Tag Archives: gun history

The Most Popular FN Pistol You Never Heard of

To satisfy a military contract for 60,000 modified examples of John Browning’s Model 1910 pistol, stretching that .380 ACP’s standard 3.4-inch barrel an extra inch and bumping up the magazine capacity from 7+1 to 9+1, FN introduced what was initially referred to by some historians as the Model 10/22 (not related to the later Ruger plinker) in 1923.

Later formalized as the Model 1922, or just the M1922, when compared to the preceding M1910, the new pistol had an elongated slide, complete with a small but distinctive barrel lug, over a slightly lengthened frame. The production model went 7-inches long overall and weighed 25.7-ounces.

A forerunner of the later success FN had with the Browning Hi-Power pistol and FAL battle rifle, the M1922 was soon adopted by military and police in dozen countries, and it would continue in active service for over 60 years in this role. Further, the Germans liked it so much that it was their most common handgun in WWII that wasn’t a P-38 or a Luger.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Texas Names the Most Texas Revolver Ever as Offical State Handgun

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last weekend signed a resolution forwarded to his desk by the Texas lawmakers that makes the original 1847 Colt Walker the official handgun of the Lone Star State.

A hulking 4.5-pound 44-caliber revolver, the Walker was so-named after famed Texas Ranger Capt. Samuel Walker and only about 1,100 of the handguns were manufactured by Eli Whitney for Colt. Some 1,000 were promptly sent to Texas– two for each Ranger– and 100 leftovers for the commercial market. The gun was a collaboration between Walker and Colt, based on the latter’s earlier .36-caliber Paterson design, a five-shot revolver that weighed only half of what the Model 1847 would.

Samuel Colt (American, Hartford, Connecticut 1814–1862) Colt Walker Percussion Revolver, serial no. 1017, 1847 American, Whitneyville, Connecticut, Steel, brass, walnut; L. 15 1/2 in. (39.37 cm); L. of barrel, 9 in. (22.86 cm); Cal., .44 in. (11 mm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of John E. Parsons, 1958 (58.171.1) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/24844

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Best Concealed Carry Piece of 1903 Still Looks Good Today

Compact, slim, accurate, and simple. All mantras for the most modern concealed carry pieces today. They all apply to a design introduced 118 years ago as well – the Colt M1903.

While well-engineered semi-auto pistols abound today, the same statement simply wasn’t true in the early 20th Century. Most early autoloaders were downright funky (see the Bergmann 1896), had bad ergonomics (Borchardt C93), were overly complex (C96 Broomhandle, which are notoriously hard to disassemble), and proved to be evolutionary dead-ends (the Luger – not a lot of toggle actions in production these days). 

Enter the gun guru of Ogden, Utah, Mr. John Browning, who largely hit it out of the park with his freshman semi-auto handgun, the FN M1900 of 1896, the first pistol with a slide – let that sink in. A simple blowback single-stack chambered in .32ACP – which he also invented – he followed that up in 1897 with his short-recoil operated Colt Model 1900, a larger gun whose action was recycled into the Colt M1902, which we have talked about before, then scaled down to make the Colt M1903. 

And with a “carry melt,” easy maintenance, and outstanding ergonomics, the new gun is surprisingly modern when compared to today’s offerings.

Boom, sweetheart. 

More on the Pocket Hammerless in my column at Guns.com.

Pardon me, is that a Wiener Waffenfabrik in Your Pocket?

Before there was the Walther PP, Sauer 38, or Mauser HSc, an obscure Bohemian Czech gun designer by the name of Alois Tomiska– Tom to his friends, or so goes the story– crafted a curious little vest pocket .25 ACP that was, importantly, double action, a first for the time.

Meet the Wiener Waffenfabrik Little Tom.

Brass magazine that is inserted through the top? Czech!

More in my column at Guns.com.

It’s Not Steampunk, It’s Savage

A rifle that hit the market the same year the Wright Brothers first took to the air, the Savage Model of 1903 had a lot going for it and is highly collectible.

Rather than a basic bolt-action or a lever gun, the 1903 was pump-action, something that was still pretty novel at the time. As such, it was an answer to the Colt Lightning and Winchester Model 1890, pump-action takedown carbines that had been introduced just a decade prior. However, one-upping Colt and Winchester, which both utilized underbarrel tube-style magazines, Savage’s new gun had a detachable 7-shot box magazine. 

Takedown rimfire rifles and carbines were especially appealing in the 1900s as they made for easy transport on bicycles, which were much more widespread than automobiles, and for easy storage in traveling shooting gallery operations.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Never before, well, not until 1983 anyway

While John Browning’s everlasting M1911 design had long been made in various blued and nickel coatings, up until the early 1980s it had not been cranked out in a production stainless steel model. That’s where the company formed by airline executive Ken Lau and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Russell Randall, seized the opportunity.

The Randall Firearms Company started off making stainless .45ACP magazines, which sold exceptionally well, then began firearm production in Sun Valley, California and by June 1983 they started marketing, what gun writer Len Davis described that year in American Handgunner, the first “full-size, all-stainless steel .45 ACP autoloader.”

In production for less than two years, the California-made Randall M1911 hails from the Reagan-era and is a solid collectible. And, yes, this one is named in honor of The Big Cigar.

More in my column at Guns.com