The French 1935A: Forgotten Wonder

by
posted on June 16, 2014
1935A.jpg

One of the most appealing automatic pistols I have ever handled, the French 1935A is one of those almost “mystery” guns about which little is really known. We do know that the pistol was developed in France at a national arsenal in the early 1930s. It was designed to be-and was-the French service pistol from ’35 until France was invaded in 1940.

After the big war, the French went back to this slim little pistol until they had a chance to come up with a 9 mm in 1950. In the 1930s, France was actively working to upgrade all its armaments and the 1935A was the result. By any standard, the main fault of the design was the cartridge-a rimless .32 called the 7.65 mm Long. In years past, many nations have seen the pistol as much a badge of office as a weapon and, therefore, settled for some pretty anemic calibers. Where the small bore service cartridges are concerned, this French number was actually pretty zippy, falling just above today’s .32 H&R Long and well short of the newer .327 Magnum. However, nobody goes armed these days with anything less than a 9 mm/.357 bore pistol.

For its day, the ’35A was a pretty advanced pistol. Although it was not much larger than a host of European blowback pocket pistol designs, it was a locked-breech, recoil-operated semi-automatic. Much of the design work came from Charles Petter, a former officer of the French Foreign Legion. Like the later SIGP210, the little French gun had its lockwork (trigger, sear, hammer, etc.) mounted on a plate which came out of the gun as a single unit. This made maintenance and repair much easier.

Although the little .32 Long pistols were finished rather crudely, they were generally reliable and accurate. Quantities of the gun came into the country in the 1970s, along with small amounts of the original ammo. To this handgunner, the best feature of this little service pistol was the ergonomics. The French 1935A had the best shaped butt of any single column semi-automatic I have ever handled. The contours are reminiscent of the Models 51 and 53 Remington. If there is a designer of a new automatic pistol about to sit down with the proverbial blank sheet of paper, he would be well advised to look at this almost forgotten little gun.

Latest

Right-side view of Smith & Wesson Model 5946 Law-Enforcement handgun pistol stainless steel gun on rusty diamondplate steel
Right-side view of Smith & Wesson Model 5946 Law-Enforcement handgun pistol stainless steel gun on rusty diamondplate steel

Retro Review: The Smith & Wesson Model 5946

The Model 5946 duty pistol faithfully served police forces nationwide until it was pulled from production just before the turn of the millennium. Now, lots of these trade-in duty guns are available to commercial sales through distributors such as Aim Surplus, LLC.

NRA Leading The Way In Range Development Education

From its Range Development and Operations Online Course to Range Conferences, the National Rifle Association is leading the charge to educate potential and current range owners and operators with range development information, environmental issues, safety and more.

Rifleman Review: Colt Gold Cup National Match M1911

Colt is the brand that's traditionally associated with the M1911, and in this Rifleman Review, we look at how they're paying homage to the classic design with the Gold Cup National Match model.

New For 2024: Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy Coyote Brown

Springfield Armory now offers several models of its 1911 DS Prodigy with a coyote-brown finish.

Rifleman Q&A: Savage Navy Revolvers

Q. Recently, at auction, I bought a “Savage Navy Revolver,” something I have wanted for a long time. It’s in good order and is a solid brute of a thing, but apart from the “Savage R.F.A. Co. Middleton, CT” stamp on the barrel...

The Viability Of The Vertical Foregrip

Learn the benefits of the vertical foregrip (VFG) and how this inexpensive upgrade can transform your tactical marksmanship skills.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.