Many French-originated weapons seen prior to, and during, World War 2 (1939-1945) ended up in the hands of the conquering Germans. Such proved the case with the "Pistolet Automatique Unique Modele 17" series semi-automatic pistols of 1928. The gun, and its production facilities, was quickly taken on by the Germans during their occupation of France and lived out the war to its last days as the Unique "Kriegsmodell 17" ("War Model"). Beyond this form was a Civilian model and a military-minded Contract model.
The guns were manufactured by Manufacture d'Armes de Pyrenees Francaises (MAPF) and fired the 7.65x17mm Browning (.32 ACP) cartridge from an 8-round detachable box magazine.
It was during World War 1 (1914-1918) that France, facing a shortage of war-making goods, was forced to purchase pistols from neighboring Spain to shore up its stocks. This led to mass purchases of the "Ruby Pistol" which became the "Pistolet Automatique de 7 millim.65 genre (Ruby)" in French Army service. The Spanish sidearm was heavily influenced by the original John Browning Model 1903 which came under the Belgian Fabrique National (FN) brand label and found widespread use. The Modele 17 was a local, evolved French offshoot of the Spanish design.
The Model 17 was completed with a Single-Action (SA) trigger and utilized a blowback system of operation. A positive locking feature was not incorporated into the slide so there was not the usual visual "empty magazine" hold-open feature common to semi-automatic pistols. A safety catch was set to the left side of the gun body and doubled as a takedown mechanism for cleaning/repairing the weapon. An additional safety, in the form of a magazine safety, ensured that the gun could not be fired unless a magazine was inserted into the grip well. The magazine release catch was set along the back of the frame.
In the lead-up to World War 2, tens of thousands of the Contract model were purchased by the French military as were several thousand Civilian models and these all served until the French surrender of June 1940. After the German occupation had begun, the weapons were made to the War Model standard but more or less left unchanged. These were known to the Germans as the "Kriegsmodell 17" variant. Only later in the war was a case-hardened external hammer and revised curved grip frame introduced. The production of these guns lasted until the French liberation of mid-to-late 1944.
The post-war version of the pistol became the Unique "Rr 51" of 1951 and came complete with a grip safety and external hammer with issuance given to French police units. About 102,000 of the type were delivered from 1951 onward. The Rd 17 model existed as a .22LR caliber form.