Oddball Part II: German 7.65mm Pistols of WWI and WWII: Taschenpistolen/behelfspistolen im militarischen dienst.
Seeing the popularity of the new pistol, FN's competitors began cranking them out in ever increasing numbers. Because of their small size and lightweight their manufacturers marketed them for personal defense/concealed carry, bestowing upon them the title pocket pistols (in German Taschenpistoleri). Besides FN, in the pre-1914 period other well-known gunmakers such as Mauser, Walther, Sauer, Bayard, Steyr, Pieper and Webley sold 7.65mm pistols as fast as they could make them.
While American soldiers, police and civilian shooters looked askance upon the cartridge's less-than-impressive on-target performance, it was immediately embraced by European police agencies and military officers. On the Continent handguns were often considered more as badges of rank and authority rather than actual fighting weapons and law enforcement agencies and armies generally restricted their issue to officers and high-ranking noncoms.
Many Continental armies required their officers to purchase their own sidearms and the belief was that if a handgun was used at all, it would be as a last-ditch defensive weapon used to prevent an officer from being captured or killed. And in such a scenario it was felt a 7.65mm pistol would be perfectly suitable. This attitude was especially prevalent in Central European armies which resulted in German and Austro-Hungarian officers --especially those of high rank--carrying a bewildering assortment of privately owned 7.65mm pistols.
The 7.65mm pocket pistol's popularity was such that it eventually overcame Americans' disdain and it wasn't long before Colt, Savage and Harrington & Richardson were producing them on this side of the Atlantic where the cartridge was known as the .32 ACR
With the outbreak of WWI the 7.65mm pistol's popularity skyrocketed. The conditions of trench warfare resulted in pistols being issued to more and more personnel. The German army, needing additional weapons for their ever-expanding armed forces, placed orders for tens of thousands of them. The French bought 7.65mm pistols from Savage and contracted with Basque gunmakers in Spain for all the Ruby type pistols they might care to make while Beretta produced their Pistola Automatica Modello 1915/17 for the Italian army.
The civil unrest that swept Europe after WWI saw 7.65mm pistols being used by revolutionaries, armies and police forces in ever increasing numbers. As their production was not forbidden by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, gunmakers in Germany produced proven models while their R&D departments began development of more modern pistols.
While a number of new 7.65mm pistols were introduced after the war, in general they were modified copies of pre-war gun. Rheinische Metallwaren- und Maschinenfabrik's (the maker of the Dreyse Modell 1907 pistol--see Part I) Pistole Rheinmetall was based upon the FN Modele 1910 except it used a separate breechblock.
Franz Stock of Berlin began manufacture of his Stock Pistole Modell 1 after 1918. A simple, single-action, blowback design, its most notable feature is the half square, half tubular slide.
Heinrich Ortgies designed a 7.65mm pistol in 1919 that proved popular with German police and army officers and was manufactured by the Deutsche Werke of Berlin until 1924.
Between 1921 and 1931 Deutsches Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) produced their 7.65mm Modell 22 pistol, which was another close copy of the FN Modele 1910.
A groundbreaking development in pistol technology occurred in 1929 when Carl Walther Waffenfabrik replaced their antiquated Modell 4 type pistol with the Polizeipistole (PP). Chambered in 7.65mm it featured a double action/single action (DA/SA) trigger with a hammer drop safety lever. It was followed two years later by the compact Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell (PPK) both were instant successes being adopted by a number of German and European police forces.
Sauer & Sohn introduced a new SA design, the Modell 1930 Behorden, in 1930 and nine years later saw they released their 7.65mm Pistole 38H with a DA/SA trigger mechanism and a de-cocking lever in front of the left grip panel.
Mauser Waffenbrik continued production of their popular Modell 1914 until 1936 when it was replaced by the Selbstaladepistole Modell 1934, which was little more than the Modell 1914 with a more ergonomic grip. Not wanting to be left out of the DA/SA race, in 1940 they introduced their Mauser Hahn Selbstspanner (Self Cocking) Pistole, better known as the HSc.
All of the pistols mentioned above were adopted by German police and government agencies and, after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the Wehrmacht, Gestapo, SS and Nazi party officials.
The rapid expansion of the Wehrmacht saw a shortage of small arms forcing the Germans to issue all of the WWI era 7.65mm pistols mentioned in Part I of this report to artillery and machine gun squads, messengers, drivers, medics, and security units while many officers carried privately owned pistols.
As Nazi conquests spread across Europe the Germans captured vast quantities of weapons including large numbers of 7.65mm pistols of Belgian, French, Spanish, Czech and Dutch origin, which they issued to their occupation troops, rear echelon and support units, internal security forces and foreign volunteer units (Waffen SS).
Factories in occupied countries that were already producing pistols that the Wehrmacht could use without modification were kept running and companies such as Fabrique Nationale (Belgium), Ceska Zbrojovka (Czechoslovakia), Manufacture d'Armes de Bayonne and Manufacture d'Armes de Pyrenees Francaises (both in France) provided 7.65mm pistols to the occupying. German forces.
The duties and dangers connected with occupation duty led to the Germans issuing handguns to a large percentage of their personnel for self-defense against partisan attacks and reprisals.
In addition, the Germans purchased large numbers of 7.65mm pistols from gunmakers in allied countries: Fabbrica D'Armi Pietro Beretta (Italy), Femaru, Fegyver- es Gepgyar (Hungary) and Unceta y Compania (Spain).
In this report we are will examine three foreign 7.65mm pistols that saw widespread service with the Wehrmacht: Pistola Automatica Beretta Modello 1935, 7.65mm Pistole 671 (i); Frommer Femaru Pisztoly 37.M, 7.65mm Pistole 37(u); and the 7.65mm Pistole Unique Kriegsmodell (f).
7.65mm Pistole 671 (i)
In 1915 the Italian government contracted with Fabbrica D'Armi Pietro Beretta SpA to produce pistols for their hard-pressed army. Designed by Tullio Marengoni, the Pistola Automatica Beretta Modello 1915 was a compact, blowback operated design chambered for the standard Cartucce 9mm per Pistola Mo. 910 (a.k.a. 9mm Glisenti).
But the 9mm cartridge proved too powerful and Signori Marengoni redesigned his pistol to fire the Cartucce Calibro 7.65 per Pistola Beretta (7.65mm Browning). Known as the Pistola Automatica Beretta Modello 1915/17, it was similar to the Spanish Ruby type pistols being built for France, of which the Italians also purchased large numbers.
After the war, Marengoni continued to improve the design the result being series of pistols chambered for the 7.65mm Browning and 9mm Corto (9mm Browning Short--.380 ACP), the Pistolas Modello 1915/19, 1921, 1923, 1931 and 1934. All had distinctive design and cosmetic features that would become trademarks of Beretta pistols for rest of the century: an open top slide that exposed most of the barrel except for a bridge near the muzzle with an integral front sight; an Eibar type safety lever; a ring/rowel shaped hammer; and a magazine base plate with a finger rest extension.
The Modello 1934 was adopted as the standard pistol of the Italian army as the Pistola Automatica Beretta Modello 1934. It was chambered for the Cartucce 9mm per Pistola M.34 (9mm Corto).
In keeping with the finest traditions of intra service rivalry, the Italian air force declined to accept the new pistol, announcing they wanted a lighter handgun for their aircrews. Accordingly Beretta produced the Pistola Automatica Beretta Modello 1935, which differed in being chambered in 7.65mm, having a slightly lighter slide and no steel backing plates for the grip panels. The navy also found the Modello 35 to their liking and placed an order with Beretta.
Modello 1934 and 1935 pistols will be found marked "RE" (Regio Esercito) for the army, "RM" (Regia Marina) for the navy, or "RA" (Regia Aeronautica) for the Air Force. Both were issued to Italy's paramilitary gendarmerie, the Carabinieri, and local police forces. Police pistols may be marked "PS" (Pubblica Sicurezza).
Both the Modello 1934 and 1935 proved very popm lar with the Italian armed forces. In addition, Germany, Romania and Finland all placed orders with Beretta. In German service they were known as the 7.65mm oder 9mm Pistole 671 (i) and were widely used, especially in the Mediterranean theater. Late production pistols featured less hand fitting and a Parkerized finish.
On September 8,1943 the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was overthrown and Italy joined the Allied cause. Wehrmacht forces were already in place in much of northern Italy and took control of the Beretta factory where they kept Modello 1934 and 1935 pistols in production for the Germans and the armed forces of Mussolini's German backed state, the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (Italian Socialist Republic--RSI). According to Beretta records, between October 1943 and April 1945 in excess of 100,000 Modello 1935s were delivered to the Germans, although how many were actually issued is not known.
Beretta Modello 1934 and 1935 pistols remained in German service until the end of the war with numbers of them being issued to the Volkssturmin the final, desperate days of fighting. Production continued after the war and by 1967 in excess of 525,000 had made.
7.65mm Pistole 37(u)
In 1912 the Honvedseg, the semiautonomous Hungarian branch of the armed forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, adopted the Frommer-Stop Pisztoly 12.M. Designed by Rudolf Frommer, it was a rather complicated, long recoil design that used a rotating bolt head to lock the breech. This was a case of over engineering as the pistol fired the 7.65 mm-es Frommer tolteny which, except for a slightly lighter bullet at a slightly higher velocity, was identical to the 7.65mm Browning.
The Pisztoly 12.M was manufactured by Fegyver es Gepgyar Reszvenytarsasag (FGGY) of Budapest who sold them to Germany, Bulgaria and Ottoman Turkey during WWI. It remained an service with the post-war Hungarian army and police until 1945.
Frommer continued to work at FGGY and designed a pistol that they offered the Honvedseg, which was looking to replace their aging 12.M pistols, in the late 1920s. It was a hammer-fired, blowback design whose two unique features were a separate bolt assembly that was fixed into the rear of the slide and a 1911-type slide stop lever. After trials it was adopted as the Frommer Femaru Pisztoly 29.M, chambered for the 9 mm-es tolteny (9mm Browning Short--.380 ACP).
A year after Frommer's death, FGGY introduced a simplified pistol thaty did away with the separate bolt assembly, had a smaller hammer and a magazine base plate with a finger rest extension. Like the 12.M and 29.M pistols the only safety device was a grip safety. The Honvedseg adopted it as the Frommer Femaru Pisztoly 37.M. About 175,000 were made before production ceased in 1944.
Hungary was an ally of Nazi Germany and in 1941 the German government negotiated a contract with FGGY for 50,000 Frommer 37.M pistols. Known as the Pistole 37 (u), it differed from the Hungarian-issue pistol in that it was chambered for the 7.65mm Browning cartridge.
During its production life there were four variations:
--1st Variant. Except for the change of caliber to 7.65, the first consignments were identical to the 37.M. Slide markings were 'FEMARU FEGYVER ES GEPGYAR RT 37M'. Approximately 1000 were made.
--2nd Variant. The Luftwaffe demanded a manual thumb safety catch, which was added to the left rear of the frame. Slide markings were 'Pistole M.37, Cal. 7.65mm', manufacturing code 'jhv 41' and German WaffenAmt 'WaA56' acceptance stamps were added. Estimated production was 1000 units.
--3rd Variant. New slide markings 'Pistole M.37, Kal. 7.65mm'. The spelling 'Cal' was changed to 'Kal'. The 'jhv 41' and 'WaA56' markings are present. 5000 units were made.
--4th Variant. New slide marking 'P. Mod.37 Kal. 7.65.' The 'jhv 41' and 'WaA56' markings are present. 43,000 were made to complete the 50,000 pistol contract.
In 1943 a second contract was placed for an additional 35,000 pistols, which were identical to the 4th Variant except for slide markings. Reportedly most of the 7.65mm Pistolen 37(u) were issued to the Luftwaffe. Considerable numbers were brought home by GIs after the war and they were quite common on the surplus market.
7.65mm Pistole Unique Kriegsmodell (f)
Around 1905 Basque gunmakers began production of blowback-operated 7.65mm pistols based upon the FN Modele 1903 and Colt Ml903 designs. As was their usual practice, the Basques simplified the basic design to reduce production costs and time. Because of their place of origin they were referred to generically as Eibar pistols.
Desperate for handguns to equip their expanding armed forces, in 1915 the French approached the firm of Gabilondo y Urresti who offered the French army their Pistola Automatica Ruby.
The French contracted for 10,000 pistols per month. Later that year, as the situation on the Western Front worsened, the contract was changed to 30,000 pistols per month, which was upped a few months later to 50,000! By 1918 more than 700,000 had been delivered to the French.
Gabilondo y Urresti was unable to handle such large orders and subcontracted production out to other Basque gunmakers until there were no fewer than forty-five firms producing parts or entire pistols. Their quality ranged from acceptable to abysmal and standardization and interchangeability of parts was non-existent.
Regardless of the maker, in French service they were designated the 7.65mm Pistolet Automatique Genre Ruby, and were issued by the tens of thousands to all ranks. After the war the French army and police continued to use them and supplied excess pistols to Finland, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland.
Demand for 7.65mm pistols in France remained high, so much so that several French firms began manufacturing them, one of the most prolific being the aforementioned Manufacture d'Armes des Pyrenees Francaises (MAPF) located in Hendaye, a city in the French Basque province of Labourd and only 50 miles from the Spanish city of Eibar. Founded in 1923 by M. Jose Uria, they produced a series of Eibar-type pistols, but of much better quality, under the brand name Unique.
The Unique Modele 17 aped the appearance and function of the Ruby, the main difference being a longer grip frame containing a nine round, single column magazine retained by a heel type catch. Considerable numbers of them were purchased by the French army in the 1930s to replace their aging Ruby pistols.
After France's surrender, the Wehrmacht took control of MAPF, which, between 1941 and 1944, produced 30,000 Modele 17 pistols for the Germans. These can be identified by the logo on the grip plates which states 7.65 m/m 9 SCHUSS" (9 Shots) rather than the "7.65 m/m 9 COUPS" on pistols produced under French control.
The Germans had MAPF modify the Modele 17 so as to meet Wehrmacht standards. These included replacing the internal hammer with an external ring type hammer, adding a magazine disconnect safety and an arched backstrap on the grip frame to improve ergonomics. As modified it was known as the 7.65mm Pistole "Unique" Kreigsmodell (f) and approximately 18,000 were manufactured before the Allies liberated Hendaye in 1944.
After WWII MAPF continued manufacture of the Kreigsmodell as the Unique Modele RR51 which was adopted by the French police who took 102,000 pistols into service. Others were sold to the Moroccan National Police, the Gendarmerie Royal du Maroc (military police) and the armies and police forces of a number of French colonies. Production ceased in 1980.
I thought it would be interesting to conclude this report by test firing these half-dozen 7.65mm pistols. Taking into consideration their less-than-optimal sighting equipment, and the wartime quality triggers several of them possessed, I decided to perform accuracy testing at a practical distance of ten yards. Century International Arms kindly provided a supply of Fiocchi 7.65mm Browning ammunition loaded with 73-grain FMJ bullets sufficient to my efforts.
While the tiny sights on all of the pistols proved a trial, with a bit of concentration and determination I was able to produce some respectable, well-centered groups with this sextet of self-loaders with the Pistole 37 (u) taking honors. The Hungarian pistol also displayed the best ergonomics followed by the Beretta, Mauser, Kreigsmodell and Beholla with the Dreyse a distant last.
The order for trigger control was the same as accuracy--no surprise there. As for reliability, I experienced a few failures to feed with the Mauser and Unique's trigger hung up several times and would not release the hammer. The other four ran 100%.
If I was to use one of these pistols as a personal defense weapon the Pistole 37 (u) would be my hands down choice.
I would like to thank the following for providing information and materials used to prepare the report: Tim Hawkins, Lisa Warren, Douglas S. Aguiar Jr., Gianluigi Usai, Gerben van Vlimmeren, George Anderson, Ed Buffaloe, Laszlo Somogyi (www.hungariae.com), W. Darrin Weaver, Janez Hartman, Robert Cudzilo, Leszek Erenfeicht, Bill Grist, Rock Island Auction Co., James D. Julia Auctioneers (http://jamesdjulia.com) and all my friends at Jan Still's Luger Forum (www.luger.gunboards.com).
(1) On the April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer of the Third Reich, committed suicide using a 7.65mm Walther PPK.
(2) The Heerswaffenamt Fremden Gerat designations included an initial in parenthesis to designate the weapon's nation of origin: (i) Italien--Italy; (u) "Ungarn--Hungary; (f) Frankreich--France.
(3) After WWI the company was renamed Femaru Fegyver es Gepgyar Reszvenytarsasag.
(7) Kreigsmodell = War Model
(10) http://curioandrelicfirearmsforum.yuku.com/topic/9279/Unique-M 17 question#. VRloXGdFC70 (23
Photos by: Paul Budde & Becky Scarlata (unless otherwise indicated)
SPECIFICATIONS PISTOLA AUTOMATICA BERETTA MODELLO 1935 Caliber Cartucce Calibro 7.65 per Pistola Beretta Overall length 6 in. Barrel length 3.75 In. Weight (unloaded) 23.3 oz. Magazine 8 rounds Sights Front: Blade Rear: V-notch Grips Plastic SPECIFICATIONS 7.65MM PISTOLE MOD. 37 (U) Caliber 7.65mm Browning Overall length 7.2 in. Barrel length 4.3 in. Weight (unloaded) 27.2 oz. Magazine 8 rounds Sights Front: Blade Rear: V-notch Grips Grooved wood SPECIFICATIONS "UNIQUE" KRIEGSMODELL Caliber Cartouche de 7.65 pour P.A. Overall length 5.9 in. Barrel length 3.2 in. Weight (unloaded) 27.4 oz. Magazine 9 rounds Sights Front: Blade Rear: U-notch Grips Plastic TEST FIRING RESULTS: Pistol Group Size Dreyse Modell 1907 1.75 in. Mauser Modell 1914 1.25 in. Beholla 1.75 in. Beretta Modello 1935 1.375 in. Pistole 37 (u) 1.125 in. Unique Kreigsmodell 2.375 in. Note: group size is the smallest of three, five shot groups fired from an MTM K-Zone rest at seven yards.