Le Français .32ACP Pistol (Video)

The Le Français was a staple of Manufrance production, being first designed in 1912 and produced until the late 1960s. This example is in .32ACP caliber, which was only made for the commercial market in the 1950s and 60s (after the cartridge was out of service with the French military and thus civilian-legal). It has a number of unusual features, including a mainspring in the grip frame with a bellcrank to operate the slide, a tip-up barrel, and full double-action-only trigger.

These were made in a multitude of variations, from .25ACP up to 9mm Parabellum, for civilian, police, and military purposes. Despite a significant total production, not many have made it to the United States, and the majority that did were very small .25ACP types.

88 Comments

  1. Will research all Nations that don’t have a U.S.A. equivalent of the 2nd Amendment, yet don’t trust their citizens to local armory calibers. What REALLY went on in the U.K. when they expected an invasion from Germans in occupied France, bicycle factories making STENs or STEN parts, yet couldn’t sell a common military cartridge to defend the King and Queen?

    • Check out the book I mentioned by Josserand & Stevenson. They go into considerable detail about how Britain had to scrounge for small arms in 1940. When a British soldier mentioned doing beach patrol with “a Pony Colt and two cartridges”, he was referring to a Colt Model P in .32-20 WCF.

      The British “last minute procurement” approach wouldn’t be practical today. Invasions are entirely too fast and easy. Even across oceans.

      If your “Local Defense Volunteers” don’t already have their own arms when the balloon goes up, you’re SOL.

      Switzerland gets it. I think the rest of Europe is learning it, and like most such lessons, the tuition isn’t coming cheap.

      cheers

      eon

      • Switzerland is the only European nation where the armed forces do not historically derive from a royal entourage of professional mercenaries, gun thugs, and virtuosos of violence and mayhem. So “Switzerland gets it” is due to a militia tradition, along with the fact that it is ruggedly mountainous and, prior to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, dirt poor and relatively unimportant. Ditto Finland, I suppose, although it was long a buffer between Sweden and Russia, hence not geographically unimportant.

        France has long had a right-wing–even royalist–professional military at odds with the Republic in its various iterations. Attempts to somehow “democratize” things alarmed the army officer caste, or, counter-intuitively, exalted militarism and nationalism and “dulce et decorum est pro patria morir” since if every young lad has to pull three or even four years in the army while zee Ghermans next door can be much, much more selective in who gets called up, then obligatory military service has to be made, erm, “sexy.”

        Judging from the fate of those “Local Defense Volunteers” militia or Home Guards that didn’t shelter behind the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, or a warren of sophisticated bunkers and forts and actually faced enemy invasion, I should qualify your statement to read: “If fighting devolves to a local defense organization or militia, you’re pretty much already SOL.”

    • One of my grandfathers who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WW 1, until the day he died, loathed the British. When he was discharged from service at the end of the conflict, he was offered the purchase of his weapon, 1903 Springfield, that he had carried from Paris Island, to France, and back. Although money was quite scarce, he purchased his beloved 1903, just in case the Germans wanted to fight once again. When Britain evacuated the continent after Dunkirk, they asked for ANYTHING that could shoot. Since “Pop” saw his 1903 to have been made to fight Germans, he took it down to the customs house on Canal Street to be shipped to Britain for the duration and RETURNED upon the cessation of hostilities. I still have the receipt for the weapon, along with its promise of return. The war ended and the British decided that the weapons were dangerous and dumped them into the sea. My grandfather wrote many letter requesting the return of the weapon. Until the day he died, he NEVER forgave the Brits and said that he wished that they had been “stewed in their own juices, au natural”! I can never forgive the Brits either. If they are that stupid, timid, and weak, maybe evolution dictates that they are an evolutionary dead end.

      • “the British decided that the weapons were dangerous and dumped them into the sea”
        Rather short-sighted (speaking mildly) decision considering rising of Cold War.
        Back in 1930s Stalin predicates that main part of future war will be combat between Great Britain and Soviet Union. In dictatorship states dictators and/or high officials dictates weapons development, so Stalin directed development of soviet aeroplanes to anti-British designs. That its why, Soviet Union posses in 1941 some aeroplanes ill-suited to fight with Nazi Germany – Il-2-one-seater (Soviet intelligence reported about British fighter armament: only rifle-caliber machine guns, but ground forces having many AA guns, so rear-gunner was unnecessary), MiG-3 high-altitude fighter (performed poorly in low-altitude fights)

        • Also, allegedly, when B-29 was captured by Soviet Union, Stalin called Tupolev:
          Stalin: How many time you need to copy that aeroplane?
          Tupolev: In 2 year I can do aeroplane better than that.
          Stalin: You have to copy exactly this aeroplane. If any part will differ you will be arrested.

          • Yeah. Actually, the slavish copy of the B29 went to the extremes that the Soviets even copied tha patch in the fuselage… Tupolev 4 copied all 105,000 parts exactly. See Eric Schlosser, Command and Control (NY: Penguin, 2013). 86.

          • Engines, defensive armament and the gun aiming system were not copies (Soviet electronics industry could not mass produce the then state-of-the-art radar control system). All parts had to be converted to metric, which sometimes necessitated changes in thicknesses of materials etc. So 100% copy it was not in the end, even if that was Stalin’s original order.

      • abaca

        No, I possess the original receipt stamped by United States Customs and countersigned by a British official stationed at that time at The Old US Costoms House on Canal Street, built under Gen. Longstreet as the chief customs inspector. The signed and stamped receipt was for a LOAN lasting the duration of hostilities and for return thereafter. NOTHING is more lying then The Perfidious Albion.

    • The British never had the military calibre nonsense. The French are winding it back a lot now, too.

      @LG, can you think of the logistical nightmare pre-computers of identifying individual arms that were supposedly to be returned? ISTR there were calls for *donations* of arms, never for *loans*. Someone, possibly the US customs, lied to your old man. But never let that get in the way of a bit of irrational nationalistic hatred, eh?

      • abaca

        Even if the original weapon could not be located, were lost, or irreparably damaged, an HONEST individual would replace and repay the LOAN. The Brits had stacks of US arms after the war. The LOAN could have been at least seemingly repaid with another similar weapon or captured war booty, a similar German weapon. To DENY the LOAN and be told that it is too dangerous to replay the LOAN with NO attempt at compensation save for scorn and snobbery is a cant pure and simple. Perfidious Albion has never and will never change its ways. I am just glad that NONE of my relatives died trying to protect them.

        • LG:

          America declared war on Japan when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Three days later Hitler declared war on the USA. Germany and Japan were America’s enemies as much as Britain’s, you were fighting for your own country and her interests.

          I am sorry your grandfather was conned out of his rifle, though I expect it was actually used by the Home Guard during the war, and the subsequent dumping of those weapons freely lent after the war was a sordid scandal. But it’s time to let it go and not stir up hatred of America’s best and closest ally over this one incident.

          • No. The receipt is dated PRE 7 Decemver 1941. The LOAN was dated 1940. Sicilians know the difference between a loan and a gift. Neither do they forget. Perfidious Albion does not want to distinguish “lend lease” from other debts, most of which they never paid back. Revenge is a dish best served cold. “Pop’s” father hired many prisoners of war to work in the cane field during the United States inclusion in WW2. Most all the prisoners he liked. The Brits were a different category.

          • LG:

            I am truly sorry your grandfather’s rifle was not returned to him, but I do not think the entire population of the UK is deserving of your hatred over this. Let it go.

          • Yes, you are correct, I should really let it go away. It is hard to control the Sicilian genes. I should narrow the loathing to the political and moral intelligencia of England. I should not really include Scotland and Ireland with perfidious Albion. Besides, the Irish were neutral in the war.

          • LG:

            “I should narrow the loathing to the political and moral intelligencia of England.”

            That is something we can agree on!

          • Britain has devolved into a “Monty Python” skit on endless repeat, while the U.S. in the past seven years has degenerated into a bad “Family Guy” joke in an infinite loop.

      • abaca
        Perfidious Albion had an ever worse military caliber nonsense. With the revolt in the then Northern Indian territories, “Great” Britian did outlaw 45 caliber weapons. That is why so many variations on the 450 shell casing. The Brits did not want any 45 caliber rounds out there that could be thrown against them. Thus large numbers of British medium to large bore calibers came into being.

  2. One small correction. The heaviest caliber version of the Le Francais, the “Type Armee'”, was in 9 x 20SR aka 9mm Browning Long, not 9 x 19mm. While it could chamber and fire 9 x 19mm, it probably wasn’t a good idea, pressure-wise.

    The .32 caliber is a curious hybrid. It is built on a slightly-shortened (vertically) Type Armee’ frame, but the short-looking grips are those of the .25 ACP “Modele’ a Poche”. This is the reason that “gap” between the bottom of the grips and the bottom of the frame is there.

    The Le Francais-type system of spring-driven bell-crank recoil unit plus straight blowback, no extractor, and tip-up barrel is also found on some of the smaller Berettas, notably the Model 20 .25 ACP.

    The bell-cranked recoil spring was also used on the experimental Mauser HSv 9 x 19mm pistol, that lost out to the Walther HP (P.38) in the German Army pistol trial of 1937.

    Sources;

    The Handgun by Geoffrey Boothroyd. (Boothroyd was the real-life original of “The Armorer” in the James Bond novel Dr. No by Ian Fleming.)

    Pistols, Revolvers, and Ammunition by Michel H. Josserand and Jan Stevenson. (A very useful book generally, but especially for the chapter about French firearms regulations and legislation up to about 1970.)

    cheers

    eon

  3. Excellent video, as usual — thank you.

    There is another version, called “The Policeman”, also chambered in 7.65mm Browning/.32 ACP, that was offered for sale last year at LSB Auctions. The post has a lot of interesting additional information on this particular model, which, unlike the Armee version shown here, did not have provision for automatically unlocking and tipping up the barrel when the magazine was removed ( it could only be be done manually via the lever on the right side ).

    Apart from a couple of typographical errors ( “Aimee” instead of “Armee”, and 7.62mm instead of 7.65mm ), the detailed description seems pretty accurate and informative. Here is the link if anyone is interested:

    http://www.lsbauctions.com/4145/rare-manufrance-model-le-francais-the-policeman-tip-up-pistol-blue-3-14-semi-automatic-pistol-mfd-circa-1964-cr/.

    • I don’t believe “Manu arms” had much, if anything, to do with the original Manufrance, which went belly up already in 1986. Today the “Manufrance” brand (http://www.manufrance.fr/) lives on as a web shop, but they no longer sell firearms. I don’t know if the French law permits selling of firearms via postal/courier delivery.

      • In fact, MAS (Manufacture d’Armes de St Etienne), Manufacture d’Armes et Cycles de St Etienne, Manufrance, Manuarmes and Verney Carron are all pretty much the same manufacturer.

        MAS was a state owned society (there are others, like MAT (T stands for Tulle), MAC (Chatellerault), etc.) which nevertheless produced arms of the Manufrance and Manuarmes under its own name. Verney Carron was created as a branch of the group Manufrance and is today a seperate maker which nevertheless keeps tight links to Manufrance.

        Manufrance still have a workshop in St Etienne which is still in activity and produce high-end hunting rifles.

  4. Why did that simple flip-up barrel design not become more common? It is an easy way to safely store a handgun, and clean it.

    • Quite a number of handguns (for example, many Berettas) had flip up barrels. They went out of fashion, I guess, because most handguns either need a moving barrel for a Browning-style locking system, or wind the mainspring around the barrel for a Walther PPK-style system.

    • A limiting factor with tip-up barrels would probably be the difficulty in adapting them to anything but blow-back action. That limits the power of the cartridges that can be used and/or increases the felt recoil or slide mass in cartridges 9mm and larger.

      • True if you consider only straight (or pure) blow-back principle of pure.
        But there are various delayed (or retarded) blow-back design allow to have powerful cartridge AND stationary (or fixed) barrel, when more popular with bigger weapons (automatic rifles, machine guns) it can be also applied to automatic pistol as seen in Heckler & Koch P9 (roller-delayed, as in MG42)

        • MG42 is short recoil operated and roller-locked. The locking is positive, so it’s not a delayed or retarded blowback action. Roller-delayed action guns would include the StG 45(M), G3 and MP5.

          Delayed blowback is actually very rare in machine guns, although fairly common in rifles. The only delayed blowback action machine gun of any historical significance was the Schwarzlose with its toggle-delayed action.

          • Sorry, I forgot the Fiat-Revelli M14 and its successor M35, which utilized a rather weird recoil-delayed blowback action. It did not have a stationary barrel, though.

          • “The only delayed blowback action machine gun of any historical significance was the Schwarzlose with its toggle-delayed action.”
            What about French AA-52 machine gun?
            http://world.guns.ru/machine/fr/aat-mod52-e.html
            states it use
            uses a modified delayed blowback action originally designed by PalKiraly before WW2.
            Does AA-52 have stationary barrel?

          • Daweo:

            Yes, the AAT52 has a stationary barrel, the bipod is attached to it, so you would have to call it delayed blowback. I am hoping Ian will be able to look at one of Pal Kiraly’s lever delayed designs one day.

  5. It’s possible that the reason for the tip-up barrel had to do with safety and standard military handling procedures. It would be normal for military personnel to unload their pistols and remove the magazines at the end of each day or duty shift, in which case the automatic tip-up of the barrel would make it more difficult to skip checking to see if there was a round n the chamber. If the pistols were stored with the barrel tipped up, the would be even more safe. The magazine safety in the Browning Hi-Power for example was added as a military safety requirement.

    I haven’t seen anyone cite the manufacturer’s documents to see where the idea of loading an individual round into the chamber originated. However, the fact that the spring clip for the extra round is in the military version but not the commercial market version again suggests this was a military requirement.

    One of the problems with military as opposed to civilian use is that the pistols are carried, loaded, and unloaded daily, but fired rarely. If the round from the chamber is returned to the magazine and then reloaded via operating the slide, the bullet can get set back slightly each time into the cartridge case, resulting in the charge and void getting compressed. Users of other pistols would often rotate the rounds in the magazines so the same one wasn’t getting reloaded into the chamber each time. However, if you are loading and unloading the chamber manually, then this problem doesn’t arise.

    By the way, I understand that the reason France (and other countries) ban (or did ban) civilian possession of military calibres had to do with their universal military service system. Because everyone from youth to middle age received military training and was in the military reserve and liable for call up upon mobilization, there were lots of poorly guarded armouries all over the country holding the infantry mobilization weapons. These armouries were popular targets for terrorists. However, by storing the ammunition in a different place from the weapons, and not having the ammunition available on the commercial market, this reduced the attraction of knocking over armouries. This may seem odd to Americans, but the US hasn’t had the same recent history of violent insurrection and terrorism which many European countries had.

    • The practice of not storing ammunition with the weapons also prevents the likeliness that an accident involving fire will blow up everything in one night. And one should never keep the car keys in the car, just like you said.

    • “However, the fact that the spring clip for the extra round is in the military version but not the commercial market version again suggests this was a military requirement.”
      According to http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg/fr/le-francais-e.html Le Français in 9x20mm Browning Long was considered by French Army, but not adopted due to awkward handling if dud cartridge: tip-up barrel, remove dud cartridge with ram-rod, chamber new cartridge manually – this is very time-consuming with other automatic pistols (rack)

      “By the way, I understand that the reason France (and other countries) ban (or did ban) civilian possession of military calibres”
      How it works in France, banned cartridge are that are:
      a) are in current military service in France
      b) are in current military service of any state
      c) are or were in military service in France
      d) are or were in military service of any state

      “not having the ammunition available on the commercial market”
      From .450 Nitro Express query in Wikipedia:
      In 1907 the British Army banned all .450 calibre sporting rifles and ammunition from importation into India and East Africa, the two major destinations for .450 NE rifles and ammunition. Whist the .450 NE cartridge could not be loaded into a Martini–Henry rifle, it was feared the bullets could be pulled and used to reload expended .577/.450 cartridges.
      This spawns some substitue-450 Nitro Express cartridges (see .470 Nitro Express for example)

      See also Greener police gun Mark III designed specifically to fire ONLY special 14 gauge ammunition.

      • “special 14 gauge ammunition”
        See photos here: http://www.municion.org/greener/12-14Police.htm
        Notice the groove in base, according to Modern Firearms:
        To further complicate illegal use of its police shotgun, Greener provided its Mark III guns with trident-shaped strikers. Greener police shells had grooved base and recessed primers, and attempt to fire any commercially available shell from Greener gun would fail every time as the side projections of the striker would hit the flat base of the shell, stopping the central part (the firing pin itself) before it can reach the primer.

      • re. Military ammunition control.
        A similar thing was imposed in the United States during the American Indian Wars era.
        It became a requirement for the troopers to go around and crush flat any empty shells left behind after a skirmish. This was to prevent scavenging empty brass from the battlefield and reloading it for later use. It became a court-martial offense for troopers to fail to do this since it was “aiding the enemy.”

      • Dawes. You are correct with the British legislation on 45 caliber rounds and weapons. Today the 470 NE, 450-400 NE, etc. originate from subjects ,minions of the king, and not from citizens.

  6. The ban on military calibres in France dates back to the mid 1930s when Communist and Fascist groups were fighting battles on the streets of major cities. The ban included all calibres in use by the French forces including such antiques as the 11mm Gras and the 11mm M1873 revolver ctg which were still on issue.
    The ban in India also included .303″ arms which BSA answered by producing Lee rifles in 8×50 R cal.

  7. So Beretta (apparently) borrowed not just the tip up barrel idea, but the idea of locating the recoil spring in the handgrip of a pistol. Granted the Beretta, 950 e.g., uses a wound spring arrangement it is still located in the grip and levers the slide forward.

  8. Some clarification about the French laws (because common misconceptions are lasting : when I listen to people talking about French laws weapon-wise on the internet, what I hear is not French but Italian laws) :

    Before the second world war, government prohibited pretty much any firearm (pretty much. Even some smooth bore double barrel hunting rifles), being afraid of citizen revolt against him (socialists governments have a tradition in two things : jerk the people around and prevent it of defending itself against its government in case of too much jerking around. That was the case in the 1910s, then the 1930s, in the 1980s, and again now).

    After WWII, situation came back to normal state, which is still today the same (despite slight variations in texts) :
    Not ANY SINGLE caliber is prohibited in France and NEVER was. There isn’t (nor ever was) any “prohibited military caliber” : French shooters always had the right to possess a firearm chambered in military calibers, be it a 5,56 rifle, a .50 BMG rifle and a 9 para pistol (and even a .50 BMG pistol if they want to and if such thing exist).

    The “military caliber” term exist nevertheless in our laws, because those so called “military calibers” require a prefectural authorization to be possessed by a citizen : you can have it, but you must first be allowed to by the prefect.
    This is not a ban : pretty much all the civilian shooters in France have this kind of authorization, they are not hard to obtain (except for some guns like pump action shotguns, which need an authorization to be possessed and suffer from their “action movie mass destruction device look” in such way that very few prefect are inclined in giving authorizations for it… Which is totally dumb since a smooth bore semi-auto or lever-action is the simplest gun to obtain for a French citizen).

    That’s the reason why, for example, 9×21 never reached France : 9×21 is a caliber used in weapons that are usually short and use detachable magazines, which are conditions that classify a weapon in the (yesterday) 1st category or (today) B category… Which is the category in which all 9 para weapons are anyway classified.
    What is the advantage of having a 9×21 pistol if it is regulated the same way a 9×19 is ? 9×21 was created to allow people to shoot 9×19 in countries where it is prohibited.
    In France, not any single caliber is nor ever was prohibited. So 9×21 is not used at all.

    • Thibaud:

      You have made some interesting points about French gun legislation.

      Am I right in thinking that (in the past at least) some guns were available for free sale, others needed authorisation? So that 12 bore shotguns or .22 rifles were on free sale, whereas a 9mm pistol needed a licence? Perhaps this is where the idea that military calibres were banned came from?

      • Indeed, JohnK, that’s exact.

        Before September 2013, many calibers (including absolutely obsolete ones) were “military caliber” and thus needed an authorization even if the firearm that shot it was a clearly civilian gun (say, for example, a single shot long range shooting rifle in 7×57 mauser or a ).
        Today it has changed a bit since only .223 rem, 9 para, .50 BMG, 5.45×39 and 7,62×39 are considered “military caliber”.

        In the 1970, you could buy a .30-30 rifle or a 50 shots .22 rifle in the mall the same way you buy butter, bread and slippers. Buying a .32 ACP pistol needed only to be practicing sport shooting : you gave the armorer your member’s card from the shooting range and he gave you the gun. But for a “military caliber” firearm, you needed (and still need) a prefectural authorisation.
        That’s where the idea that France has “prohibitedcalibers” come from.

        That’s the absurdity of the laws of France : you can have a PGM Hecate II in .50 BMG or a Remington Model 11 by juste being 18 (the age of majority in France) but you can’t have a single shot carbine in .223 or a Ruger 10-22 to do plinking without having authorisations because it is a “calibre – ou arme – à la dangerosité avérée”, in English a “caliber – or weapon – of proven dangerousness”.

        @Daweo
        People are mad !
        Is it for self-defense against buildings ?

        • Thibaud:

          Thank you for your information.

          I recall reading a magazine article from the 1980s which said that guns such as the Ruger .44 Magnum carbine were “vente libre” in France, as well as guns made to a design before 1870, such as reproduction black powder revolvers. It also said that rifles such as the Lee-Enfield were often converted to non military calibres so that they could be sold without authorisation. I seem to recall the article said they were rechambered to .30-40, but my memory may be playing tricks with me, because surely that was once a US military calibre? Maybe it was considered obsolete?

          I am also sure I read that in the 1930s pistols of up to .32 calibre were legal for self-defence; is this correct as far as you know?

          Overall I feel that shooters and gun owners and collectors have far more freedom these days in France than in Britain. However I fear the plans that the EU government has for gun owners across the EU; has this become an issue in France?

          • My pleasure !

            Indeed, before 1993 (if I remember correctly), .44 mag and many others caliber/firearms were “vente libre” (“over the counter”) : you just needed to be 18 to buy it.

            The date to be in vente libre was 1870 until September 2013, when the date was advanced to “1900 with exceptions” : Colt SAA produced after 1900 (Number superior to 162 000 if I remember correctly) need authorisations, as well as Mauser C96, and many others specificaly designed by their name in le law’s text : Webley Mark I to IV, for example, are specificaly designed as “authorisation needed” guns, even though they were developped and produceds before 1900.

            Modern reproductions of black powder firearms are usually (but not always) in ventre libre. Shooters in France usually advise newcomers to begin with a .22 lr and a black powder revolver/rifle as they are easy to obtain and the “high-road” to be a good shooter.

            Indeed, many rifles were converted to non-military calibers, which include .30-40. It is not a matter of logic (since .30-40 was indeed a military caliber) but a matter of coercion : some “députés” (members of parliament) considered it was not, so the law said it was not.
            Popular calibers for rechambering in non-military cartridges were .30-284 Winch, 7-08 Rem, 6,5-284 Norma, .300 Whisper or some law-classified hunting cartridges like 7×64 Breneke

            In the early 1930’s, .32 ACP was a common self-defense caliber. But as time gone by, laws were more and more strict and, juste before WWII break, there were very few legaly possessed weapons in France and carrying a pistol for self-defense was unconceivable.

            I don’t know how are the laws in Great Britain, I only know the cliché that says that “in Britain, owning a gun is pretty much impossible” (I will be pleased to know what says your laws) but yes, in France people are quite “free” about firearms. Even though certain things are absurd about the laws, practicing sport shooting is not so hard for a citizen.
            Civilian weapons and people that possess them are nevertheless poorly regarded and the governments seem to allow gun possession only to please, by demagoguery, what they consider to be idiotic, dangerous, weapon fanatics, paranoid nationalists.
            That view is shared with the majority of the people of France : I remember many time a girl first found attractive that I practice firearms shooting (so much manliness !) and then, after some time, consider it a cause of reproach enven though I am not a firearms maniac.

            In France, people are concerned about the EU laws and not only about firearms. Specifically for firearms, the fear is present, even though the new french laws (2013) are precisely new, which prevent the government to change-it for EU decisions before some years (thanks to their fear of the anger of the people), especialy in the current situation of global insecurity.

          • What I have been able to gather from various sources, nearly all EU countries have less restrictive firearms laws than the UK, except perhaps the Netherlands, which is similar to the UK. Certainly Finland and Sweden, and although not an EU-member, Norway as well. Typically an official permit is required for all firearms in those countries, but you can still get permits for handguns and semi-auto guns, unlike in the UK.

            The EU commission plans to make private ownership of semiauto guns illegal in the whole EU has faced considerable resistance in Finland. Even the Army is against it, since privately owned semiauto AKs are used by Army reserve volunteers for voluntary training. Semiauto shotguns and rifles are also quite popular among hunters, who have much more sway on politicians than sport shooters in Finland. Hunting is still a very common hobby among males of all income classes and owning hunting weapons is considered “normal” by most people, the most rabid anti-gunners of course being the exception.

          • Cher Thibaud:

            Thank you for this interesting information. Are there still arms which are “vente libre” in France? I have an idea that shotguns, .22 rifles and black powder guns may be?

            In answer to your question about Great Britain, it is certainly possible to own guns here, but Britain is a heavily urbanised country, and only about 1% of the population own guns, one of the smallest percentages in the western world.

            Most guns owned are shotguns and .22 rifles, but full bore rifles may also be owned for target shooting and hunting.

            To own a shotgun you need a “shotgun certificate” from the police. A shotgun must have a barrel of at least 24 inches, and can hold no more than three rounds, so semi auto or pump action guns can only have a two round magazine. All shotguns owned are listed on the certificate and registered, but you can buy and sell as many as you like.

            Any other long gun has to be held on a “firearms certificate”, which covers .22 rifles, full bore rifles (but not semi-auto or pump action rifles, these are banned), shotguns with large magazines or short barrels and muzzle loading pistols. You need police permission for each gun on the certificate, and have to show you have a “good reason” to own each gun. It is pointlessly bureacratic and adds nothing to public safety, but has been this way since 1920.

            Pistols in general are banned, but certain antique pistols may be owned without a certificate, and some hunters are allowed a pistol to kill wounded deer. This is typically a .32 revolver converted to only hold 2 rounds of ammunition, a most unsatisfactory option in my opinion.

            I should point out that in Northern Ireland, pistols are not banned, and may be owned for target shooting. Furthermore, because of the threat of terrorism, about 10,000 citizens there are allowed to carry a concealed pistol for self-defence, but this is not allowed at all in mainland UK.

            That is a rough guide to UK firearms laws, but in truth it is a needlessly complicated field of law and could be easily simplified without any danger to public safety, but there is no political will to do it, and with less than a million shooters in all, we do not seem to be a large enough voice to influence the politicians, most of whom have little interest in our concerns.

          • Thanks to both of you for these informations.

            It’s a shame that britain has this severe laws on firearms. It’s a country with a wonderful history in gun design and usage. When my father told me about gun history as I was a kid, he frequently spoke about the tradition of marksmanship of British shooters that is now almost gone.
            I think I remember the Blair government increased the severity of the laws, is it true or is it my memory that doesn’t work right ?

            In France, all black powder muzzle-loaded and paper-cartridge loaded weapons are vente libre. All weapons conceived and produced before 1900 (execpt for specificaly named exceptions) as well as weapons of historic value (I don’t know any) are vente libre too. The only condition to own them is to be 18 and have no problems with law. These weapons are part of the “D category”
            The other part of the D category concerns firearms with “canon lisse, un coup par canon” (“smooth bore, one shot per barrel”), which include break-open shotguns wathever the number of barrels. These guns can be owned if you are 18 and have a hunting licence or are member of a shooting club.

            “B category” include any semi-auto firearm that has detachable magazine or a fixed magazine of more than 2 rounds, any firearm that is less than 83 cm (if I remember correctly) overall, any firearm that has a barrel shorter than 43 cm and any firearm that use military calibers. These weapons a restricted and need an authorisation.
            To have an authorization, you must ask for it at the prefect, have shot in government approved shooting clubs for two years, have managed a “carnet de tir” (“shooting notebook”. It is a notebook in which you write were you shot, how many cartridges, when, with which weapons, of which caliber and your personnal notes about it) and ask the prefect a day he is in good mood.
            The prefect has the right to refuse without explanations and to make an “enquête de moralité” (“investigation on morality” or “enquête de moeurs”, “investigation on behaviour”) during which your relatives are asked about you and your house or any of your possessions can be searched. After the potential investigations, the prefect decides wether or not he grants you the authorisation.

            “A category” is the military category. Is concerns gaz-masks, explosives, full-auto weapons, military technology like radars, night vision, thermal vision, military vehicle, etc. No-one can have this authorisation apart from very special occurrences (building demolition company, for example).

            “C category” concern more or less any other weapon. Semi-auto limited to 2+1 round, manual repeaters (except pump action smooth bore, which are classified as B) and single-shot in any caliber except for military caliber (which are classified in B even though the weapon is a single shot bolt action). To have a C weapon, as for a D, you must be 18 and be member of a shooting club or have a hunting licence. This only implies to pay the enrolment to that club.

            Overall, D and C can be obtained quite freely (even though the C category and some D are not totally vente libre : you must be a registered shooter or hunter). B need an authorisation and A is totally prohibited.
            You cannot possess any part of a weapon or cartridge if you doesn’t have the corresponding weapon itself, which include collector items like, for exemple, the WWI era horseshoe magazine for ruby pistol (which moreover contains more than 20 round and thus classify it as a A category device) and bullets or cases.
            An example I frequently choose to expose the absurdity of the law is my necklace : it is a “destructive device of proven dangerosity”, classified as a B category device, because it is made of a bullet attached by a cord. The bullet comes from the body of my father (he’s fine), but this is not considered to be a mitigating circumstance : it is still considered a cartridge component from a weapon I do not own, so it’s prohibited.

          • Thibaud:

            Thank you for that explanation of the gun laws in France.

            It seems to me that if you simply want a shotgun or rifle for hunting, things are very simple there, but if you require more interesting guns, they are not.

            I am intrigued by some of the differences between France and the UK. For instance, in Britain it is quite legal to own night vision devices, thermal imagers, bullet proofe vests, and even tanks. We have collectors of military vehicles here who own Shermans etc, they are treated no differently than any other vehicle. It is also possible to own magazines, and what are called “non pressure bearing parts” of guns without restriction, thus the parts which are controlled are the barrels and bolts of guns, but not grips, sears, hammers etc.

            We also have a right to own arms in Britain. Strange but true, it is part of our Bill of Rights from 1689, and is what the American Bill of Rights is based on. Politicians do not like to mention it, but the lawyers who draft laws know about it. Thus, to be constitutional, our firearms laws state that the police, who administer firearms laws, must grant the applicant a certificate so long as he meets the requirements of the law, which are broadly that he is law abiding and of good character, will keep the gun safely, and (for rifles etc) has a “good reason” for owning it. So long as the requirements are met, the police must grant the certificate, it is not at their discretion (not that this does not stop them from trying).

            There is also a fine distinction in English law: a “licence” is something the state grants at its discretion, whereas a “certificate” is something the state must grant to recognise your legal right. Thus, we all have a right to a Birth Certificate, it is not at the discretion of the bureaucracy whether or not to grant one. That is why we have Firearm Certificates, not licences, though they are often wrongly referred to as licences.

            The main blows British shooters received in recent years were in 1988, when all full bore semi-auto rifles were banned (pump action rifles too, for no reason whatsoever), and the laws regarding shotguns were significantly tightened, and 1997, when all pistols were banned, with very few minor exemptions. In both cases the reason was that a gun owner went mad and murdered people with one of those guns, so the response of the state was to ban the gun. However, when about three years ago a gun owner went mad and killed people with his twelve bore shotgun, the law did not change, because 80% of the guns in Britain are shotguns, and many politicians own shotguns, so the law was not changed. Proof, if ever it were needed, that gun laws are largely based on emotion and what is politically possible, not on justice or logic.

          • Interesting. It seems all governments think the same way : arbitrary decisions taken for emotional reasons.
            From what you say, even if the law is more severe in Britain, it seems that it is more impartial : the law says, the government officer do.

            In France, it is rather “the law says, the government officer decides if he applies the law and, since it is about firearms (and everyone knows that firearms are evil devices that transforms fresh air into violence, blood and tears), no-one will prevent him for doing so”.
            This lead to some arbitrarities and absurdities of which it is almost impossible to be protected. For example, in France, barrel, slide, frame and some mechanical pieces are numbered. If you have a broken barrel, you change it without another authorisation because this barrel is for an already authorised and registered firearms. But sometimes (at the discretion of the government officer – prefect or policeman), it requires another prefectural authoriasation because you have the one from your complete gun granted when you bought it and the one that some random government officer decided you must have to aquire a new barrel. This is nor isn’t illegal, it is just “by chance”.

            It also happens that an authorisation is withdrawn because of a typo error, which are frequent in France. Almost every shooters in France have an authorisation or bill of registration with typo errors due to an incult and uninterested officer, some of which are… well, improbable at least. There is many cases of things like this :
            Weapon type : Weapon
            Brand : rifle, winchester
            Model : carbine, Marlin 1894
            Caliber : 30,30 mm
            Magazine capacity : bullets

            Examples of registered “Colt of 45 mm”, “machine-gun Ruger 10-22”, “revolver Beretta 92” and “Taurus Smith and Wesson 44 Colt 357 45 9 mm magnum” are frequent.

            Since it does not refer to any existing firearms (indeed… Tell me about it !), it doesn’t refers to the firearm truly possessed by the shooter. The authorisation can then be removed without possibility for the shooter to defend itself. The worst part of the story is that acting this way is considered a good deed because of common conceptions like “weapons are evil and persons who possess them are inevitably nazi”…

          • “The link is dead though.”
            Apparently when you click it fails, but if you copy and paste it in browser’s address bar it works.

            “Caliber : 30,30 mm”
            I meet with METRIC SYSTEM BEST SYSTEM! approach but it is first time when I see METRIC SYSTEM – ONLY SYSTEM EXISTING approach.
            BTW: What would be put into “caliber” box if you want register Medusa Model 47: http://www.kitsune.addr.com/Firearms/Revolvers/Medusa_Model_47.htm

            “Magazine capacity : bullets”
            Eh, again, when they would learn that CARTRIDGE and BULLET is NOT same thing.

          • Yeah, it’s extreme chauvinism…
            But writing “45 mm” instead of “0,45 pouce” (“pouce” is “inch” in french), it’s not only a question of chauvinism, it’s a question of stupidity. The government officer is (are) just uneducated.

            Well, that question is a good question. The answer will make your eyeballs coming out (I don’t know if it is an english locution… In France we say this. It is written “faire sortir les yeux de la tête”) :
            If a weapon can use more than one caliber, there is two options :
            1 – It’s a revolver in .357, which can thus use .38 and 9 mm para with clips (like Medusa 47)
            2 – It’s a weapon with multiple interchangable barrels/cylinders (like Dan Wesson and others).

            For scenario 1 : That can cause problems if it is written on the gun. Consider for example the “Shinygun Model Shiny-one, .38-.357 caliber”.
            The government officers read your authorisation for a revolver in .357 magnum produced by Shinygun.
            He sees that your gun is not in .357 but in .357 AND .38.
            He refuses because your gun is not the exact same as the one on your authorisation-demand bill.
            You begin a 6 month pourparler with the prefect and his officers, they doesn’t listen to you, and one day, by chance, either a troop of cops assault your house to search for an illegal revolver in caliber 38357 mm, or you have your authorisation for the right gun with the correct multi-caliber written on your authorisation. I surely overact a little, but this is not so far from reality.

            For scenario 2 : That causes problems anyway, because cylinders AND barrels are registered pieces.
            You are given two choices : give up and find another hobby or demand one authorisation for the frame plus one authorisation for each barrel and one for each cylinder.
            BUT in France your are limited to seven authorisations, so if your gun is, say, sold with 3 cylinders and two barrels per cylinder, which makes 6 barrels, your have 6+3+1, so 10, devices needing authorisation.
            There, you have again two choices :
            1 —– You choose another hobby
            2 —– You receive your authorisation and your weapon, but without some cylinders or barrels to comply with the limit of 7 authorised devices. Missing barrels and cylinder were chosen randomly then destroyed by authorities.

            You will maybe say that I’m a gossip (or “scandalmonger”, maybe ? I dont know the right word. Someone that say bad and malicious things) but I will add another scenario :
            you are a high-ranking government officer.
            You do what you want because no-one will ever survey you.
            You laugh with your friends because you act like a noble above his serfs.
            This is a true story : the car of a minister of French government in the early 2000’s was found with some sporting and hunting rifles, many pistols and assalt rifles and a 40 mm grenade launcher, all of which weren’t registered. The minister was not taken to court and the guns weren’t seized. He continued to be minister. This is the man that, in 1993 then in 1998, increased the restriction in firearms laws and, among others, classified pump action shotguns as a kind of mass-destruction device.

          • Thibaud:

            I would not like you to think that the police in Britain always administer the law properly; we have 43 different police forces, and they all have different ways of doing things. However, the law states that so long as you fulfil the critieria, they must issue you with a certificate, it is not at their discretion. Needless to say, some shooters have had to go to court to force them to obey the law.

            I notice the French law is harder on a pump action shotgun than a semi-auto. How illogical! Is there any reason for this disdain by the state?

          • No C.G., saying that is a mistake on interpretation of the law :
            Pump actions can be limited to 2+1. Nevertheless, even limited to 2+1 they will still be restricted and need authorisation. This proves that it is not a question of magazine capacity.

            Why then ?
            Simply because one day a parliament officer saw some action movie showing an incredibly powerfull hollywoodish pump action shotgun. He then decided that the movie was right and pump actions are overly destructive weapons that have no sporting nor hunting purpose.
            Then, following his idea, he decided to make them very hard to obtain.
            But, not knowing anything about the subject he was talking about, he didn’t realised that pump action shotguns are the same caliber and way less fit in a potential gunfight (which anyway will not happen, because honest citizens are not gangsters. They are.. Well, honest citizens).

            That way, it is possible in France to possess a 9 round Winchester 1887 in 12 gauge (very frequent) by just being member of a shooting club but not to possess a 12 gauge pump action shotgun, be it only a 1+1 rounds, without an authorisation.
            It is so idiotic that “convertions” of pump action shotguns with extensions-lever riding from the pump all along the receiver to a lever actuated by the shooting hand were developped. These weapons were no more the overly dangerous “fusil à canon lisse à devant coulissant” (in English : “smooth bore rifles with sliding forend”) but simple and harmless “fusil à répétition manuelle” (“manually repeated rifles”). In the same caliber but… No pump, so no Hollywood look, so no problems.

            Moreover, semi-auto smooth bore with more than 2+1 rounds are the same category than pump action shotguns of any magazine capacity : B category. But it still is quite easy to obtain an authorisation for a semi-auto with more than 2+1 rounds than for any pump-action shotgun. Why ? The same reason : semi-auto are not pump actions, they thus aren’t the terrible and dangerous weapons from de 80’s action movies, so prefects are more inclined in giving authorisations for them.
            And more : rifled-barrels 12 gauge pump actions shotguns are not classified as “smooth bore sliding forend rifles” (indeed, since they are rifles), so they can be aquired without authorisation.

          • Thibaud:

            Thank you for that clarification.

            Something similar happened in Britain in 1988: full bore semi-auto rifles were banned that year, but also pump action rifles, for no reason at all. There were very few pump action rifles legally owned (one figure I read said just 30), and they had never, ever, been used by a criminal. However, law makers have got it into their heads that “pump action” is a bad thing, probably, as you say, from movies.

            One of the very few sensible things British lawmakers did was to treat pump action and semi-auto shotguns the same in law: if they have a 2+1 capacity they can be owned on a Shotgun Certificate, if they have a larger magazine they can be owned on a Firearm Certificate. However, if you want a large magazine, you have to show a “good reason”, and the police will probably say “why don’t you just own a 2+1 gun on a Shotgun Certificate?”.

            The stupidity of all this is that none of these stupid distictions make any difference at all to criminals, they just exist to make politicians feel good.

          • According to French gun law what is more powerful?
            1) pump-action shotgun ban
            2) pre-1900 fire-arms are okay
            If 2 override 1 then you should simply could posses Winchester Model 1897, it is that or not?
            If shotgun defined as smooth-bore weapons? If so mating pump-action shotgun with Paradox rifling, might be solution, as they have rifled barrels.

          • Yes JohnK, from what you say it seems to be more or less the same thing that happened in France for pump-actions than in Britain in 1988.

            Daweo : ANTAC (or UMPACT, I don’t remember) – a French association defending shooters rights – asked the same question during negociations in 2013 for the new law. Here is the answer :
            Winchester 1897 is pre-1900. Nevertheless, it is a pump action and pump actions are classified as B category (authorisation needed). To be in a category, a weapon must not be able to be classified in a more restricted category. The text for each category begins with “les armes ne rentrant pas dans la catégorie précédente qui…”, which means “weapons not classified in the precedent category that…”. Since D is after B, a pre-1900 pump action is not classified among the pre-1900 weapons but among the pump actions, thus in B.

            Moreover, the Winchester 1895 and 1897 are explicitly named in the law’s text as exceptions to the pre-1900 limit.

            I thought about paradox rifling. Straight rifling, too (after all, the law says “rifling”, it doesn’t say it must be helical rifling). I don’t know why they aren’t used.

            I predict that in a few years, weapon possession in France will either be way more permissive or way more restrictive. It will change for an extreme or the other, but will not stay the way it is today.

          • What I find rather strange is that in almost all European countries break-open shotguns are treated as mostly “harmless” weapons, which are easy to obtain legally, despite the fact that a sawed-off double barrel shotgun is the all-time favorite of criminals. With some practice and buckshot a sawed-off shotgun is a highly lethal weapon at close quarters and probably has wounded or killed more people in criminal hands than most other types of firearms.

            I am of course not saying that access to break-open shotguns should be more restricted, but the example once again shows that firearms laws have very little to do with actual lethality or criminal use of said weapons.

          • Thibaud:

            I remember reading a newspaper article in the 1990s, I think, which said that in France the “fusil a pompe” was easy to get hold of, and was the weapon of choice amongst youths in the banlieue, so obviously politicians decided that you simply make pump action shotguns harder to get legally, and the problem of the banieue will be solved. How did that one work?

            In Britain shotguns of all types could be bought freely until 1968, all you needed to do was buy a “Gun Licence” from the post office for ten shillings (£0.50). It was treated like the licence you needed to own a dog. The system of Shotgun Certificates was only introduced because a dangerous criminal shot and killed three policemen in London with an illegally owned World War II pistol.

            As always, politicians feel that they have to do “something”, even if the thing they do is irrational or perverse. It seems to make them feel better, and makes the lives of the rest of us miserable. A strange way to run a country, when you think about it.

          • I heard of it too: pump-actions were said to be the most common firearms among criminals in banlieues. Nevertheless, I never could verify it and many people in the firearm milieu in France contradicted this.
            It didn’t work, indeed, since violence and especially gun violence is more and more frequent since late 1990’s. And as always, gagnsters don’t buy their weapons in the legal circuit even if said weapon can be obtained legally.

            From my strictly personnal experience (thus maybe non-representative of the reality), I noticed that .22 lr and .380 acp automatic pistols, sawed off 12 gauge semi-auto (either 2+1 round or non-limited capacity) and, as Euroweasel said, sawed off 12 gauge double barrels, were the most common among gangsters during late 1990’s and 2000’s. An underground investigation in 2008 (if I remember correctly) in banlieues was conducted by firearms jounalists from “Cibles”. They found that the “kalash” showed to them was an airsoft and the two pistols said to be “desert eagles” by the gangsters were 4.5 diabolo airguns. There was also a .22 automatic pistol.

            Today things changed, with sawed off smooth bore still frequently encountered but way more automatic pistols and rifles than before. In 2010, law enforcement’s statistics estimated around 200 AK-47 or similar weapons in illegal possession in France. In 2012, the number was not accurately defined but estimates were around a thousand or more, with high number coming from Balkans or from near-Orient transiting by Germany. Most frequent calibers were 7,62 TT and 9 para for pistols and 7,62×39 and 9 para for shoulder weapons.

            Since 2010, many expedient firearms or clandestinely made high-quality guns are encountered by law enforcement. They are mostly sub-machine guns or machine pistols chambered in 9 mm parabellum. “R9 arms” are the best example of this kind of weapons and are quite common among gangsters from France to Hungary.

            Overall, I saw quite few pump-actions among gangsters seizures in France, even if I admittedly saw some. My personnal observing is that they are way less used than semi-auto or double barrel 12 gauge. Today, assault rifle and mini or full-size SMG are the queen of the french gangster’s weapons.

            JohnK, I’m sure that before 1968 there was no more gun violence in Britain than today, am I right ?
            Indeed, politicians don’t do what they can, or what is wise, but “something”, anything. Pollution is a problem in Paris and, instead of forcing car producers to make non-polluant vehicles or decree ecologist norms for great firms, they forbid one car out of two to enter in Paris…
            Yes, it is a strange way of running a country, indeed. Frequently, French people think that their elected act more like rulers and kings. No harm intended, I don’t talk about the kind of kings and queens you do have in Britain but more the kind we had in middle-ages, laughing in their Ivory tower, looking down at people dying after a miserable life and sometimes throwing breadcrumbs to them, saying “be happy, we feed you !”.
            I think it is the same in many countries.

          • Thibaud:

            There was very little armed crime in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, even though World War II pistols were freely available on the black market. A friend of my father’s bought a Luger back in the 1950s, not for any criminal use, but just as a curiosity. Many soldiers bought pistols back from the war as souvenirs, and they still turn up.

            Back then, any criminal who used a gun to murder someone would face an automatic death sentence, and I think that gave professional criminals food for thought.

            In 1965 the death penalty was abolished, and in 1966 the criminal Harry Roberts murdered three unarmed policemen with an illegal pistol. The government did not want to reintroduce the death penalty, so they imposed gun control on shotguns instead!

            Most people thought Harry Roberts should have been executed, instead he received “life” in prison, but he has now been paroled. He is an old man, but I still think he should never have been freed.

            In the 1970s bank robbery became popular amongst British criminals, and they liked to use sawn off shotguns, because they look very intimidating, and if ever used the criminals tried to avoid a murder charge by aiming at the legs, and using birdshot. Thankfully, although armed robbery was common, deaths were rare.

            Nowadays, most money is to be made in the drug trade, and criminlas prefer pistols to enforce their version of law and order in the underworld. Obviously, they do not use legal British pistols, because there aren’t any, so they get them from Europe. The Balkans are a source of the usual Tokarevs etc, but a popular handgun for British Criminals is the Russian Baikal gas gun, very like a Makarov. These are shipped to the Baltic states, thus inside the EU, and modified to shoot live rounds, .32 ACP I think. They are not high quality guns, but they work and are available and cheap, which is all the criminal wants. I think I can say safely that any criminal in Britain with the money to buy a pistol can get one. The only people unable to own pistols are people who wish to obey the law.

            By the way, firearms controls in the Republic of Ireland are even stricter than in Britain, but only yesterday two criminals dressed as policemen and armed with Kalashnikovs killed one man and shot two others at a boxing match in Dublin. The police say it was a gangland dispute!

            The old saying is true: When you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns!

          • “Unarmed policemen” was and still is, I believe, a kind of British specialty? I have never really understood why that is considered such a great thing in the UK, by some at least. I agree that policemen should not carry very visible long guns in public unless strictly necessary, but what’s the harm in uniformed policemen carrying a handgun on duty?

          • It is sure surprising, but it’s not that illogical, even if it is imprudent.

            From the statistics of France (which are the only one I know truly) : since more than 90% of policement never ever use a single time their weapon in their whole career, that more than 90% of situations were guns are needed are handled by “special forces” of the police and that anyway 90% of the crimes implying an armed response are already commited before the police arrives in (and from personal experience I’ll add “that 90% of plicemen are unable to show a decent accuracyeven at short ranges”…), giving weapons to policemens is not that relevant.

            You will answer “yes, admittedly… But the other 10 % ?”. Sure, that’s why it is imprudent.
            Consider public opinions like “less guns means less violence”, technological progress like electric weapons and the enormous advantage for a government to keep at least a minimal amount of delinquency/criminality and you have an answer.

            By the way, I think the people like the idea of non-armed policemens because it looks less coercive.

          • Most British police do not carry guns, only special SWAT like units do. In an era when a mass firearms attack such as in Paris could happen, that means most British police are of no use protecting the public, which is meant to be their function.

            In reality, the modern British police uniform is so overburdened with items of kit that a pistol would hardly be noticed, but most police officers have never had any experience of firearms, and, frankly, are scared of them. They do not wish to be armed, and I think this is why they are so keen that members of the British public are not armed either.

            Of course, this does not stop the real criminals. A prominent crime boss was executed with a machine gun in front of his own home recently; he had just run for Mayor of Salford, his city!

            Incidentally, the shooting in Dublin last week has been claimed as the work of an IRA faction. A photograph I saw shows two men dressed as police, but armed with the distinctive Romanian Kalashnikov. So much for gun control, it only ever keeps guns out of the hands of law abiding people.

        • “@Daweo
          People are mad !
          Is it for self-defense against buildings ?”
          I don’t know, but I know that you always can found someone which objective is simply to build bigger/more powerful weapon that is currently existing. Why? Simply to have bigger weapon, even it is incredibly heavy to handle – see for example Pfeifer Zeliska .600 revolver.

  9. Is this a gun that is reliable and functional enough to be a daily concealed cary pistol in today’s world, or would it be best kept in a collection to only be fired occasionally?

    • It is obsolete by today’s standards, but it’s a very reliable (because very simple) gun. In France, Le Français pistols were used as concealed carry defense pistols when it was legal.

      They are tough, reliable and proven pistols but they bring nothing more than any .25 or .32 pistol of today in an obsolete package. I’d rather carry a new polymer pistol in 9 para or .380 which is equally if not more efficient but lighter, shorter and easier to use.

  10. This seems to be a well-made and pretty solid pistol. In the video, the trigger pull appears to be solid yet reasonably crisp with a fairly short reset ( although appearances could be deceptive ). Can Ian or anyone else who has handled one elaborate a bit more on the trigger feel? What is the estimated trigger pull effort?

    • The Type Armee’ had a smooth trigger pull of about 11 pounds, not at all excessive for a trigger-cocking-only system. It “stacked” slightly toward the end, rather like a P.38, so for accurate shooting at ranges out to 100 meters or so you could pull it most of the way, feel the “pause”, then make final alignment and touch it off.

      The trigger system of the Le Francais pistols strongly influenced the design of the Heckler & Koch VP-70 trigger. Like them, in many ways the VP-70 was far ahead of its time, being the world’s first trigger-cocking-only, hammerless, polymer-framed, high-capacity 9 x 19mm service pistol. With a bit better marketing, it might still be around today as a serious competitor for the Glock, S&W, etc.

      cheers

      eon

  11. If I remember Manufrance Manual, no connection between the main spring and tip-up barrel latch lever. There is additional leaf spring compressed through the front wall of the magazine and frame. When removing the magazine, this spring relaxes and pushes the latch lever down – and the barrel opens. The upper end of the compressed spring running inside the lever as usual – in the opposite direction with the magazine inserted, and keep latch lever up.
    Maybe you’re right and it’s a misunderstanding, because I saw Ian without sound, and after 3,5 h video loading. Well, we have here – 22° F…

  12. Erm, Ian – are you sure this vertical spring that cycles the slide is a “MAINSPRING”? Isn’t it the one that makes guns go bang, especially in hammer-fired guns?
    Sorry for perhaps a silly question but English is a foreign language for me and I was sure I have at least got THAT right, and now you placed a doubt on that realization…

    • In parts lists for this gun I’ve seen that vertical spring called the “recoil spring”. In those same lists I’ve seen the spring that drives the firing pin forward called the “mainspring”.

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