Image courtesy Gunsamerica.com

A French gun is an Obscure Object Of Desire? You’re probably wondering how much wood alcohol got into the hooch I’ve been drinking all winter. But bear with me, because something like this gun probably has a place in any true collector’s portfolio . . .

Manufacture d’armes de Bayonne was a French arms manufacturer who supplied handguns to French police and military forces (and, briefly, Nazi German occupiers) from 1920 to 1982. Their designs were typically based on successful patterns from other manufacturers such as Browning and Walther, and their P-15 briefly held the title of ‘world’s most capacious handgun’ with its (duh) 15-round magazine.

You’ve probably already recognized the profile of the .25 ACP Model 1906 Browning (with grip safety) in the MAB Model A, which is exactly what it was. The first version of the Model A was introduced in 1921, and the second version (shown here) was made from 1925 until 1964 or 1966.

That’s a pretty long production run for an abysmally underpowered handgun. Like most French industrial products, MAB pistols were not remarkable for their quality of manufacture. They were, still, good enough for police and military use in the ‘never fired, only dropped once’ French armed forces.

Despite its long production run, few MAB pistols were ever imported for the U.S. civilian market. Despite this scarcity, prices are fairly low for these obscure handguns. The example shown here was offered for sale at $199.

70 Responses to Obscure Object Of Desire: MAB Model A

  1. They may pattern their guns on existing designs, but I would expect the French to put in extra effort to make sure they’re incredibly drop safe….

    • I dont think those jokes would even exist if the Germans ended up having to go through the Maginot Line.

        • More like politics. If Belgium had not declared neutrality at the outbreak of war the blitz would have had to fight its way through Belgium or face the Maginot Line directly. Either way France would have been able to prepare to face Hitler properly. It was built under the assumption that the Belgians would stand with France against Germany.

        • I don’t understand how Belgium’s declaration of neutrality caused Hitler to come thru there instead of going thru the Maginot Line. Seems to me that if anything, a declaration of neutrality would militate against Germany attacking thru their territory if politics were the decisive factor–it’s kind of impolitic, internationally speaking, to attack a neutral. Speaking of Belgium, the Germans managed to reduce the Maginot-like fortress at Eben Emael in what, a matter of hours? I don’t know that the Maginot forts would have necessarily guaranteed French success.

      • Not to mention the fact that they lost 1.4 million men in WW1 fighting the Germans, more than any of the Allies with the exception of Russia.

      • ‘Tis but a joke. Actually the French (via Corsica) can claim one of the greatest military commanders in all of history. And their efforts in both World Wars cannot be slighted. They may have folded when the Nazis came rolling in, but we tend to ignore the impact the resistance had on the occupying Germans.

        The Maginot line, though, that was just plain stupid. 1) Napoleon (FRENCH) himself raved about the importance of mobile artillery, so the French build a gigantic a$$ fixed fortification. 2) Said gigantic a$$ fixed fortification completely ignored the fact that the last time France was invaded the invaders came through the lowlands in the northeast….

        • In regards to the Maginot Line, they were trying to win a future conflict with Germany “on the cheap”, so to speak. Having lost a significant portion of an entire generation of men in WW1, the French were extremely casualty-averse…and they were also counting on Belgium to significantly slow down the German advance, giving them months to set up defensive lines.

          Mind you, they had months to do so during the “Phoney War” of late ’39 to early ’40, but that’s another issue….

        • @ Tom

          Napoleon was actually 5’7″ which was average if not a bit above average for his day. The caricature of him being a small man was fostered by his enemies and detractors.

      • IIRC the Germans initially attempted to probe the Maginot line. One Panzer commander wrote that the French fortifications with their disappearing gun turrets gave him & his vehicles fits. “We felt like rabbits being hunted by farmers with shotguns”. Then the Fallschirmjagers captured Fort Eben-Emael and the Belgian flank was wide open. No need to punch through the Maginot.

        Then too, a victor may exaggerate his foe’s capabilities to make him & his forces look better (“It was nip & tuck out there! We underestimated them & nearly lost! Earned that Iron Cross the hard way, let me tell you!”)

        Speaking of French small arms, the Unique firm used to make a .22 autoloading pistol for which a rifle subassembly was available. Remove the slide & attach the frame; et voila! A pistol grip rifle.

  2. There’s a french handgun that’s at the top of my Obscure Object of Desire list: The MAC-50 9mm.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAC_Mle_1950

    There’s one on Gunbroker right now, but it’s waaaaay overpriced at $1350 (IMHO).

    I do currently have other French handguns in my collection: a model 1873 11mm revolver, a Nazi-marked model 1935A 7.65mm, and a MAB-15 9mm.

    • Depending on the condition and rarity that might not be overpriced at all at under $1400. I have a Mac 50 marked internally as SN 0017 (no external SN stamp) and I would not let it go that cheap. They are cool guns that shoot really well. There are lots of collectors of these all over the world. Not sure if I want to put mine up for sale or not, she is a real rare girl.

  3. What do you mean? The French are held in high regard by our “intellectual elite”. Oh, wait a minute; that explains not just a lot, it explains everything.

    • This is the internet. Most memes are on 7-10 year cycles. If they went away quietly 10 years ago then they’re due to come back….

    • The French jokes were old before most of the people commenting here were born.

      Doesn’t mean making fun of the French isn’t as American as baseball and apple pie. Just like making fun of Americans is as British as tea and crumpets, and making fun of Brits is as French as croissants and the Eiffel Tower.

    • 200 years ago, actually.

      a French frigate and an English frigate were closing for battle. The English captain said, “ensign, bring me my red tunic”. Aye, aye, Sir. May I enquire as to why?” “In order that, in the event I am wounded in combat, my men won’t see the blood and become dispirited.”

      Meanwhile, on the French frigate, the captain said, ” bring me my brown trousers!”

  4. at least the French recognized a clusterf*ck when they saw it, and got the hell out of “Indochina” before Vietnam spiraled out of control

  5. Where was this pistol for sale at?? Would go good with my 1910 Mauser Pocket Pistol in 6.35mm(.25auto)!!

    • I just picked up a Mauser 1914 (.32 auto) for $219 in really nice condition (NRA 90% or so). I didn’t even know what it was, but I thought the Mauser crest looked cool.

  6. One day in my “History of U.S. Foreign Policy-20th Century” class, a student asked, “What about France?”.
    The prof replied, ” Mr. Smith, France hasn’t been a “Great Nation” since Napoleon. But all the other “Great Nations” feel sorry for them so they let them think that they are.

  7. I ran across a 1968 German Walther .32 semi auto pistol I felt hardware lust for, to the point of asking if there was any way I could legally obtain it — the guy at the gun shop sadly shook his head.

      • AHHAHAHAHAH

        Trust me, you dont want one of those. They are pieces of shit who have to use proprietary ammo. If you wan’t a Famas you should rather just a do a airsoft conversion.

        http://customrifles.info/forum/help-and-info-on-customizing-22-rifles/famas-22-conversion/

        You would need a Marlin 795 for it though since the 10/22 is too wide. Pro thing about about the Marlin is that they too have reliable 25 rd mags (ironically made by Promag).

        The conversion is essentially just pulling out the guts of the airsoft gun and putting in the barreled receiver in the airsoft shell, then JB-welding. Don’t forget to make the trigger linkage.

        Here is a video of one, you can probably contact the maker on help:

  8. Hmmm…as someone who is (approximately) 1/2 German & 1/2 French guess which side I’m proud of? And wasn’t Napoleon Corsican?(& Hitler Austrian). They did get one right by not joining us in our Iraq adventure. By the way I have military gun dealer I sell to from time to time who has NO interest in French weapons. German,American,Russian,Japanese,British pretty much in that order. FWIW

    • Yeah, I understand Hitler even spoke Austrian as his native language… 😉 BTW, I would like to have one of those Uniques in.32, a Kriegsmodell or a 17, French or no. Just like their looks. Or a 52 in .22.

      • There ARE German dialects…high German ,low German,archaic German. So Lol to you slick. And MY German ancestors spoke another dialect in Eastern Austria-Hungary.

        • I was referencing, of course, the “smartest man in the world”, who currently squats in the White House, talking about people speaking “Austrian.” Presumably if he went to Switzerland, he would quickly begin to speak and understand “Swiss,” being the intellectual giant that he is. (BTW, I was taught that the dialects were divided into “Southern German” and “Northern German”, distinguished, among other things, by whether the “r” was trilled off the tip of the tongue or rolled out of the back of the throat. True?)

  9. Notice how the lines look a lot like a bunch of Browning-designed pistols?

    John Moses Browning – the world’s most outstanding firearms designer, for everything from .25ACP to .50BMG. “He is regarded by most historians, along with Eugene Stoner and Mikhail Kalashnikov, as one of the most successful firearms designers of the 20th Century, in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms and is credited with 128 gun patents. He made his first firearm at age 13 in his father’s gun shop, and was awarded his first patent on October 7, 1879 at the age of 24.” (Wikipedia)

  10. Say what you will about their fighting spirit, but they do make pretty damned good weapons. Mirage fighters, Roland anti-aircraft systems, and they have made some pretty decent firearms, though I can’t name any at the moment. I do remember marching with a platoon of their paratroopers who were carrying some pretty neat looking rifles though.

  11. I don’t get the fascination with Nappy. He, like Hitler, led his country to defeat and destruction. Both of them abandoned armies to Russia.

    Now Wellesly was a military genius. Or at least enough to pack Nappy off to exile.

    • Me neither. All under the guise of “uniting Europe”. Isn’t that what the Uber-Sturm-Gruppen-Waffen-Obergefreiter wanted?

      Napoleon’s lucky there isn’t live footage of the atrocities he caused.

  12. SORRY Another Robert. Mom & Dad spoke German in the home when I was lad. Didn’t realize you were referencing our exalted leader Odumbo. Germanic people were spread far & wide in Europe. In Transylvania each town would very often have 3 names: German,Romanian & sometimes Hungarian. Even Jewish. And they all hated each other. My dads night school German bore little resemblance to my grandmothers Transylvanian Saxon dialect.

    • You need, then, to read BALLAD OF THE WHISKEY ROBBER, by Julian Rubenstein (not related to Jack Ruby!). A marvelous treatment of a true story. It’s too complicated to go into here. But it’s Transylvania writ very large….

    • No worries, hard to keep up with all the examples of his brilliance the squatter in the WH gives us.

  13. I personally think you’ve been into l’Absinthe! I have small hands, but that thing can be held only with the Fickle Forefinger of Fate, and one other one. Two at most. A Jennings J-22 has more hand contract.

    • It was what the Europeans referred to as a vest pocket pistol. Hard to believe now but there was a time when no proper European male would leave home without a pistol.

      And there were also muff pistols for women. Get your minds out of the gutter, boys. The ladies muff was a piece of fashionery for warming the ladies hands as they were strolling about.

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