Dog and Gun

Okay, here goes. A long time ago, the guys over at TFB got this ball rolling with “Dog and Gun #1,” which was a French Papillon with a French Berthier. Sacre bleu!

papillon et berthier TFB

Well, zut alors, we can top that. Although those ears do match that magazine pretty well.

Back at you with Small Dog, a French Poodle, and a French M1935 pistol, two relative pipsqueaks in the world of firearms and the dogs that employ them.


Hey, don’t laugh about poodles. They’re pretty bright, as dogs go. And in Napoleon’s day, poodles — obviously bigger ones than SD there — were the war dogs of the great Corsican’s army. After one battle, he wrote of being moved at seeing a poodle licking the face of his dead handler, and howling in a very near approximation of human grief.

This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog.

Small Dog would totally do that. In fact, he’s a tough little guy and is always proving his readiness to lick anyone. And if bad guys see him and don’t see the gun, like this:


They shouldn’t feel emboldened. He’s just carrying concealed.

You can laugh at the dog, but you needn’t laugh at the M1935, although it is kind of comical due to its small size, its small, goofy 7.65mm Long (7,65 longue) cartridge, and the crude French implementation of the parkerize-then-paint that became a standard western European finish for military firearms after the war. The finish of this French pistol seems closer to the engineering that brought you the three-lug Renault wheel than, say, the Mirage III or the Paul Doumer Bridge. And the less said about the hammer-block safety, the better: its contemporary, the Tokarev TT33 has a better safety, and it hasn’t got one at all.

But the design of the gun, by Charles Petter, is jewel-like. It gives you a feeling — to steal another expression from French — of dejà vu; and that’s Petter went on to develop it into the delectable Sig 210, which is basically this firearm scaled up to 9mm, and finished by sober Swiss Calvinists rather than Frenchmen whose minds were on love, not the factory floor.

Engineer and gun designer Charles Petter was French too -- by President Poincaré's proclamation.

Engineer and gun designer Charles Petter was French too — by President Poincaré’s proclamation.

Petter is an interesting character. A native Swiss, he was trained as an engineer and after his military service as a lieutenant of Infantry around the turn of the century, worked for many years for Krupp in Essen, Germany. By 1914, he had left Krupp’s employ and was working as an engineer for a Belgian mining firm. The outbreak of the war was accompanied by a barrage of stories of German atrocities in Belgium; it is unknown whether this was one of Petter’s motivations, but he took the train to Paris and joined the French Foreign Legion as a Legionnaire — the LE’s equivalent of a slick-sleeve private. He fought in many of the campaigns of  the early war, and survived, and rose in the ranks; unusually for a foreign-born Legionnaire, he was elevated to officer rank, and at war’s end was a captain. He was awarded two high decorations, the Croix de Guerre and membership in the Legion of Honor. (He was awarded French citizenship by Presidential decree in 1916). A Legion veterans’ group maintains a biography for him, drafted with the cooperation of noted French gun historian Jean Huot, which was the source of most of this biographical information.

After the war, he headed the French Lewis Gun firm for some years, but the company failed in 1933, and with his new pistol design joined the Alsatian Mechanical Design Company (SACM in French abbreviation) in Cholet, where he brought this pistol to reality and through French acceptance trials, and where he also designed a submachine gun candidate that was not successful.

The design of the weapon is fairly conventional, with a Browning drag-link locking action, the Colt 1902/05/11 type, not the later P-35 cam type that everyone copies today. The slide-rails-inside-frame-rails design was unusual for its day, now it’s less exotic thanks to the SIG and the CZ-75. It disassembles much like a .45, too, although there’s no barrel bushing. The sights are the typically useless nubbins of the period. The pivoting trigger is weird-feeling, spongy and pretty dreadful — not one of the more inspired departures from Browning’s canon.

This particular example is, apocryphally, a Vietnam bringback, although there are no papers with it. That seems unlikely as, like the majority of M1935A production, it was made during the Occupation and bears a Waffenamt marking.

Apart from the crude finish, the manufacture of the gun is extremely fine. And it sure does look good with Small Dog there.

Who else has a gun and dog pair? (Of course, there’s a reason this doesn’t catch on. Most of us have a lot of guns, and only one dog at a time. We’d need a Russian wolfhound, some German dachshunds and shepherds, an Afghan hound, and a lot of American mutts… and they hate it when you lock them in a safe).

26 thoughts on “Dog and Gun

  1. SPEMack

    Well, this obviously begs for a picture of Moma Mocha, my step lab, and my well worn Benelli auto shucker.

  2. Al T.

    Poncho liner made me smile… Mine is on the foot of my bed. Give Small Dog a treat for me.

  3. DSM

    I’d post a picture of our yorkie but in the amount of time it’d take from placing a pea shooter in the scene to taking the picture he’d have peed on it already.

  4. John

    The Napoleon quote above reminded me of a scene from a few years back (I’m a paramedic…) I had just pronounced a cop dead after he committed suicide at home (shot himself in the head). That didn’t really bother me, which is disturbing in its own right… what got to me was the cop’s small pet dog, being held on a leash outside the home by the cop’s partner, looking up at the house and knowing that something was profoundly wrong in its canine life. Always the stupid small things…

    Anyway, I’ve really been enjoying your blog since I discovered it. Awesome work!


  5. archy

    ***A long time ago, the guys over at TFB got this ball rolling with “Dog and Gun #1,” which was a French Papillon with a French Berthier. Sacre bleu! …. .

    Well, zut alors, we can top that. Although those ears do match that magazine pretty well.***

    I don’t reckon that you’re aware that the Finnish Suojeluskunta Civil Guards troops’ nickname for the Finnish M27, M28 and splendid M28/30 rifles wasPystykorva which approximately translates to *Spitz-dog ears.* The name is derived from the high and winged front sight guards of the Mosin-Nagant boltgun as rebuilt for Finnish service, very different from the shrouded hood the Soviet versions had, and which carried over to Siminov’s SKS/CKC semiauto design.

    Pystykorva that goes woof:

    Pystykorva that goes bang:

    1. Hognose Post author

      We’ve been telling the groomer to give him a “buzz cut,” another groomer recently informed us that on poodles it’s called a “puppy cut.” Like a lot of dogs, he hates going to the groomer — the car or truck ride, one of his favorite things, turns to terror when we park in front of the hated Place Of Many Bigger Dogs, and when I hand him off the poor little guy tries to cling to me, bemoaning his lack of opposable thumbs — but he likes being clean and tidy.

      People always ask “what kind of dog is that?” Absent the classic poodle-cut, there are no tells. Also, like all poodles, his hair does not shed and what does is allegedly hypoallergenic.

  6. Cap'n Mike

    I love small dogs.
    I couldnt find anything Scottish Highland in the safe, so I figured my old slab sided Govt Carbine would have to do.
    My Terrier did find some black watch to lay on.
    Maybe she will be sitting on my cairn someday.

    1. Hognose Post author

      She looks smart and serious! Some dogs look like they’re always smiling, some, like they’re always thinking hard, trying to solve Fermat’s Lost Theorem or something. Small dog and your wee little lass seem like the second kind.

      And the carbine’s interesting. 727-type upper (like the first M4s we had, some of which were labeled “M16 Carbine” on the receiver, circa 1992) with fixed carrying handle but with brass deflector. On a slabsided lower. Does it have a punch-out pivot pin in front, or an SP1-style screw? There are many variants of these carbines.

      1. archy

        ***And the carbine’s interesting. 727-type upper (like the first M4s we had, some of which were labeled “M16 Carbine” on the receiver, circa 1992) with fixed carrying handle but with brass deflector. ***

        The *brass deflector* was known as a *Brunton Bump* to those of us in the Ordnance biz working on the M16A2 project during the JSSAP days. The 723/733 carbines [Colt commercial designation] were the first ones I recall with the feature, though Canadian Diemaco M16A1s had the *receiver wart* as well.

  7. ToastieTheCoastie

    Thank the lord. When I first saw the picture I thought it was going to be one of those “Donate now or the dog gets it” things.

  8. staghounds

    Good to see the 35-A get some praise, they deserve it. And I never knew all that about M. Petter! Service in the 1914-18 Legion was tough in anyone’s book.

    1. Hognose Post author

      I didn’t know all that about him until I researched him for that post. And Petter didn’t just serve, he excelled to the level where he came to the attention of the wartime President of the Republic, presumably a kind of busy fellow.

    1. CHOtto

      Awesome dogs. Love the pic. Its a crappy photo I took from the kennel website (I can’t find the original on this computer), but that was Smokey (RIP buddy) after a good day. Savage 420 with a rooster and two Sharpies.

  9. Tam

    It had somehow escaped my notice until very recently that 7.65 Longue was the same cartridge as .30 Pedersen…

    1. Hognose Post author

      Love the wink. One eye’s half-asleep, the other has a bead on you.

      The revolver looks like an early Taurus, when they were Smith copies without the later QC problems the brand is known for.

      1. Sixgunner

        It’s the size of a Smith $ Wesson Model 10 (ie Military and Police, Victory Model, etc) but is actually a Llama Cassidy built by INDUMIL here in Colombia. It’s quite an ingenious mechanism, using a camming action on the hammer to prevent the piece from firing from a blow or being dropped. The finish is a rough with evident machining marks covered by the parkerizing. After doing a Taylor throat job on it there’s no longer any spitting of lead but the fixed sights still throw high and to the left. After 12 years I can use it well enough for its intended purpose. The main problem is the available ammo, 150 gr RNL at about 625 fps. The one time I DID use it on something live, however, the results were better than expected. The slug was recovered from the left ham of a medium sized porker after a head shot. Go figure.

  10. archy

    *A’right, lads! This ‘ere’s me dog Fido…. Fetch us another red tinny, Fido…Good dog!

    [You can believe that if you like. Just be glad I didn’t post a pic of my elephant *Spot* on the range.]

  11. Docduracoat

    Here is my standard Shnauzer “Zeus”
    He is a red blooded American dog.
    His breed comes from Germany
    That is my wife’s Walther PPK/S
    Walther is a German company.
    So I have a German dog and a German gun.
    Now indeed a Chinese, Austrian and American pet to go with other rifles!

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