REVOLVERS & PISTOLS PART 4:

Beretta, CZ and miscellaneous

 

 

7,65 mm Pistols M/15 and M/19 Beretta:

(Pistola Automatica Beretta M1917)

(Pistola Automatica Beretta M1922)

PICTURE: Beretta M/15 pistol as the Finnish military called this pistol. Elsewhere it is better known as Beretta model 1917. Notice safety switch just above trigger guard. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (27 KB).

Calibre:

7,65 mm x 17 Browning (.32 ACP)

Length:

149 mm (M/15) / 152 mm (M/19)

Barrel length:

85 mm

Weight:

570 g (M/15) / 600 g (M/19)

Magazine:

8, removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,65 pist/Ber." and "765 PIST 15 BERETTA"

"7,65 pist/Ber." and "765 PIST 19 BERETTA"

Country of origin:

Italy

Prototype:

1917 and 1922

Finnish use: Some 1,500 pistols bought from Italy in spring of 1940. They were issued to Finnish home front troops and supplies units for Continuation War.

Beretta model 1915 was the first automatic pistol manufactured by Beretta. It was essentially a blowback pistol designed to ease pistol shortage of Italian Armed Forced during World War 1 and was manufactured in 9 mm x 19 Glisenti caliber also used in Glisenti model 1910 pistol, which was the standard issue sidearm of Italian military. A smaller scaled-down and simplified version chambered in 7,65 x 17 (.32 ACP) caliber was introduced for the same purpose and replaced model 1915 in production in year 1917. That 7.65-mm version commonly referred as model 1917 (or M/15-17) remained in production until year 1921 with about 56,000 in total being manufactured, from which some 38,000 were delivered to Italian military by end of World War 1. Further improved version called M/19 (or M/15-19 in some sources) was developed from it and manufactured between 1922 - 1931 for Italian military, police and also for commercial market. Famed Tullio Marengoni designed all these three pistols for Beretta. While M/15 and M/17 still has separate extraction port on top of the slide for extraction of used cartridge cases M/19 already used open topped slide for extraction, which is common feature to most later Beretta pistols manufactured since. However, all of these pistol models still had concealed hammer located inside the pistol's frame. The two pistols also have difference in design of safety switch, which is also used to lock the slide back for disaassembly. M/15 and M/17 have grip panels made from wood, while M/19 used grip panels stamped from metal.

PICTURE: Beretta M/19 pistol. This was the less common of the two old 7.65 mm (.32 ACP) caliber Beretta pistols bought by Finnish military from Italy during Winter War. Notice difference in top of slide (no separate extraction port) and design of safety switch located above trigger guard. (SA-kuva.fi archive, photo number 113089). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (65 KB).

Finnish Armed Forces bought 1,500 pistols of these types in spring of 1940. The pistols were issued to Finnish home front troops and supplies units during Continuation War. You may have already noted the discrepancy with model name in headline and info told this far. Apparently Finnish military was not aware of model 1917 being a separate model in Beretta pistols and due to that reason referred it as model 1915. Large majority of the 1,500 old Beretta pistols acquired by Finnish military in year 1940 were in fact model 1917 (model 1915 for Finnish military). Also the Beretta pistol, which Finnish Army referred as M/17 was for the Italians model 1922. The main reason behind Finnish military getting the model markings may have been patent markings marked to left side of slide in these pistols, since they do feature patent markings BREVETTO 1915 for M/15 and BREVETTO 1915/19 for M/19. After World War 2 large number of these pistols were transferred to Finnish Police. Year 1951 Finnish inventory still contained 848 Beretta M/15 (model 1917), but only 27 Beretta M/19 (model 1922). Remaining pistols were stored for possible further use until about 100 were sold to military personnel between 1965 - 1971 and the rest exported in year 1986.

 

9 mm Pistol M/34 and 7,65 mm Pistol M/35 Beretta:

(Pistola Automatica Beretta m/34 Brevetto)

(Pistola Automatica Beretta m/35)

PICTURE: Beretta M/34 pistol. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (88 KB).

PICTURE: Beretta M/35 pistol. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (110 KB).

Calibre:

9 mm x 17 (M/34) / 7,65 mm x 17 (M/35)

Length:

152 mm (M/34) / 150 mm (M/35)

Barrel length:

94 mm (M/34) / 85 mm (M/35)

Weight:

690 g (M/34) / 670 g (M/35)

Magazine:

7, removable (M/34) / 8, removable (M/35)

Official abbreviations:

"9,00 pist/34 Ber." and "900 PIST 34 BERETTA"

"7,65 pist/35 Ber." and "765 PIST 35 BERETTA"

Country of origin:

Italy

Prototype:

1931

Production:

From 1935 to late 1950's.

Finnish use:

- M/34: About 1,400 - 1,500 bought from Italy. Besides 60 pistols acquired during Winter War they arrived in 1943. Finnish home front troops used them between 1943 - 1944.

- M/35: About 4,100 bought from Italy. About 1,000 arrived in 1941 and 3,090 arrived in 1942. Finnish frontline and home front troops used them 1941 - 1944.

After model 1923 Beretta had major redesign for its automatic pistol and this resulted to introduction of model 1931 followed by model 1932, which has a more ergonomic grip design with wider lower grip. As to be expected Beretta M/34 and M/35 were directly based to model 1931 . 9 mm x 17 calibre pistol M/34 was manufactured for Italian Army (Regio Esercito), while 7,65 mm x 17 calibre pistol M/35 was made for Italian Navy (Regia Marina) and Air Force (Regio Aironautica). The pistols soon proved to be very successful also in commercial markets. They gained reputation for being quality pistols of good reliability. Maybe the biggest remaining handicap was the safety switch, which needs to be rotated 180 degrees and when engaged locks only the trigger. Second not so good detail was the way in which emptied magazine locks the pistols slide back until being removed (when the magazine is removed it unlocks the pistol slide, which slides forward). Manufacturing of both M/34 and M/35 pistols started in year 1935. Over half-a-million M/34 were made before Mussoli's government collapsed. The estimated total production of both M/34 and M/35 together by end of World War 2 is about million pistols. During World War 2 Finland and Romania bought these pistols for their Armed Forces. The Romanians acquired M/34, while the Finns bought both M/34 and M/35. Both pistols were also very popular war souvenirs among allied soldiers. Their manufacture continued after the war both for Italian authorities and for commercial sales. The post-war tradenames for the pistols were m 934 and m 935 in most countries, but in United States they were also known as "Cougar" and "Puma".

PICTURE: Privates Laino and Nieminen had been left behind enemy lines after battle in Village of Pisi / Obzha near River Syväari / Svir in June of 1944, with Finnish Army retreating at the time it took the two privates about two month to reach Finnish lines. Private Leino on the left has Beretta M/35 tucked under his belt, while private Leino has infantry rifle M/27. Photographed by Military Official Esko Töri in August of 1944 in region north-east of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 161433). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (80 KB).

Beretta M/34:

During Winter War 60 Beretta M/34 arrived to Finland among miscellaneous materials. Finnish HQ of home front troops (ex Suojeluskunta GHQ) ordered 500 Beretta M/34 pistols from Italy in July of 1941. The deal had many problems and pistols were not delivered earlier than April of 1943. HQ of home front troops (pre-war Suojeluskunta GHQ) started issuing them to home front troops already in May of 1943. Finnish Army ordered 4,000 Beretta M/35 in April of 1941, but the Italians had problems delivering enough M/35 pistols, but they had enough M/34 pistols to replace the missing M/35. So the Finns decided to accept (likely) about 900 M/35 pistols as their replacements. Considering this the total number of M/34 pistols in use of Finnish Armed Forces was probably around 1,400 - 1,500. The 500 pistols ordered by HQ of home front troops were marked with Civil Guard number marking containing "Sk.Y" (Sk.Y = Suojeluskuntain Yliesikunta = General HQ of Civil Guard) and number between 0100 - 0597. Finnish Civil Guard was disbanded in 1944 and also its pistols ended up to Finnish Army. Year 1951 Finnish Army inventory included 999 pistols M/34, they remained warehoused until year 1986.

Beretta M/35:

Finnish Army made two orders of M/35 pistols to Italy during World War 2, both of them in year 1941. First one containing 1,000 pistols arrived late 1941. The second one of 4,000 pistols proved problematic and only 3,092 of ordered pistols were delivered by late 1942, the remaining pistols bit over 900 pistols the Italians replaced by delivering M/34 pistols instead. During Continuation War both by Finnish front-line troops and home front troops used Beretta M/35 pistols. Year 1951 some 2,091 pistols M/35 remained, they remained warehoused until mid-1980's. Finally year 1986 most of them were sold and only small amount was still retained for uses that demanded easily concealable pistol (for couriers etc).

 

9 mm Pistol M/23 CZ (vz.24):

(Automatická pistole vz.24)

PICTURE: Pistol M/23 CZ. Notice wooden grip panels, these got replaced with bakellite grip panels that have CZ logo starting around serial number 105000. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (113 KB).

Calibre:

9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP) Browning

Length:

152 mm

Barrel length:

91 mm

Weight:

700 g

Magazine:

8, removable

Official abbreviations:

"9,00 pist/23 tsekk." and "900 PIST/23"

Country of origin:

Czechoslovakia

Prototype:

Based to design made in 1916, first prototype in 1920.

Finnish use: 3,285 bought from Germany, they arrived in September of 1940. Issued mainly to Finnish front-line troops during Continuation War (1941 - 1944).

Unlike pistols using this ammunition-type typically, vz.24 developed by Josef Nickl (who mostly worked for Mauser during his career) was not a blowback weapon, but has a blocking mechanism that uses rotating barrel. Nickl had developed the basic structure of his pistol already during World War 1, but Mauser factory had not shown interest towards it. Rotating barrel was originally invented by Karel Krnka and had already been used in pre World War 1 Austrian Roth M/1907 and Steyr M/1912 automatic pistols, so the basic concept was not new. In fact it is very likely that at least one of these previous designs had effected to Nickl's design work. State of Czechoslovakia emerged from World War 1 peace treaties with typical result - its Armed Forces had very mixed weaponry, which needed to be replaced with new more standardized armaments. In 1920's German Mauserwerke delivered machinery for Chechoslovakian state-owned weapons factory Ceskoslovenske Statni Zavody (later known as Ceskolovenska Zbrojovka or more simply Zbrojovka Brno). One of Mauserwerke representatives taking part in delivering machinery was Josef Nickl, who used the possibility trying to sell his pistol design. That try proved successful. Year 1920 Czechoslovakian Army organised tests for selecting new service pistol. Nickl's pistol won the tests, but because of its high price did not enter production for the Army. However year 1921 some 2,700 Nickl pistols were manufactured for Czechoslovakian Militia. Improved vz.22 version was introduced in February of 1922. Factory named Jiroceska Zbrojovka (Ceska Zbrojovka aka CZ starting from 1923) became its main manufacturer in year 1923, when Zbrojovka Brno did not have enough capacity for simultaniously manufacturing rifles and this pistol. But, unfortunately Nickl's vz.22 pistol had one not so well thought feature - its calibre. The vz.22 pistol used unique 9 mm x 17 cartridge of its own, which was almost but not quite interchangeable with much more common 9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP) Browning short cartridge. Improved version of the pistol called vz.24 was accepted as service pistol of Czechoslovakian military in 1925. Some visible differences exist between vz.22 and vz.24, but the most notable difference was adopting 9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP) Browning short cartridge (decision which most certainly made acquiring ammunition considerably easier). First batch of vz.24 pistols was delivered in June of 1926. Some 190,000 vz.24 were manufactured in CZ factory by end of year 1937. Vz.24 pistol with its rotating barrel remained unnecessarily complicated pistol for such a cartridge, so simplifying the pistol's structural design was the next logical step. Already before World War 2 Frantishek Myshka designed new pistol based to vz.24. The new pistol known as vz.27 looked quite similar as vz.24, but structurally it was a simple blowback in 7.65 mm x 17 (.32 ACP) calibre. The new Vz.27 was much easier and cheaper to manufacture than ealier vz.22 and vz.24, so when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938 the Germans kept it in production for their own Armed Forces. The Germans managed to acquire some 475,000 "Pistole 27(t)" (as they called vz.27) by end of World War 2. The earlier "Pistole 24(t)" (German name for vz.24) did not see as large scale use with German military during World War 2 as later "Pistole 27(t)".

For some weird reason Finnish military decided to name vz.24 as 9-mm pistol M/23, even if Finnish military already had 7.65-mm Parabellum pistol with that model-number. Finnish Armed Forces bought 3,285 pistols M/23 from Germany during Interim Peace and they arrived by ship from Germany in 26th of September 1940. During Continuation War Finnish military issued them mostly to front-line troops, even if their ammunition was not exactly among most the commonly used by Finnish military. Because of front-line use the losses of these pistols were high, so in year 1951 only 1,723 remained. After the war surviving pistols M/23 CZ were stored for possible further use until year 1986, when they were finally declared obsolete and sold.

 

9 mm Pistol M/39:

(Automatická pistole CZ, vz.38)

PICTURE: Pistol M/39 CZ. (Photo taken in Viestimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (148 KB).

Calibre:

9 mm x 17 (.380 ACP)

Length:

200 mm

Barrel length:

120 mm

Weight:

900 g

Magazine:

8, removable

Official abbreviations:

"9,00 pist/39 tsekk." and "900 PIST/39"

Country of origin:

Czechoslovakia

Prototype:

First prototype 1936, pre-production series in 1938.

Finnish use: About 1,700 bought from Germany, they arrived in September of 1940. These pistols were issued to Finnish front-line troops for Continuation War (1941 - 1944).

Like name says this double-action pistol designed by Frantishek Myshka entered to production in year 1938. It has a simple structural design, which makes maintenance very easy. On the other hand it has grip, which has been reported as exceptionally poorly suited for shooting with one hand. Also the cartridge it uses is quite weak considering size of the pistol and has heavy double-action-only (DAO) trigger. The ammunition choice was probably explained by the pistol being a blowback design, which could not have handled more powerful cartridge. Another likely reason was that 9 mm x 17 Browning (.380) cartridge had been used already in earlier vz. 24 pistol, hence making it a cartridge of choice for Czechoslovakian military of that time. Grip of the pistol seems to work relatively well when gripped with two hands (which was not how pistol shooting was commonly done in 1930's) and trigger feels stiff with long pull when compared triggers of other temporary pistols. Manufacturing of this pistol did not continue that long. Production was cut short as the Germans stopped already first production run after invading Czechoslovakia in 1938 and only already partially made pistols of the first production run were finished. Some 10,000 - 12,000 (or some 40,000 depending source) pistols of this production run were allowed to be finished by the Germans who named it Pistole P-39(t) and issued most of them their to 2nd line troops. That proved to be both the first and last production series of pistol vz.38.

During World War 2 Finland had shortage of pistols, so it bought 1,713 or 1,731 of these pistols from Germany and they arrived in September of 1940. The original wartime delivery documents have a typo with the two last digits of the number changing places with the original documents contain both alternatives. By now it is impossible to figure out for sure if 1,713 or 1,731 was the correct number. These pistols arrived in same the ship (Lütjehorn) 26th of September 1940 as another pistol made in Czechoslovakia - pistol M/23 CZ. When Continuation War begun they were issued to frontline troops of Finnish Army. The hard frontline use resulted into large losses. Summer of 1948 only 978 pistols M/39 remained in Finnish inventory. They were remained stored for possible further use until they were sold and exported in 1980's. The pistols were delivered to Finland with German P39 pistol holsters, which Finnish military issued with them.

Some personal experiences of handling this pistol: Structurally this pistol is very interesting design. It is very easy to disassemble and re-assemble for routine maintenance. As mentioned its grip is large, but seems to work well when both hands are used. Also the sights are pretty good. The pistol is well-rounded design with small likelihood of it snagging into anything. All this is however undermined by the DAO-type trigger, which was one of the first of its kind in automatic pistols, but also very heavy with long trigger travel.

 

SOME OTHER PISTOL TYPES USED BY FINNISH AUTHORITIES DURING WW2 AND INCLUDED IN "PISTOL MISCELLANEOUS" CATEGORY:

- 7,65 mm M/1914 Mauser: Mauser's popular smaller pistol for self-defence pistol market, which was one of the pistols issued by German military during World War 1. Unknown number seem have been delivered for Finnish White Army during Civil War and the pistol was higly popular in Finnish Civilian market at least in 1920's. While popular in civilian market, Finnish state never acquired any. Still some 200 pistols received ended up to Finnish military inventory in various ways by year 1943. The number of pistols kept rising also after that, year 1951 Finnish military inventory contained 326 7.65 mm Mauser pistols and due to guns transferred from other authorities in 1965 there were 500 in the inventory. Circa 1965 - 1971 from these pistols 462 were sold and the rest were scrapped.

- 7,65 mm M/SAUER (modell 14): One of the numerous 7.65 mm (.32 ACP) pistol designs issued by German military during World War 1. Some apparently arrived to Finland during Civil War. They saw use with various Finnish authorities other than military, with most important user probably being Finnish State Railways (Valtion Rautatiet).

- 7,65 mm M/Walther 4: Another 7.65 mm (.32 ACP) caliber pistol issued by German military during World War 1. Number of these pistols apparently saw use in Finnish Civil War. They were mostly used by Prison Administration and Police, but number of pistols was also issued to home front units during World War.

- 7,65 mm Browning M/1900: Finnish police had acquired these pistols before World War 2 and used them rather large numbers along FN M/1910 at least until end of World War 2.

- 7,65 mm M/Beholla: This was one of the numerous 7.65 mm x 17 (.32 ACP) caliber pistols issued by German military during World War 1. Number of these pistols saw use Finnish Civil War. During World War 2 this pistol model was among those issued to home front, in addition to which they were also used by Finnish State Railways (Valtion Rautatiet).

- 7,65 mm M/Astra 300: 100 pistols bought by Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) in year 1941, they were issued to guards of POW camps and other home front units.

- 7,65 mm Bayard: Yet another pistol issued by German military during World War 1. Unknown number of guns with German weapons deliveries in 1917 - 1918.

- 7,65 mm M/Ortgies: Several hundred pistols were being used by Finnish prison administration, these included both 6.35-mm (.25 ACP) and 7.65-mm (.32 ACP) versions.

- 11,5 mm Colt (M1911): About 51,000 Colt 1911 pistols were bought by Russian military from United States in 1915 - 1917. But only relatively small number of those pistols ended up to hands of authorities after Finnish Civil War. During World War 2 they were mainly issued to various home front units. June of 1940 Finnish inventory had 60 of these pistols, but by year 1951 their number had reached 121 and kept climbing. The climbing numbers may have been at least partially by civilian owned pistols and previously captured pistols ending up to military inventory. All 134 pistols remaining in Finnish inventory were sold to Interarmco and exported in year 1956.

 


SOURCES:

Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988 osat 1 - 3 (= Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988 parts 1 - 3)

Timo Hyytinen: Arma Fennica 2, sotilasaseet (Arma Fennica 2, military weapons)

Ian Hogg and John Wells: Pistols of the World

Article: Beretta m/1915 syntyi sotilasaseeksi by Jussi Peltola in Ase-lehti magazine vol 2/97.

Article: Luja ja luotettava Beretta M 1934 by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol 1/1997.

Article: Mauser m 1914 by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 3/90.

Article: Epäonnen soturi, Ceska Zbrojovka VZ 38 by Mika Vuolle in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 2/94.

Article: Modelo 1910 Glisenti by Paul S. Scarlata in Kaliberi magazine vol. 8/2004.

Finnish military archives, archive references T20206/F9, /F10 and /F11

Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki

Special thanks to Viestimuseo (Signal Museum), Riihimäki


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