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Buckshot
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Anyone have any experience with Comblains?
Mar 19th, 2007 at 9:59pm
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.............My first post Grin. I've had one of these things for about 5 years now. I was the only bidder on it at Auction Arms, and also got a M1902 Rem RB 7x57 at the same time. Turns out the same guy was offering them. I'd just bid more or less for something to do and a couple days later had to come up with $650 in untraceable, un-noticed, slip it past the radar type dollars.

Sold the RB as I already had one, and so far as the Comblain was concerned I'd never even heard of them before. Having had an 01 FFL from 1981 to 2000 (we moved), and according to my wife I was a member in good standing of the rifle a month club so it struck as odd that I hadn't. Especially since they were somewhat popular. It's a Brazilian contract and a carbine. After searching for all the info I could glom onto, and some articles sent to me by others I have a pretty good grasp of their history.

According to what I've found out, my carbine was one of the last batches that Brazil had ordered and that was for 3,000 carbines. It's chambered for the  11.4x42R carbine cartridge, and was made by Emil Nagant in Belgium and probably delivered to Brazil in the late 1880's of the first of the 1890's.

One of the 1st things I found out was that the chamber had no neck:

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I found that rather odd, ya know?  Cheesy. It has 4 lands and grooves with a 16" twist. The grooves at the breech are .465" and at the muzzle they're .452". The bore is a constant .433".

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Not a very good photo of it, but all I have at the moment. It's a falling block type action, and a fascinating one at that. It reminds me of the old Zeinith TV's that touted the "Works in a Drawer", as you pull one screw and the whole innards, with the exception of the extractor comes out the bottom. The extractor has it's own screw to pivit on.

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Here it is with it's insides, out. To operate it you hook your thumb through the front of the lever ahead of the trigger and push down and forward. The hammer automaticly cocks, and there is no safety. Another oddity is that the hammer is shrouded. Seems strange to have done that back when primers weren't always 100%. You had to operate the lever (triggerguard?) again to re-cock it.

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That rounded deal behind the breechblock is the hammer shroud. It's dovetailed into the rear of the breechblock. Other then the chamber having no neck, and the shrouded hammer the action is a pretty neat piece of engineering. The breechblock has no toggle link like a Sharps. It's pivited on the lever with a simple pin. The firing pin is seperate from the hammer and is retained by a screw so it's easily changed............ or lost?

The carbine is all matching, having it's serial number repeated on the barrel bands, and the last 2 digits (the serial number is 963) on the workings including the screwheads. As per usual with firearms made in that era, the workmanship is just an amazement to me. How they did it without even HSS is mind boggleing. There are no tool marks to be found and all the internal parts still retain a bright cobalt blue. There are a couple screws which pass through the works, and their heads are inlet flush. They are so well done all you can see is the slot. The seam around their heads is practicly invisible.

I've only fired it maybe 50 times to date. The cartridge case is short but fat. About the closest I can get is with the Mag-Tech (CBC) 32 ga brass shotshells, suitably shortened. At first I used all manner of dies in attempting to mangle some cases enough to chamber. And I did fire some of those, but it was VERY ugly. As a testament to the Mag-Tech brass, they were mangled, fired and re-mangled 5 times and never lost a one!

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I finally broke down and made myself a set of dies and a shellholder. I made the dies out of a front axle strut from a '87 Chevy Celebrity. HA! Gotta have carbide to thread those puppies. At the time the brass was Berdan primed so they'd been converted to use the 209 shotshell primer.

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In the left photo are 2 ready to fire. The address label paper is to take up a bit of windage in the chamber do they'll expand evenly. Usually by the 2nd firing the paper can come off. The bullet is the 292gr Lyman, as cast and hand lubed. In the right photo, on the left is a fired unsized case. On the right a sized case.

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The above was the result of the only real range test I'd done since owning the thing, and this was maybe 3 years ago. Bullets undersized .005", unfired necked cases in a chamber with no neck and loads pulled outta my ...............nose. These were all 10 shot groups at 50 yards with the exeption of the Blue Dot as I used 3 of'em to get on paper. The sights are a little nub up front and a common 3 step and elevator job at the rear. The trigger is superb. Appears to like SR4759, eh?

One of these days when I get a rountuit I need to bore a mould to fit this wild child  Roll Eyes

Rick
  

There are only 2 things needed in this life to be happy. A banjo and a good mule.&&&&Righteous son of the silver stream, cast boolits
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james a pickup
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Re:  Anyone have any experience with Comblain
Reply #1 - Mar 20th, 2007 at 10:16am
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i don't own a comblain, but i've got a Gras in 11mm, i too had case problems-wish i had throught of the the idea of label papers around the case so it would expand evenly. At fist i used 11mm spanish old "bell" cases because they were the only one's with the proper rim thickness and size that would fit in the chamber. They were left-overs from a 11mm spanish rolling block that had a ruined chamber.They did expand to fit the 11mm gras without breaking even if the chamber was .030 oversize, but not evenly. I found out later that 348 winchester would work, but not as well. i get cases sticking now and then because the rims are too small. I had to neck-turn the cases on my lathe to get them to fit the chamber. The gras is a lot of fun to shoot, i use 777 because black powder is expensive and hard to get here in California, i have heard of shooters getting together and ordering a case of it to get around this problem.
  
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Duck_Rider
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Re:  Anyone have any experience with Comblain
Reply #2 - Mar 20th, 2007 at 7:09pm
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I have a Comblain that looks almost indentical to the one in your photo (but mine is not in as good of condition) I got mine about 30 years ago. It is chambered for the 11.4x54 Montigny cartridge. Bore .437, groove .461, both constant, barrel is 23.3" long. I had a set of dies made in England back when I obtained the rifle. I make my cases from .378 or .460 Weatherby by putting a steel rim on the cases. I use .458 cast bullets and it shoots fair. But it is unusual. BTW mine is made in Belguim.
Hope this might be of some use.
  
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Richardwv
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Re:  Anyone have any experience with Comblain
Reply #3 - Mar 20th, 2007 at 11:40pm
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Cases are readily made from 50-90 now available from Jamison and Starline.  The thicker rim gives better headspace than the CBC and doesn't require wrapping the base.  I find giving the case a tad of a neck makes loading a lot easier and as long as I anneal doesn't shorten the life of the cases.
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« Last Edit: Mar 20th, 2007 at 11:45pm by Richardwv »  

Richardwv, A recluse in training along Back Creek in the hills of West Virginia.
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Buckshot
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Re:  Anyone have any experience with Comblain
Reply #4 - Mar 21st, 2007 at 1:04am
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.............Richard, what cartridge are your 2 Comblains chambered in? Yours are different models then mine. The top one looks like a Belgium model. My cartridge is the 42mm Brazilian carbine. Measured from the chamber cast it is:

Rim OD: .680/.682"
Base: .584"

Are those close to what you have, other then maybe length?

Thanks, Rick
  

There are only 2 things needed in this life to be happy. A banjo and a good mule.&&&&Righteous son of the silver stream, cast boolits
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Richardwv
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Re:  Anyone have any experience with Comblain
Reply #5 - Mar 21st, 2007 at 1:31am
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Both are Brazilain models with the hammer shroud.  Both are in the Model 1874 11.4x50Rmm, which has a base diameter of .588 and rim of .682.  While this is wider than the 50-90 cases (.565 base and .663 rim), the solid head cases are more than strong enough to handle the difference.  The case pictured has been through at least 10 loading cycles and of course is now fire-formed to the chamber.  I tried the CBC brass in my Comblains, but the amount of distortion and generous headspace concerned me.  While I never had a CBC failure in either Comblain, I've had CBC brass let go in other applications and the face full of powder isn't fun. 

I now use the Starline 50-90 brass as a basis for a wide variety of BP cartridges ranging from the 11x52R Beaumont to the WR No.2 musket.  I don't see why it wouldn't work well in yours given the similar critical dimensions to the 11.4x50Rmm cartridge.
  

Richardwv, A recluse in training along Back Creek in the hills of West Virginia.
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vigillinus
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Re:  Anyone have any experience with Comblain
Reply #6 - Mar 21st, 2007 at 2:53am
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I have seen a baby Comblain, much smaller action, as best I recall it was built into an English rook rifle.   Kinda cute.
  
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mes
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Re:  Anyone have any experience with Comblain
Reply #7 - Mar 21st, 2007 at 10:49am
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I am not sure (cute) is a word I could apply to a Comblain. Roll Eyes
  

Martin Stenback
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