This particular rifle was owned by my father for many years, and it was he who obtained this dozen rounds of ammo for it. He tried half-heartedly for many years to trade it off, as he had little respect for the gun. In fact, in a 1969 edition of the book "Single Shot Rifles and Actions," noted authority Frank de Haas said, "There are still a lot of Flobert rifles around today and most of them are still junk." That said, however, de Haas did call this Warnant model "the best and final improvement on the Flobert action."
The gun we've been talking about here has an octagonal steel barrel which measures 24.5 inches from muzzle to rear of chamber, and which measures an average 0.87 inch across the flats. Overall length of the gun, from muzzle to toe of butt, is 40.5 inches. The unloaded gun weighs 6.496 pounds.
This rifle is chambered in .32 rimfire, which isn't a very useful cartridge. In its day, the "long" version of the 32 rimfire was fair-to-middling for hunting small game at short range as its low energy didn't ruin a lot of meat, but its comparatively large caliber allowed clean kills on smaller animals. Beyond about 50 yards, however, it wasn't very useful, being a low-powered round firing a bullet that dropped rapidly below the gun's line of sight.
Around 1932, the Flobert finally faded away from the American marketplace. It had made money for a number of gunmakers (mostly Belgian), but its time was past. The action isn't strong enough to use with modern smokeless loadings, and most rimfire cartridges were obsolete (or close to it) by that time.
Most Floberts, like the one in this article, were proofed for black powder, which is quite corrosive, so most of them suffered from neglect. Black powder residue begins to corrode steel almost immediately, so prompt and thorough cleaning after shooting is necessary to stem its effects - and most shooters simply don't do that.
This rifle resided with my father for many years, and later spent some time in my own safe. It was eventually traded off, with a tiny pang of regret and a large sense of relief that I had managed to do what Dad had not - which was to swap it for something more useful. I just know that wherever Dad was, and whatever angelic business he might have been up to, the knowledge of that trade brought a smile to his face.
- Russ Chastain