SOLD FOR: $2,056.00
Model: Le Francais, Type Armee
Serial Number: 6904
Year of Manufacture: 1931-1939 (Pistols made from 1928 to 1931 had smooth barrels.)
Caliber: 9mm Browning Long (9mm x 20 SR)
Action Type: The action is double action only with a tip-up barrel for loading the first round into the magazine. There is no provision for manual cycling of the slide.
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “TYPE ARMEE”, the top is marked with an oval around “LE FRANCAIS”, the right side is marked “MANUFACTURE FRANCAISE D’ARMES ET CYCLES DE SAINT-ETIENNE” and the bottom is marked “6904 / Y”. The left side of the frame is marked with an “O” inside of a circle. The underside of the frame, at the trigger guard recess is marked “8”. The top of the barrel release is marked “S”. The left side of the barrel is marked with an arrow through bulls eye and “P T D”, the underside is marked “P” with “M / F” flanking crossed canons and an arrow crossing in front of a bulls eye. It is also marked “BREVETE / S.G.D.G. / CAL 9 m/m” with “SAINT ETIENNE” encircling Manufrance’s logo. The left side of the rear barrel lug is marked “10” inside of a circle and the right side is marked “850”. The top of the trigger guard spring is marked “6” within a circle and “6904”. The take down pin is marked “11” over “D” inside of a circle. The magazine floor plate is marked with a circled “3”.
Barrel Length: 5”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a serrated ramped blade fixed to a base on the barrel. The rear sight is a “U” groove in a raised boss at the back of the slide.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are checkered walnut with a brass discs in the center of the grips. Both panels have scuffs and small compression marks throughout. There is a major crack on the right grip panel that extends through the entirety of the material. The grip is held together with the brass disc. The grips rate in about Poor overall condition.
Type of Finish: The barrel, frame and slide are blued. The trigger and barrel release are case colored.
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is light pin prick erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 95% of its metal finish. The balance of the finish shows light scuffs and scratches throughout. The slide has heavy etching and pitting on the left side. The edges of the slide, barrel and frame have abrasions, pin prick erosion and thinned finish. Please see our photographs. The barrel and front of the frame have wear consistent with holster use. The barrel release’s finish is worn but the trigger’s case color still remains with nice tone. There is light pitting at the muzzle. The first “E” of “ARMEE” is missing it’s middle horizontal line and looks like a “C”, all other markings are sharp. Overall, this handgun rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The barrel tips up for loading when its lever is depressed or when the magazine is removed. This is the only way the barrel can be loaded for the first shot, as there are no provisions for racking the slide manually. The pistol fires in double action mode only. There is a lanyard ring at the bottom left rear of the grip frame. We did not fire this handgun.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with one 8 round blued magazine. The floorplate of the magazine is fitted with checkered ears for grasping and a round tube, which was designed for storage of a single round of ammunition to be used in loading the barrel when a fresh magazine was inserted. The magazine shows light wear and the checkering is sharp. The magazine is in about Very Good condition.
Our Assessment: This an exceptional example of a rare “Le Francais” Type Armee made by Manufrance. Manufrance (Manufacture Francaise D’Armes ET Cycles De Saint-Etienne) was a large manufacturing company that made everything from guns to dewing machines and bicycles as well as distributing weapons made by other manufacturers located in the U.S. and in Europe. In 1893, the company made a small palm-squeezer pistol, which was followed in 1914 by the first “Le Francais” model, a tiny 6.35mm pocket model (Modele de Poche). A slightly larger 6.35mm Type Policeman was added in 1922, the Type Champion (a .22 target pistol) in 1926 and finally the Type Armee in 1928. The pistol was submitted to the French Army for pistol trials, but was not well received. The French didn’t like the blowback operated double action only action and that fact that it didn’t have an extractor. The early models had smooth models, but an updated version came out in 1931 with cooling fins added to the barrel and a steel loop at the bottom of the magazine to hold an extra cartridge for loading into the chamber. Only about 4,900 of the Type Armee pistols were manufactured between 1928 and 1939, with production ceasing at the start of WWII. This pistol has a cracked right hand wood panel that is held together by the brass disc. The metal has pitting, patina and wear as photographed. The bore has light pin prick erosion present but has a strong, shiny bore overall.