By Jean Huon
After trials at the end of WWI, France was not interested in individual automatic weapons until 1948. Then a machine carbine program was developed and several prototypes were made by the Mulhouse research laboratory and the small arms factories of Chatellerault, Saint-Etienne and Tulle. Later, a conventional assault rifle program was established between 1951 and 1962 and the government factories made more than fifty models implementing all the expertise of the technicians who worked there.
But the army's specifications were neither fixed nor well thought out and they varied from year to year according to the desires of the official determining the requirement. Finally, all these efforts were in vain because none of the models presented for test were accepted.
Developed by the Saint-Etienne small arms factory, the MAS 62 was the most advanced of these models. It was derived directly from the MAS 51, which was a MAS 49 with a selector and a large capacity magazine. Each following year saw the creation of one or more prototypes, which were in the majority of cases, the evolution of the preceding model.
History, Development, Evaluation
This model is the result of ten years of research in assault rifles and it appeared finally to be what the army wanted. The final version accepted by the Chief of Staff of the Army, was given the nomenclature F.A. MAS Type 62 by a directive dated July 10, 1962. In addition to the trials made at the Section Technique de l'Armée de Terre at Satory near Versailles and at the Bourges Proving Ground, a comparison with the Belgian FAL rifle was also performed by several regiments:
- 126th Infantry Regiment in Brives;
- 110th Mechanized Infantry Regiment in Besancon;
- 8th Marines Paratroop Regiment in Nancy;
- the Special Military School in Coetquidan;
- the School for Marksmanship Instructors at Montauban.
After these tests, the MAS 62 appeared good and serviceable but the FAL was considered to be more practical and gave better results, particularly in the following fields:
The Army Headquarter chooses the FAL made by FN Herstal in March 1963. The Belgian weapon had the advantage over its competitor of being already in production for ten years and of having proven its reliability. There remained only to define the quantity produced; at that time the needs for the Army were estimated as follows:
- purchase of 30,000 rifles before July 1, 1966,
- purchase of 90,000 additional weapons before the end of 1970 (figure raised to 120,000 little later),
- manufacture under license in France by the Saint-Etienne Small Arms factory thereafter.
A transitional period of assembly with units made in Belgium was also considered. But adoption of the FAL was halted, because the German G 3 was looked upon to be more economic. This rifle was also tested by the above mentioned technical establishments, but we found no trace of a troop test in the consulted files.
If the G 3 was adopted, the story would be curious, because the French seized the Mauser factory in Oberndorf in April 1945, with prototypes of the Stg 45 (M), as well as a great quantity of technical documents and they “invited” some German technicians (including Mr. Vorgrimmler and Mr. Loffler) to come to work in France at the Mulhouse research plant.
A few years later, Vorgrimmler left for Spain and collaborated with C.E.T.M.E to continue the development of the StG 45 (M). It was adopted by the Spanish army, and later by the German Federal Republic where the weapon was given the nomenclature of G 3. The Germans also obtained a licence to build the rifle, later transferred to Heckler & Koch.
Thus, France failed to buy a rifle whose improvement had been made in its plant (and with its funds) fifteen years before. Later the G 3 and HK 33 were produced by MAS for export, within the framework of economic agreements between the two countries, but this detail does not concern our subject.
Coming back to the MAS T 62, it should be said that in the political circles nobody was happy with the acquisition of a foreign weapon while other great projects concerning the Defense (Nuclear Forces, AMX 30 tank) imposed restrictions on the budget. Thus the career of the MAS T 62 finished with an estimated production at about 200 specimens. The weapon was proposed without success to various countries, such as Morocco.
But at the same period, new very small bore weapons shooting high speed bullets were on the horizon, but this is another story...
The wooden stock is triangular. The sling can be fixed in the top or low position. The rubber recoil pad exists in three sizes making it possible to adapt the length of stock to the shape of the user. The frame is milled from a molded light alloy block and it receives the trigger mechanism and the magazine housing. The sheet metal cover is assembled by sliding. The cocking lever is on the left and the ejection port on the right. The wooden grip receives a small luminescent plastic insert that facilitates the location of the selector at night.
The bolt consists of a bolt carrier with a mobile head and a hammer. The recoil spring and percussion spring are located around a telescopic rod that also positions the bolt. The selector is located on the left side, above the pistol grip. Its positions are: full auto, rear position (M); safety, down position (S); and single shot, front position (C).
Feeding is made from a vertical 20-round magazine. It is locked in place by a lever located in front of the trigger guard. Sights are made of a vertical drum moving peep sight (200-600 m) located at rear of the bolt cover and a front sight protected by a tunnel. The rear sight can be laterally adjusted and the front sight is provided with vertical adjustability.
For night shooting a folding U rear sight is located in front of the bolt cover. It is associated with a front sight above the tunnel of the day front sight. Both the front and rear sights have luminescent inserts.
The rear part of the barrel and the gas cylinder are located inside a two-piece short plastic ventilated forearm. The barrel is 7.62mm (.30") bore, four grooves with 300 mm (13.39") twist right turn. At its end, the barrel receives a grenade launcher with a notched sleeve, a ring, an aiming sight and a muzzle brake.
Gas action, with a piston having its own recoil spring. The tilting bolt is of the same design the MAS 49. The firing pin is actuated by a linear hammer. The rifle has a bolt stop device, the button of which is located near the magazine lever on the left side.
- M 1956 or M 1958 bayonet;
- bipod, it can be located at the front of the forearm or at the rear. It is carried with the bayonet scabbard;
- optic sight APX L 806, needs a special bolt cover;
- infra red night sight DI-PT, provided on a lateral mount;
- cleaning kit.
Remove the assembly pin located at the rear of the selector. Pull the stock/pistol grip/frame backwards and slide the bolt cover out of its rails. Remove the recoil spring and bolt then separate the carrier, the bolt and the hammer. The reassembly is carried out in the inverse order, but be careful about the position of the recoil spring.
Characteristics MAS T 62
Caliber: 7.62 mm (.30")
Ammunition: 7.62 mm NATO
Overall length: 1.040 m (26.41")
Length of the gun: 0.500 m (12.7")
Weight: 4.530 kg (10 lbs)
Magazine capacity: 20 shots
Cyclic rate: 600 rpm
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