The MAT-49 was a submachine gun developed by French arms factory Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Tulle (MAT) for use by the French Army.
In 1949, after evaluating several prototypes (including a collapsible design from Hotchkiss
), the French MAT factory began production of the MAT-49 9 mm submachine gun. The MAT-49 used a machine stamping process
which allowed the economical production of large numbers of submachine guns, then urgently required by the French Army for use by Army, French Foreign Legion
as well as airborne and colonial forces. Production continued at Tulle until the mid 1960s, then switched to the Manufacture d'Armes de St-Etienne
plant (MAS), where the weapon was produced until 1979. In that same year, the French armed forces adopted the FAMAS 5.56 mm assault rifle
, and the MAT-49 was gradually phased out of service.
The MAT-49 saw widespread combat use during the first Indochina War
and the Algerian War
, as well as the 1956 Suez Crisis
. The weapon found considerable favor with airborne and mechanized troops, who prized it for its firepower and compactness.
As issued, the MAT-49 fires a 9x19mm Parabellum
cartridge, using a 20 single-column magazine for desert use or 32-round similar to the Sten magazine. The MAT-49 is blowback
-operated and box magazine-fed, with a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute on full auto. a modified MAT-49s manufactured for police forces, MAT 49/54 had two triggers, allowing use of full-auto fire or single shots, but most were manufactured as full-auto only.
After French forces left Indochina, the VPA and Viet Minh converted many captured MAT-49s to the Soviet 7.62 mm Tokarev pistol cartridge, then available in large quantities from the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.
The MAT-49 had a short, retractable wire stock, which when extended gave the weapon a length of 720 mm, and the magazine well and magazine could be folded forward parallel to the barrel for parachute jump or with a 45° angle hence allowing a safe carry until the magazine well is brought back to vertical position before opening fire. Barrel length is 230 mm, with some police-issue weapons manufactured with extended barrels and non-retractable wooden stocks. Minus magazine, the MAT-49 weighs about 3.5 kilograms, which makes it somewhat heavy for a submachine gun. The weapon incorporates a grip safety which is located on the backside of the pistol grip. The rear sights are flip-up and "L"-shaped, and marked for a range of 50 and 100 meters. Production ceased after the introduction of the FAMAS in 1979.