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Fusil de chasse facts for kids

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Fusil silex incruste
Double barreled French fowling piece, fully carved and engraved. Museum of Art and Industry in Saint-Étienne, France

The French-made Fusil de chasse (fu-zi dee chā-se), originally meant "gun of the hunt”, was a light smoothbore flintlock musket designed for hunting. They were an elegant flintlock with a distinctive "cow's foot" shape to the buttstock that softened recoil. This La Peid stock shape is typical of long guns made at Tulle. The Fusil de Chasse was made at the Tulle (France) arms factory. The fusils were very similar to the Charleville musket, also made at Tulle. Fusils were typically lighter and shorter than the Charleville muskets. The name fusil is phonetically pronounced "fusee" in English." The French name Fusil is a corruption of the Italian fucile meaning flint. Both the French and the British had versions of the officer's fusil. The British fucils were based on the Brown Bess musket. Also from the name fusil comes the term fusilier. A very similar but cheaper version was the fusil de traite (trade gun). The officer's fusil is fitted for a sling and the stock is 4 inches (100 mm) shorter than the barrel in order to fit a socket bayonet. The officer's fusil was much better made. But there is some confusion between the two versions. At 20 gauge (.62 caliber) the fusil was also used as a fowling gun (early predecessor of the shotgun). Fusils were a common musket in 18th century Colonial America and were used by Americans during the American Revolution.


Fusil de chasse

In France, the manufacturing of arms got its start as a large industry in Saint-Étienne in about 1535. The first armory was set up in 1669. By 1646, arms manufacturing had started up at Tulle nearby. In 1690 an armory was set up there as well. The flintlock was adopted by France for her armies in 1630. Both Tulle and Saint-Étienne furnished flintlocks for the French troops in America. The typical musket in 1690 was about 60 inches (1,500 mm) long and had a barrel of about 44 inches (1,100 mm). Until about 1718, captains were responsible to make sure each soldier had a working firearm, but other than that the captain allowed his soldiers to choose which musket they would use. Often, that meant there was no standard musket in use in a company let alone an army. This was a common failing of all armies of the time. That changed with the Model 1717 fusil which standardized the muskets and ammunition used by the French army. It was longer than the British muskets of the time giving French troops an advantage. At 63 inches (1,600 mm) and with a barrel of 47 inches (1,200 mm) it allowed troops to fire from three ranks at the same time. With the bayonet, it had the advantage of being longer. The combination of a longer barrel and a front sight to aim the weapon also made it slightly more accurate than British muskets. A few improvements were made with the M1728 model but it was otherwise the same musket. More improvements were made in 1746 when the wood ramrod was replaced with a metal one. The French muskets shot 18 bullets to the pound which translates to .69 caliber. A fourth model was issued in 1754 with a shorter lighter version for officers. The officers model weighed about 7 pounds (3.2 kg) and was 54 inches (1,400 mm) in length. All officers, including generals, carried an officer's model fusil. These were used during the French and Indian War and many were used by Americans during the American Revolution.

The fusil de chasse was designed for hunting. Generally the muskets made at Tull were defined by models, but some hunting fusils were made to order. Differences were based on their intended purpose and market. In 1695 and 1696 contracts for muskets from the Tulle factory each called for "five hunting muskets for the Indian Chiefs". These models would later be called a Fusil fin (chief's grade musket). These muskets were to be caliber 28 balls to the pound (approximately .56 caliber), 45 inches (1,100 mm) long, "well filed and well polished with fine mountings and a flat lock". These gifts to Indian chiefs were elegant hunting muskets.

Fusil de traite

In New France, the Indians allied to the French carried French fusils. These were either Fusils de chasse or de traite. At the Battle of the Monongahela, British General Edward Braddock led his troops directly into an ambush by native american and French troops in July of 1755. Braddock was killed, no doubt, by a .62 caliber ball fired from a French fusil. The smoothbore Tulle musket was carried by most, if not all, the Indians who attacked Braddock at the Monongahela River. Native warriors took very good care of their muskets and strongly preferred the French fusils over guns made elsewhere. Although the fusil de traite was designed as a less-expensive trade gun, many Indians knew the difference and preferred the fusil de chasse. While there were a number of different models of fusils sent to the Americas, the light musket de chasse was designed for those who hunted for a living. So many were needed that the factory at Saint-Étienne had to handle the extra demand. Most of these were shipped to New France where trading was the main activity between Native Americans and the French. Both varieties were made with either iron or brass fittings and most were .62 caliber. Both were marked "Tulle" (earlier spelling was "Tvlle") on the lock plate. This makes archaeological finds harder to tell apart over two centuries later. Many of the reproductions made today are marked "Tulle".


The various flintlocks produced at Tulle had the following costs in 1750:

  • Fusil de Chasse (ordinary) - 15 to 20 livre. In 1997 US dollars, that would be between $30 and $40.
  • Fusil de fin (chief's grade) - 25 to 40 livre. In 1997 dollars, $50 to $80.
  • Fusil de traite (ordinary) - 9 to 15 livre. About $18 to $30 in 1997.
  • Fusil de militarie (grenidier or ordinary) - 20 to 30 livre. About $40 to $60 US dollars in 1997.
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