This is a fun little toy. So slim and delicate.
It was given to a friend of mine. Her father had gotten it from her great aunt who had served as a civilian, in Europe during the implementation of the Marshall Plan and the start of the cold war, for the US Military. This would be assumed to be at Landsberg-Lech Air Base in Germany. This clue given by the registration of the arm from European Command denoting 7030th HQ Support Group 1952, prior to move to Ramstein-Landstuhl AB USAF.
This was a period in history and during the US Korean War, cemented between the Berlin Airlift and the Cuban Missile Crisis. That is an impossibly profound time to be a US civilian woman carrying a firearm in southern West Germany.
There are a few mistakes in this registration card. The firearm is an M1900 produced by Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FN). It’s a John Browning design. The registration refers to it as a ‘Herstal Belgian Brevete’ and we can see ‘SDGD’ inserted along with ‘Pistol’ as the type of firearm. This is confused. Marking on the side of the pistol are ‘Breveté SGDG’ but this is a Belgian government release of liability, “Breveté Sans Garantie Du Gouvernement“ (patent without government guarantees).
It’s also important to note that since this could have been made no later than 1911, it would have been around for both WW1 and WW2, possibly in Europe. We only know about 1952 and after. It’s got 40 years of being somewhere during a wild time.
I borrowed the pistol to take photos and give it a little oil. It’s always fun to play with a cool toy.
One of the very cool things about this pistol is that the barrel is mounted low and the recoil mechanism is high, opposite that on the Colt 1911 (another Browning design). The barrel is also connected directly to the handle. Along with the low power round, these would both work to make this a very easy to shoot and accurate pistol.
There seems to have been a single cartridge that has accompanied the pistol for the last 75 years. I think that that’s a very strange thing, a gun with just a single round with it. It makes me think very dark thoughts. Notice in the image of the cartridge, the marking 7.65 as this was how 32 ACP was introduced.
It was odd having to use screws to strip the pistol, but I’m not used to very old firearms.
Some of these images were modified to obfuscate the last few digits of the serial number.