MAS-38 Shooting Fail

I have been getting a lot of comments asking when there will be a shooting video with my MAS-38 submachine gun. If has cleared the NFA transfer process, so it’s not actually in my possession. So, the next hurdle is finding ammunition. The 7.65 French Long cartridge it uses has been out of production for at least 50 years, and there are only very limited options.

The best one out there is Buffalo Arms, and I bought some from them (at just over $1/round) when they recently restocked it. Unfortunately, something about the cartridge does not allow it to feed and fire as it should – I’m not yet sure exactly why. This is simply a part of the process for guns with unusual ammunition like this, unfortunately.

I am going to attempt to get a company like Starline to begin producing proper new brass for the 7.65 French Long, as it would be usable not just in MAS-38 submachine guns but also in the cheap and fairly common 1935A and 1935S pistols.



  1. “The 7.65 French Long cartridge it uses has been out of production for at least 50 years, and there are only very limited options.”
    I heard rumors about using .32 Auto (7,65 mm Browning) to feed MAS-38, IIRC it was done by Resistance members, but I don’t know if gun was or was not altered. Also I am unable to tell about safety or reliability of such solution.

    • The .32 ACP (7.65 x 17SR mm) is semirimmed, and headspaces on the rim just like a rimmed revolver cartridge, while the French M35 cartridge (7.65 x 20mm) is a true rimless round headspacing on the case mouth.

      So, it’s entirely possible that when the .32 ACP cartridge was entering the M35 pistol chamber, the semirim was “catching” on the chamber mouth and extractor, and being held just tightly enough that the firing pin could reach the primer and set it off without excessive headspace.

      The biggest problem I can see is that the .32 ACP probably didn’t have enough recoil energy to operate the M35’s Browning/Petter locked-breech, short-recoil system. So likely you would either get smokestack jams, or have to operate it as a “manual” repeater, or both.



      • Sorry. I just assumed all the cases headspaced on the case mouths. You are better than I about this. I never thought of a rimmed case , but I didn’t see them either. It sounds as though you got things figured out anyway…
        Dave, (In Ottawa , Canada @ -20 with wind and snow. That Brew Pub you went to in August is hard to get to now because of the weather. )

  2. And you know what will happen if somebody starts making the correct ammo. Those two pistols will rocked in price like a SpaceX launch once ammo becomes even semi common. That SMG looks almost like it would qualify as a PDW.

    Keep you powder dry and your faith in God.

    • Captech/Jamison .577 Basic brass for the .577 Nitro Express and etc. can be used to form cases for both.

      So for that matter can Magtech 28-gauge shotgun brass cases;

      Magtech Shotshell Hulls 28 Gauge 2-1/2″ Brass Box of 25

      Product #: 679947 Magtech #: SBR28 UPC #: 754908185719

      You can get them from Midway USA.



  3. To compare form of chamber with actual cartridge I suggest to make a cast of chamber and measure (shadow-graph is an excellent tool for that). Of course, also firing pin protrusion and head space plays into it. Lots of investigative work is on the way; it is fun (as it had been for me in past).

  4. Well since you Ian has some original French ammunition, might be a good idea for him to get out his micrometer or precision calipers and compare dimensions with the Buffalo ammunition. If he is not even getting a primer strike, and the extractor isn’t making contact, and he had to rod the cartridge out of the chamber, it may be that something is off with that particular lot of Buffalo cartridges.

    • That’s it: decent set of calipers will do the job. At the same time I’d not discount actual headspace in gun and firing pin protrusion/ timing when it strikes. This has be something relatively simple.

  5. Eon:
    If you have dies for the 7.65 case the length of case does not matter. I’ve been loading 45 Colt cases using my 45 ACP dies for years. The dies work fine and the resulting cartridges shoot fine . You can even crimp the long case if you like .

      • I forget. Probably. The 28 ga. brass is a good one. Where did you find that out?
        You have a great source of knowledgeable supporters…

        • It’s in Cartridges of the World, 6th Edition, under “.577 Snider” in the section on Military Rifle Cartridges.

          Actually, what I have are a lot of books.




    • Argh. Hit POST COMMENT too soon. I reload .32 S&W. It’s what my grandmother would call “piddlin’ business” due to the small size but not technically difficult. I assume the 7.65 French Long cartridge would be reloadable as well. Though I doubt you could use the same dies.

  6. Watching the video I realized I misheard, and these are adapted from .32 S&WL. Which isn’t quite as much of a hassle to reload, but since they aren’t actually working…

    There are lots of clever people in the gun hobbyist world. Someone should have a solution for you.

    • Starline will do it for you, but they are not cheap. They are ,however of the highest quality in the world. They made cases for my 9X23 Steyr 1912 pistol that worked perfectly . However, I found out later that the gun would fire 38 Super just about as well.

  7. I own a 1935S pistol and would love to be able to shoot it, for the record the Buffalo Arms ammo does not work reliably in the pistol either (last time i shot had 3 misfires in a single magazine) Any help on where to get a better source of ammo would be superb

    • Come on you guys know the cause of the misfires MUST be in he case dimensions or the head spacing. If the cartridge is sitting in the chamber and the firing pin will not strike the primer(Ian’s problem) , something is stopping the firing pin or the striker (hammer) from driving the pin forward. Surely,you can find out the cause…

  8. If the case is too short, the pin will never reach the primer. If this is the problem, simply cut off an appropriate length of case mouth and place it in the chamber to see if the head spacing is corrected. You might try a cartridge with no projectile or powder first time or two.

  9. @ Dave Potter,
    FFS don’t use super in it until you have checked out the pressures and bullet weights!

    Srsly, you could easily be firing a 100% over load, that the pistol does not have either the slide inertia or the buffer to deal with.

    I wouldn’t like to be the one who gets to see the front of the slides sticking out of your eye socket if the disassembly wedge breaks.

    • Thanks for the word of caution. I only shoot my reloads of the super cases. They are light target loads. The old German box I got with it have cartridges that are a lot hotter. Good caution anyway . I have been loading a long time and never trust loads that are unknown unless designed for the pistol and even find them way too hot. I was shooting my friends “High Power” with some Norinco cheap 9×19 and broke the frame after 10 rounds . Mind you he probably had several hundred thousand rounds through that frame .

      • Ok, glad to know that theyre mild reloads in super cases.

        Back in the 80s there was a lot of corroded, corrosive primed Czech smg 9mm going cheap and still on rusting strippers. I’m guessing that it was hot when it was loaded, but after decades of poor storage, what actually fired, would break lots of things. I saw broken lugers, Lahtis, berrettas, p38s… p35 hi powers were one of the few guns that seemed to tolerate the abuse. The open bolt “carbines” that were popular and legal back then, were of course made to withstand the abuse.

  10. I would definitely be interested in buying a couple thousand pieces of 7.62 French Long brass if you can get starline to make some!! I have used the Buffalo Arms ammo, and it is hit or miss. I have also reloaded my own using some old cases made by Bertram’s. Both were from reworked 32 S&W Long brass, and it just is not quite right. But for now it is pretty much the only game in town. I do not hold Buffalo or Bertram’s responsible, as they are providing the only alternative. Starline already makes 32 S&W Long and 32H&R Magnum brass, both of which are excellent, so theoretically it should not be hard for them to make proper 7.62 Long. At least I hope!!! Keep us posted Ian!! I really wanted to see that MAS 38 run!!

  11. Frustrating!

    Particularly so after waiting to get it out of “ATFE” jail! (Don’t they make deliveries?)

    Good luck with that. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a self-loading pistol that “fits” my hands better than the 7.65mm Long French service handguns… Alas, I’ve always passed on them due to the very issues of ammo availability… Too bad! I know that 9x20SR Browning long is another semi-rimmed cartridge like .32 acp… So that probably wouldn’t be any help either. Too bad it was never exported, or we could have some additional sources for the cartridge, eh?

    I love the layout, the sights, and the trigger folding forward as a safety!

  12. The case dimensions for the 7.65 x 20 are;

    7.65 x 20 French

    Case type; Rimless, straight

    Bullet diameter 7.85 mm (0.309 in)
    Neck diameter 8.50 mm (0.335 in)
    Base diameter 8.53 mm (0.336 in)
    Rim diameter 8.50 mm (0.335 in)
    Case length 19.70 mm (0.776 in)
    Overall length 30.24 mm (1.191 in)

    Now, compare that to the .327 Federal Magnum case;

    .327 Federal Magnum
    Case type Rimmed, straight-walled
    Bullet diameter .312 in (7.9 mm)
    Neck diameter .337 in (8.6 mm)
    Base diameter .337 in (8.6 mm)
    Rim diameter .375 in (9.5 mm)
    Rim thickness .055 in (1.4 mm)
    Case length 1.20 in (30 mm)
    Overall length 1.47 in (37 mm)

    Or its parent case, the .32 H&R Magnum;

    .32 H&R Magnum

    Case type Rimmed, straight-walled
    Bullet diameter .312 in (7.9 mm)
    Neck diameter .337 in (8.6 mm)
    Base diameter .337 in (8.6 mm)
    Rim diameter .375 in (9.5 mm)
    Rim thickness .055 in (1.4 mm)
    Case length 1.075 in (27.3 mm)
    Overall length 1.350 in (34.3 mm)

    It seems to me that 7.65 x 20 cases could be made by starting with either of these rimmed revolver cases, turning down the rim to 0.335in, cutting the cases to 1.191 in, followed by full-length resizing and fire-forming.

    Just a thought for the reloaders around here.



      • Data for: [French] 7,65-mm CARTRIDGE FOR SUB-MACHINE GUNS
        from Альбом конструкций патронов стрелкового оружия (1946):
        5,5 g heavy
        diameter: 7,85 mm
        jacket thickness: 0,45 mm at tip, 0,42 mm at walls
        length: 14,4 mm

        2,8 g heavy
        Inner diameter at mouth: 7,75 mm
        Outer diameter at mouth: 8,35 mm
        Diameter at extractor groove: 7,4 mm
        Primer pocket diameter: 4,3 mm
        Wall thickness 10 mm away from base: 0,45 mm
        Distance between base and bottom of powder chamber: 3,8 mm
        Rim thickness: 1 mm
        Width of cylinder part of extractor groove: 1 mm
        Distance between lowest part of wall and base: 3,1 mm
        Fire channels diameter: 0,7 mm
        Distance between fire channels axises: 3,3 mm
        Length: 19,6 mm

        overall length: 30,34 mm
        diameter at rim: 8,5 mm

        Jacket: steel, hardness 190 Vickers
        Core: plumbum with addition of stibium
        Case: steel

  13. We had a house sale near here about 15 years ago
    the chap had been a french officer in indo china
    All the guns were gone but there was some STEEL cased 7.65 ammo made supposedly during the german occupation
    it was sold in a box lot that was too expensive for me
    neutrilized mas38s used to be cheap under 1000 euroes but no idea nowadays
    the pistol grip/ trigger plus sear were as little as 50 francs
    I never saw a bolt for sale all alone although cut up mat 49 bolts were common for 100 francs

  14. Not trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, but you might remove the extractor. It could be fouling the rim somehow. Without an extractor, it may to still fire and kick out the empties.

    It wouldn’t extract unfired cartridges, but that looks like a lateral move.

  15. One of my firat semi-auto pistols was an M35A, bought while I was a student at the Defense Language Institute, East Coast, headquartered at Ft.McNair in DC and billetted at South Post, Ft. Meyer across the river in Virginia. I bought it from Ye Old Hunter’s storefront in Alexandria for under $50, with a couple of boxes of 7.65 Browning Long surplus ammo. That was in 1966.

    I enjoyed the gun, but ammo was, even then, getting harder to find. I bought another box, which I kept. I went on to buy and shoot other guns.

    Fast forward to my assignment to the Weapons Training Brigade, Ordnance OCS, Ordnance Center and School, HQd at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. We were physically at Ft. Meade – a return to a familiar place, since I had done my OJT tradecraft at NSA there. (Long story about how I got from NSA to WTB for another time and place) That was sometime in ’68.

    We did basic weapons training for OCS, weapons training and qualification for Ordnance officers and a pre-Vietnam orientation course for officers being deployed. One of the things we did was give them a chance to handle and fire weapons they might encounter there. That included a lot of weapons Ian would be familiar with, since they were French leftovers or taken from French soldiers KIA. I got to shoot a lot of odd-ball stuff. That included the French service rifles MAS-36 and MAS-49 and both the MAS-38 and MAT-49. We had a large supply of 1950s-era 7.65 Browning (French)Long ammo. I brought my M-35 for them to play with – and managed to secure several boxes of the ammo for my own use as a bonus.

    I liked the M-38. It was a handy, easy-to-shoot weapon with a lot of neat features, as Ian pointed out. I know the ammo is considered by most to be pretty anemic compared to 9mm and .45 ACP, but it probably killed its share of people on both sides in the wars the French fought (and mostly, sadly, lost.)

    I hope Ian can get someone to make at least the brass, so he can enjoy his little treasure – as well as an M-35A or S if he has one – for years to come. I have been trying to remember what happened to my M35A to no avail. It has become lost in the fog of time. That all happened nearly 50 years ago.

  16. Hi Ian,
    Sorry to learn of the problems you are facing with regard to obtaining some French 7.65 x 20 mm Longue ammo for your lovely MAS 38 sub-machine gun.
    I believe Midway, who are very well known in the United States and indeed overseas, for shooting supplies appear to sell the brass :-

    I know that sets of re-loading dies are also available for this caliber as I have seen them advertised on a Czech web-site, which says they are of quality U.S. manufacture !!
    Good luck with this and I look forward to seeing your MAS in action.
    Dave, (Liberty Engineering Services, UK).

  17. Hello guys,

    I am french from France and i have a 1935A pistol.

    I reload 7,65 long cartdridge with 32 Smith and wesson long brass which have been resized.

    .312 bullets and 0,28 grammes of Ba9 powder for a 28 millimeters lenght

    I have the project to buy a Mas 38

  18. I just saw your video…in fact, you made the mistake of not pulling the charging handle enough. It has to be pulled completly to the rear, that disconnect it from the bolt, which should travel free when shooting, the charging handle should stay to the rear.
    And when the bolt is closed on an empty chamber after the last round has been fired, you have to pull the charging handle to the front, to re-connect it to the bolt in order to open te bolt.
    The charging handle should never travel with the bolt when shooting.

    Try this way…if ammunition is OK, it will fire…

    PS : sorry for my poor english…

    • From “Notice sur le pistolet mitrailleur Modèle 1938 (5 mars 1941)”, page 27 : “Contrairement à ce qui est prescrit pour le fusil-mitrailleur, le levier d’armement du pistolet-mitrailleur doit être laissé accroché à sa position arrière, après l’opération d’armé à la main.”

  19. Hello of France Ian and congratulations for the quality of your videos
    This joins(contacts) the link to redo your ammunitions from cases of 32 S*W length
    But can be you already know

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