The MAS 49/56 Titanium Firing Pin
What you are eyeballing is an exact replica of the heavy steel OEM firing pin to within + or - .0005" with one minor exception--the head of the pin is flatter than most pins.
This one is made from Ti-6AL-4V, Grade 5 titanium. Titanium firing pins have proven to be the most direct cure for embarrassing and potentially dangerous slam, burst and/or auto fire in MAS 49/56 rifles using commercial ammo with soft primers. My TFP weighs a mere .415 ounces (.026 lbs or 11.793 grams). That is a 42% weight savings over the OEM MAS 49/56 firing pin which is a weighty little devil and tops the scale at .045 pounds (.719 oz. or 20.411 grams).
What my petite firing pin does is reduce the mass of forward inertia of the firing pin and thereby inadvertent repetitive fire. Owners of the previously made TFP by McCann reported excellent results. And better yet, you can use this pin on commercial or military surplus.
A pin in a tube. Your TFP firing pin comes in a camo tube. It protects your TFP in your range bag.
A modern problem haunts a great old combat rifle
The 49/56 firing pin is "free-floating" within the bolt. The heavy MAS pin was designed to impact French Milspec 7.5x 54mm ammo with tough combat primers-ie: with considerable force. Modern commercial ammunition and reloads have "softer" primers because they are sufficient for civilian use. The heavy steel MAS 49/56 firing pin exhibits sufficient forward inertia when the bolt is released to impact and detonate sensitive commercial primers. (This all happens without pulling the trigger.)
Various unwanted occurrences can result: Slam fire (a round is hurled down the barrel when the bolt is released), burst fire (a couple of rounds fire off to the great surprise of the shooter), or full auto (the weapon just rocks and rolls on until the mag is empty).
Commercial ammo on left with soft primer. Mil spec ammo on right with tougher primer.
Now these negative happenings can be embarrassing. Perhaps your gunsmith will call you and tell you to "Come pick up this piece of s--t" as happened to me. When I arrived and asked what the problem was, he said "Move that poster aside." Curiously I did and there was a large hole in his brick basement wall. The poster covered his embarrassment of a slam fire. Happily the round didn't pass through his wall and blast some little kid!
TFP firing pins are the exact dimensions of the original
Perhaps you are at the range and your MAS goes temporarily out of control. Eyebrows will rise along the line and the range master will compound your red face with cautioning words spoken loudly. Or maybe the barrel is pointed down and you shoot your buddy's foot off. I doubt that you'll kill anyone because you will have practiced the second rule of gun handling. All of these events and other sad tales should be avoided and they can be.
Other remedies for this un-expected detonation problem can be found on a web tour. One cure is to machine the MAS bolt to accept a small firing pin return spring. That apparently is a good solution but the machining would probably cost you more than my TFP.
Identify a potential slam fire problem
Load your mag with one round of commercial ammo. Point the weapon in a safe direction. Release the bolt. Don't fire it. Jack the round out and look for any small indentation on your primer. If you spot a mark of any kind, you may be a candidate for the TFP remedy.
The MAS-49/56 (Manufacture d'Armes St. Etienne) was introduced in 1957. Its design improvements over previous French combat rifles came from combat experience in Algeria and against the Viet Minh in Vietnam. The rifle became shorter and lighter to improve mobility for armor, airborne and jungle troops. The MAS-49/56 ended production in 1978. The MAS 49/56 was withdrawn from service in 1990. 275,240 MAS 49/56 rifles were produced between 1957 and 1978.
The MAS 49/56 firing 7.5 x 54mm ammo was an accurate battle rifle for its time. Recoil is very light for a full-power rifle which allows the sight to stay on target. Its overall handling is excellent. The 49/56 is well balanced and swings faster than WWII-era rifles including the M1 Garand. The MAS 49/56 weighs about 8.5 lbs. The Garand is heavier at 10 lbs. The MAS is also four inches shorter than M1 and most of its weight is centerd in the action. Internal parts are heavy duty, forged and machined--not stamped. The build quality and detail are superior to most but not all WWII rifles.
Using the iron sights and high-quality surplus French military ball, the MAS will average, 1.75 to 2.5 MOA five-shot groups at 100 yards. The MAS is as accurate as any other semi-auto military rifle during and post WWII-this includes a comparison with FN FAL, HK G3/CETME, or stock M1 Garand. It is more accurate than FN 49, SVT-40, AK-47 or SKS.
Advanced features for the time
The MAS detachable magazine could be topped off or reloaded during combat. Garand shooters had to wait until the ammo clip was expended with a loud clang, which was dangerous in fighting lulls. The MAS 49/56 has fewer parts and field strips faster than the M1. The MAS disassembles into just seven largish pieces; the beefy firing pin is the smallest one.
The MAS 49/56 is considered by knowledgeable, unbiased folk to be the pinnacle of semi-automatic main battle rifles of the WWll period. Today a decent M-1 Garand sells for $1000 give or take. The MAS 49/56 is a bargain for a lightweight, compact, hard-hitting rifle--they sell for about $500. The MAS should be an important and inexpensive addition to your arsenal. Some gun people consider the 49/56 rather ugly and I agree. But in its ugliness is beauty if you consider its practical design or can appreciate the unusual.
Indentifying your MAS
In the 1990s large quantities of surplus MAS 49/56s were imported. Many were re-arsenaled and are in excellent condition. The F serial number prefix was made between 1956 and 1958. G series were made between 1958 and 1960. The H series was made between 1961 and 1963.
To the right of the serial number may be ‘P’ stamp followed by a square with two numbers in it. That stamp indicates re-arsenaling. Most re-arsenal dates were in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Many imported MAS 49/56s were unsuccessful conversions to 7.62/.308 WIN by Century Arms. That gave the rifle an undeserved reputation for unreliability. Avoid 7.62 conversions-many were done poorly and affected cycling and accuracy (the bullet had a tendency to skip down the barrel).
Startling observation about FNM Portuguese ammo
While Bill Toth was testing my Titanium Firing Pin he fired Privi, French surplus, Egyptian/Arabian surplus and FNM Portuguese ammo. Each ammo type worked as it should with the exception of FNM.
FNM Portuguese ammo
This photo shows that very FNM Portuguese ammo. The bottom bullet and detached shell casing was cycled through his test gun but not fired. When Bill extracted the round he discovered it separated just like you see it here. When the bolt ran the round into the chamber the bullet detached from the shell. Whew, can you say inadequate crimping!
The three dirty FNM shells above were fired. Notice the extensive fouling all over the cases and massive build up in the exactor ring. These rounds separated in the chamber too and the loose powder in the bore created this fouling.
We're sure you see the potential danger using FNM ammo. If an ammo box like the one in the photo is offered to you say "no thank you" in a nice way and move on to other options. Enough said? Yup!
[FNM 7.5 x 54mm, Lot #9001]
Prvi Partizan on left. Military ammo on right
We have been through gun/ammo panics before. The national gun ban panics of 1986 and 1994. The 2000 and 2004 California gun ban panics. In the last panic it took 36 months for prices came down in late 2011 but in March 2012 it climbed sharply again because it looked like Obama was going win a second term. Obama won, Newton happened, legislation was proposed and news of DHS ammo purchases set off this historic panic and shortages.
Ammunition manufacturers have been running at capacity for at least 10 years 24/7. Most ammo makers had barely recovered from the last ammo-buying panic and then they were hit with this situation. Production expansion is a slow process which requires a lot of time and money and most manufacturers have been doing just that. In a business as political as the gun and ammo industry, sales spike (up and down) so manufacturers will not unwisely spend wildly to increase capacity.
Now that anti-gun legislation failed, the process of normalcy can begin but it's going to take a couple of years to return, unless the government makes another crazy move or some other nut job shoots more people. There are tiny rays of hope. Ammo buyers who do their research and are timely have been able to buy. Hang in there.
Information accurate as of October 2014
Prvi Partizan 7.5 x 54mm French. About 20 bucks a box in any quantity.
Orion 7 Enterprises
New secret source from a bunch of good guys. Info from customer Jim Allen.
Shipping and retail store address:
1542 Rocky Point Rd.
Middle Island, NY 11953
P.O. Box 1592
Rocky Pt., NY 11778-1592
631 205 1299
Ammunition from Portugal
See photo and story above. Don't buy it