SOLD FOR: $2,110.00
Model: Le Francais, Type Armee
Serial Number: 6859
Year of Manufacture: 1931-1939 (Pistols made from 1928 to 1931 had smooth barrels.)
Caliber: 9mm Browning Long (9mm x 20 SR)
Action Type: Double Action Only (DAO), Semi-Automatic, Tip-Up Pistol, Removable Magazine Fed.
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 “6859” with circled “8”. The left side of the frame is marked with an “O” inside of a circle. The left side of the barrel is marked with an arrow through bulls eye and “P T D”, the underside is marked “T” 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 “6859”. The take down pin is marked “11” over “D” inside of a circle. The magazine floor plate is marked “V” and 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 “V” 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 exhibit gouge, scuff and scratch marks throughout with shallow cracks on the insides of the panels as photographed. The panels rate in about Very Good Plus condition.
Type of Finish: Blued slide, barrel and frame, case colored trigger and operating rod.
Finish Originality: Factory Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is fowling, but no apparent erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 80% of its metal finish. There are areas of forming brown patina, leading to pin prick erosion and surface etching. The The metal surfaces have scratches and scuffs throughout. There is loss of finish on some areas where metal surfaces interact. The The markings are crisp. Overall, this handgun rates in about Fine 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. The slide can be racked but it is far easier to load with the tip-up option. 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. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
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 has been refinished, shows light wear, displays pitting under the finish and the checkering is sharp. The magazine is in about Very Good condition as refinished.
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 sewing 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 barrels, 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 strong, shiny bore, retains about 80% of its finish and has a strong, SOLID action. The magazine has been refinished and not serialized to the pistol, but all parts on the pistol itself are matching. This is a collector’s piece that should sit well with other European automatic pistols, remaining a unique design.