Gun Review: Mle. M.16 Berthier rifle in 8mm Lebel
By Francis Borek
The venerable little French Berthier, chambered in the hard hitting 8mm Lebel, proved it’s worth in the trenches of WWI and subsequent wars. (Photo: Francis Borek)
When the First World War began, most of the warring nations felt that it would be a quick fight. France felt that it was only a matter of time until their armies had re-taken the lost provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Germany believed that in only a few weeks, their soldiers would once again be marching through the streets of Paris. Belgium felt that a line of thinly manned fortifications could hold back the most modern army in the world. Britain somehow believed that 80,000 soldiers would tip the balance of power in a war of millions.
Very quickly the warring nations learned (more or less) the horrifying reality of modern warfare, and that they were going to be in for long and protracted conflict. Desperate for rifles, the nation of France reached out to her colonies and pulled out a rifle that was never intended to fight on the frontlines of a proper European war. But as this conflict has shown, nothing about it was proper.
There is a distinction that has to be made first.