GENERALLY: The "Tabatiere" (a French term that means "snuffbox", because the conversion block reminded the French of a snuffbox of the times) is a Snider variant, although attributed by the French to a French national ironically named Schneider, who was a joint patent-holder with Jacob Snider, an American credited with development of the M1853/66 British SniderEnfield. The Tabatiere action was adopted by the French to convert their Mle 1853-54 (and later, also their Mle 1822) muzzle loading rifles to cartridge breach loaders. The Mle 1857, a Mle1853 with steel rifled barrel, was also converted but is not generally viewed as a distinct variant. The system was used to convert no less than 4 distinct rifles to breach loaders: The Mle 1853-54 Infantry rifle, the Mle 1853 Dragoon (slightly shorter, otherwise about identical, also sometimes referred to at the Voltigeur rifle), the Mle 1859 Carabine de Chasseur, (a rifle, differeing quite a bit in length, caliber, being 18.2mm, nosecap, 2 bands instead of 3, sights and mounting a sword bayonet on a barrel mounted lug and tenon rather than a spike bayonet. The Carabine de Chasseur also carried a different ram/cleaning rod) and the Mle 1822 T.bis infantry musket. The conversions were made after the adoption of the Mle 1866 Chasspot (q.v. Mle 1866-74 Gras) and after seeing the success of the Snider, as well as being mindful of the Prussion campaigns against the Danes in 1864 and Austria in 1866. Because of it's large, obsolecent calibre and relatively weak action it was quickly relegated to rear eshelon troops and was substantially withdrawn from service altogether by the mid-1870's. Most Tabatieres were discarded or converted to shotguns (of which there are quite a few extant ... the "Zulu shotguns" often seen as decorators at gunshows).
PHOTO: The rifle shown is a Mle 1867 Tabatiere fusil de Dragon (Dragoon rifle). It is virtually identical to the infantry rifle but is approximately 4 inches shorter. (The Carabine de Chasseur, Mle 1859/67, is a noticeably different variety and is detailed in a separate page, linked here and also noted below).
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: The Tabatiere is
a very large calibre (17.8mm) conversion arm using a system similar to
but different from the Snider conversion of the Enfield muskets.
Because of the large calibre, the area behind the breech block is deeply
cut out to allow for clearance of the large cartridge. Except for
the Mle 1822/67, the actions are back-action. The Mle 1822/67 is
forward action, and, most of them having been converted during the exegicies
of the 1870-71 War, the receivers and breech blocks are often seen in bronze
rather than iron. Note, however, that bronze actions are found fitted
to Mle 1853/67 infantry rifles as well. The Tabatiere
hammer is so distinctly French that it's impossible to miss a Tabatiere,
notwithstanding any other features. Except for the Carabine de
Chasseur, the nosecap on all varieties is elaborate, and very similar
to the Belgian Albini-Braendlin.
1822/67T.bis Tabatiere conversion (with bronze action)
1859/67Carabine de Chasseur is a different enough variety
that it is being considered on a separate page. Please click the
link for this model.
Mle 1853/67 Tabatiere Infantry and Dragoon Rifle:
M1853/67 French "Tabatiere" Dragoon Rifle Pics:
(including Notes from the Owner)
Page built: January 24 & 28, 1999
Revised February 8, September 26, 1999
Revised May 7, 2000
Revised February 12, 2002
Revised August 31, 2003