“Unique” Model 17, “7.65 Court 9 Coups” Field Strip

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So, we’ll go ahead and continue with the series on don’t-build-them-like-they-used-to handguns, and this time, we’ll be moving from Belgium to France.  Specifically, Hendaye, France- as this was home to Manufacture D’Armes Des Pyrenees (MAPF) from ~1923 to 2001.  From 1928 to 1944, they produced this handy little shooter, the Unique Model 17.DSCN1434

As you can see, the markings on the slide state 7.65 COURT 9 COUPS “UNIQUE” which, I have to admit, made identification of exact model a tad difficult.  What the markings on the slide are indicating is “7.65 Short (7.54 Browning), 9 Cartridge” and then the type of weapon “Unique” which referred to the brand.

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As I said, it’s pretty handy, and though it has quite a bit of heft to it, it’s very well balanced.  Functionally, it’s fairly similar to a handgun I’ve previously talked about on this blog, the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless (misnomer, as the Colt simply had a hidden hammer).  That said, the craftsmanship is no where near as fine as on the Colts or FNs from this era.  The tolerances are very loose, and though when assembled and shooting it feels fine, are very noticeable when you break it down.  The finish work throughout is also pretty terrible, and it shows when looking at the condition of many surviving examples.

So, on to the guide.

  • Remove magazine and ensure firearm is unloaded.
  • Retract slide to the point that the safety lever can be swung forward and catch the slide.
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  • Similar to the Colt, rotate the barrel 90^ clockwise (from front)
  • Disengage catch and withdrawl the slide from the frame.
  • Rotate barrel 90^ counter clockwise and remove from slide.
  • Remove Guide Rod from Frame and pull the Spring off of it.
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  • This is as far as you need to go for a basic cleaning.  Grip panels can be removed easily with a flathead screwdriver to access the Trigger Bar and clean out the Magazine Well if required.
  • Clean thoroughly and oil all contact surfaces.  These include the Barrel Lugs (frame and barrel), slide rails, and a light coating on the barrel itself and the Guide Rod.  Basically, if it looks like something rubs it, get a light coat of something on there.
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  • Reassembly can be a bit tricky due to the loose-as-hell tolerances I mentioned.  Getting the Barrel to re-engage with the Barrel Lugs in the frame can be a PITA since there aren’t any markings as some others (Colt) include.  But, I’ll give you the foolproof method here at Grey Arsenal
  • Reinsert Guide Rod into Spring, and reinsert the assembly into the hold in the Frame below the barrel, in the orientation it was originally (see earlier pictures if needed)
  • Replace the Barrel into the Slide, and when able, rotate 90^ Clockwise to lock it into the slide (term used VERY loosely).
  • Begin to replace Slide onto the Frame, taking care to line up the Guide Rod with it’s place in the Slide.
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  • At this point, things get fun, and by that I mean extremely frustrating if you haven’t done this before and aren’t using an awesome guide like mine.  You’ll want to move the slide back to the point where you can engage the safety/slide lock again, but be sure to move the barrel with the slide with one of your fingers.  If not, the loosey goosey tolerances will cause the Barrel to move around in there and you wont get it to engage the lugs.
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  • Once you have it locked up, Rotate the Barrel 90^ Counter Clockwise, which may be tough depending on the level of lubrication you gave it, and your particular Model 17.  Once you’ve rotated it properly, you should be able to disengage the Safety and the slide won’t be able to be pulled off.  Give it a try- if it comes off, try again.  If it stays put, Congratulations.

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For most owners, this handgun is the definition of a Curios & Relics class firearm, it’s an odd, storied little French autoloader that was probably handed down and down from a relative who brought it back as a WWII trophy.  Although it’s a “small” caliber, as I’ve mentioned before, some hot-loaded 7.65 rounds are still no joke, especially when you have a small package like this that can have 9+1 of them being carried Condition One.  Given the choice between this and a contemporary sub-compact concealed carry such as LCP or Sig P238 in .380, I’d readily choose the one that probably saw a WWII battlefield, or the mean, baguette-scented, streets of 1930’s Paris in the hands of a LEO.  Did I mentioned how nicely it fits in your palm?

29 thoughts on ““Unique” Model 17, “7.65 Court 9 Coups” Field Strip”

  1. Thanks for this guide! After field stripping ,I saw that my inherited Court 9 was in dire need of a cleaning!

    1. Hi just bought one. It arrived in two pieces (as is the rule here) good job I found this guide as I struggled some first, being a guy we don’t need instructions?
      Thank you for the explanation very appreciative Kenneth

  2. Hi James. I have the Unique without the exposed hammer. I can only get to the point in my takedown as to the barrel remove and when I release the slide lever the slide only moves forward about a 5/16 of a inch. Cannot remove the slide. What can I do to remove the slide. Thanks

      1. Hi Bob
        can you give me information on a 7.65 court 9 coup Unique ser # 3613 . It does not have a exposed hammer . how old would this unit be ?

    1. I had this issue. I just let the spring action pull the rod and slide off. Not as simple as my sr9 but not difficult.

  3. I would be interested in knowing what a range of values a Unique pistol with WW II military markings in excellent condition would be worth

  4. Savvy comments . Incidentally , if anyone is searching for a ATF E-Form 7CR , my wife edited a sample version here http://goo.gl/g1By5s

  5. 32 S&W R325W. will not function in my 7.65 Court 9 Coups Unique magazine ? Where can I find the 7.65 Ammunition needed for this fire arm?

  6. James, I recently found a 7.65 Court 9 in my Dad’s old belongings. Unfortunately, it is without the clip/magazine. Do you have any insight into where I can find one. Any help will be appreciated…..thanks for your page!!

  7. I have had a 7.65 COURT 9 for over 40 years. It is in nice condition except for replacement hand made wood grips which were on it when I acquired it. It also has a unique metal “loop hook” on the left rear corner of the handle which I assume was meant for a lanyard. I like it as I have a medium size hand and it fits perfectly. Fires accurately and never jams. Anyone have any info on the models with the “loop hook”?

    1. Here’s on on Guns America:
      https://www.gunsamerica.com/977257362/FRENCH-UNIQUE-MODEL-17-NAZI-MARKED-RIG.htm
      But I would absolutely NOT buy at that price, since, at least as of a few years ago, you’d see these things going for a couple hundred bucks, but that’s a good example of the usual condition in which you’ll find them. That particular one might be just a tad rougher than usual. Look for ones willing to show the barrel, they’re all going to be “not pretty”, but I’ve seen some that were pretty terrible.

      Keep an eye out on Gunbroker, Guns America, and Armslist. Generally they’ll be listed as “Unique Model 17.”

  8. Thanks for the article. My Unique has a captive recoil spring and I can’t see any method for removing it. Both ends of the guide rod seem to be fixed in place. I don’t see a pin or other method for retaining the guide rod end caps. Any ideas on how to disassemble?

  9. how do i go about look up the past on one of these guns i want to know who owned it an the history of it

    1. laramie mcneece Lol, you won’t have much luck with that. The history of the gun is the Germans produced them on French machinery while they vactioned in France from 1940-44. Typical they were issued to garrison troops(officers) in occupied territory as personal defense weapons. There is a German stamp on the rear tang of the frame (WA number) and a nazi halkenkruze (spelling?) as a proof stamp on the barrel (very tiny about 2-3 mm). The Germans produced two models of the French unique 17, a hidden hammer version and the kriegsmarine with the exposed hammer. Iirc some guns were later stamped for police use in various European countries.

      Mine was a vet bring back my dad bought off the vet for 15 dollars. It’s a kreigsmarine version but the frame and slide have differing serial numbers. Since I never spoke to the vet I’m not sure if the mismatch was from the Germans assembling the gun from a pile of captured French parts or if the vet assemble the gun from a captured parts pile (typically when you surrender a gun it is rendered inert by some form of disassembly such as removing the bolt from the rifle)

  10. There is a simpler way to disassemble. Bring the slide back and lock to rear with safety catch. Remove the magazine. Grasp barrel with thumb and fingers and gently rotate 90 degrees. It will come off the lugs. Rerotate by feel and the entire barrel will slide easily out front of gun. Now gently release safety catch and slide the slide assembly off the frame bring careful of the slide spring.

    To reassemble put spring back in frame with guide rod, reinstall the slide to front of frame and slide reward capturing guide rod and sling and lock. You reinstall barrel exactly backward to how you removed it- it slides in and you rotate it, it slides in to full depth and you rotate it back to upright position to capture the locking lugs.

    It took a long time to type this, but you can have the barrel out and the slide off the frame in about 20 seconds- much easier than doing the slide and barrel as a unit during reassembly and breakdown.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Would you know how to disassemble if the spring is jammed in the slide as I removed the spring pin trying to figure out how to disassemble. Now I cannot move the slide back or get the spring pin back. I hope I havent damaged it too much.

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  13. Hi everybody.
    I am looking for unique sit, that contains every models of unique pistols espicially the old ones.
    Thanks

  14. I am trying to locate grips & the screws to attach the grips for my Court 9 Coup. Any suggestions? Thank you.

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