The New Rifle

By Alfred Jarry

We take pleasure in noting that several of the reforms we proposed in these pages for military and civil affairs are under consideration. We have been advocating with cogent arguments the abolition of the military rifle. Showing a ready docility which we cannot praise too much, the military is at the moment working on plans to hand over to civilians those firearms with which it is possible to shoot something, or, if you will, with which one can shoot effectively at something.

We disapprove of the innocuousness of the military rifle in several respects: its range exceeding the limits of visibility, such a high bullet velocity and small caliber as to inflict no real wound but only an unimpressive puncture, inability to produce smoke, etc.

In the guns now being offered to civilians by the military authorities at extremely low prices, a single ingenious modification is enough to answer our objections.

By the mere removal of the rifling of the barrel, the range is brought within a reasonable limit to permit accurate shooting; the gun also becomes more murderous because of its increased caliber.

It goes without saying that only the Gras rifle is worth transforming; for the fact is widely known that in the Lebel 86 the repeating mechanism, if anyone is so imprudent as to use it, invariably jams and puts the rifle totally out of service. We presume the inventor perfected this feature in order to render the weapon worthless to the enemy in the event of defeat.

We should recall to the frankly curious who do not know where to procure Lebel rifles and cartridges: 1) that all good gunsmiths carry Lebel cartridges designed for special revolvers, and 2) that failing Lebel rifles, these same gunsmiths offer all the latest models of foreign military rifles for sale to our enlightened patriotism -- which leads me to suppose that abroad it is easy to acquire in equal abundance our own military rifle model 86.

P.S. -- We have just learned as we go to press that in their cupidity the military rendered these arms usable only in order to encourage civilians to purchase them. Subsequently it proceeded to confiscate them arbitrarily, thus reaping a profit of 11 francs (the price of a modified Gras rifle) multiplied many times. Note that a search of someone's home for the said rifles falls under the law of "violation of domicile" and that a person wishing to conduct himself as an upstanding citizen should take the responsibility of firing on any burglar. For this purpose we maintain in working order in our apartment three hundred modified rifles.

[Originally published in French in 1900. Translated by Roger Shattuck.]

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