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M1870 Civil Guard Comblain Short Rifle
(Carabine Comblain de la Garde Civique Modèle 1870)

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M1870 Civil Guard Comblain Short Rifle(Carabine Comblain de la Garde Civique Modèle 1870)


Historical Context for Belgium


  The Danes were without an effective breech loader in their conflict with Prussia during the War of 1864, and were both outclassed and outgunned by the Prussian forces armed with the breech-loading Dreyse rifles.  After their defeat, and following an American tour by members of the Danish Ordnance Commission which included a visit to Remington, the Danes placed an order for 20,000 of the new m/1867 rifles in April of 1867.  This was important to the Remington firm, as it was Remington’s first major order of rifles since the American Civil War and Remington’s first major overseas contract.  In August of that same year Denmark ordered an additional 10,000 rifles and 1,800 carbines, and in May of the following year, 1868, placed yet another order for 10,000 more of the m/1867 rifles.  In addition to these orders for Remington-manufactured rifles, the Danes (as would the Norwegians and Swedes soon thereafter) also secured the rights to manufacture the Remington design in Denmark at the Copenhagen arsenal, which they did in a quantity equal to the orders from Remington.   


   Original, Remington-built m/1867 Danish rifles were supplied with American walnut stock, color case-hardened receivers and blued barrels.


   The Danish model initially utilized an 11.44 rimfire cartridge.  The choice of this caliber, in lieu of the much more common ~ 12mm (.50 caliber) in vogue in the rest of the world in these years, resulted from a visit to US arms manufacturers, including Remington, of a Danish representative authorized to contract for the purchase of new rifles and to choose the caliber based on experiments then being undertaken by the US Army’s Ordnance Department.  (Of note, these experiments would later lead to the adoption of the American .45-70, a cartridge quite similar to the Danish cartridge actually adopted.)


  The initial rimfire cartridge was later updated to a longer centerfire cartridge in 1896, and the rifle remained in service well into the smokeless era.  However, with the adoption of the 8mm Krag-Jørgensen in 1889, the need to update or abandon the Remington became acute.  In 1893 some Danish Remingtons were re-barreled to chamber 8mm Krag-Jorgensen cartridges.


   The orders of the Danish rifles, coupled with orders for the Swedish rifles (and licensing of Denmark, Sweden and Norway for local production of rolling block rifles) paved the way for the eventual enormous successes of Remington in producing and licensing the rolling block rifle.


   After World War II a large quantity of these Danish Remington rifles were sold surplus to the US.  Large quantities were misleadingly sold as chambered for the US .45‑70 Government cartridge, which the Danish round closely resembles, but the two are not interchangeable. (see the discussion in the CARTRIDGE section, below).

  This rugged dropping‑block design is the creation of Hubert‑Joseph Comblain of Liège, Belgium. It is seen with both a bronze and steel receiver, and may also be properly called a sliding‑block action.

  Comblain short rifles (Modèle 1870) and rifles (Modèle 1882 )  were only actively utilized by the home guard, the Garde Civique.  (The Garde Civique were small para‑military units raised in some of the larger cities of Belgium in the 19th century. One could call them "city‑militia".  The unit‑markings on their weapons which refer to their home town are distinctive individual letters.)  The only Comblains that were carried by the military (Belgian Army) were the different variations of 980 mm (39 inch) long carbines (Mousqueton Comblain Modèle 1871), the Models 1871, 1871/1883, 1871/1883 modifié and 1871/83/88).  All of these weapons, including the series of musketoons were replaced with the introduction of the Belgian Mauser M1889, first entering service in 1891.


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