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M1871 & M1871/79 Beaumont

(Infanterij-Geweer M.71 M71/79; also Geweer Klein Kaliber, “Small Caliber Rifle”)


M1871/73 Naval & Gendarmerie Beaumont

(Marin-Geweer M.73 & KLIN-Geweer M.73)


M1871/79 Beaumont


M1871/73 Naval Beaumont


    The Netherlands is a small constitutional monarchy on the North Sea in northwestern Europe about the size of American states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.  The country is sometimes called Holland, which is the home of the two main western provinces, but its official name is Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (Kingdom of the Netherlands, meaning “low countries”).  Although the people call themselves Nederlanders, they are most commonly known in English speaking countries as the “Dutch.”

  The Netherlands originally included the territory now comprising Belgium, but the spread of the Protestant Reformation during the 1500s divided the areas into Protestant (the Netherlands) and Roman Catholic (now Belgium).  During this period, all of the Netherlands was Spanish controlled.  Revolt against Spain broke out in 1568 and although Spain subdued the southern Roman Catholic provinces, the seven northern Protestant provinces united in 1579, continuing the revolt and declaring themselves the Republic of the Netherlands in 1581.  A truce was eventually signed in 1609 but the Spaniards renewed the war in 1621.  Twenty seven years after that, in 1648, eighty years of fighting finally ended with a Dutch victory and independence.

Despite chronic war, during the 1600s Dutch culture and influence flourished as the Dutch East India Company extended its trade around the globe.  Amsterdam became the primary European port of entry for trade with the Far East and vast wealth flowed into this relatively small nation.  It was during this period that the Dutch settled in what is now New York.  The Congress of Vienna, held after Napoleon’s downfall in 1815 remapped Europe, uniting present-day Belgium and Holland under a Dutch king.  However in 1830, the Belgians successfully revolted from the Dutch.  From then, the Netherlands had attempted to maintain a relatively Swiss-like strict neutrality all the way to World War II, concentrating on its commercial opportunities and attempting to maintain its Far East possessions in the Far East.  While not as aggressive as the Swiss in terms of arms technology, the Netherlands still attempted to maintain parity with the bulk of its European neighbors.

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Dutch Territories in the 1830s

  The Dutch recognized the benefits offered by breech-loading metallic cartridge. Commencing in 1867, they initiated the conversion of their muzzle-loading rifled muskets into breech-loading cartridge-firing weapons. Employing a variation of the English-designed Snider hinged block breech system, they developed the M1848/67 Dutch Snider.

  However, the Dutch military acknowledged that the M1848/67 Dutch Snider was merely a temporary solution. It appeared that as soon as an army adopted a particular rifle/cartridge combination, a potential adversary would introduce a new one, rendering the existing technology obsolete.   Responding to developments in small arms across Europe during the late 1860s, and, like many other nations having watched the outcome of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Dutch commissioned a new, modern metallic cartridge rifle for its land and overseas forces. 

 In 1869 Eduard de Beaumont, a well-established engineer living in Maastricht, presented a rifle to the Dutch army trials board.  This rifle would become the M71 Beaumont.


Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


   The Beaumont is a turning bolt action rifle whose major distinctive feature is the arrangement of a conventional leaf-type mainspring which is housed inside the large, hollow, bulbous two‑piece bolt handle.  Apparently inspired by the French M1866 Chasspot, forerunner to the French M1874 Gras, the action operates within a typical split‑bridge receiver with the bolt handle locking forward of the receiver and constituting its sole locking lug.  The rear of the striker is smooth and rounded, thus the rifle may only with cocked by the bolt, and cocks on opening.  The bolt sleeve consists of two pieces with a very simple non‑rotating bolt head retained by a screw fitted from the top of the bolt body.  Like its early single shot, bolt rifle contemporaries, e.g., the German I. G. M1871 Mauser and newer French Gras, the bolt head is fitted with an extractor located in a channel on the left side of the receiver, but not with an ejector.  It appears from the literature that the striker spring was delicate and more prone to breaking than the more common coil spring powered strikers, although this author has examined perhaps 20 Beaumonts and has never seen one with a broken striker spring.  Despite what appears to have been the disadvantages of the striker spring arrangement, this design was copied in the Murata 13 Year and Murata 18 Year infantry rifles adopted by Japan in 1880 and 1885 respectively.  Perhaps more disadvantageous is that the striker spring in the bolt assembly prevents the development of carbine versions with turned down bolt handles.  The Netherlands adopted its Dutch Remington Rolling Block carbine chambered in the Beaumont cartridge (now a rather rare variant) to fill most of its carbine and short rifle needs. 

   The M1871 Beaumont had one of the longest service lives of any military rifle of this era.  It was one of the first major European metallic cartridge rifles and also one of the last, remaining in service, after modification to a repeater as the M1871/88 Beaumont‑Vitali, to the turn of the century.


Diagram of a M1871 Beaumont - Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen

M1871 Infantry Rifle (Infanterij-Geweer M.71)

  In 1870, the Dutch War Minister J.J. van Mulken signed a contract with Edouard De Beaumont and P. Stevens from Maastricht to produce Beaumont rifles.  However, there were manufacturing delays, Beaumont not having a manufacturing facility contracted with the French in Saint Etienne.  Once the Franco Prussian war broke out, that contract was voided, and he had to move to using the Simson Companies in Suhl Germany.  

  The M1871 Beaumont featured a unique safety mechanism.  This comprised a small, curved, spring-loaded lever positioned on the right side of the receiver, located behind the bolt handle when in the closed position. The lever incorporated a pin that engaged with a detent just behind the bolt ridge, ahead of the striker guide rib. Activating the safety involved opening or closing the bolt halfway, causing the pin to lock into this small detent, preventing the bolt from fully opening or closing until the lever was pulled back, disengaging the pin from the detent. This safety concept bore resemblance to the system employed in the Chassepot.


M1871 Beaumont - Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen

  In 1886 a proposal was made to remove the safety latch.  This was agreed to by the Army and safety catch was removed.  Collectors will refer to these modified rifles as "Type 1" and the rifles manufactured post 1876 as "Type 2".


M1871 Beaumont Original safety latch - Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


M1871 Beaumont with safety latch removed- Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen

M1873 Colonial Rifle (Klin-Geweer M.73)

  Two years after acceptance by the Dutch Army, the Beaumont was officially accepted for service by the KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger - Royal Netherlands East Indies Army) as the Klin-Geweer M.73.  All metal parts were browned by instruction except for the bolt and the rear sight, due to the humid climates.  The Ministry of the Colonies stood firm when it came to changes to the Beaumont and decided to keep the safety latch as well not adopt the granulated rear sight.  Since these Beaumonts were already deployed in places like the East Indies, every change was extensively assessed.


M1873 Colonial Army Rifle - Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


M1873 Colonial Army Rifle Rear Sight - Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


M1873 Colonial Army Rifle Bayonet- Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen

M1873 Navy Rifle (Marin-Geweer M.73)

  Along with the Army and Colonials troops, the Navy adopted the Beaumont and received their first weapons in 1873.  The M.73 rifles were fitted with rear sights graduated to 1,100 paces and a bayonet lug and tenon positioned on the right side of the barrel that mounted a Yatagan saber bayonet.  In order to accomodate the saber bayonet they had to cut back the end of forearm.


M1873 Navy Rifle


M1873 Navy Rifle cut down forearm to allow for Bayonet

M1873 Navy Rifle with unconverted site and safety latch.

M1871/79 Infantry Rifle (Infanterij-Geweer M.71/79)

   In 1879, the Army adopted a new rear sight for its Beaumont rifles, now graduated from 100 to 1,800 m.  The rifles of all European based Dutch units were fitted with the new sight. While changing the new site they also drilled dual gas vent holes into the receiver to ventilate combustion gasses from a ruptured cartridge case.  These modified rifles are sometimes referred to as the Infanterij-Geweer M.71/79.  (M.73 rifles used by the Royal Dutch Navy and KNIL were not so retrofitted).


M1871/79 Beaumont 


Gas Vent holes on a M1871/79 Beaumont 


New Site adjustable to 1800m on a M1871/79 Beaumont 



   In operation, the Beaumont is a totally conventional bolt action rifle for its day.  The action is locked by rotating the bolt-guide rib downward until it abuts the front face of the receiver bridge.  The bolt handle is an integral part of the bolt guide rib, in which a locking takes place by the back of the handle/guide rib turning against the back right side of the split bridge receiver.  Moving the bolt handle to the vertical forces the front of the bolt guide rib along a radius formed by the front part of the receiver ring, creating a good 5-6 mm (.25 in) of primary extraction.  Pulling the bolt all the way to the rear extracts the spent case, but as there is no ejector, the rifle must be tipped to the right in order to remove the spent case.  A new cartridge can be simply dropped into the receiver; it need not be chambered as the bolt action will fully chamber it.




  The arrangement of the mainspring, which is housed inside the large, hollow, bulbous two‑piece bolt handle, is particularly distinctive but not apparent at a casual glance.  The seam of the split bolt handle, as well as the retaining screw in the front of the bolt handle, are obvious upon closer inspection.  More apparent from a distance is the trigger guard has a distinctively Dutch concave rear face, which also appears on the Dutch Snider conversions.  The back of the bolt is a very simple rounded knob without either a safety such as the M1871 German Mauser or the thumb-scoop of the M1874 French Gras.


   Beaumont rifles were fitted with a single barrel band, below which is the upper sling swivel and a well contoured nosecap.


  Below is the evolution of the safety latch from its original safety catch (top left), without the safety catch with a cover plate (top right), with a support spring(bottom left) to a brand new Beaumont (bottom right) manufactured without it.

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Different versions of the Beaumont Tailpiece - Photo Credit Nederlandse Vuurwapens Landmacht, Marine en koloniale troepen 1866-1895.



  Those Beaumont rifles manufactured by P. Stevens are marked on the upper left side of the receiver with the words “P.STEVENS” above “MAASTRICHT” and are buttstock cartouched with a roundel reading “MAASTRICHT” across the top above a large crown over and entwined “W” centered between the year of manufacture, “18 on the left and e.g. “75” on the right.  The buttstock also carries an inspection cartouche on the right side behind the wrist and at the wrist just behind the upper receiver tang.  The receivers are generally marked with three-digit production numbers (these are not serial numbers).  The barrels are marked with the original date of manufacture of the rifle on the upper left receiver flat as well as multiple inspection marks consisting of a crown over letter of the inspector.


  Some of the rifles were also produced by E. de Beaumont and are marked “DE BEAUMONT” over “MAASTRICH”. 

Screenshot 2023-11-16 210357.png

   Likewise, the armament factory at Delft also produced the Beaumont, but these rifles are not receiver marked.  They are marked only with the buttstock roundel cartouche reading “DELFT” above a Crown “W”, which splits the date of manufacture. The receivers are most commonly marked with the name P. STEVENS over MAASTRICHT or the word "BAR" (for J. F. J. Bar, a state subcontractor) over the armory at DELFT, or the receivers are unmarked.



M1871 & M1871/79 Infantry Rifle (Infanterij-Geweer M.71 & M.71/79)

  • Overall Length: 132 cm ( 51.96 in)

  • Barrel Length:  83.2 cm (32.75 in)

  • Weight, empty:  4.415 Kg (9.73 lbs.)

  • Rifling:  4-groove; RH, concentric

  • Sight:  Quadrant, graduated from 200 to 1,100 paces.  The sites were modified on the 71/79 to 200 to 1800 meters.

M1873 Colonial Rifle (Klin-Geweer M.73)

  • Overall Length: 132 cm ( 51.96 in)

  • Barrel Length:  83.2 cm (32.75 in)

  • Weight, empty:  4.415 Kg (9.73 lbs.)

  • Rifling:  4-groove; RH, concentric

  • Sight:  Quadrant, graduated from 200 to 1,200 paces

M1873 Navy Rifle (Marin-Geweer M.73)

  • Overall Length: 131 cm (51.5 in)

  • Barrel Length:  82.2 cm (32.4 in)

  • Weight, empty:  4.2 Kg (9.25 lbs.)

  • Rifling:  4-groove; RH, concentric

  • Sight:  Quadrant, graduated from 200 to 1,100 paces



  The bolt-housed main spring of the Beaumont design precluded the rifle being adapted to cavalry use by having its bolt turned down.  However specialized versions of the Beaumont were developed for use by cadets of the Royal Military Academy and young students at municipal rifle clubs. 

M1878 Cadet Rifle (Studentengeweer M.78)

  A Cadet version was authorized in 1878 which was only 150.5 cm ( 59.25 in) long.  It was manufactured in limited numbers in Delft between 1878 and 1881.  Other than being a slightly shortened infantry rifle, it is otherwise unchanged.  These rifles are recognizable due to being marked with serial numbers, including the letter K in front of the serial number.  The cadet version was also issued with a special socket bayonet mounting a 427 mm (16.8 in) cruciform blade.  The Cadet version was manufactured in limited numbers in Delft between 1878 and 1881.


M1878 Cadet Rifle- Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen

  • Overall Length: 115 cm (59.25  in)

  • Barrel: 660 mm (26 in)

  • Sight:  Quadrant, graduated with an unmarked sight.

M1878 Pupil Rifle (Studenten-Geweer M.78)

In 1884 the commander of the Pupil Corps in Gombong proposed equipping younger pupils with a shortened rifle.  The dimensions of the bayonet, barrel, drawer, bracket, trigger and butt plate had to be significantly reduced.    


M1878 Pupil Rifle- Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen

  • Overall Length: 102 cm (59.25  in)

  • Barrel: 530 mm (21 in)

  • Weight: 3.52 kg

  • Sight:  Quadrant, graduated with an unmarked arc visor sight.


M71/79 Rifle (top), M1878 Cadet rifle (middle), M1878 Pupil Rifle (bottom)- Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen

Colonial Carbines

  The Dutch armed forces never used a short carbine version of the Beaumont system.  However, they were used by para-military unites in the Dutch East Indies.  Shortened rifles were used by the Armed Police Service Corps and various units of native monarchs. (Credit Mathieu Willemsen)


Carbine of the Armed Police Forces Corps- Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


The Dutch Rolling Block Carbine

  Early on, the Dutch military realized that the Beaumont design, for all its appeal, would be difficult to adapt to cavalry carbine version with its massive bolt having to remain perpendicular to the action thus effectively preventing its use with a cavalry scabbard.  Concurrently with the adoption of the Beaumont a new Rolling Block action carbine was adopted and chambered for the Beaumont cartridge.  Initially, the carbine was fitted with a very small and simple 2-position (350 paces and 500 paces) rear sight.  The Engineer’s Rolling Block carbine (Sappers M.70/73) was fitted with a tangent sight similar to that of the Beaumont rifle calibrated from 300 to 800 paces.  The carbines look generally like other Rolling Block carbines with a short barrel and a forearm retained by a single barrel band without any nose cap.  The sling swivels lie below the barrel band and beneath the butt stock. 


Photo Credit: Robert van der Kraft



  The Beaumont Infantry rifle was equipped with the M1871 socket bayonet, mounting a cruciform blade of 512.75 mm (20.2 in) and fitted with a conventional locking ring having only one screw.


  In 1875, the iron storm ring of the Beaumont bayonet was replaced by a steal model consisting of two parts.  This is distinguishable by the fact it has now has 2 screws instead of just one.


  The Dutch Navy did not use the same bayonet as the army and decided to adopt a saber bayonet after the French model A.



M1871 Ball No. 1 11mm Beaumont, aka 11x51R and 11.3x51R


GENERAL:  The M1871 11 mm Beaumont cartridge consists of a large, bottle-neck case that is very similar to, and sometimes confused w/11mm Egyptian Remington.

  • Case:  Brass, rimmed, bottlenecked

  • Load:   5 grams Black powder

  • Primer: 

  • Bullet:  A round-nosed, 25.3 gram (336 grain), paper patched,  hardened lead projectile developing a muzzle velocity of about 405 m/s (1,330 fps) 

  • (Scherpe sp 420 m/s – 1,378 fps)



  • Bullet diameter:  11.30 mm

  • Neck diameter:  12.28 mm

  • Base diameter:  14.72 mm

  • Rim diameter:  17.12 mm

  • Case length:  51.5 mm

  • Total length:  68.8 mm

  • Total weight:  36.8 grams


  In about 1879 the Army upgraded the performance of its cartridge, adopting the 11 mm Scherpe Patroon No. 8, loaded with a 22 gram (345 grain) lead bullet atop a 3.9 gram (60 grain) charge of black powder developing a muzzle velocity of 450 m/s (1,475 fps).  There continues to be some controversy regarding case length with some sources stating that it remained 50 mm in length, others insisting that it is 2 mm longer (designating the “new” cartridge as the 11x52R).  Regardless, the new cartridge case and bullet were each slightly smaller in diameter and it will chamber in all Beaumont rifles, although the earlier cartridge will not easily, nor necessarily, chamber in later manufactured rifles.



  Production figures indicate that 138,668 M1871 Beaumont rifles were manufactured between 1871 and 1881 by E. de Beaumont of Maastricht, P. Stevens, also of Maastricht, and by the state manufacturer WDE who subcontracted the work to J. F. J. Bär of the city of Delft.

Over the next several years, limited numbers of additional rifles were assembled from parts on hand, but the total produced remained below 140,000.


  The Dutch used the Beaumont series of rifles throughout their empire, including the Dutch East Indies. 

  Although the Beaumont was not adopted as a primary arm for use by any other country, its bolt-housed striker spring system was adopted by Japanese Maj. Tsuneyoshi Murata in developing the early series of Murata rifles.


  During the Saltpeter War (1879-1884), in which Chile fought a conflict against Bolivia and Peru, Chile was severely short of infantry rifles. Rifles from Europe were bought in a hurry, including several thousand Beaumont rifles. It may have been rejected Dutch rifles that were commercially available. It seems unlikely that they were purchased directly from the Dutch government. The Chilean Beaumont rifles exist in several versions; both with and without bayonet hub "a la de marine". All rifles are equipped with the safety catch and sometimes still show Dutch inspection marks. The rifles are instantly recognizable by a shield-shaped withdrawal stamp on the stock with the letters M del E. 


The five-point star on the bolt arm is probably a Chilean  -  Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


Chilean Acceptance Marker


  In 1873, the French army tested rifles that were supposed to succeed the 1866 Chassepot rifle. The trials were between Edouard de Beaumont's system and French Colonel Basile Gras. 300 rifles, 90 artillery musketons and 90 cavalry carbines of each system were tested by various regiments. Half the guns were newly made, the other half were Chassepots converted to centrefire. In the end, the Gras won out and would be introduced to the French armed forces in 1874.


Trial Beaumont tested in France -  Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


French Model Beaumont Sight- Photo Courtesy of Mathieu Willemsen


Predecessor Rifle: M1848/67 Dutch Snider


Follow-on rifle:  M1871/88 Beaumont‑Vitali




(Special thanks to Herr Wellershausen for the above photo


A special thanks to Mathieu Willemsen for the pictures and information.


Willemsen, Mathieu. LE FUSIL BEAUMONT DANS L’ARMEE NEERLANDAISE. Paris: Gazette de Armes, Issue 323, July/August 2001.

Martens, B.J. and G. de Vries. NEDERLANDSE VUURWAPENS 1866 - 1895. Arnhem, Netherlands: S.I. Publicaties BV, 2001.

The Dutch Geweer M.71 and M.71/88 Beaumont Rifles - Paul Scarletta

Page first sketched out January 27, 1999
Revised September 21, 1999

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

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