Chatellerault Experimental SMGs: MAC48 & 48LS

Continuing our look at the French submachine gun designs from the Chatellerault Arsenal, today we have the MAC48 and MAC48LS (lightened and simplified). In the development program that would eventually lead to adoption of the MAT-49, Chatellerault began with a couple of very light delayed blowback designs in 1947 ( When those were rejected, they turned to a style of gun more influenced by the Sten and M3 Grease Gun in 1948.

The regular MAC48 used a wooden fixed stock and pistol grip, and was chambered for 9x19mm, using MP40 magazines (France did not have its own standard 9mm SMG magazine at this point, and MP40 magazines were plentiful). The bolt is clearly derived from a Sten, and the gun is heavier than the 1947 models but also much less complex.

A second pattern was the MAC48LS, a lighter and even simpler version of the design. This used a removable cover at the rear of the receiver for disassembly, and replaced the wooden stock with a telescoping wire stock like the American M3. It also brought back the folding magazine well, which the MAC48 did not have. This pattern is starting to get fairly close to the final design that was adopted (although it would be a Tulle design, not a Chatellerault one).

There were a few other variations on the MAC48 pattern, including a long barreled one with a bipod, and a version with twin triggers to allow semiauto fire – unfortunately we don’t have access to either of those today.

Many thanks to the French IRCGN (Criminal Research Institute of the National Gendarmerie) for generously giving me access to film these unique specimens for you!


  1. Ian:
    This is Ralph Wong. You know me. Like you to contact me as I have an interesting gun that might interest you.
    Thanks, Ralph

  2. Does the grip safety on these guns lock the bolt in place?

    I was watching a video by the Chap on the Range recently about the MAT 49. He said the grip safety on that piece just locked the bolt in place when it was forward, to stop bolt bounce, but it did not act as safety when the bolt was retracted. The only real safety was the folding magazine.

    I was rather surprised by this, as I had always assumed that the grip safety on the MAT 49 did what every other grip safety does, ie make the weapon safe, but I do appreciate that the French have their own views on most things.

  3. “(…)version with twin triggers(…)”
    Photo of this variant can be seen at's%20World%20SMGs.html as MAC Mle 1948

    “(…)MAC48LS, a lighter and even simpler version(…)”
    Above site name that MAC Mle 1948 L.S. which suggest two last letters are acronym, what is their meaning? Also it claims that it was taken into limited service which raise question how long it was in use and how many examples were made?

    “(…)France did not have its own standard 9mm SMG magazine at this point, and MP40 magazines were plentiful(…)” claims that The aluminum foregrips are post war and were made by the French. France used the MP40 for their troops in the fifties and early sixties (for example in the Indo China/Vietnam war). At that point in time it was more ecomomical to manufacture these foregrips with aluminum.
    So now I wonder if French actually seized know-how of MP40 magazine procurement and were able to make them or they did just used existing stock?

    • RE the “LE” suffix, Thomas Nelson claims it stood for “Lightened & Simplified” (which in French would be Leger, Simplifié), though I’m not sure how accurate this is.

      Reportedly a few of these were distributed for field trials in French Indochina, along with the MAS Mle 48 and the MAT Mle 49 (the latter of which was obviously adopted).

    Recently I learned that U.S. forces are adopting not-light-tank M10.
    If I understand correctly it is named after Booker, who was recipient of Medal of Honor, though I am confused if he was killed in action in 1943 xor 2003?
    Also, I understand is not light tank due to not being made for reconnaissance I wonder why it count as Combat Vehicle (which I assume is pun intended at Stridsfordon 90) rather than Gun Motor Carriage?

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