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M1882 Belgian Comblain

GENERALLY:  This rugged dropping-block design is the creation of Hubert-Joseph Comblain of Liege, Belgium. It is seen with both a bronze and steel receiver, and may also be properly called a sliding-block action. Walter indicates that the standard Belgian version was exported to Greece and later Chile and Peru, while a special Brazilian Comblain pattern was made soley for that country. My information, however, indicates that six models of the Comblain (as well as two Artillery Carbine and a Cadet Rifle model) were built for Brazil at least the Chilean Comblain rifles were made in yet another distinctive pattern.

PHOTO: The rifle shown is a standard M1882 Belgian Comblain, slightly longer than the M1870 Belgian Comblain, with a simplified lever and the addition of a half-cock safety notch to the hammer which could now be cocked and uncocked at will.  A complete set of photos of the M1870 Belgian Comblain may be seen at the link here and below.

DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS:  A unique action, the Comblain can hardly be mistaken for anything else. The relatively massive receiver houses a substantial breech block which is pivoted back and downward by the combination trigger guard/operating lever which pivots forward of the trigger. The trigger itself is located in a semi-cylindrical steel housing also containing the mainspring and sear assembly. Operation of the rifle is also unique. Pushing the trigger guard downward and forward (most easily accomplished by pushing through with the thumb of the trigger hand) slightly backs and lowers the breech block/hammer/trigger/spring assembly, which then rotates radially down and away from the chamber while both cocking the hammer and extracting the cartridge case.

The Belgian Comblain has a longer, more elegant receiver than its Brazilian or Chilean brothers, with the lower tang made as an integral part of the receiver casting. It also has an exposed hammer. The lower tangs of the Brazilian and Chilean models are seperate pieces fitting into a mating slot in the back of the receiver and held in place by a specific transverse screw at the receiver's lower back. Also, the rear sling swivel of the Brazilian and Chilian models, unlike the Belgian model, is attached to a seperate plate which itself is attached to the lower front of the receiver.  The Brazilian model has a smaller hammer which is both protected and totally concealed by a small quarter circle shroud. Chamber casting could also shed light on a specific specimin as the Belgian and Brazilian rifles were chambered for different cartridges, the Belgian chambering the Albini cartridge and the Brazilian chambering a cartridge possibly unique to Brazil, although the Chilean chambering (like the Greek and Peruvian chamberings) is uncertain.

MISC NOTES:  See also M1873 Brazilian Comblain and M1874(?) Chilean Comblain which are each distinctive variants.
EXCELLENT ARTICLE:   For a superior article on the Comblain and its cartridge history by Historian Brad Dixon, a New Zealand Cartridge Collector,
click here ----> Comblain Drawn Case Cartridges
A must see!!!!!  Follow this link!! Le fusil Comblain
Henrotin Ge'rard's wonderful site on the history and technology of the Comblain rifle.  In french, so if you have trouble with the information let me know.  The photos are universal though!

A reader sent me this information:

Comblain carbines (Modèle 1870 - length:1m121) and rifles (Modèle 1882 - length: 1m380)  were only carried by the home guard (="Garde Civique").
The only Comblains that were carried by the military (Belgian Army) were the different variations of the  "Mousqueton Comblain Modèle 1871" ( models1871, 1871/1883, 1871/1883 modifié and 1871/1883/88) (length: 0m980).

Further Readings:The History and Development of Small Arms Ammunition, George A. Hoyem, VOL II-Centerfire Primitive and Martial Long Arms, Armory Publications, Tacoma, 1982 pg 156.  Special Note! For those with access to the Hoyem book, the back of the dust jacket illustrates a Chilean Comblain.


M1882 Belgian Comblain showing action open, the trigger housing, massive trigger guard which also serves as a cocking lever and, note carefully, the trigger spur protruding just below the receiver and behind the trigger housing.  The shrouded hammer varieties (such as the Brazilian Comblains) do not have such trigger spurs.


Left side of the elegant M1882 Belgian Comblain showing its exposed hammer at FULL COCK.


Note the TWO screws on this side of the receiver.  Most Brazilian Comblains, for example, are modified with a third keeper screw above the larger action pivot screw.


"Brevete" is the Belgian (French?) word for "Patent".  This was Comblain's patent.


This Belgian Comblain, was manufactured by A. Francotte A Liege (in Liege, Belgium). I believe that every Comblain was manufactured in Liege, but by no fewer than 6 seperate manufacturers, perhaps several more!

M1870  Belgian Comblain

Page built June 4, 1997
Revised March 29, 1998
Revised January 31, 1999
Revised April 16, 1999
Revised February 13, 2000
Revised March 16, 2001

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

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