This bugle is approximately the same size as the baritone bugle except with a somewhat wider bell, and it uses a standard orchestral or band french horn mouthpiece. It gained much popularity in the 1950s as a bridge between the higher and lower bugle voices, and lent a distinct and memorable, ethereal tone to musical passages. Because it is limited in its ability to produce great volumes of power in its middle ranges, some drum and bugle corps phased out french horn bugles in the later 1960s in favor of the newer mellophone bugles, though the french horns survived longer in use than the baritone bugles did.
Changes in junior corps marching style, beginning in the mid-1980s, made playing the bell-front french horn particularly difficult with its small mouthpiece. Currently, few junior DCI corps incorporate this instrument in their brass sections although they are still in use in other circuits in North America and beyond.