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A Gun For Napoleon’s Nephew


Gastinne Renette, the premier arms maker in Paris during the 1860s, designed a special carbine for Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Emperor Napoleon III. This elaborately engraved .50-caliber breechloader is lever-activated and features a side-mounted hammer that cocks an unusual internal firing-pin mechanism. Napoleon III became the first president of France in 1848; he was also its last monarch, staging a coup with supporters in 1851 to establish an authoritarian empire. His capture in 1870 at Sedan by German Gen. Otto von Bismarck marked the end of his regime. Once housed in the Musee De L’Armee collection, located in the same building as Napoleon’s tomb in Paris, the carbine was removed during the German occupation of Paris in World War II. This unique carbine is now on loan to the National Firearms Museum from Mark Rendina.

The National Firearms Museum blends history and arms in extensive galleries that span the centuries and showcases thousands of guns. Open daily at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., the museum’s galleries can be viewed online at For more information, call (703) 267-1600 or e-mail