Saturday, January 13, 2007


M1911 Colt pistol

United States Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911.

Mid-1945 produced M1911A1 U.S. Army automatic pistol by Remington Rand. This one was re-built by Anniston Army Depot, October 1972, and carries the ANAD 1072 stamp. The cartridges shown are the .45 ACP (left) and 7.65 mm Browning/.32 ACP (right). Confiscated early 2004 in or around Al-Qurna, Iraq, by Dancon/Irak. Destroyed shortly after.
Type Pistol
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by United States, United Kingdom (.455 caliber, WWI), Malaysia (Malayan Emergency)
Wars World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Malayan Emergency
Production history
Number built Over 2 million
Variants M1911A1, RIA Officers
Weight 2.437 lb (1,105 g) empty, w/ magazine (FM 23–35, 1940)
Length 8.25 in (210 mm)
Barrel length 5.03 in (127 mm), Government model;

4.25 in (108 mm), Commander model;
3.5 in (89 mm), Officer's ACP model

Cartridge .45 ACP
Caliber .45 in (11.43 mm)
Action Recoil-operated, closed bolt
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Muzzle velocity 800 ft/s (244 m/s)
Effective range 75 yd (62 m) (FM 23–35 of 1940)
Feed system 7 rounds (standard-capacity magazine), +1 in chamber

The M1911 is a single-action, semiautomatic handgun chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It was designed by John Browning, and was the standard-issue side arm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985. It was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Its formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original Model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam era. In total, the United States procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols during its service life.

The same basic design has also been offered commercially, and has been used by other militaries. In addition to the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), models chambered for .38 Super, 9 mm Parabellum, .400 Corbon, and other cartridges were also offered. The M1911 was developed from earlier Colt designs firing rounds such as .38 ACP. The design beat out many other contenders during the government's selection period, during the late 1890s and 1900s, up to the pistol's adoption. The M1911 officially replaced a range of revolvers and pistols across branches of the U.S. armed forces, though a number of other designs would see some use over in certain niches.

The M1911 is the most well-known of John Browning's design to use the short recoil principle in its basic design. Besides the pistol being widely copied itself, this operating system rose to become the pre-eminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern pistols.



Early history and adoption

The M1911 pistol originated in the late 1890s search for a suitable self-loading (or semi-automatic) handgun to replace the variety of revolvers then in service. The United States of America was adopting new firearms at a phenomenal rate; several new handguns and two all-new service rifles (the M1892/96/98 Krag and M1895 Navy Lee), as well as a series of revolvers by Colt and Smith & Wesson for the Army and Navy were adopted just in that decade. The next decade would see a similar pace, including the adoption of several more revolvers and an intensive search for a self-loading pistol that would culminate in official adoption of the M1911 after the turn of the decade.

Hiram S. Maxim had designed a self-loading pistol in the 1880s, but was preoccupied with machine guns. Nevertheless, the application of his principle of using bullet energy to reload led to several self-loading pistols in the 1890s. The designs caught the attention of various militaries, which began programs to find a suitable one for their forces. In the U.S., such a program would lead to a formal test at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.

During the end of 1899 and start of 1900, a test of self-loading pistols was conducted, which included entries from Mauser (the C96 "Broomhandle"), Mannlicher (the Steyr Mannlicher M1894), and Colt (the Colt M1900).

This led to a purchase of 1,000 DWM Luger pistols, chambered in 7.65mm Luger, a bottlenecked cartridge. These would go on field trials but ran into some issues, especially in regard to stopping power. Other governments had also levied similar complaints, which resulted in DWM producing an enlarged version of the round, the 9mm Parabellum (known in current military parlance as the 9x19mm NATO), a necked-up version of the 7.65mm round. Fifty of these were tested as well by the U.S. Army in 1903.

In response to problems encountered by American units fighting Moro guerillas during the Philippine-American War, the then-standard .38 Long Colt revolver was found to be unsuitable for the rigors of jungle warfare, particularly in terms of stopping power, as the Moros had very high battle morale and frequently used drugs to inhibit the sensation of pain. The U.S. Army briefly reverted to using the M1873 single-action revolver in .45 Colt caliber, which had been standard during the last decades of the 19th century; the slower, heavier bullet was found to be more effective against charging tribesmen. The problems with the .38 Long Colt led to the army shipping new double-action .45 Colt revolvers to the Philippines in 1902. It also prompted the then-Chief of Ordnance, General William Crozier, to authorize further testing for a new service pistol.

General William Crozier became Chief of Ordnance of the Army in 1901
General William Crozier became Chief of Ordnance of the Army in 1901

Following the 1904 Thompson-LaGarde pistol round effectiveness tests, Colonel John T. Thompson stated that the new pistol "should not be of less than .45 caliber" and would preferably be semi-automatic in operation. This led to the 1906 trials of pistols from six firearms manufacturing companies (namely, Colt, Bergmann, Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), Savage Arms Company, Knoble, Webley, and White-Merril).

Of the six designs submitted, three were eliminated early on, leaving only the Savage, Colt, and DWM designs chambered in the new .45ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge. These three still had issues that needed correction, but only Colt and Savage resubmitted their designs. There is some debate over the reasons for DWM's withdrawal — some say they felt there was bias and that the DMW design was being used primarily as a "whipping boy" for the Savage and Colt pistols [1], though this does not fit well with the earlier 1900 purchase of the DWM design over the Colt and Steyr entries. In any case, a series of field tests from 1907 to 1911 were held to decide between the Savage and Colt designs. Both designs were improved between each testing over their initial entries, leading up to the final test before adoption.

Among the areas of success for the Colt was a 6,000 round test at the end of 1910 attended by its designer, John Browning. The Colt gun passed with flying colors, having no malfunctions, while the Savage designs had 37.

Service history

M1911A1 by Springfield Armory (contemporary remake of WWII G.I. Model, Parkerized)
M1911A1 by Springfield Armory (contemporary remake of WWII G.I. Model, Parkerized)
M15 General Officers was adopted in the 1970s
M15 General Officers was adopted in the 1970s

Following its success in trials, the Colt pistol was formally adopted by the Army on March 29, 1911, thus gaining its designation, M1911 (Model of 1911). It was adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps in 1913. Originally manufactured only by Colt, demand for the firearm in World War I saw the expansion of manufacture to the government-owned Springfield Armory.

Battlefield experience in the First World War led to some more small external changes, completed in 1924. The new version received a modified type classification, M1911A1. Changes to the original design were minor and consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, a curved mainspring housing, a longer grip safety spur (to prevent hammer bite), a wider front sight, a longer spur on the thumb safety, and simplified grip checkering. Those unfamiliar with the design are often unable to tell the difference between the two versions at a glance. No internal changes were made.

World War II

World War II and the years leading up to it created a great demand for the weapon. During the war, about 1.9 million units were procured by the U.S. Government for all forces, production being undertaken by several manufacturers, including Remington Rand (900,000 produced), Colt (400,000), Ithaca Gun Company (400,000), Union Switch and Signal Company (50,000), Singer (500), the Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal. So many were produced that, after 1945, the government did not order any new pistols, and simply used existing parts inventories to "arsenal refinish" guns when necessary. This pistol was favored by US military personnel.

Before World War II, a small number of Colts were produced under license at the Norwegian weapon factory Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk (these Colts were known as "Kongsberg Colt"). After the German occupation of Norway the production continued, and in 1945 got German Waffenamt acceptance marks; these pistols are highly regarded by modern collectors. Captured 1911 pistols were highly prized by German troops as well due to the necessity of capturing or killing an officer for one. The 1911 pattern also formed the basis for the Argentine Ballester-Molina and certain Spanish Star and Llama pistols made after 1922.

Replacement for most uses

After the Second World War, the M1911 continued to be a mainstay of the United States Armed Forces in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and was even used during Desert Storm in some U.S. Army units.

However, by the late 1970s the M1911A1 was acknowledged to be growing long in the tooth, Under political pressure from NATO to conform to the NATO-standard pistol cartridge, the US Air Force's Joint Service Small Arms Program was run to select a new semi-automatic pistol using the NATO-standard 9mm Parabellum pistol cartridge (a cartridge that had been previously tested by the US Army in 1903 and found wanting). After trials, the Beretta 92S-1 was chosen. This result was contested by the Army which subsequently ran its own competition (the XM9 trials) in 1981 which eventually lead to the official adoption of the Beretta 92F on January 14, 1985. By the later 1980s production was ramping up despite a controversial XM9 retrial and a separate XM10 reconfirmation, which was boycotted by some entrants of the original trials, cracks in the frames of the Beretta-produced pistols, and also despite a dangerous problem with slide separation that resulted in injuries to some US Navy servicemembers. This last resulted in it being updated to the 92FS standard, which includes additional protection for the user.

By the early 1990s, most M1911A1s had been replaced by the M9, though many remain in use by special units. The United States Marine Corps in particular resisted the change-over, and they were able to win the right to continue use of the M1911A1, as did many smaller special groups within the armed forces. For its part, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) issued a requirement for a .45 ACP handgun (the OHWS trials). This resulted in the Heckler & Koch OHWS becoming the MK23 Mod 0 Offensive Handgun Weapon System (beating a Colt OHWS).

Current users

The M1911A1 design is favored by a large number of police SWAT teams throughout the United States. Many military and law enforcement organizations in the United States continue to use (often modified) M1911A1 pistols because they favor the stopping power of the .45 cartridge and the superior handling of the weapon in close fighting[citation needed]. Marine Force Recon, Los Angeles Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (Delta Force) are among them. It is rumored that upon entry into the unit, each delta operator is given a stipend to get a 1911, customized to his liking. The Tacoma, WA Police Department made history in 2001 by becoming the first metropolitan police department in nearly 50 years to adopt the 1911 as its official carry weapon. TPD selected the Kimber Pro Carry II or Pro Carry II HD as optional, department supplied weapons available to its officers.[2]

The M1911 is also extremely popular among the general public in the United States for practical and recreational purposes. The pistol is commonly used for concealed carry, personal defense, target shooting, and competition. Numerous aftermarket accessories allow the user to customize the pistol to his or her liking. There are a growing number of manufacturers of 1911-type pistols and the model continues to be quite popular for its reliability, simplicity, and nationalist appeal. Various tactical, target, and compact models are available. Price ranges from a low end of $250 for an imported model to more than $3,000 for the best competition or tactical models such as those by Wilson, Kimber, Springfield Armory, STI International Inc, Strayer Voigt Inc, Les Baer and Evolution Gun Works.

The Springfield Custom Professional Model 1911-A1 pistol is produced under contract by Springfield Armory for the FBI regional SWAT teams and the Hostage Rescue Team. This pistol is made in batches on a regular basis by Springfield's custom shop, and a few examples from most runs are made available for sale to the general public at a selling price of approximately $2500.00 USD each.

MEU M1911

USMC Marine Expeditionary Units continue to issue M1911s to Force Recon units. Hand-selected Colt M1911A1 frames were gutted, deburred, and prepared for additional use by the USMC Precision Weapon Section (PWS) in Quantico, VA. They were then assembled with after-market grip safeties, ambidextrous thumb safeties, triggers, improved high-visibility sights, accurized barrels, grips, and improved Wilson magazines. These hand-made pistols were tuned to specifications and preferences of end users.

In the late 1980s, USMC Colonel Robert Young laid out a series of specifications and improvements to make Browning's design ready for 21st century combat, many of which have been included in MEU(SOC) pistol designs. However, as the U.S. Marine Corps began its process of hand selecting members from its Force Recon to be submitted to USSOCOM as Marine Corps Special Operations Command - Detachment One, or MCSOCOM Det-1, the selection of a .45 ACP M1911A1-based pistol meant roughly 150 units would be needed, quickly. The PWS was already backlogged with producing DMRs, USMC SAM-Rs, and updating M40A1s to M40A3s, so Det-1 began the search for COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) surrogates to use. Discovering that the Los Angeles Police Department was well pleased with their special Kimber M1911 pistols, a single source request was issued to Kimber for just such a pistol despite the imminent release of their TLE/RLII models. Kimber shortly began producing a limited number of what would be later termed the Interim Close Quarters Battle pistol (ICQB). Maintaining the simple recoil assembly, 5-inch barrel (though using a stainless steel match grade barrel), and internal extractor, the ICQB is not much different from Browning's original design.

The final units as issued to MCSOCOM Det-1 are the Kimber ICQBs with Surefire IMPL (Integrated Military Pistol Light), Dawson precision rails, Tritium Novak LoMount sights, Gemtech TRL Tactical Retention Lanyards, modified Safariland 6004 holsters, and Wilson '47D' 8 round magazines. They have reportedly been used with over 15,000 rounds apiece.

The 1911 is slated to be the issue handgun for all Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable), and should be used well into the second century of the design.

Other Users

Numbers of Colt 1911s were used by the Royal Navy as sidearms during World War I in .455 Webley Automatic caliber. The handguns were then transferred to the Royal Air Force where they saw use in limited numbers up until the end of World War II as sidearms for air crew in event of bailing out in enemy territory.


Asking for a .45 caliber automatic pistol was a tall order that few manufacturers or inventors attempted successfully in the early 20th century. To accomplish this, Browning settled on a design that is so timeless, it has been changed little in nearly 100 years of production. The basic principle of the pistol is recoil operation. As the bullet and combustion gasses travel down the barrel, they give momentum to the slide and barrel which are locked together during this portion of the firing cycle. After the bullet has left the barrel, the slide and barrel continue rearward a short distance.

At this point, a link pivots the barrel down, out of locking recesses in the slide, and brings the barrel to a stop. As the slide continues rearward, a claw extractor pulls the spent casing from the firing chamber and an ejector strikes the rear of the case pivoting it out and away from the pistol. The slide stops and is then propelled forward by a spring to strip a fresh cartridge from the magazine and feed it into the firing chamber. At the forward end of its travel, the slide locks into the barrel and is ready to fire again.

The military mandated a grip safety and a manual safety. A grip safety, sear disconnect, slide stop, half cock position, and manual safety (located on the left rear of the frame) are on all standard M1911A1s. Several companies have developed a firing pin block safety. Colt's 80 series uses a trigger operated one and several other manufacturers use one operated by the grip safety.

Despite being challenged by more modern and lightweight pistol designs in .45 caliber, such as the Glock 21, the SIGARMS P220 and the aforementioned Heckler & Koch Mk 23, the original 1911 design shows no signs of decreasing popularity. Despite its large size, the M1911 has a very flat profile owing to its single-stack magazine design, easing concealment.


  • Cartridge: .45 ACP;
  • Other commercial and military derivatives: Other versions offered include .38 ACP, 9 mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, 10 mm Auto, .400 Corbon, .22 LR, .50 GI, and probably many others. The major ones were 9 mm Parabellum (9 x 19 mm), .38 Super, 10 mm Auto, .455 British.
  • Barrel: 5 in (127 mm) Government, 4.25 in (108 mm) Commander, and the 3.5 in (89 mm) Officer's ACP. Some modern "carry" guns have significantly shorter barrels and frames, while others use standard frames and extended slides with 6 in (152 mm) barrels
  • Rate of twist: 16 in (406 mm) per turn, or 1:35.5 calibers (.45 ACP)
  • Operation: Recoil-operated, closed bolt, single action, semi-automatic
  • Weight (unloaded): 2 lb 7 oz (1.1 kg) (government model)
  • Height: 5.25 in (133 mm)
  • Length: 8.25 in (210 mm)
Memory groove grip safety
Memory groove grip safety
  • Capacity: 7+1 rounds (7 in standard-capacity magazine +1 in firing chamber); 8+1 in aftermarket standard-size magazine; 9+ in extended and hi-cap magazines/frames guns chambered in .38 Super and 9 mm have a 9+1 capacity. Some models using double-stacked magazines, such as those from Para Ordnance, Strayer Voigt Inc and STI International Inc have significantly larger capacities.
  • Safeties: A grip safety, sear disconnect, slide stop, a half cock position, and manual safety (located on the left rear of the frame) are on all standard M1911(A1)'s. Several companies have developed a firing pin block. Colt's 80 series uses a trigger operated one and several other manufacturers use one operated by the grip safety.
  • Grip safety deactivation: A problem for some shooters is that they have trouble deactivating the grip safety when they hold the gun. This primarily affects shooters who have small hands. It can also occur when a shooter places their thumb on top of the thumb safety, which tends to reduce pressure on the grip safety. To rectify this problem, a number of grip safety manufacturers have designed safeties with a bump on it, so that when a shooter grips the gun, their hand will come into contact with the bump and deactivate the safety (i.e., allowing the gun to fire).


  1. ^ Hallock, Kenneth R., Hallock's .45 Auto Handbook, Kenneth R. Hallock, 1980.
  2. ^ December 2001 Shooting Industry article

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
United States infantry weapons of World War II and Korea
Side arms
Colt M1911/A1 | M1917 revolver | Smith & Wesson "Victory" revolver
Rifles & carbines
Springfield M1903 | M1 Garand | M1 Carbine | M1941 Johnson | Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR)
Submachine guns
Thompson ("Tommy Gun") M1928/M1/A1 | M3 "Grease Gun" | Reising M50/M55 | United Defense M42
Machine guns & other larger weapons
Browning M1917 | Browning M1919 | Johnson LMG | Browning M2 HMG | Bazooka | M2 flamethrower
Cartridges used during World War II and the Korean War
.45 ACP | .38 Special | .30-06 Springfield | .30 Carbine | 9 mm Luger | .50 BMG

External links

Friday, January 12, 2007


Beretta 92

Beretta 92

Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin Italy
Service history
Used by
Production history
Manufacturer Beretta
Produced 1975 – present
Variants See Variants and Development
  • 950 g (92)
  • 970 g (92S/SB/F/G)
  • 920 g (92D)
  • 900 g (Compact/Vertec)
  • 217 mm
  • 211 mm (Vertec)
  • 197 mm (Compact/Centurion)
Barrel length
  • 125 mm
  • 119 mm (Vertec)
  • 109 mm (Compact/Centurion)

Feed system Detachable box magazine:
  • 15, 17 rounds (92, 98 series)
  • 11 rounds (96 series)
  • 10, 13 rounds (Compact L)
  • 8 rounds (Compact M)

The Beretta 92 (also Beretta 96 and Beretta 98) is a series of semi-automatic pistols designed and manufactured by Beretta of Italy. It was designed in 1975 and production of many variants in different calibers continues to the present day. It is most famous for replacing the M1911 .45 ACP pistol as the standard sidearms of the United States armed forces in 1985 as the M9 Pistol.

Although only 5000 copies of the original design were manufactured from 1975 to 1976, the design is currently produced in four different configurations (FS, G, D an DS) and three calibers:



The Beretta 92 pistol evolved from earlier Beretta designs, most notably the M1922 and M1951. From the M1922 comes the open slide design, while the alloy frame and locking block barrel (originally from Walther P38) were first used in the M1951. The grip angle and the front sight integrated with the slide were also common to earlier Beretta pistols.

The Beretta 92 first appeared in 1976 and was designed by Carlo Beretta, Giuseppe Mazzetti and Vittorio Valle, all experienced firearms designers on the Beretta design team.


About 5000 copies of the first design were manufactured from 1975 to 1976.


In order to meet requirements of some law enforcement agencies, Beretta modified the Beretta 92 by adding a slide-mounted combined safety and decocking lever, replacing the frame mounted manual thumb safety. This result in the 92S which was adopted by several Italian law enforcement and military units. The later relocation of the magazine release button means these models (92 & 92S) cannot necessarily use later magazines, unless they have notches in both areas.

92SB (92S-1)

Initially called the 92S-1 when it was specifically designed for US Air Force trials (which it won), the model name officially adopted was the 92SB. It included the changes of the 92S, added a firing pin safety, and relocated the magazine release catch from the bottom of the grip to the lower bottom of the trigger guard.

  • 92SB Compact (1981 – 1991), shortened barrel and slide (13-round magazine capacity). It was replaced by the "92 Compact L".

92F (92SB-F)

Beretta modified the model 92SB slightly to create the 92F (and 92G) by making the following changes:

  • Redesigned all the parts to make them interchangeable between 92 variants to simplify maintenance for large government organizations.
  • Modified the front of the trigger guard so that one could use finger support for easier aiming.
  • Modified the front angle of the grip to allow for better instinctive aiming.
  • Hard chromed the barrel bore to protect it from corrosion and to reduce wear.
  • New surface coating on the slide called Bruniton, which allegedly provides better corrosion resistance than the previous plain blued finish.

U.S. Military use

Marine Security Guard students perform rapid-fire exercises on the Department of State pistol qualification course Feb. 4 as part of their MSG graduation requirement
Marine Security Guard students perform rapid-fire exercises on the Department of State pistol qualification course Feb. 4 as part of their MSG graduation requirement

When the U.S. Air Force (USAF) began the Joint Service Small Arms Program, Beretta entered the competition. The Beretta 92SB (92S-1) won, but the Army contested the Air Force's methods. There would be several more competitions, and Beretta refined the design of the Beretta 92SB into the Beretta 92SB-F and in slightly modified form the Beretta 92G. These designs were ultimately selected by the United States (Beretta 92F, U.S. Military designation of M9 Pistol) and France (Beretta 92G, French military designation of "PAMAS"). The M9 Pistol was intended to replace the M1911A1 and .38-caliber revolvers and pistols. Over 500,000 M9 pistols were made and the switch-over was largely achieved.

The USAF has scheduled switching over from the early model M9 (92F) to the 92FS standard, according to planning documents. In May 2005, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) posted its intent to award a sole-source contract to Beretta for 3,480 "M9A1" pistols (M9 with an accessory rail, also available to the public from June 2006). In the U.S. Army, selected M9s were scheduled to be replaced by XM8 compact carbine variants. However, XM8 and the entire OICW Increment 1 program were suspended in July 2005. Current model M9s are scheduled for replacement under the Future Handgun System, which was merged with USSOCOM's SOF Combat Pistol program to create the Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) program. The JCP winner is specified as having a number of new features; chambered for .45 ACP, an integrated rail, Day/Night sights, and capable of accepting a sound suppressor. In early 2006, the JCP program was renamed Combat Pistol and seemingly split from the Army program.

Confusing matters, the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) purchased 5,000 Ruger P95 and 5,000 SIG SP2022 (SIGPro) pistols in December 2004. However, these pistols were purchased solely for issue to Iraqi security forces.

Early problems

Disassembled Beretta M9
Disassembled Beretta M9

Beretta now had two major contracts, about 500,000 units for the U.S. armed forces and around 230,000 units for the French armed forces. In the case of the Beretta 92G, the French would supply the slide steel to Italy, until GIAT would start licensed production. Beretta decided to use 5,000 semi finished slides intended for the French to build pistols for the U.S. military contract and soon after the US Armed forces accepted these pistols, a few slides of Beretta 92Fs (less than 10 total) and some older Beretta 92SBs started to crack and fly off. An investigation would later identify the lot that had been made with metallurgically inferior French steel slides as well as U.S.-manufactured 9 mm Luger ammunition that was extremely overpressured and not within specifications. Both parties were placing blame on each other without fully admitting their oversight. It was also discovered that the locking block required a design change to increase its service life. Military then has decided to exchange locking blocks after 5000 rounds giving a bad reputation to Beretta on the civilian market as a gun with a short life span. When a new version of a locking block appeared, it was a success. The locking block now is rated for 25,000 rounds, minimum. Yet, something had to be done to reduce the risk for the user of being struck by the rear half of the slide. The solution was the addition of a slide retention device in form of an enlarged hammer axis pin, the result was the Beretta 92FS. Since then, nearly all modern Beretta pistols are fitted with this simple means of user protection.

During this time, tests were also carried out using a closed slide (slide that lacks a cut which exposes a barrel), but this reduced the reliability of the pistol. Beretta eventually designed a new slide, one that contained more steel in the area prone to breakage, basically, thickening the slide walls. Later, this slide became known as the Brigadier type slide. And, although the causes of the initial slide breakages had already been remedied, the Brigadier is currently offered to consumers as a variant in addition to the original design, because its heavier weight helps to control the pistol when a series of shots is fired in quick succession. The Brigadier slide also offers the ability to adjust or replace the front sight in a dove-tail groove. Previously, on non-Brigadier slide, it was impossible because the front sight was a part of the slide and prevented any manipulation.

The trigger spring is another aspect that has been improved. It is responsible for resetting a trigger to its original position after each trigger pull. There had been cases where this spring would snap leaving a person with a half functioning handgun that would require the shooter to manually reset the trigger to its forward position. Beretta remedied the situation by changing the spring's design so that each leg is similar allowing it to be inverted in case one leg fails until a replacement can be fitted. The best practice is to change the trigger spring at regular intervals.

Design advantages

The Beretta 92's open slide design ensures very reliable feeding and ejection of ammunition and allows the barrel to cool down quickly. The locking block barrel lockup provides good accuracy without the need for tight tolerances. The high capacity magazine reduces the need to swap magazines often. The alloy frame reduces the overall weight of the pistol.

The open slide design is believed by some to increase the amount of dirt and dust that enter the pistol. Some feel that it allows more foreign matter to pass out of the pistol's action, thereby enhancing the design's field reliability. Neither side has any more validity than the other and, in practice, the firearm is as reliable as it is.

The magazine release button is reversible, making use by left handed shooters easier.

The hard-chromed barrel bore reduces wear and protects from corrosion.

Nowadays, it is popular to reduce handgun weight using light alloys or polymer. While handgun owners are yet to accustom to an idea of polymer guns, aluminum seemed like a right choice at the design time. Recently, polymer started to enter Beretta 92/96 models. This does not count the fact that the grips were always plastic except some models that have Hogue rubber grips. In 2004, first introduced internal polymer part was a recoil spring guide. Many Beretta owners were displeased with said polymer part just because it is "plastic." The polymer recoil spring guide does, in fact, work as well as its steel counterpart. However, it is possible that weight of a steel part helps with follow up shots by reducing muzzle flip. Moreover, in the middle of 2005 new polymer parts started to appear in Beretta 92/96 guns. New polymer parts include safety levers, trigger, slide release, disassembly latch.


The Beretta 92 is available in many configurations each with a distinct model name. Combining the various options results in more than 50 different configurations, but the major variants are defined by their operation caliber (92/96/98), operation (FS/G/D/DS) and combination of optional items (Inox/Brigadier slide/Compact length):


Each model name starts with two digits identifying the caliber:

Chambered for the 9 x 19 mm Parabellum.
Chambered for the .40 S&W, introduced in 1993.
Chambered for 9 x 21 mm IMI. This option was introduced in 1991 for markets where it is illegal to own a weapon chambered for a military cartridge like 9 x 19 mm.


FS (standard)
The current production version of the 92F with the only change being the addition of a slide-mounted ambidextrous safety (also acts as decocking lever). It is this version that was adopted by the US Army as the M9 Pistol.
G (no safety)
This version was created for and adopted by the French Military as PAMAS ; it is simply a model 92F with a decocking lever that does not also act as safety lever.
D (double-action, no safety)
The double-action-only variant of the 92F.
DS (double-action with safety)
The double-action-only variant of the 92F that includes a safety.


(2003 –)
  • New vertical grip.
  • Short-reach trigger.
  • Thinner grip panels.
  • Integral accessory rail.
  • Removable front sight (can be replaced with Tritium sight).
  • Bevelled magazine well (to enable easier/faster reloading).
(1993 – 2006)
60 g heavier slide (and 1 mm wider) to improve control when firing multiple shots in quick succession. It also includes removable front and rear Novak type sights.
Elite I
(1999 – 2001)
Pistols with this option include the heavier Brigadier slide and some modifications to the grip and bevel of the magazine well. It was introduced in 1999 and replaced by the Elite II option in 2001.
92G Elite II
92G Elite II
Elite II
(2001 – 2006)
This option replaced the Elite I option in 2001 and includes the same features of the heavier Brigadier slide and removable Novak type sights, but also an extended magazine release catch and skeletonized hammer. This option is available only with the stainless-steel slide.
Stainless barrel, slide (frame anodised to match color).
Compact L
(1992 –)
Shorter barrel, slide, and more compact frame (13-round magazine capacity).
Compact Type M
(1992 –)
Similar to the Compact L, but has a slimmer grip that accepts only a single stacked 8-round magazine.
Shorter Beretta 92 Centurion
Shorter Beretta 92 Centurion
(1992 – 1996)
Shorter barrel and slide of (like "Compact"), but with standard-sized frame.
(1992 – 1993)
Single action only. It is designed for sport shooting and includes a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy.
(1994 –)
Heavier Brigadier slide. It is also designed for sport shooting and includes a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy.
(1994 – 2001)
Heavier Brigadier slide, single-action only and also designed for sport shooting, including a front barrel bushing for improved accuracy. It also came with an additional longer barrel.
(2001 only)
A limited-edition (2000 copies) commemoritive (of the year 2000) model manufactured in the 2001, featuring the heavier Brigadier slide.
Steel I
(2004 – 2006)
Nickel-plated, single-action-only, collector's model. [Edit: Both single-action-only and single/double-action variants exist. Also used and desirable for competitive shooting because of its steel frame (for added weight & strength), the frame-mounted safety and/or Vertec-style grip-frame that are all found to be desirable features in a competition gun.]


The Beretta 93R is a 92 modified significantly to provide the option of firing in three-round bursts. It also has a longer barrel, heavier slide, fitting for a shoulder stock, extra forward grip, and an extended magazine.


The Beretta 92 was designed for sports and law enforcement use and, due to its reliability, was accepted by military users in South America. The first large contract for the Beretta 92 was a with the Brazilian army, for which Beretta set up a factory in Brazil. It later sold this factory to the Brazilian gunmaker Taurus.

Taurus continues to make pistols (under license from Beretta) based on the original Beretta 92, calling it the PT92, the barrel of which is still interchangeable with a Beretta 92. Taurus modified the original Beretta 92 design, and its recent pistols have the magazine release located behind the trigger guard, and different safeties that act as decocking levers when pulled down and trigger locks when pushed up, presenting the end-user with a different variety of safety options.

See also

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


Blue Book of Gun Values, 26th Edition, S. P. Fjestad ISBN 1-886768-55-2

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Browning Hi-Power

Browning Hi-Power

Browning Hi-Power, with adjustable rear sight, and shoulder stock
Type Pistol
Place of origin US/Belgium
Service history
Used by Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, United States
Wars World War II

Cartridge 9x19mm
Caliber 9x19mm
Action Recoil-operated
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Feed system 13 rounds (standard-capacity magazine), +1 in chamber

The Browning Hi-Power is a semi-automatic, single-action, 9 mm pistol. It is based on ideas conceived and patented in 1922 by American firearms inventor John Browning, and later patented by Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (FN) of Herstal, Belgium. Browning died in 1926, before he had finished developing a production version. The design was fully developed and realized by Belgian arms designer Dieudonne Saive, working at FN.

The Hi-Power pistol is named for its 13-round magazine capacity, which was almost twice that of contemporary designs such as the Luger or Mauser 1910. The Hi-Power had the first functional double-column magazine of 9 mm Parabellum rounds, and was capable of holding 13 cartridges, with a 14th loaded in the chamber.


The Hi Power was designed in response to a French military requirement for a new service pistol, the Grand Rendement (French for "High Yield"), or alternatively Grand Puissance (literally "high power"). The French military's requirements were that the arm have a 15-round capacity, a magazine disconnect device, an 8-inch barrel, and that it should be chambered for the same 9mm Parabellum cartridge that Germany used. It was to accomplish all of this without weighing more than 1kg (2.2 lb).

FN enlisted John Browning to design a new military sidearm conforming to this specification. Browning had previously sold the rights to his successful M1911 U.S. Army automatic pistol to Colt's Patent Firearms, and was therefore forced to design an entirely new pistol while working around the M1911 patents. Browning built two different prototypes for the project. One was a simple blowback design, while the other was operated with a locked-breech recoil system. Both prototypes utilized a new staggered magazine design to increase capacity without unduly increasing the pistol's grip size or magazine length.

The locked breech design was selected for further development and testing. This model was striker-fired, and featured a double-column magazine that held 16 rounds. The design was refined through several trials held by the Versailles Trial Commission.

In 1928, when the patents for the Colt Model 1911 had expired, Dieudonne Saive integrated many of the Colt's previously patented features into the Grand Rendement design, in the Saive-Browning Model of 1928. This version featured the removable barrel bushing and takedown sequence of the Colt 1911.

By 1931, the Hi-Power design incorporated a shortened 13-round magazine, a curved rear gripstrap, and a barrel bushing that was integral to the slide assembly. By 1934, the Hi-Power design was complete and ready to be produced. It was first adopted by Belgium for military service in 1935 as the Browning P-35. Ultimately, France decided not to adopt the pistol, instead selecting the conceptually similar Mle. 1935.

Design features

Browning HP "Adjustable Rear Sight Model", made for Finnish airforce in 1939. Pistol has internal extractor
Browning HP "Adjustable Rear Sight Model", made for Finnish airforce in 1939. Pistol has internal extractor
Browning HP "Adjustable Rear Sight Model", made for Sultan of Muscat & Oman. Pistol has external extractor
Browning HP "Adjustable Rear Sight Model", made for Sultan of Muscat & Oman. Pistol has external extractor

The Browning Hi-Power has undergone continuous refinement by FN since its introduction. The pistols were originally made in two models: an "Ordinary Model" with fixed sights and an "Adjustable Rear Sight Model" with a tangent-type rear sight and a slotted grip for attaching a wooden shoulder stock. The adjustable sights are still available on commercial versions of the Hi-Power, although the shoulder stock mounts were discontinued during WW2. In 1962, the design was modified to replace the internal extractor with an external extractor, improving reliability slightly.

Standard Hi-Powers are based on a single-action design. Unlike modern 'double-action semi-automatic pistols, the Hi-Power's trigger is not connected to the hammer. If the pistol is carried with the hammer down, the shooter must manually operate the slide in order to cock the pistol. In common with the Colt 1911, the Hi-Power is therefore typically carried, in military use, with the hammer cocked and the safety catch on (a carry mode often called cocked and locked, or sometimes called condition one).

The Hi-Power, like many other Browning designs, operates on the short-recoil principle, where the barrel and slide initially recoil together until the barrel is unlocked from the slide by a camming action. Unlike Browning's earlier Colt M1911, the barrel is not moved vertically by a toggling link, but instead by a hardened bar which crosses the frame under the barrel and contacts a slot under the chamber, at the rearmost part of the barrel. The barrel and slide recoil together for a short distance but, as the slot engages the bar, the chamber and the rear of the barrel are drawn downward and stopped. The downward movement of the barrel disengages it from the slide, which continues rearward, extracting the spent case from the chamber and ejecting it. After the slide reaches the limit of its travel, the recoil spring brings it forward again, stripping a new round from the magazine and pushing it into the chamber. This also pushes the chamber and barrel forward. The cam slot and bar move the chamber upward and the locking lugs on the barrel reengage those in the slide.

The Hi-Power has two major flaws. The standard trigger pull is poor, especially for a single-action pistol. This disadvantage is a consequence of the Hi-power's magazine safety design, which was initially added to the model to meet the requirements of the French military in 1935. The standard Hi-Power magazine safety is connected directly to the trigger and is actuated by a plunger pressing on the surface of the magazine. This action of the plunger on the magazine adds grit to the trigger pull, and the required force to operate this feature adds weight as well. This problem is often resolved by removing the magazine safety entirely, thus voiding the pistol's warranty, or by polishing the interface surfaces between the safety plunger and the magazine.

In addition, the pistol has a tendency to "bite" the web of the shooter's hand, between the thumb and forefinger. This bite is caused by pressure from the hammer spur, or alternatively by pinching between the hammer shank and grip tang. Many HP owners fix this problem by altering or replacing the hammer.

Military service

Browning Hi-Power pistols were used during WWII by both the Allied and the Axis powers. Belgium was occupied by the Axis powers early in the war, and FN's plant was seized by Nazi Germany. The German armed forces used the Hi-Power as the Pistole 640(b) (for belgien). Examples produced by FN in Belgium under German occupation bear a German inspection and acceptance mark, or Waffenamt, such as WaA613.

Hi-Power pistols were also produced in Canada for Allied use, by John Inglis and Company. The pistol was popular with covert operations and commando groups such as the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the nascent British SAS (Special Air Service) Regiment. In the post-war period, Hi-Powers remained popular among military forces, with over 50 armies (93 nations) issuing this design since its invention. As of 2005 The MK1 version is currently in service with the Canadian Forces, and the weapon is the standard sidearm of the Belgian Army, British Army, Australian Defence Force, Argentine Army, Irish Army, and Venezuelan Army, among others.

Example: technical description of the Mark III

A locked-breech, semi-automatic, single-action, recoil-operated pistol. The Browning Hi-Power Mk III uses a 13-round staggered magazine.


  • Caliber: 9 mm Parabellum or .40 Smith and Wesson
  • Length: 7.9 in (200 mm)
  • Barrel length: 4.6 in (118 mm)
  • Weight: 2 lb (930g)(unloaded); 2.3 lb (1.085 kg) (with loaded magazine)
  • Capacity: 13 + 1 or 10 + 1
  • Feed device: 10, 13, or 20 round box (larger capacities available)
  • Modes of fire: Single action
  • Muzzle velocity: 1160 ft/s
  • Safeties: Half-cock notch, manual thumb safety, firing pin block, and magazine safety
  • Sights: Blade front w/ notch rear (dovetailed to slide), white high-visibility markings standard (3 vertical bars), 6.2" (159 mm) sight radius
  • Trigger pull: 7.5 lb
  • Maximum Effective Range: 50 m


Genuine Browning Hi-Power P-35s are still manufactured by FN Herstal of Belgium and Portugal, and under license by Fabricaciones Militares (FM) of Argentina. The Hi-Power remains one of the most influential pistols in the history of small arms. It has inspired a number of clone manufacturers (including Charles Daly of the Philippines & USA, FEG of Hungary, Arcus of Bulgaria, and others) who borrow features from it, chiefly the linkless cam system. Until recently, FEG made an almost exact clone, but the company now manufactures a version with modifications to the barrel, linkage, and slide stop that are incompatible with genuine Hi-Powers.

  • The Browning L9A1, a military version of the P-35 Hi-Power, is still utilized by several branches of the UK military forces. The Hi-Power was the pistol of choice for the British Special Air Service (Special Forces), throughout the Cold War era.
Browning Hi-Power .40 S&W - groove is machined into the side of the slide to allow clearance for the slide release on .40 S&W and .357 SIG models.
Browning Hi-Power .40 S&W - groove is machined into the side of the slide to allow clearance for the slide release on .40 S&W and .357 SIG models.
  • The Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, Hi-Power Standard, Hi-Power Practical, and Capitan are among the best-known models of the P-35 developed over the last 50 years. A wide variety of options and features are available on the P-35 models. Recently, Hi-Power pistols have become available in the .40 S&W and .357 SIG loadings. However, the use of these calibers in guns designed and built for 9 mm Parabellum has created cases of broken or warped frames. Only Hi-Powers specifically built for these rounds should be used to fire them. The pistols manufactured for these two rounds are easily identified by examining the left side of the slide - a groove is machined into the side of the heavier slide to allow clearance for the slide release.
  • The HP-SFS (Safe-Fast-Shooting) is a current variation on the Hi-Power Mark III with a modified firing mechanism. After the weapon is loaded, the hammer is pushed forward, which automatically activates the safety catch. When the shooter is prepared to fire, the safety is pressed down with the thumb, releasing the hammer to spring backwards into the usual, single-action position. A similar system is available for modifying Colt M1911A1s. Magazines are interchangeable with the Mark III and others.
  • The Detective is a short-slide HP produced by FM. The Detective slide group is also available without the frame, and is interchangeable with other FM and FN Hi-Power P-35s.
Browning HP-DA/BDA9.
Browning HP-DA/BDA9.

The DA & DAO Models were first produced in the 1990s by FN. The DA model is double action, and the DAO model is "double action only," both versions differing from the usual single-action operation of the P-35. These designs have been marketed under the name of HP-DA and BDA-9. The DA and DAO models retain many features of the P-35, and both are available in full-sized and compact versions. Performance of these models is consistent with FN's high standards. These models resemble the P-35, but the most distinguishing feature is the extended SIG-Sauer style trigger guard. Many parts are interchangeable with the P-35, but the magazines (although similar) are not. The compact versions also utilize shorter magazines. FN HP DA is the standard sidearm of the Finnish Army as 9.00 PIST 80-91.

The BDM Model was first produced in the late 1990s by FN. The Browning Double Mode pistol incorporates many features of the DA model, but can be switched from double action to single action by the flip of a lever. These models do not strongly resemble the classic design of the P-35, lacking its sleek lines. The performance of this model is excellent, though. Magazines are usually interchangeable among the full-sized DA, DAO, and BDM models.

  • Both the DA / DAO models and the BDM model borrow features from the SIG-Sauer SIG P220 pistols marketed under the name Browning Double Action (BDA) in the 1970s. The Beretta 84 has also been marketed by Browning under the name BDA 380.

Notable incidents


  • The Browning High Power Automatic Pistol, by R. Blake Stevens (Collector Grade Publications, 1990)
  • The FN High Power Explained, by Gerard Henrotin, (H&L Publishing -, 2003)

See also

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


British & Commonwealth small arms of World War II
Weapons of the British Empire 1722-1965
German-made firearms and light weapons of World War II
Side arms (Pistole)
Mauser C96 | Luger | Walther P38 | Walther PPK | Sauer 38H | Mauser HSc
Rifles & carbines (Gewehr & Karabiner)
Karabiner 98k | Gewehr 43/Karabiner 43 | StG44/MP44 | FG42 | StG45(M)
Submachine guns ( Maschinenpistole )
Bergmann MP18 | MP38/MP40 "Schmeisser" | MP3008 "Volks MP"
Machine guns & other larger weapons
MG08 | MG34 | MG42 | Faustpatrone | Panzerfaust | Panzerschreck

Flammenwerfer 35 | Panzerbüchse 39 | Granatwerfer 36 | Granatwerfer 42

Notable foreign-made infantry weapons
P.640(b) | Vis.35 | Vz.24/G24(t) | MG26(t) | Panzerbüchse 35(p)
German-made cartridges used by the Wehrmacht
7.92 x 57 mm | 7.63 x 25 mm Mauser | 7.92 mm Kurz | 7.65 mm Luger | 9mm Luger