Le Français Type Armée – A Strange Service Pistol

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This is lot #3540 in the upcoming RIA Premier Auction. It was scheduled for April, but has been postponed – check their web site for upcoming Online Only auctions every month, though!

The Le Français pistol was designed by Etienne Mimard in 1912, and listed in the Manufrance catalog in 1914. It was a .25ACP (6.35mm Browning) civilian defensive pistol for pocket carry, and designed with elements specifically for that purpose. It had a long double action trigger instead of a manual safety, and used a tip-up barrel to avoid requiring the slide to be manually cycled.

In 1928, Manufrance introduced a much larger version of the gun chambered for 9mm Browning Long (9x20SR), named the Type Armée. It was envisioned as a military service pistol, and was tested several times by the Versailles Commission. It was never found satisfactory, basically because the loading mechanism and trigger were much more suited to a pocket pistol than a service sidearm. The lack of an extractor was also not appreciated by the military trials commission.

Despite military rejection, about 4900 of the guns were sold, including some to officers who had to procure their own personal weapons. The first 1100 (1928 pattern) had a smooth barrel, and the remaining 3600 or so (1931 pattern) had a distinctive finned or ribbed barrel.

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