My father was a World War II veteran. He was a Marine who had served in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1946, and growing up, I knew practically nothing about his service. Like many of his buddies, he didn’t talk about his service, but urging him to talk a few years before he died, I learned he had done amphibious landings in combat at Tinian, Saipan and Iwo Jima.
His stories were sobering. Like many veterans, my dad didn’t hunt or shoot after the war, but he did own one gun that he had been given by his father: a French-made Manufacture d’Armes de Bayonne (MAB) Modele C, chambered in 7.65 mm Browning (.32 ACP).
Dad kept it in a cardboard cigar box on the top shelf in his closet. MAB sold these just after the war for personal protection, and my maternal grandfather bought one in the early 1950s. When my father’s health started to decline, mom asked me to take the MAB for safekeeping, making it my first firearm.
The Model C was a design based on the John Browning-designed FN Model 1910. Mine is in pristine condition, and I doubt my father ever fired it. He liked the design and we spoke about it and its exceptional machining and action. It is because of this gun that I began collecting a few small pre-war pistols and became fascinated by their designs.
After my father died, I pulled out the MAB Model C, and I keep it in the gun safe now—well-oiled and holding a lot of memories of my father, my grandfather and how it was the gun that first sparked my interest in becoming a firearm collector and enthusiast.
—James Hawkins, Georgia