Société Française d'Armes Portatives.

Rifle DAUDETEAU of 6,5 mm and the history of the MAUSER M 1871 for Uruguay, alias rifle DOVITIS

 D'AUDETEAU and his riffles "A"  and "B " :

Louis d’AUDETEAU (I specify that the particle of its patronymic had been omitted to transform the denomination of its prototypes into simple "DAUDETEAU" at one time or the Republic, lasts, laic and rather sectarian, hardly appreciated these evocations of "old régime" when one wished to present his inventions at the State...!) was not satisfied to design weapons, but was also interested in the ammunition which they were to fire, with their projectiles and accessories such of the fast chargers, even with machine-guns multibarrels, of the breech for artillery, etc....

Thus one indexes in various calibers of cartridges DAUDETEAU of n°1 to n°14, plus some others without number, ordered in the most important manufacturers of ammunition of this end of XIXe century, like the S.F.M. in France or KELLER & Co, Austria.

One of these ammunition is 6,5 mm DAUDETEAU n°12, planned for a series of weapons designed in 1884-1885 and having led to famous rifles "models A" and "model B", proposed to the army. On this subject, let us specify that never these weapons did not have in France at least, a lawful statute, contrary to what is repeated since glosses, following an unfortunate publicity passed by the "Manufacture d'Armes & Cycles de St Etienne" in his catalogues of before 1914. The purpose of this publicity, parallel with the proposals concerning rifles Mle 1886-93 (Lebel) was not to lend to the weapon a military statute, hoped but ever acquired, to improve the sales of them, at least one believed it.

A certain number of these weapons would have been put at the test in two companies of marines in Tonkin at the beginning of the XXe century, according to what Mr. Gerard d' Audeteau had entrusted to us, grandson of the inventor in 1980. It is certain that rifle and the rifle were very carefully tested by the services of Artillery to the Camp of Chalons of 1895 to 1896, which appreciated the precision of the weapon particularly, and the characteristics of grazing of its ammunition, but deplored its complication and its incredible blade-charger of "style noodle"...

About 1898, Louis d'Audeteau leaves for Romania to present his rifle, reason probable of manufacture of cartridges of 6,5mm n°12 in Austria, but there still, without success, this country having already chosen a MANNLICHER, Mle 1993.

Rifle is still tested by Chile, which prefers a MAUSER in 7x57. to him One still mentions the possible transformation into 6,5mm n°12 of fifteen thousand SPANISH REMINGTON belonging to El Salvador. This country will choose the SPANISH MAUSER there too.

Not very specialized in the businesses and the trade, of Audeteau, disappointed by the negative reception of the military (who did not dare to change goal in white the very great quantity of "Lebel" already available against a weapon also radically different, even if it functioned much better, and were equipped with a remarkable cartridge) yields the majority of its patents to private industry.

In its delivery from October at March 1902-1903, very semi-official Artillery Revue (n°59) quotes acquisition of the aforesaid patents at the beginning of the Nineties by the Company of the Forging mills and Aciéries of the Navy and the Railroads, with St Etienne, a collective company being created with St Denis (the Seine) as S.F.A.P. or Société Française d'Armes Portatives, which will cease its activities in 1902, after having manufactured 10 000 rifles DAUDETEAU gauges 6,5 of the same mm and 5 000 rifles system. The stock of unsold goods will then be yielded to the "Manuf". It is still possible that this "Company" is at the origin of the tough legend of the adoption of the DAUDETEAU by the French Navy about which one speaks to us regularly.

Being scuttled, the S.F.A.P. or what remains about it, that is to say the "Service of the Portable Weapons", always with St Denis studies finally a modification of the DAUDETEAU to a blow, like "economic model" (sic!) for Serbia. There will remain nothing about it...

In same time, the S.F.A.P. also proceeded to the transformation of 10 000 rifles MAUSER M.1871 originally intended for Colombia always into 6,5 mm n°12. Why this gauge? Because the ammunition had appeared excellent with the shooting and that a certain fashion being then with the small gauge, the 8 mm Mle 1886 constituted a true monstrosity with its case in double truncated cone, only justified by a saving in machines at the time of the passage of the 11 mm Mle 1874 or 74/85 with the news cartridge, which one would pay hard later.


In 1894, the Uruguayan staff is concerned with startup in his army of modern weapons of small gauge, vis-à-vis with the re-equipment in this direction of his powerful neighbors. The small local army uses a disparate sampling of MAUSER M.1871 bought in Germany and REMINGTON "ROLLING BLOCK" in 11 mm Rem, obtained in the USA.

Finances are poor, the merchants of weapons and greedy intermediaries... intervenes then an unexpected patron in the person of a Greek military tailor of the name of DOVITIS, which having made fortune in the clothes industry of uniforms intended for the forces armed with its new fatherland, decides to offer on its own sums of money, a new armament with its new fatherland! In fact of new armament, it will be necessary to be satisfied with the transformation of that one has, in fact to modify the MAUSER 1871 in a more modern gauge.

One is unaware of unfortunately by which methods our man passed to lead to the S.F.A.P. of St Denis...! Always it is that 10 000 of these “Weapons” find on a boat destination the old continent.

For which reason to have chosen this strange gauge of 6,5 mm n°12? One can see there probable "a chicanery" between initiates and "specialists", by remembering that it was undoubtedly necessary to honor the orders with cartridges placed to the S.F.M., inter alias, for the unhappy tests of the two other "product-headlights" of the house, models "A" and "B".

The DOVITIS return to the fold, accompanied by a substantial quantity of ammunition, and will be distributed to the troop, but the business appears a memorable fiasco quickly: indeed, the cartridges manufactured by the S.F.M. have a starter whose brass, too thick, causes a very irregular percussion, the spring of striker of the 71 not having been reinforced. Moreover, at the time, the process of annealing partial of the cases is still unknown and on this small caliber, the phenomena of tension of metal cause with the collets of the disastrous longitudinal cracks. On the two single delivered batches, with marking of Uruguayan base, almost totality will finish shamefully, balanced in water of Rio of Plata...

And it will be the end of this hybrid weapon, except, well on, for the collectors. DOVITIS, not discouraging itself for if little, repeats while proposing to make new barrel French rifles GRAS of surplus in 7x57 MAUSER! Fortunately, the best stories being shortest, Uruguay will adopt at this time the MAUSER of this caliber... and it will be the end of the history.

Philippe Regenstreif, April 2005.

This note is drawn from several articles which I published in CIBLES under the pseudo of Alain Bardy in 1980.

Many thanks to B. Burton for the photos.

There is another of this riffles

Photos friendly authorized by "ANTIQUEFIREARMS"