue.

    Canadian Collector Market Value Estimate: $

    Modèle 1907-15 Mannlicher Forrestry Berthier Carbine

    (26 picture virtual tour)

    Observations: (by "Claven2")

    In 1914, the Manufactures darmes de St. Etienne was ordered to begin working on a modified Mle 1907 des Tirailleurs Sengalais which could be rushed into production and supplement the depleting stocks of Lebel rifles. The result was the 1907-15 Mannlicher-Berthier rifle, officially adopted by France in 1915. By mid 1915 the first rifles were reaching the troops.

    Berthier rifles were manufactured by Manufactures darmes de St. Etienne, Manufactures darmes de Chatellerault, Remington Repeating Arms, Etablissement Continsouza and Etablissement Delauney Belleville.

    Only a few thousand Remington made rifles were ever delivered to France where they promptly failed inspection. Popular belief is that it was due to improper heat treating. Chatellerault rebuilt a few thousand of them before abandoning this practice as not cost effective. Those that were rebuilt were sent to war reserve to be used only in the most dire of emergencies the rifles were considered that unsafe. The remainder of the contract was never delivered and most Remingtons never left the USA. These rifles should probably not be fired if encountered. Most are like new and bear no serial number, as serial numbers were only applied to rifles accepted for service.

    After the war, most 1907-15 rifles were converted the Mle-M-16 pattern, making the 1907-15 rifles much rarer in general. Many rifles earmarked for colonial service, however, remained in the 1907-15 configuration but did receive the Balle N chamber upgrades. The Balle N modification enlarged the chamber throat to accommodate the same ammunition as the Hotchkiss machine gun in order to simplify the supply chain in the military. Such rifles are marked with a capital N on the receiver ring and over the chamber. Balle N should not be fired in rifles not so marked.

    The Mannlicher-Berthier was still the most widely issued French rifle in WW2. The MAS-36 slated to replace it had not been made in great numbers when the war started.

    It has been widely reported that the rifles which were converted by the Turkish Government to the Forestry Carbine configuration were originally all long rifles surrendered by Vichy French retreating into Turkey to escape the Allied armies recapturing North Africa during the Second World War. This is supported in part by the fact that all reported Forestry carbines are Balle N modified, meaning they arrived in turkey after 1928. "Orman" as found on the receiver ring of these arms is Turkish for "Forest". Al 8000 carbines were built in 1948, probably at Ankara Arsenal, and are in the 3 round configuration of the Mle.1907-15, as opposed to the 5 round configuration of the Mle.1916.

    One of Turkey's greatest natural resources was its vast stands of Circasian Walnut forest. In the 1940's, illegal logging of these trees was a thriving black market. It has been reported that the Turkish government wished to arm its forrestry officials who were confronting armed tree poachers. Turkey had in its posession a quantity of WW2 era Mannlicher-Berthier long rifles which were chosen as a basis for a lightweight Mannlicher-styled carbine that would fire a round unlike anything commonly available in Turkey. This was done on purpse so that wounded poachers presenting themselves at hospitals could not argue that the bullets retrieved from their wounds came from anywhere other than a forestry official's rifle, thus placing them at the scene of the crime.

    The rifle pictured started life as a Mle.1907-15 infantry rifle. In 1948 it was converted to a Forestry Carbine in Turkey. The nosecap is from a Mauser carbine, as is the handguard. A receiver extension was sleeved over the barrel to accept the rear end of the handguard. The barrel band springs were re-used, but modified to hold the Mauser middle band and nosecap. The turks force-matched the bolt to the receiver, all other parts are typically a complete mix of mismatched French parts. The original Mle.1907-15 sights are re-used and slide graduations do not match the 8mm Lebel Balle N trajectory.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. The Turkish Forestry Carbine is an uncommon milsurp in Canada. Less than 8000 were produced and the surviving examples were sold in the United States through Springfield Sporters in the 1990's. A small quantity arrived in canada through dealers and are uncommon today.

    The obscure caliber and general un-availbility of charger clips have kept demand and prices low for these rare military surplus carbines. Nevertheless, they are a handy weapon and are pleasant to shoot if one takes the time to procure brass, chargers, and reloading gear to facilitate their use.

    If brass cannot be located to reload for the Berthier, it can be made using .348 Winchester brass. It must be formed, shortened and the bases lathe turned a couple thou to fit the 8mm Lebel chamber.

    No bayonet was issued for this arm.
    ........ (Feedback by "Claven2")

    2. I read Claven2's statement on the Turk Orman Carbine regarding it's acquisition by Springfield Sporters in the 1990's and the relative scarcity of examples in Canada. I would just like to point out that thanks to the GCA'68 import bans of the late 60's, through the 70's and early 80's which restricted milsurp sales into America, a LOT of these Turkish Orman Carbines were in fact imported into Australia instead, and they are QUITE common to find (though rarely purchased, thanks to the ammunition and limited collector appeal). Generally can be picked up for under $150. My local dealer has 3 such Orman Carbines on the racks, where they have been for many years. ....... (Feedback by "Vulch")
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Modèle 1907-15 Mannlicher Berthier (Turkish Forestry Service Carbine) started by Badger View original post
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. cjstewart's Avatar
      Thanks for the good pics. Based on those and some internet research I just identified my Berthier / Orman forestry carbine as 1916, Chatellerault, M-16 also converted 1948 with "N" Balle marking. Luckily I still have the 5 round charger and a spare 3 round charger along with an assortment of ammo ( 1935 thru 48 ) including what may be the armor piercing machine gun rounds so sought after. I too took some pics of mine but I have to get around to posting them. Mine is a beauty also and dear to my heart. A gun with some interesting history for sure.
      Warning: This is a relatively older thread
      This discussion is older than 360 days. Some information contained in it may no longer be current.
    1. reded69's Avatar
      When you read the history on these carbines you realize four things:

      1) That the French Colonial troops of the Levant(Lebanon&Syria)were still largely equipped with the unconverted 3-shot 07-15 Berthier rifle(not the M1916 modification).

      2) That the Turks must have received a lot of 8mm Lebel ammo and 3-round clips from the French to not bother to convert the rifles to their own 7.65x54mm ammo and Mauser charger system(a la the M34 7.5x54mm modification to the Berthier).

      3) That at least 8000 French troops (white&Native)decided internment in Nuetral Turkey was preferable to having to join or fight against the Allies. Fair or unfair, this is where the Surrender Monkey jokes come from.

      4) Those Turk Tree Policemen were in trouble if the tree jackers had guns with 5 or more bullets in them!
    1. frogman's Avatar
      I saw one of these Mannlicher Berthier carbines at the Tampa gun show fair grounds and the guy had a huge price on it, near to $1000.00 price tag.
      It had me intrigued and I though it might have been something that the colonial German forces in WW1 might have used. I thank you for posting the article and keeping us informed.
    1. kjohn's Avatar
      I recently snagged one. Not all that common around these parts. I also have a three round clip with live ammo!
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