The RSC Modèle 1917 was a French self-loading rifle designed by Paul Ribeyrolles, Charles Sutter, and Louis Chauchat. It was one of the first self-loading rifles to see military issue, and was used by the French Army during the closing stages of World War I.
History[edit | edit source]
Development of the RSC began in 1915, upon the cancellation of Meunier A6, which was slated to be adopted by the French Army but was found to be too expensive to produce in the numbers desired. A design team headed by Ribeyrolles, Sutter, and Chauchat began work on an alternative, and presented their completed prototype later that same year. The prototype was tested and found to be sufficient, and was adopted in advance in May 1916, with the state arms factory MAS assigned to produce the gun.
Issues concerning production quickly arose, however, as arranging the facilities necessary to mass-produce the rifle proved so time-consuming that production of the previously-cancelled Meunier rifle was briefly resumed in order to fill the void. Finally by the beginning of 1917, the RSC was in steady production, and the first batches were delivered to troops in the following months. Issue of the rifle was regulated to sixteen NCOs and specially-picked marksmen per company.
Complaints about the RSC's length soon emerged, as it was said to be awkward to handle in the tight confines of the trenches. In addition, the mechanism was susceptible to fouling from mud and dirt, and stoppages were not uncommon. When well-maintained, however, the RSC performed reasonably, and was a promising service rifle.
In response to criticisms of the length of the rifle, MAS developed a shorter variant known as the Mle 1918. Production of this carbine version began in mid-1918 but ultimately none had reached the hands of the troops by the time the armistice was declared in November. Production of the Mle 1918 was cancelled in 1919 after only a few thousand had been manufactured, and a large portion of them were sold off as surplus to Morocco in the 1920s.
The RSC saw further limited use during the Rif War, but by 1929 it was declared obsolete and retracted from general service. Most that remained in France had their gas operation removed and were converted into manually-repeating rifles, issued to army reserves.
Design[edit | edit source]
The RSC was a gas-operated self-loading rifle that used a rotating bolt. The gas piston was located underneath the barrel with an operating rod, which came in contact with the bolt. The gas pressure would force the operating rod to push back the bolt upon firing. The gun was fed from a 5-round clip that was contained within a slanted box magazine that opened downward on a hinge.
The operation rod of the RSC was partially external and ran along the right side of the receiver, which proved to be a design flaw, as it could easily be fouled by mud and dirt. The initial quality of the stripper clips was also poor, although improved versions were produced in 1918. The RSC shared many of its external components with the Lebel Model 1886.