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A reference guide for historians, enthusiasts, and collectors alike.
A reference guide for historians, enthusiasts, and collectors alike.
6,076 backers pledged $800,256 to help bring this project to life.

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Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles, 1866 – 2016

$800,256

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Headstamp Publishing is delighted to be publishing the first book written by Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons, Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles, 1866 – 2016. We are offering several beautiful editions, as well as some Kickstarter-exclusive rewards. We will also be giving backers exclusive access to behind-the-scenes Headstamp and Forgotten Weapons content, and we have set several stretch goals which will help us to make quality and content improvements to the book. With your help, we can forge a new gold standard for firearms reference books. 

Chassepot to FAMAS is an engaging and deeply informative reference work, offering the first detailed history of French military rifle development in the English language, paired with the highest quality photographs and design. The manuscript is complete, photographs have been taken and prepared for print, and layout and final editing are proceeding well. At this stage, it is our great pleasure to offer the book for pre-order via Kickstarter. This is a book for enthusiasts, researchers, historians, and collectors, and as much an authoritative historical work as it is a work of art. 

Standard Edition with Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
Standard Edition with Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
Standard Edition Book with Retail Version Red Cover
Standard Edition Book with Retail Version Red Cover

The French have a long history of competing in the arms races of Europe. Despite this, the products of this history are widely misunderstood or even unknown today. These arms have often existed at the leading edge of military technology, and have served around the world, from the mud-clotted hell of Verdun to the sand dunes of the Sahara and the jungles of Southeast Asia. Some, like the Berthier, would serve for more than half a century while others, like the Kropatscheks, would prove to be only temporary stepping-stones to other developments.

For the military historian, French rifles cover several truly revolutionary designs, including the remarkably effective needlefire Chassepot and the first smokeless powder rifle in history, the 1886 Lebel. 

For the engineer or technical enthusiast, French rifles offer some of the most unique operating mechanisms seen in firearms development, such as the true direct impingement of the MAS 44 series and the lever-delayed blowback of the FAMAS.

For the collector, French rifles are a magnificent breath of fresh air from the ubiquitous Mausers and Enfields of the world. Some were excellent rifles and some were not, but they are all possessed of unique character. As they say, no one copies the French and the French copy no one. 

Ian McCollum's Chassepot to FAMAS: French Military Rifles, 1866 – 2016 is a reference guide for historians, researchers, enthusiasts, and arms collectors alike, detailing the progression of French military rifles from the first paper-cartridge Chassepot rifles in 1866 through the FAMAS – the last military rifle to be made in France. This book is the first English-language work to comprehensively cover the subject, and includes all major models of French rifles:

  • Chassepot
  • Gras
  • Kropatschek
  • Lebel
  • Berthier
  • RSC
  • MAS-36
  • MAS-40/44/49/56
  • FR-F1/2
  • FAMAS

Each chapter includes a history of the rifle’s development and its intended use, along with information concerning known variants, production numbers, markings, disassembly and mechanical operation, bayonets, and a history of deployment and combat use.

But this is not just a presentation of dry facts and data; the book is a synthesis of stories about the evolution of a nation’s armaments. It details the initial triumph of the Chassepot, follows along as it was let down by broader strategic failures, and chronicles its eventual resurrection as the Gras. It discusses the transformational Lebel rifle, with a heyday so bright, but so brief. The chameleon Berthier, changing forms over and over to meet the needs of the Republic from the days of the last heavy cavalry in shining armor, to the mechanized warfare of the Second World War. The mostly-forgotten RSC, the only mass-issued semiautomatic rifle of the Great War. The brilliant simplicity of the MAS 36, a rifle made too late to be appreciated, but which still gave rise to the FR-series of sniper rifles. The semiautomatic MAS rifles, so close to being ready in 1940, hurriedly hidden from the Germans, before being rebirthed as one of the most rugged and dependable battle rifles ever fielded. And, of course, the last standard bearer of the French small arms industry: the FAMAS bullpup rifle. 

The manuscript is generously illustrated with hundreds of full-colour photographs, and the book will be printed on beautiful photo-quality paper stock, and tastefully laid out in a contemporary style. The majority of photographs are the work of James Rupley, a respected firearms photographer known for his work on the Vickers Guide series of coffee table books. Chassepot to FAMAS is a handily sized hardcover edition, measuring some 10.25 × 7.75 inches (26 × 20 cm) and an anticipated 400 pages in length. It will be section-sewn and bound for increased durability and easier, flatter opening. The cover is to be finished with a premium material, with debossed details and gold foil. 

We are proud to say that the book will be printed in the United States of America.

Ian McCollum is the founder, editor, and presenter of Forgotten Weapons, a decade-old web site and video archive dedicated to preserving firearms history. He has built an audience of 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube, and provides daily mini-documentaries on the history and mechanics of interesting, unusual, and influential firearms. He is a Technical Advisor to the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners, a Researcher with Armament Research Services (ARES), and has collaborated with institutions including the Royal Armouries, the Defence Academy of the UK, Cody Firearms Museum, Dutch National Military Museum, and Danish War Museum as well as manufacturers including Heckler & Koch, Denel Land Systems, and Beretta.

McCollum is a founding partner of Headstamp Publishing, and has previously written for ARES, the Vickers Guide series, American Rifleman magazine, and Popular Mechanics Online. He has also appeared on several television programs and podcasts.

His particular area of focus has long been French small arms, and he has built a significant collection of French military rifles - many of which are featured in the book. The process of researching and writing took him to numerous private and state-owned collections both in the Unites States and Europe, as well as museums in France and elsewhere.

Author, Ian McCollum
Author, Ian McCollum

We are pleased to offer Chassepot to FAMAS in three beautiful Kickstarter editions. We are offering a Standard Edition, Signature Edition, and Collector's Limited Edition in an exclusive blue cover colourway which will only be available during the Kickstarter campaign. We will also have available a Retail Standard Edition of the book. you pre-order a copy of the standard red cover (Retail) version in conjunction with any other book offered during this Kickstarter, we will offer you a special reduced price–our way of saying thank you for supporting us. See the Add-on Retail Edition section, below.

Backers at all levels will be given access to Kickstarter updates which include exclusive behind-the-scenes content from Headstamp Publishing and Forgotten Weapons.

Standard Edition Book 

Standard Edition Book with Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
Standard Edition Book with Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover

Printed in the United States on premium quality paper to maximize the impact of James Rupley's phenomenal photography, our 'Standard' Edition is anything but! This Kickstarter-exclusive version of the Standard Edition features a blue cover designed especially for this campaign, which will only be available to our Kickstarter backers.

With opportunities to improve the quality of this edition through stretch goals, we hope you will join us in making this a revolutionary milestone in the quality of 'standard' firearms reference books.

Kickstarter Exclusive Price: $85 (savings of $10 off the post-Kickstarter price of $95) 

Signature Edition Book

Our Signature Edition Book is a Standard Edition which has been hand signed by the author, Ian McCollum. We find that an author's signature significantly increases the collectability and distinction of a book. Certainly, knowing that your Signature Edition Book ships to you by way of the author will add prestige. 

Kickstarter Exclusive Price: $105 (savings of $20 off the post-Kickstarter price of $125) 

Collector’s Limited Edition Book

Collector's Limited Edition in Clamshell Presentation Case
Collector's Limited Edition in Clamshell Presentation Case

Our Collector's Limited Edition is ideal for backers who want a presentation-grade addition to their reference library of fine books. At home in your study or den, Collector's Limited Editions include unique additional vellum pages and page edges gilt with gold. The first issue of Collector's Limited Edition books will be limited to 250 copies. 

Each copy is numbered and hand-signed by the author, and can be personalised (within reason) upon request. Personalised copies of the Collector's Limited Edition will only be available to Kickstarter backers. The book will be presented in a quality clamshell presentation case, to keep it safe for years to come.

Kickstarter Price: $250

Premium Gold Gilding of Page Edges on all Collector's Limited Edition Books
Premium Gold Gilding of Page Edges on all Collector's Limited Edition Books
Collector's Limited Edition Clamshell Presentation Case
Collector's Limited Edition Clamshell Presentation Case
Collector's Limited Edition in Clamshell Presentation Case
Collector's Limited Edition in Clamshell Presentation Case

* Please note that all designs are subject to change and revision based on final production requirements and preferences. 

We would like to offer all participating Kickstarter backers the option to add an additional standard Retail Edition of the book with red cover to their pre-order of any other edition of the book. The red cover will be the only available version of the Standard and Signature Editions after the close of the Kickstarter campaign. 

Retail Standard Edition with red cover.
Retail Standard Edition with red cover.


  This red cover Retail Edition is offered to backers for a very limited time for the discounted price of $75 (regular $95). *Limit one (1) per backer.

  To order a copy of the Retail Edition in addition to your Standard Edition (with KS exclusive blue cover), simply select the appropriate reward tier from the options at right. Double book bundles are available in combinations of signed and unsigned copies of both the Standard Edition and Retail Edition, as described. For those backers who wish to support us by purchasing a Collector's Edition, a Collector's Book Bundle is also offered. Mr. McCollum will also sign the Retail Edition of the book at no additional charge. 

  Ordering a Retail Edition will not delay the delivery of your Standard or Collector's Edition books. What's more, we will combine shipping with your other book, and we will ship to you at no additional charge. 

If you have already manually adjusted your pledge to add $75 for a retail edition, please now change your reward selection to the correct bundle. And, don't forget that the double signature edition is offered at a discounted price of just $200!  

Headstamp Publishing is a specialist publisher producing authoritative books on arms, munitions, and military history. Drawing on an extensive network of subject matter experts and unprecedented access to top-tier collections around the world, we aim to deliver best-in-class books, combining exceptional research and technical accuracy with the latest in high-quality production and photography techniques.

Headstamp Publishing was founded by N.R. Jenzen-Jones (Director, Armament Research Services), Ian McCollum (of Forgotten Weapons fame), and James Rupley (the Co-Founder and Creative Director of the popular Vickers Guide book series). We are committed to producing books that showcase world-class authors, technical specialists, photographers, and editors.

Pictured (Left to Right): N.R. Jenzen-Jones, Ian McCollum, James Rupley
Pictured (Left to Right): N.R. Jenzen-Jones, Ian McCollum, James Rupley

For more information about our leadership team, you can visit our website

We are aiming to take delivery of the Standard (including Retail) and Signed Standard Editions of the book no later than November 1, 2019, which will allow us to put books in the hands of our backers in time for the 2019 holiday period. Collector’s Editions could take a little longer, but we will keep our supporters apprised as we know more. 

The information age has allowed for the creation of books that earlier publishers could have only imagined. The advent of the internet, the networking of passionate subject matter specialists via social media, and the enabling of private researchers via platforms such as Patreon have all helped to push the boundaries of what is possible for a quality firearms reference book. At Headstamp Publishing, we believe that there is a valuable relationship to be struck between subject matter specialists and the community that they hope to serve. We want our readership to be involved in determining how we produce our books, and we want to reward the community for its support with early access, limited and exclusive editions, and behind-the-scenes content.

Let's not stop at our minimum funding goal! With increased backer participation and higher levels of support, we will be able to upgrade all books with these additional features.                    

The estimated shipping weight of the packaged book is 5 pounds. We will be able to ship orders within the United States via USPS Media Mail at a reasonable rate. However, some of you will undoubtedly notice that international shipping fees are substantial. We want to assure our backers that the international rates are our actual estimated costs, and we have not included any fluff for “handling”. We have been shipping other publications for years, and we base these rates on two primary factors. 

  1. We ship the vast majority of our international orders via FedEx International, which is an express shipping service that offers a higher standard of care than traditional national postal services. FedEx also provides our international backers with accurate tracking information. 
  2. The dimensions and weight of the book do not permit us to simply toss it in a padded envelope. We package our books with great care so that they can arrive to you in excellent condition. Proper packaging of the book increases the dimensions, and together with the significant weight of the book, combine for an unavoidably high shipping fee.

Please note that we will NOT charge increased shipping fees for orders of multiple books (up to 6 per customer). International customers should consider coming to an arrangement with friends or colleagues and ordering multiple books, thereby reducing the per unit shipping cost.

Additional shipping information can be found by clicking this link.

Risks and challenges

Although Headstamp Publishing is a new company, our principals all have extensive relevant experience. Ian has worked on dozens of research projects, James has published the successful Vickers Guide series of books and worked closely with printers and graphic designers for years, and Nic has written or edited hundreds of publications. All have held managerial positions in successful small businesses for more than a decade. Our leadership team is supported by a range of established subject matter experts, fact-checkers, editors, copy editors, proof-readers, and graphic designers.

This is not a speculative project. The book manuscript is complete, the items have been photographed and the photos prepared for print, and layout and final editing are proceeding on schedule. We have partnered with an established printer with decades of experience in printing high-quality books. At this stage, it is our great pleasure to offer the book for pre-order via Kickstarter.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 85 or more About US$ 85

    Standard Edition Book

    One copy of the Standard Edition Book with a Kickstarter-exclusive blue cover.

    Printed in the United States on premium quality paper to maximize the impact of James Rupley's phenomenal photography, our 'Standard' Edition is anything but! This Kickstarter-exclusive version features a blue cover designed especially for this campaign, which is only available to our Kickstarter backers. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
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    Signature Edition Book

    One copy of the Standard Edition Book with a Kickstarter-exclusive blue cover. Your book will be hand-signed by the author, Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons.

    Printed in the United States on premium quality paper to maximize the impact of James Rupley's phenomenal photography, our 'Standard' Edition is anything but! This Kickstarter-exclusive version features a blue cover designed especially for this campaign, which is only available to our Kickstarter backers. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
    • Author's Signature
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    Blue + Red Standard Bundle

    One copy of the Standard Edition book with a Kickstarter-exclusive blue cover + one copy of the Retail Standard Edition book with red cover.

    Printed in the United States on premium quality paper to maximize the impact of James Rupley's phenomenal photography, our 'Standard' Edition is anything but! This Kickstarter-exclusive version features a blue cover designed especially for this campaign, which is only available to our Kickstarter backers. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
    • Additional Retail Edition of the Standard Book with Red Cover
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    Pledge US$ 180 or more About US$ 180

    Signature + Retail Bundle

    One copy of the Standard Edition book with a Kickstarter-exclusive blue cover + one copy of the Retail Standard Edition book with red cover. The Standard Edition book with blue cover will be hand-signed by the author, Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons. The Retail Standard Edition book, with red cover, will be unsigned.

    Printed in the United States on premium quality paper to maximize the impact of James Rupley's phenomenal photography, our 'Standard' Edition is anything but! This Kickstarter-exclusive version features a blue cover designed especially for this campaign, which is only available to our Kickstarter backers. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
    • Author's Signature
    • Additional Retail Edition of the Standard Book with Red Cover
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    Double Signature Edition Bundle

    One copy of the Standard Edition book with a Kickstarter-exclusive blue cover + one copy of the Retail Standard Edition book with red cover. Both books will be hand-signed by the author, Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons.

    Printed in the United States on premium quality paper to maximize the impact of James Rupley's phenomenal photography, our 'Standard' Edition is anything but! This Kickstarter-exclusive version features a blue cover designed especially for this campaign, which is only available to our Kickstarter backers. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
    • Author's Signature
    • Additional Retail Edition of the Standard Book with Red Cover
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Collector's Limited Edition Book

    One copy of the Collector's Limited Edition book in its clamshell presentation case. Each copy is numbered and hand-signed by the author, and can be personalised (within reason) upon request.

    Our Collector's Limited Edition is ideal for backers who want a presentation-grade addition to their reference library of fine books. At home in your study or den, Collector's Limited Editions include unique additional vellum pages and page edges gilt with gold. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
    • Author's Signature
    • Personalized Message by Author
    • Clamshell Presentation Case
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    Collector's Book Bundle

    One copy of the Collector's Limited Edition in its clamshell presentation case PLUS a Retail Standard Edition of the book with a red cover. The Collector's Limited Edition will be numbered and hand-signed by the author, and can be personalised (within reason) upon request. The Retail Standard Edition will also be signed.

    This bundle is ideal for the consummate collector. Keep this second book for yourself to complete the collection or give it as a gift! The Retail Standard Edition book is offered in this bundle at the discounted price of $75. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
    • Author's Signature
    • Personalized Message by Author
    • Clamshell Presentation Case
    • Additional Retail Edition of the Standard Book with Red Cover
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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    MEGA Collector's Book Bundle

    One copy of the Collector's Limited Edition in its clamshell presentation case PLUS a Retail Standard Edition of the book with a red cover PLUS an additional Kickstarter Exclusive Standard Edition with blue cover. The Collector's Limited Edition will be numbered and hand-signed by the author, and can be personalized (within reason) upon request. Both the extra Retail Standard Edition with red cover and the Kickstarter Standard Edition with blue cover will also be signed.

    This bundle is ideal for the consummate collector. Keep the second and third books for yourself to complete the collection or give as gifts! Each additional book is offered in this bundle at the discounted price of $75. You will also receive access to backer updates, and behind-the-scenes video and other content.

    Includes:
    • Backer Updates
    • Behind the Scenes Videos
    • Kickstarter Exclusive Blue Cover
    • Author's Signature
    • Personalized Message by Author
    • Clamshell Presentation Case
    • Additional Retail Edition of the Standard Book with Red Cover
    • Additional Kickstarter Exclusive Standard Book with Blue Cover
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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 55 backers
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Funding period

- (31 days)