The MAS model 36 replaced the Lebel rifles in 1936. Manufactured at Manufacture d'Armes de Saint-Etienne (MAS).

The French adopted semi-auto MAS-49 rifles in 1949 ending the military life of the MAS 36. The MAS 36 is chambered for the 7.5x54mm rimless cartridge, which was introduced in 1924 for machine guns. It has a needle style bayonet that is carried inverted below the barrel, it can be pulled out and pointed forward. Saw very limited action in WWII and post WWII colonial wars.

France's newest service rifle, the FA MAS (Fusil Automatique, Manufacture d'Armes de St. Etienne), has already demonstrated itself to be an effective and generally well-conceived piece of ordnance. First introduced in 1973 and subsequently modified, the FA MAS was adopted by the French armed forces and placed into production in 1979.

 Manufactured by GIAT (Groupement Industriel des Armements Terrestres) at their St. Etienne arsenal, a semiautomatic-only version of this interesting assault rifle has been imported in limited quantity by Century International Arms

The MAS-49 rifle, developed by the French state arms factory Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de St-Etienne (MAS), was a logical development of many earlier prototypes, based on the direct gas impingement system, developed by the French designer Rossignol early in the XX century. The same (or very similar) gas system was later used in Swedish Ljungman AG-42 rifle and in Eugene Stoner AR-15 / M16 rifles.

 France was a major player in the field of automatic rifles since the very beginning, but due to deep secrecy less is commonly known about French developments in this field. In any way, after the end of the 2nd World war the liberated France found itself in the need of rearming its infantry with semi-automatic rifle. Starting with Rossignol's gas system and some prototypes built during the 1920s and 1930s, MAS developed a semi-automatic rifle which was produced in very limited numbers in 1944 as MAS-44. It was later improved to accept new, detachable magazines and modified to be able to launch rifle grenades, and then became the MAS-49, or "Fusil Automatique MAS Modele 1949".

MAS-1949 (as it was stamped on the receiver), seen heavy combat use in the French Indo-China and Algeria and proved itself accurate and reliable. In 1956, an improved pattern rifle was adopted by Armee de Terre (French Army) as a MAS-1949/56. The MAS-49/56 was lightened, had shorter barrel and forend, different grenade launcher sights and was able to be fitted with spike-shaped bayonet, while MAS-1949 could not be equipped with bayonet. MAS-49/56 served as a first-line weapon with French army until 1979, when it was replaced by the 5.56mm FAMAS assault rifle. The MAS-49 was exported in small numbers to Syria in 1950s, and still can be found in some ex-France territories around the world.

The French opted for the Lebel 8 mm weapon (officially titled the Fusil modele, produced in 1886, and which unusually fired smokeless cartridges) as their rifle of choice during the war years.

Despite its wide use it suffered from a marked practical design flaw. Its eight rounds were loaded, nose to tail fashion, in a tubular magazine placed under the barrel of the rifle. This resulted in slow loading since the operator had to be wary of one round hitting the primer of the cartridge in front, thereby causing a most unwelcome explosion.

Although a better French model, the Berthier, was available from 1916, the Lebel - despite its flaws - continued to be standard issue.

Invented by Antoine Chassepot (1833-1908) and adopted by the French Army in 1866, this breech-loading single shot rifle used a self consumable silk cartridge containing the lead bullet and percussion cap. The cartridge was fired by a long needle contained in the bolt that pierces the cartridge when the trigger is pulled. The breech is sealed by an India rubber seal on the bolt, which was prone to disintegration due to heat. The rifle was used with great success during the Franco-Prussian War, but was replaced by the Gras rifle in 1874 which used a metallic cartridge.