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Today, guns are today highly regulated in France, a country with some of the strictest firearms laws in the developed world. French-made guns also have a less-than-flattering reputation due to a history of troubled and outdated designs like the forgettable Chauchat, a poorly-performing light machine gun, and the small, underwhelming Model 1892 revolver.
But there was a point in history when the French stood at the forefront of firearms-related design. They are credited with inventing the first pinfire, rimfire, and centerfire cartridges, as well as smokeless powder, which is used in modern ammunition.
In the late '30s, the French military officially adopted the homegrown MAC 1935S semi-automatic handgun designed by the Manufacture Nationale d’Armes de Saint Ètienne (MAS), which saw service during World War II. The Manurhin MR 73, a double-action revolver chambered in .38 Special and .357 Magnum was considered by many to be one of the best combat handguns ever made. It is still issued to members of the French GIGN counterterrorism unit.
The MAC 50, a direct descendant of the Model 1935S, has been the standard-issue semi-automatic pistol of the French army since being adopted in 1950. The French handgun legacy lives on.
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