BUG Match with a 98-Year-Old 6.35mm Le Français

Today I’m at the BackUp Gun Match in Tucson with a first model Le Français made in 1923. This is an early French semiauto pistol design intended for pocket carry. It has a 7-round magazine and a tip-up barrel, so that one need not ever manually rack the slide. It’s very compact, very light, and surprisingly accurate…although the 6.35mm (.25 ACP) caliber does leave a lot to be desired.


  1. “(…)although the 6.35mm (.25 ACP) caliber does leave a lot to be desired.(…)”
    Yet, it was all the rage in dawn of 20th century Europe. It was so popular than revolver, mimicking appearance of Browning pocket automatic pistols were made for that cartridge
    This allowed having newfangled look for users which wished such one, but not trusting in automatic pistol mechanism.

    • My favorite story about .25 Auto was the guy who had a sinus obstruction, one day, and finally worked it out, sneezing a .25 Auto bullet into his Kleenex. He could not, for the life of him, work out where it had come from, until he remembered a mugging where he’d thought he’d been sucker-punched from the side. Said attempted mugging resulted in him beating the ever-loving snot out of the guy who initiated things, and leaving it at that.

      What he figured was that he’d missed the bullet hole in among all the contusions and other damage he’d picked up in the course of the fight, and since he never went to the hospital or had a head X-ray in the time since, he’d just never noticed it. A follow-up with his doctor showed that there was something on the X-ray of his skull that looked a lot like a healed bullet hole just above his cheekbone…

      Friends don’t let friends carry .25 Auto caliber pistols into life-or-death situations. It likely won’t end well. I can only imagine the dismay on the part of the shooter that scored a ten-ring shot on this guy, and then had the signal experience of having his victim turn on him and beat him down with bare fists. And, having actually met the guy this happened to, I can only think that the idiot who shot him was suicidal–Picture a Cape Buffalo in human form, only with a nastier disposition when provoked. I don’t know what his genetic heritage included, but it looked to be at least a good chunk of Afro-Samoan mixed with something from Scandinavia. He was not a small man–His upper arms were bigger around than my thigh, and I’m not built on a small scale, either.

      Whole time I’m hearing this story, I’m thinking “Yeah, I think I’d want something a bit bigger than a pocket pistol… Like, maybe an elephant gun…”.

      • Then again we had a murder where criminal 1 was chasing criminal 2. Criminal 2 had a .25 automatic. He turned as best he could while running, and fired once.

        He hit criminal 1 in the left eye and dropped him like a rock.

        56 measured yards from corpse to ejected casing. Neither of these anecdotes prove anything.I would rather have a .25 than my hands, which is sometimes the choice.

        • With a .25 Auto, you need to have either truly amazing luck or exquisite refinement in picking where to hit. You take the risk of really angering your target, which can be seriously detrimental to your health.

          I doubt that the guy I’m talking about would have shrugged off the same sort of hit from a 9mm Parabellum.

          It’s kinda like the old elephant hunter, Karamojo Bell. He made 7X57 Mauser an elephant gun, but he did so by careful, precise placement of his shots. If you or I tried that…? Odds are, we’d end up a thin red paste somewhere nearby where we fired at that elephant from.

          I mean, it’s doable, but… I’d rather have a bit more authority behind what I’m shooting at the bad guys, and .25 Auto ain’t got the authority necessary. Some of the newer loadings aren’t as bad as the old FMJ rounds, but… Even so, it’s like going hunting polar bear with a .32-20 Winchester Center Fire. Which is something my stepdad claimed to have participated in, unwillingly, fired out of a superannuated Model 1873 that had been reduced to single-shot capacity (no magazine spring or follower…) and which had to have a boot applied to the lever in order to open or close it… The Alaskan native who’d invited him along on the hunt got his bear, but… Yeah. I’d have been a bit less sanguine than my stepdad was about the whole thing.

          There’s a lot of stuff you can do, which isn’t necessarily stuff you should do. Self-defense with a .25 is one of them, in my book. I’ll make room for the 9mm, thankyouverymuch…

          • Well, how about shooting someone in the liver with an entire M9A1 magazine’s worth of 9mm Parabellum at bad breath distance? NOBODY should survive that!!

          • “(…)Odds are(…)”
            Important thing to discern is statistical view from pessimistic view, i.e. what will most probably happen from what would be in worst case.
            Take for example Willis V. Meadors case https://alanehunter.com/tag/willis-v-meadors/
            Shooter firing Minié ball and hitting eye might supposed recipient will be dead, however in this case he survived and lived yet 64 years.

          • I heard a story along the same lines. A guy I used to work with said he witnessed a shooting in a bar between a small guy and a big guy that was some sort of body builder. The small guy shot the big guy in the sternum with a 25acp and the bullet just got stuck in the sternum and didn’t go any farther. I believed this story till I bought a used Beretta 950. I was shooting it along with a 22 rifle at a 60’era steel refrigerator vegetable tray. The 22 only went through one side of the tray and dented the other side. I later decided to shoot the 950 and I turned the tray up and leaned it against a oak pallet that was used as a target board. The 50grn ball went through the pan and then 3, 1/2in boards on the pallet and logged into the dirt. After seeing this I really questioned the validity of his story. The bad thing about 25acp is the cost of the ammo. At the time I could shoot a 45acp for the same price but get 22lr performance. I later owned a 21 bobcat in 22lr but the 950 is a slimmer pocket pistol.

          • Yeah, the same guy (who suffers from goldfish memory syndrome) did also got hit in the gut, and was puzzled one day after “no.2”, what was bullet doing in his big steaming pile of shit.
            But he was lucky, imagine what would have happened if his adversary was throwing dud hand grenades at him, that he accidentaly catched with his big, loud mouth and swallowed (since they were coated with peanut butter as elaborate disguise)

        • “NOBODY should survive that!!”(C)
          And if they had hit him with an atomic bomb, nothing would have remained of him at all. LOL
          In the relevant literature, numerous cases of head injuries have been reported.
          (Including, from 9mm, Including, with brain damage), after which the victim not only survived, but also did not receive serious damage to his health.

          Not too often, but quite regularly, people are injured by various .177 caliber bullets.
          With a sufficiently powerful weapon, lethal cases are not uncommon, let alone exclusivity.

          The main problem with these tiny .25 pistols is NOT the power of the ammunition, but poor ergonomics, which does not allow for an accurate shot.
          This is especially clearly demonstrated by the Browning M1906 pistols and its followers.

    • Before antibiotics, pistol rounds were seemingly much more effective as psychological deterrents, as a lingering painful death was a real possibility if gut shot. Today, most pistol bullets are merely a handy substitute for a long, rather spindly spear.

  2. In .3ACP it would have been perfect! The “Centennial” of pocket auto-loaders. Reminds me of the Seecamp, albeit more accurate. The French have made some great guns.

      • There really isn’t much about the Type Armee’ in 9 x 20SR that’s any stranger than the FN M1903 Grand Model, or the PM and its kin in 9 x 18 Makarov.

        In each case, the gun is a straight blowback chambering a round that is about as strenuous in terms of breech pressure as is generally considered safe in an unlocked breech system.

        All three are in the same energy ballpark in terms of foot-pounds as the American .38 Special or .38 S&W revolver cartridges.

        And again in each case, hitting a man with a 9mm or so bullet delivering from 200 to 260 FPE in the center chest is generally enough to “neutralize” him. Whether or not he survives the experience is rather irrelevant.

        It’s interesting to note that a century and quarter ago, there were three automatic pistol cartridges that encompassed the ballistic performance of the three other cartridges accepted as “man-stoppers” since then.

        The 9 x 20SR aka 9mm Browning Long performed roughly like a .38 Special.

        The 9 x 19mm aka 9mm Parabellum performed roughly like the .45 ACP.

        And the 9 x 23mm aka 9mm Largo aka 9mm Bergmann-Bayard Long performed very much like a .357 Magnum.

        This doesn’t even include the 9 x 25mm aka 9mm Mauser, which performed exactly like a fairly hot .357 Magnum load. In a submachine gun, no less.

        The 9mm autopistol rounds had out-evolved their competitors before World War One, and even today people are still unaware of that fact.



  3. I remember reading a long time ago, that agents on both sides in divided Berlin liked the Baby Browning .25, tiny, and so common that you could chuck it into the storm drain and deny it

  4. I bought a .22 Beretta instead of a .25, because I thought I’d practice with it more. I was right, and in some situations, not many, it’s a very handy, accurate little gun. Easier to shoot accurately than a similar sized .380 for sure. YMMV.

  5. I remember in the 60’s Time magazine reported an attempted mugging /murder attempt on a chap I think in Chicogo. The article featured an xray of the chaps skull with more then 5 bullets in it.The amazing thing was that he was still walking around with just a bad head

  6. I thought with French pistols caliber and reliability were of less importance than cost. No one likes to surrender an expensive weapon to a German soldier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.