Until the arrival of the improved FR F2 sniper rifle of 1984, the French Army stocked its sharpshooting ranks with the original FR F1, a no-nonsense, no-frills bolt-action sniper weapon. The type was adopted in 1966 and produced until 1980, seeing service with the French Army and select units of Mauritania. The French Foreign Legion were one of the notable French operators of this weapon system.
The FR F1 initially appeared in a form chambered for the 7.5x54 French cartridge which was a further evolution of the 7.5x57mm MAS mod 1924 design. The 7.5x54 went on to see combat action in World War 2 (1939-1945) when it was used in the MAS 36 rifle series and several other designs (in fact, the FR F1 utilizes a related MAS 36-type action itself). Later in its service life, the FR F1 was re-chambered to use the 7.62x51mm NATO standard cartridge when world events dictated such a change. The cartridge was coupled to a free-floating barrel assembly which provided the needed precision. A free-floating barrel ensured that no part of the barrel's run was interfered with by the stock, of which its condition was variable depending on external factors. In the FR F1, the barrel is attached directly to the receiver.
The rifle's general design included a wooden stock with integrated pistol grip and wooden forend (of note is that the pistol grip is something of a rarity with bolt-action sniper rifles). The receiver and barrel were all metal in their finish. A cheekpad was fitted over the stock for comfort as was a pad at the butt. The trigger group was held under the receiver in the usual way. The bolt-handle sat over the right side of the weapon as did the ejection port for spent shell cartridges. The receiver was designed to accept telescopic sights with the standard French fitting being the padded APX L806. Ammunition was fed through a 10-round spring-loaded detachable box magazine fitted into a well under the receiver and ahead of the trigger group. At the receiver end of the forend there lay a hinged bipod support which collapsed up and forwards against the length of the forend and slightly beyond. The barrel was capped by a slotted muzzle brake. All told, the design was clean, robust and proven as highly effective in the field.
Overall weight was 5.3 kilograms with a running length of 1,200mm and a barrel measuring 650mm long. Muzzle velocity was rated at 2,560 feet per second with an effective range out to 800 meters.
As mentioned, the FR F1 series rifles have since been replaced in French Army service by the more modern FR F2 line.
Manufacturing Manufacture d'Armes St. Etienne (MAS) / GIAT Industries / NEXTER - France
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