11mm FRENCH Mle.1873

With the adoption of the 11mm Lefaucheux M-1858 Pinfire Revolver the French Navy became the first military organization to adopt a self-contained metallic cartridge handgun for general issue and use. After their defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 the French military commission of the Ministry of the Armed Forces at Versailles investigated potential handgun designs for adoption and general issue. The French Navy had already adopted their Lefaucheux revolver in 1870 but the Army decided to stage their own trials, rejecting the Navy revolver, in all probability because of the fact that Eugene Lefaucheux was an a close friend of the now deposed French Emperor Napoleon III. One of the entries was from retired French Officer and arms designer Henri-Gustave Delvigne who had designed the gun in cooperation with a Belgian gunsmith by the name of J. Chamelot and had the original designs manufactured by Belgian firm Pirlot Frères in 1871. Their single/double action Chamelot-Delvigne system was selected and was then produced by Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne from 1873 to 1887 when it was replaced with the smaller M.92 revolver, it was still in use during the 1st World War and French Reserve units during 1940. (Erlmeier, Brandt Ref. 162).