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Chatellerault Experimental SMGs: MAC48 & 48LS

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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!

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