SACM / MAS Modele 1935
Semi-Automatic Service Pistol
The Modele 1935 program of the late-1930s ultimately encompassed two separate but similar pistol designs for the French military - both were adopted for service.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
It was inevitable that the French military pursue a semi-automatic pistol as a standard sidearm for its services (moving away from the trusted and true revolver). As such, in the latter part of the 1930s, trials were had to find such a pistol and the eventual winner became the SACM "Modele 1935A". However, deliveries of this weapon, amidst the rising probability of total war with neighboring Germany, led French authorities to also consider the Modele 1935A's competitor - the MAS "Modele 1935S".
The trials were undertaken between 1935 to 1937 and, despite the seemingly close appearance had by both pistols, they were inherently were very different designs with no interchangeability of parts between them. The weapons were based on the excellent Colt Model 1911 and their design lines and operation showcased this influence.
Swiss-born Charles Petter of SACM (also a former French Foreign Legion captain) went ahead and evolved the Model 1911 approach by instituting several improvements to the design, namely in the recoil spring housing, a magazine safety and separate sub-assemblies for the lockwork and hammer unit. The weapon was chambered for the local 7.65mm Longue cartridge and fed from an 8-round detachable box magazine inserted into the grip base. The slide was smooth and relatively featureless, presenting a very clean and elegant product. The handle was given the usual grip pattern for a firm hold and the solid trigger unit sat within a thin, integral ring. The end result was the functional Modele 1935A which had its design also purchased by Swiss arms-maker SIG in 1937 to be rebranded as the "SIG P210" model product.
Production of the Modele 1935A was arranged in 1937 but deliveries were slow - first batches arrived in late 1939 and only 10,700 units were available by the time of the German invasion of France in the summer of 1940. The SACM factory eventually fell under German control with production of the sidearm allowed to continue. This led to the German adoption of the weapon as the "Pistole 625(f)" and an additional 23,850 units were made during the occupation (which lasted until mid-to-late 1944). In the post-war years, a further 50,400 Modele 1935A guns were added and production ran into early 1950. Some 85,000 Modele 1935A guns were made in all.
Due to the slowness in getting the Model 1935A into French Army hands, MAS was given charge to manufacture its competing product back in 1938. The weapon followed the lines of the Modele 1935A some but included a ribbed slide, a slightly protruding barrel at the muzzle end and an exposed hammer. All other qualities were consistent with semi-automatic pistol designs of the period and the gun proved very well-made and functional. Deliveries of the Modele 1935S was first seen in early 1939 but, again, the German occupation of MAS factories limited the initial batch to just 1,400 units. Unlike the Modele 1935A, the Modele 1935S was not in production during the German occupation of France, owing largely to the fact that MAS employees hid the needed production equipment from the occupiers. The Modele 1935S joined the Modele 1935A in resuming production after the liberation of France in 1944. 6,686 more pistols were added but priorities for the MAS factory shifted to more pressing small arms needs for the French Army. Other factories went on to contribute to the total of 82,773 Modele 1935S pistols before the end was had in 1956.
The guns saw no service beyond French and Nazi German inventories. The pistols saw extended combat service in the First Indochina War (1946-1954) as well as the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962).