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MAT-49 is a blowback operated, box magazine fed submachine gun which fires from open bolt. Most parts of the gun, including the receiver, pistol grip and a magazine housing, are stamped from sheet steel. Magazine housing can be folded forward and below the barrel when gun is not in use, to save space. Buttstock is made of steel wire and is retractable. MAT-49 is equipped with automated grip safety, located at the back of the pistol grip. Bolt retracting handle is located on the left side of the receiver; its slot is covered with sliding dustcover. Ejection window on the right side also is fitted with spring-loaded dustcover which opens up automatically when bolt is cocked. Army issue MAT-49 submachine guns can only fire in full automatic mode, but some batches were made for Gendarmerie and Police with dual triggers, and those guns were capable of both full-auto and single shots. Police guns also sometimes were made with longer barrels and non-retractable wooden stocks. Rear sights are of flip-up type, "L"-shaped and marked for 50 and 100 meters distance.
MAT-49 submachine gun was developed at the French state arms factory MAT (Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Tulle) in the late 1940s, and was adopted by the Armee de Terre (French Army) in 1949. First batches were delivered in 1950, and production of the MAT-49 continued at Tulle until mid-1960s, when it was transferred to the MAS factory at the St.Etienne. Production was ceased in 1979, when French army officially adopted the FAMAS assault rifle. For some 30 years the MAT-49 was widely used by French military and police forces, and it was brought through the Indo-China and Algeria campaigns, and it still could be encountered in ex-French colonies in Africa and Indo-China. It should be noted that North Vietnamese once produced local copy of the MAT-49, chambered for 7.62mm TT round. This gun is no longer used by French army, but still can be sometimes seen in the hands of the Police and Gendarmerie officers. For police use, MAT also produced a specialized version, known as MAT-49/54. This was fitted with a longer barrel and a wooden stock.</p>