GENERALLY: This front-hindged, Mont Storm principle, action designed by Italian army officer Augusto Albini and perfected with the assistance of English gunsmith Francis Braendlin, was tested throughout Europe but adopted only in Belgium in 1867. Delays associated with its function (possibly extractor issues as later Albinis were fitted with Terssen style extractors) or availability caused the Belgians to also adopt the Terssen as an interim measure, but as Albinis and Comblains became available the Terssens were withdrawn. Initially, these rifles were conversions of the M1841 and M1853 rifle-muskets (and some surviving M1777's). A new barrel was fitted which was essentially rifled like and copied from the French Chassepot (a paper-cartridge needle-fire predecessor to the M1874 Gras). The M1873 Albini was merely a newly made version of the M53/67 with the Terssen styled extractor.
PHOTO: The rifle shown is an Albini-Braendlin Fusil d'infanterie Mle1853/67.
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: The front-hinged, forward lifting breech and action mechanism worked together with the hammer-striker assembly to simultaneously lock and fire the rifle. The breech block itself houses longitudinal spring-loaded firing pin which is struck by a cylindrical striker, the back end of which is attached to the hammer via a screw through the hammer nose, and which passes longitudinally through the rear of the receiver behind the firing pin.. When fired, the striker moves into the back of the breech block striking the firing pin and locking the block in place at ignition. Both striker and firing pin move in the same line as the rifle bore. Pulling the hammer back withdraws the striker from the breech block allowing it to be lifted on its pivot pin by means of a small fixed knob on the right side of the block.
Like the Terssen, the Albani is fitted with a back-action lock, two simple barrel bands but a relatively large, elaborate nosecap.
MISC NOTES: I received this wonderful letter from a correspondent in Belgium!!
I visited your site "Military Rifles in the Age of Transition 1865-88 (non-US)" with great intrest. Concerning the Belgian section of the "Main Rifles Index" I made up a list of all the Belgian weapons in use during that time; It might be of intrest to you (as genearal information) . I give you the official Belgian denomination with a few descriptive comments.
1) Fusil d'infanterie Mle 1841/53/67 and Mle 1853/67: most common. For line-infantry regiments, the grenadier regiments and "chasseur" regiments. Made from the earlier smooth bored infantry percussion rifles Model 1841 (new 41 back action lock) that got rifling in 1853 and from the later newly made Model 1853.
2) Fusil d'Infanterie Mle 1777/67: quite scarce with forward lock. For smaller units that we called "compagnies sedentaires", for disciplinary units and for fortress artillery units.
1777 type rifles, general name given to the early flintlock rifles (forward
locks), that were copies of the French Models 1777, An XI and 1822. In
fact the Liège arms manufacturers, before Belgian independence in
1830, were already making these rifles, first for the French, later for
the Dutch occupants fo Belgium.
These series of Belgian 1777 type rifles had the official designations:
- Fusils n° 1 ordinaires/1777 corrigé
- Fusils n° 1 avec matières éprouvées/1777 corrigé (= modified)
- Fusil modèle belge dit de 1er qualité
It was these rifles that got altered the Albini-way.
3) Fusil d'Infanterie Mle 1873: newly made Albini-rifles based on the 53-model, but with a different extractor, one like the Terssen-system. (KD note: See link to example M1873 below)
4) Mousqueton de Gendarmerie Mle 1777/1873 : forward lock, very scarce; modifications of the early flintlock Gendarmerie Carbine An IX, percussioned in 1841 and rifled in 1853. Carried by the Gendarmerie and in Cadet schools. Newly made Gendarmerie-socket bayonet: new Albini-socket, short elbow, blade from an old 41-socket.
5) Mousqueton de Gendarmerie Mle 1873 : Backward lock. From 1873 on, totally newly made Albini carbine, smaller type back action lock, same bullet, shorter case (see pictures). Newly made Gendarmerie socket bayonet. Always marked W.
6) Fusil lisse de Gendarmerie : awkward carbine, used against smugglers; made in 1901 from some of the old 41/67 and 53/67 Albini's : shortened to 1m13, bore made smooth (no rifling anymore), sights taken off, using brass case filled with 80 lead balls. no bayonet. Always marked W.
Albini rifles and the Terssen carbines had their last modifications in
1880, the HALKIN-modification: the
sights were altered (extended to the right side) to allow indirect shooting.
(Webmaster's note: that is, volley sights were added with corresponding
"button" sight affixed to the right side of the center barrel band)
TERSSEN system see: TERSSEN
Fusil système Terssen Modèle 1777/1868: forward lock, quite
scarce. Used by "Genie"-units (= engineers). If there is a unit-marking
on it, it is always the letter V. It is this rifle that is illustrated
on you Site.
Takes a sawback-bladed bayonet.
8) Carabine système Terssen Mle 1848/68 : Back action lock, scarce. Made from the earlier muzzle-loaded Thouvenin M1848 percussion carbine. Used by the Grenadier regiment; Distinctive regiment marking is the letter R. It take a yatagan-bladed bayonet.
9) Carabine Terssen Mle 1868: Back action lock, newly made 48/68 : different trigger, different butt plate, everything "more elegant" and simplified. "Newly" made Terssen carbines can be distinguished by the date on the lock.
COMBLAIN system see: COMBLAIN
10) Carabine Comblain de la Garde Civique, modèle 1870 : known as the "bronze Comblain". Takes a yatagan bladed bayonet.
11) Fusil Comblain de la Garde Civique, modèle 1882 : know as the "iron Comblain". Takes a long narrow sword bayonet.
The "Garde Civique" are small para-military units raised in some of the bigger cities of Belgium in the 19th century. One can call them "city-militia". The unit-markings on their weapons (which refer to their home town) are also distinctive letters.
12) Mousqueton de Cavalerie, Système Comblain, Modèle 1871 : see drawing
13) Mousqueton de Cavalerie, Système Comblain, Modèle 1871/83 : slight modification of the model above: altered hammer (more grip), altered sight to allow firing at greater distance, wood under the barrel extended till muzzle.
14) Mousqueton de Cavalerie, Système Comblain, Modèle 1871/83 modifié : wood was shortened again, new muzzle cap, (now a simple steel ring to hold the barrel against the wood....as the Terssen one) and a bayonet attachment was added to take the Albini socket bayonet.
15) Mousqueton de Cavalerie, Système Comblain, Modèle 1871/83/88 modifié: same as the one above, but with new sabre bayonet attachment lug to take a sword bayonet this time. Muzzle cap like the Model 71, hammer and sights like the model 71/83.
All of these weapons were replaced with the introduction of the Belgian Mauser M1889, the first arriving in the armed units in 1891.
The list of transition guns I sent is based partially on the book "Armes Portatives de Troupes Belges de 1830 à 1910" of Louis Leconte, published in 1910 by Hayez, Brussels; partially on what I have seen in private collections and in the Brussels Army Museum where all these guns (and many more) are on permanent display.
Attached, you'll find a picture of the old cartridges: from right to left:
1) An early cartridge for the Albini rifle (before 1870) and the Terssens. The case is rolled from a thin sheet of brass foil.
2) A later (after 1870) for the Albini rifle, the Terssens, and the Comblain 70 and 82. Casted in one piece.
3) Cartridge (shorter case) for the Gendarmerie-Albini's and the Cavalry Comblain's.
4) A blank for the Albini rifles and the Terssens.
5) A small cartridge for shooting practice at short distances with the Albini rifles and the Terssens. A rifled metal tube ( bronze or steel) in the form of a normal cartridge was introduced in the chamber. This tube held the small cartridge.
Cavalry Comblain 71 and Gendarmerie Albini 73 (bad copies of good official drawings)
I hope that these lines could be of some help to you in searching and in collecting. If you would like some more information on distinctive regiment lettering on some of your Belgian guns, do send me an Email with the weapon type and the markings.
Alle the best
((signed from Belgium))
This pic depicts the breech block open and hammer forward (unnatural configuration) which shows the striker protruding through the back of the receiver. When the arm is loaded and the block is closed the block is locked at the moment of firing by the striker moving forward into the back of the block (where it also strikes the longitudinal firing pin).
The business end of the Albini. ilustrated here to compare with the Terssen
which is occationally confused with the Albini.
Page built June 4, 1997
Revised June 29, 1998
Revised February 7, 1999
Revised May 29, 1999
Revised October 11, 1999