France’s Fall Didn’t Make Any Difference to Gun-Maker MAB
It kept right on making pistols for the Nazis
by MATTHEW MOSS
Frenchman Léon Barthe established Manufacture d’Armes de Bayonne in 1920. While named in the style of France’s great national arsenals — MAS, MAT and MAC — MAB was actually a private enterprise.
Apparently, profit motivated Barthe to keep right on producing pistols even after his country fell to the Nazis.
MAB brought a series of pocket pistols to market during the 1920s, including the .25 ACP Models A and B and the .32 ACP Models C and D. Barthe based the latter on John Browning’s FN Model 1910, albeit with some ergonomic changes. The Model D was slightly larger than the 1910 was and also came chambered in .380 with an eight-round magazine.
In 1939, with war imminent, the French military placed an order for 16,000 Model Ds. Many of these were issued to the French navy, as the French army had just adopted the Modèle 1935A and Modèle 1935S.
MAB continued producing Model Ds after the fall of France in 1940, first under the Vichy puppet government and, later, the German occupation force. The Heereswaffenamt assigned MAB the inspection mark WaA251.
MAB produced as many as 54,000 Model Ds for the Germans and French Vichy government.
After the war, French police forces at home and in France’s colonies in Algeria and Indochina continued using the Model D. MAB manufactured approximately 300,000 Model Ds.
Originally published at Historical Firearms.