The MAC PA 1950 (Pistolet Automatique Modele 1950) was the result of a 1946 French effort to standardize on a single military pistol. By the end of WWII, the French military had accumulated a mess of different pistols of French, Spanish, American, and German origin; officially using the Luger, P38, Mauser HSc, 1911 (and A1), 1935A, 1935S, Star, Ruby, and Model 1892 revolver.
Trials were held in 1950, although the outcome was predetermined – this pistol, designed by St Etienne and largely derived from the Model 1935S, was to be the next French military sidearm. A design from the SACM company was also tested, as was a commercially purchased SIG SP47/8, but this was for comparison sake only. In fact, the SIG was the best performer in the testing, with the St Etienne design suffering from cracked parts and durability problems. It would be improved, however, and deemed suitable for adoption by early 1951.
Production began in 1953 at the Chatellerault arsenal (hence the “MAC” name used in the US). All of 221,900 were made by Chatellerault until it was shut down in 1963, when production transferred to St Etienne, where another 120,000 would be made by 1978.
Mechanically, the gun is largely taken form the Browning 1911, with a few improvements. The recoil spring is of a captive design, and the fire control group is all built into a single easily replaced unit (similar to the Tokarev and the 1935S). It is single action only, with hammer-block and magazine safeties and a 9-round magazine of standard 9x19mm ammunition. It is still in French service, having proven to be a reliable and dependable weapon, if outdated by today’s standards.