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Comblain Varieties 

Date: 00-01-05 22:34:05 EST
From: (Brad Dixon - Computer Support)
To: KeithDoyon@MilitaryRifles(.)com


    You are welcome to use any of my article, however regarding the Brazilian Comblain rifles virtually all of the information has come from Adler, (ed. note: (Adler Homero F. de Castro)) so it is more appropriate that he be given credit. Below I have included text directly from Adler's emails. I have broken them up in this manner as it took several emails (containing a few mistakes arising from contradictory manuscripts) before Adler got the information correct:

Email from Adler : dated 16 Oct 99:

Now the manuscript I wrote about above comes handy. In page 53v it says:  "Comblain system rifle, 11 mm caliber, type number 5, model 1889 (...) with the same chamber of the Nordenfelt machine gun (...) In this type the barrel lenght was ordered to be increased in order to use the Belgian sights model of 1880, of the Belgian General Halkin's invention". This is the rifle I said that is  of the model 1885 (sorry, my mistake) - it uses the 53 mm case, so the machine gun also uses this case.

Fuzis (Rifles) 11x50R Cartridges, rifles sighted to 1000 meters.  Comblain nr 1 - model 1873 also know as "Belgian Model" or "Model Luz"; Comblain nr 2 - Model 1874  or "Brasilian Model" (with trigger safety, wood handguard over barrel and changes in the trigger guard);
Comblain nr 3 - Model 1878 (removal of trigger safety and changes in the trigger guard);

Comblain nr. 4 - Model 1885 (no trigger safety but with wood handguard over barrel, and changes in the trigger guard).
Comblain nr. 6 - Model 1891 ( this is an oficial designation, it was new to me, so this research was good for me also!). This is a model 5 rechambered - sighted to 1900 meters. Original trigger guard.

Note on the manuscript: Chuchu rifle, model 1886 of Bahia's Police, few made or converted from Comblain weapons.

11x53 Cartridges, rifles sighted to 1900 meters.
Comblain nr. 5 - Model 1889. (see above. Original trigger guard);
The information below is not in the Mss, it is from other documents, the cartridge information appears in page 53v as written above.. Nordenfelt Infantry/Foot Artillery machine gun Model 1889 (five barrel weapon);

Nordenfelt Cavalry/Horse Artillery machine gun Model 1889 (three barrel weapon).

Unidentified cartridge, caliber 7,7 mm. According to Sebastião Oliveira, the cartridge "resembles a .32 cartridge", but this means nothing to me. Cadet rifle, model 1885 (the model does not appears in the mss, but in another document). I measured some of these weapons and the actual caliber is 7,5 mm, so I do not know the reason of the document saying that the caliber is 7,7 mm.

Carbines (mosquetões)
11x42R cartridges
Model 1873
Model 1892. There is no difference between these models, only the bayonet: the first one uses a bayonet like the one used in France for the Chassepot m.1866 Rifle (but with leather scabbard and brass fittings). This yatagan bayonet is known here as "Sabre-baioneta-iatagã" model 1873. The second model of carbine uses the same bayonet, the only difference being in the catch spring, which is a coil spring not a leaf type like the previous model. This bayonet is known as "sabre-baioneta-iatagã" model 1888. The rifles used the same bayonet with leather scabbard and brass fittings.  There is a small problem here. In another source, I saw this second model written as "model 1888", so now I am not sure of which is correct, as most manuals do not mention this difference!

Note in the manuscript: Bahia's police Chuchu carbine, model 1892.
Note in the manuscript:  7x57 mm mauser rifle cartridges.
Rio de Janeiro's police rifle (transformed) model 1895 (not an official designation).

Email dated 22 Sep

Carbines (mosquetões) models 1873 and 1888. In the army these were not Cavalry weapons (which used Spencer M865/M873 [Belgian] and Winchester M1866 repeaters), but artillery soldiers personal weapons, so they have the designation "mosquetão" instead of "clavina", which would be the world used for cavalry carbine. Also using this same cartridge there was the Chuchu Carbine (Mosquetão), Bahia's police, model of 1892. All these used an 11 mm cartridge, shorter than the one used in the rifles.
Cadet carbine, Military School (mosquetão de menor) model 1885 – 7,5 mm (never saw a cartridge for one of these). There is another variant of this weapon, using a Winchester type lever, used by public schools, but this one do not have an official (army) designation.
Rifle, police, model 1895 (this has no official army designation, so I "invented" this one – it is a Comblain with a Mauser barrel) calibre 7x57 mm (uses Spanish Mauser Rifle model 1893 cartridges).

Nordenfelt Machine Guns model 1889. Two models, the Infantry one with five barrels and the Cavalry, with three barrels, both using Comblain rifle cartridges (the same as the model 1873, but made of draw brass)

From an Email dated 11 Nov 99:

In truth Brazil used only the following cartridge weapons before 1873:
Spencer M65 (cavalry) and Dreyse M41 needle rifles (only a batallion).
Westley-Richards rifles and carbines were adopted in the same year of the Comblains, but only to equip navy units (sailors and the Marines). The first Winchesters (M66) were bought in 1872, but only issued in 1874.

9.000 Chassepot Rifles were bought as an emergency measure in 1872, but not issued (they were used by police units, but only in the 1890's). Another cartridge rifle bought was the Roberts, from USA in 1868, but they were not issued due to serious and insoluble problems with the American made cartridges.

Before the Comblains the army regulamentar firearms were Minié weapons, either of the so called "Brazilian Model" (a copy of the Spanish model- 14,8 mm calibre) or English Enfields (.577"). These included a musket for the heavy infantry, a short musket (carabina) for the light infantry, a carbine with bayonet (mosquetão) for the artillery and a carbine without bayonet (clavina) for the cavalry (this last weapon began to be replaced by the Spencer during the Paraguayan War).

Remingtons M67 (or any other Remington model), Mauser M71, Martini-Henry and Hotchkiss guns were never used here by the military or police forces.  The Hotchkiss models used here (M874 and M876) were revolving cannons, of 37 mm calibre (Gatling Machine Guns were .45 caliber).

In 1892 the Army adopted the M88 German Commission Rifle (7,92x57). This, during the extensive combats of the 1893-95 Rebellions proved to be unsuitable for use, being replaced by the Mauser M94 Rifle (a modified copy of the Spanish M92 Mauser Rifle). Withdrawn of the obsolescent rifles was slow, so during a short period (1894-1899) all three weapons Comblains, M88s and Mausers) were still in use (a supply officer's nigthmare!).

It must be noticed that the Chuchu Carbine have a different action than the Comblain:  it is not a "falling block" weapon, the block rotating to the right to open the chamber. It used the same barrel and cartridge than the Comblains, although. (By the way: the Brazilian Comblain is different from the Belgian Comblain: its cock is hidden and can only be armed by the lever).

Hope this is of use. All the best ... Brad Dixon

Page built February 4, 2002

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

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