MAS mle 38
|Pistolet-mitrailleur MAS modèle 38|
|Feed System||32 Round Magazine|
|Rate of Fire||600 Rounds/Min|
|Maximum Effective Range||150m|
The native French submachine gun in service during World War II was the Pistolet-mitrailleur MAS modèle 38 (MAS Model 38 Submachine Gun). This weapon was developed by the Manufacture d'Armes de St. Etienne (MAS), and had evolved from the experimental PM MAS 35.
The unusual looking weapon has a peculiarly bent look to it because the receiver and butt diverge in alignment from the axis of the barrel by several degrees. In order to make the weapon compact, MAS designed the bolt to recoil inside a tube contained within the butt. As the butt had to drop to allow a natural aiming stance, the receiver also had to be realigned. This meant that the bolt approached the breech at an angle and to let it close evenly on the cartridge, the face of the bolt was cut obliquely. The safety catch was also unusual; to lock the bolt in either the forward or rear position, the trigger was pushed forward.
The French accepted the PM MAS 38 in 1938, but production did not begin until 1939. The first batch was delivered to the Gardes mobiles (the national riot police) rather than the army.
The MAS 38 was a sound design machined from solid metal, and had a reputation for accuracy. It also had a reputation for ineffictiveness. It chambered the 7.65mm longue (long) French Service Auto cartridge (developed for the mle 1935 pistol) which was only marginally capable as a combat round. With time, the MAS 38 may have been reworked to accept harder-hitting ammunition, but time, unfortunately, was not on the MAS 38’s side. The Germans took over the St. Etienne plant just as the gun was entering large-scale production for the French Army. The Germans continued and supervised production for their own armed forces and supplied some to the Vichy French.
French police forces continued to use the MAS 38 after the war until the MAT 49 submachine gun replaced it in the 1950s.
Although technically advanced and accurate weapon, the MAS 38 couldn't compensate for the sub-capable 7.65mm pistol round it fired, which gave it a permanent reputation for ineffectiveness on the battlefield.