Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Continental .32 Pocket Pistols, 1900-1914, Part II

A quick vignette of three more European .32 autos:

The top one, in the white, is an Austrian Steyr-Pieper M1908/34. Not content with the bizarre designs churned out by their native sons, Steyr licensed a design from Belgian gun maker Nicholas Pieper. Featuring a tip-up barrel (released by the lever above the trigger guard,) the mechanism was unusual in that the recoil spring was located above the barrel and pivoted with it, being fitted with a hook on the back to engage the slide. The example shown was made in 1920 and was issued to the postwar Austrian State Security Police.

The second one down is a Mauser M1914. A nicely-fitted pistol, the 1914 was a scaled up version of the company's M1910 .25 auto. An odd feature by modern standards was the removable sideplate in the frame, allowing access to the lockwork. The M1914 was a common substitute standard issue pistol in the imperial German army during the First World War, and the example shown sports military acceptance marks and came to America as a war trophy.

On the bottom is the one that started it all: The FN M1900, John Browning's first commercially successful self-loading pistol and the original home for the 7.65 Browning Automatic cartridge, now better known as the .32ACP. The pistol has several unusual features for a Browning design: The recoil assembly is above the barrel, rather than being concentric or located beneath it; also, the pistol requires tools, or at least a screwdriver, to disassemble for cleaning. The successors to this ur-Browning, the Colt M1903 and FN M1910, were vastly less baroque in their construction and seem quite modern by comparison.