The Brazilian Comblains

COMBLAIN.JPG
GENERALLY:  This rifle is a distinct variation of that rugged dropping-block creation of Hubert-Joseph Comblain of Liege, initially adopted adopted as the Belguim Comblain in 1870.   It was the official Brazilian Army pattern from 1873 to 1892.  There are 6 diferent models of Comblain infantry rifles, 2 artillery carbines (one of which may be pictured in the series below) as well as 2 cadet rifle models!  Very little is known in the United States of the Brazilian Comblains as most of the literature relating to them is published in Portugese, but they appear to have had a hard working, honorable career spanning about 20 years in the service of the regular Brazilian Army.  (be sure to read below)

PHOTO:    The rifle shown is a M1873 Brazilian Comblain, with hammer protected and concealed within a steel shroud.  It has a steel receiver, brass barrel bands, nosecap and buttplate.

DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS:  For general Comblain distinguishing charecteristics see both the Belguim Comblain and the Chilean Comblain The basic receiver of the Brazilian model is both shorter and chunkier looking than it's European cousin, its receiver style being more like the Chilean Comblain. The Belgian Comblain has a longer, more elegant receiver than either its Brazilian or Chilean counterparts. The Brazilian Comblain's hammer lacks a cocking spur as it is housed within a shroud, making it one of the first concealed hammer guns. Additionally, like the Chilean, this variant's lower tang is a seperate piece 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 and the rear sling swivel is attached to a seperate plate which itself is attached to the lower front of the receiver. The Belgian Comblain's lower tang is an integral part of the receiver housing and it has a fully exposed hammer with cocking spur and the lower swivel is attached to the buttstock.

MISC NOTES:  See  the pages relating to the  Belgian Comblain  and 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. - Comblain Drawn Case Catridges

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!

ChilCombRtRec.jpg
BrazCombCarbLtRec.jpg

This Photo shows the shrouded hammer of the Model ___ (??) Brazilian Carbine ... similar to the rifle.  Now why, I don't know, you will read everywhere that the Brazilian Comblains have two-piece tang and receiver (and they do) but this Brazilian Comblain, a carbine, is built with the expected short receiver but its tang is integral with the receiver (one piece!!).  It also has its sling swivel mounted at the bottom of the lower buttstock, shich makes sense given how short it is.

BrazCombLtRec.jpg

The left side of the receiver, showing one version of the addition of a set screw (the larger one) to keep the action pivot screw fastened.  Other versions have the set-screw above and between both original screws to retain both of the smaller screws.  This addition was a local (Brazilian) imporvement.  This is the 4th Model Brazilian Comblain.

BrazCombCarbActn.jpg

The action being lowered ... "Sliding Block Action" is probably the best term for the Comblain's unique breech block movement.

More Information
 (Middleton) Brazilian Comblain:

The following letter was received from Sr. Homero F. de Castro who is employed at the National Heritage Museum in Brazil and who has written articles on the various Brazilian Comblains:

Subj:  Brazilian Comblain
Date: 98-01-13 22:52:01 EST
From: ahfc@centroin.com.br (Adler Homero F. de Castro)
Reply-to: ahfc@centroin.com.br
To: KDColoSpgs@AOL.com

Dear Sir,

Surfing in the net, I found your site, with information on the Brazilian Comblain, and I thought I should e-mail to your with some comments - I hope you will not find this an abuse of your patience.

 I copied the text of your site, to present the comments:

M1874 Brazilian Comblain
(note:  Website author's original text, to which Sr. Alder responds, is presented here in blue)

 There are 6 diferent models of Comblain infantry Rifles in Brasil, as well two artillery Carbines and two Cadet rifles. The first infantry model, which I believe is the one you are refering to in your text is know as "model one" or Model 1873. The 1874 weapon (model 2) is a local variant, with a small modification in the trigger guard and in the stock.

GENERALLY:  This rifle is a distinct variation of that rugged dropping-block creation of Hubert-Joseph Comblain of Liege, initially adopted adopted as the Belgian Comblain in 1870. It is seen with alternatively a bronze or steel receiver, and may also be properly called a sliding-block action. Walter indicates that manufacture is unknown, possibly Francotte, but the rifle illustrated was manufactured by Nagant, also of Liege.

 I have never seen a brazilian weapon with a bronze receiver. Brasil made a lot of different orders of Comblain in Belgium, as the rifle was the offical army pattern from 1873 up to 1892 (some state police forces also used it, some of them well into the 20th century, but in this case the weapons were chambered for 7X57 mm smokeless cartridges). Here is a listing of some factories that sold Comblains to my country, but it should be noticed that this is not intended to be a complete listing:

E. D. Malherbe;
EM & L. Nagant;
Beuret Freres;
VCS CGH, Suhl (?);
G. Mordant;
J A & C (?);
Pirlot & Fresart

 In my experience, the Nagant rifles and carbines are of the latter patterns (4, 5 and 6), so they are usually bought after 1885.

DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS:  For general Comblain distinguishing charecteristics see the Belgian Comblain.  The basic receiver of the Brazilian model is both shorter and chunkier looking than it's European cousin, its receiver style being more like the Chilean Comblain. The Belgian Comblain has a longer, more elegant receiver than either its Brazilian or Chilean counterparts. The Brazilian Comblain's hammer lacks a cocking spur as it is housed within a shroud, making it one of the first concealed hammer guns. Additionally, like the Chilean, this variant's lower tang is a seperate piece 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 and the rear sling swivel is attached to a seperate plate which itself is attached to the lower front of the receiver. The Belgian Comblain's lower tang is an integral part of the receiver housing and it has a fully exposed hammer with cocking spur and the lower swivel is attached to the buttstock.

 Also, I wish to note that although the literature cited in your site always mentions the Comblain caliberas 11,4 mm, this is wrong. Only the model 5 rifle (of which only 10.000 were bought, in 1885), has a barrel of this caliber. Although the ball used had a caliber of 11,6 mm, the barrel was a standart 11 mm one - in fact it was a copy of the one used in the French Chassepot.

 I wrote, some years ago, an article on the Brazilian comblains in a local magazinem, but I do not know if this could be of interest to you, as it is written in Portuguese.

 I hope this comments are of interest to you, if you have anything to say about them, please send a E-Mail to me.

 Best wishes,

Adler H. F. de Castro
ahfc@centroin.com.br

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

and from additional correspondence with Sr. Homero:

They are always blued, even the police weapons. I do not remember the exact method used in bluing them (I can look down in my notes, if you wish), but the resultant color is very near black, without the "blue" shadows seen in North-American weapons.

No military Comblains here have exposed hammers. Indeed I have only seen one of this kind of rifle in Museuns, and this one is the National Historical Museum, which keeps the guns used in army trials.

... as one of the first of the local modifications was to add a screw to prevent the block of becoming loose during operations.
 

BrzLngComb.jpg

This rifle is from the Middleton collection.  It is a Brizilian Comblain Model M____ .  It is a "long" style steel receiver rifle with shrouded hammer, mounting brass nosecap, bands and buttplate and is chambered for the Brazilian 11.4 x 50R cartridge.  Also interestingly, it sports volley sights.

BrzComLngLtRec.jpg

Left side of receiver.  This view clearly shows the "long" style receiver (rifle has an integral lower tang AND the plate mounted lower sling swivel at the lower fron of the receiver.  The Brazilian improvement set screw modification is also evident on this rifle.

CombRearView.jpg

Pictured from quartering behind showing lowered breech-lever trigger assy and open breech ready for loading.  Note also that this rifle is equiped with volly sight.

BrzComSchHam.jpg

Good view of the shrouded hammer.  There is a hammer there, but is is hidden below the small curved steel shroud at the back of the breech.  This shroud, with the hammer and breech  block, all lowers to clear the way for introduction of the cartridge.  (see above photo).

Page originally built June 4, 1997
Revised March 29, Apr 1, 1998
Revised November 12, 1999

Updated: Oct 29, 2021