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From Model 1931 to Model 1934


Model 1931 in its commercial version.

Towards the end of the 1920s Beretta had a range of three models of pistols, of which the intermediate 7.65 calibre model (the Model 1922) was considered outmoded compared to the other two - an attitude which was reflected in market demand. The 1923 model, however, was not officially adopted by the armed forces, thereby raising the problem of having to create a new product that would attract the interest of the military.

Out of this came the Model 1931, a gun with the excellent mechanical features of the 23 in a more compact design which was also much lighter since it was designed for the classic Browning 7.65 cartridge. This pistol can be considered as the forerunner to the very famous Model 1934, from which it differed in only three ways: the line of the handgrip; the grips themselves, which were made of wood; and mechanically in the lack of half-cock on the hammer.

As usual, there is no documented evidence available about production of these guns, although we know that it was rather limited and ceased by 1935 with the appearance of the Model 1935 in the same calibre. A number of Model 1931 s were acquired by the King's Navy, while another quantity, presumably very few, were sold to the civilian market. The serial numbers seem to start from 400.000, and one example from 1933 of the civilian model which we have examined was numbered just under 402.000, while another example from 1934 was numbered above 406.000.

Beretta model 1931 pistol in the version for the Italian King's Navy

The guns manufactured for the Navy are easily recognised by the medallion applied to the grips, bearing the seal RM. The civilian pieces still sport the classic medallion with the monogram 1313, together with the stamp from Apparently in 1932, but it is possible this happened one or two years later, a new version of the Model 1931 appeared, modified with a more comfortable and functional handgrip.

The few surviving examples of this gun show a clearly visible correction in the numerals on the left side of the slide, where we find the description «Mo 1932», with the number 2 obviously stamped over an existing number l. We can assume from this that the gun was not in production, but made in small numbers as experimental prototypes or as samples to supply to the military commissions which at the time were searching for a new pistol for the Italian Armed Forces. In effect, the Model 1932 appears identical to the future Model 1934, which was officially adopted by the King's Army. The only difference was in the grips, which were made of wood instead of bakelite, but this sort of modification is quite normal in an experimental gun.

It is also known the existence of some pistols which, while bearing strict resemblance to the Model 1932, are marked as Model 1931. This creates some confusion but considering that ali of this anomalous guns are in the 7.65 calibre we can reasonably assume them as provisional variants in development of the final Model 1935 from the original Model 1931.

An engraved and nickel plated model 1931 pistol.
Apart from the now classic 7.65, the Model 1932 was chambered for a cartridge which Beretta was to use for the first time, the .380 ACP, one of the numerous creations of J.M. Browning. The cartridge was renamed the 9 “corto” (short) in Italy, evidently to avoid confusion with the 9 Glisenti, which had a case that was longer by a few millimetres and was consequently nicknamed the 9 “lungo” (long) - all of which contributed to the already notable confusion among the 9mm calibre cartridges intended for use in automatic pistols.

As already mentioned, during the first half of the 1930s the new Berettas were subjected to a series of tests by the armed forces and the police. During the course of these tests several modifications were made, including the introduction of half-cock. Various experiments were carried out, including the manufacture of one lot of 650 pistols furnished with a safety on the striker, one pistoi which was definitely abandoned. It seems that comparisons were made with the Walther PP, but in the end the Beretta pistol was adopted under the name of «Modello 1934 calibro 9 corto».

The adoption of this new 9mm pistol by the army did not impede the development of the 7.65 calibre version, the Model 1935, which was supplied to the navy and the air force, and continued to be produced independently of the larger calibre model.

One of the 650 (very rare), Model 1934 pistols fitten with firing pin safety.
It is interesting to note how these two pistols, which are apparently identical, have differences in dimensions which make it impossible to exchange essential components such as barrels or magazines.
It is also interesting that while the Model 34 was considered a completely new gun and numbered separately (the numbers seem to start from 500.000), the Model 35 was considered a new version of the 1931 model and was numbered in the same series as it's ancestor (this can be deduced from analysis of the serial numbers). It should be added that a Model 1937 exists, although in fact it is rather rare. This is nothing more than the commercial version of the 1934, and differs only in the writing on the slide and the lack of military stamps. Naturally, we find the stamp of the “Banco di Prova” in their place.

At the end of the 1930s Beretta began experimenting with light-alloy frames for its pistols. In the years after the war the 7.65 calibre version of this pistol enjoyed some commercial success, while the 9mm version proved altogether unsatisfactory and continued to be produced exclusively in steel.

The Beretta Model 1934 (like the 35) was a top-grade gun, and was practically without rivals in its functional class. Despite criticisms due for the most part to the Italian vice of denigrating its own national product and revering the import, a Beretta automatic pistol was an attractive spoil of war for the soldiers of all armies that crossed our land during the tragic years of the last war.

A model 1934 pistol built in 1943. The weapon still presents a good finish, althought it was built during the war.
Its fundamental attributes were its dependability and portability, qualities which are essential for a soldier who depends on his pistol for his very life.

To this must be added the minimal cost and simplicity of any repairs that were on rare occasions required. Naturally we cannot dismiss the limitations of this gun, which did not use very powerful ammunition (by military standards), and which did not allow very high standards of marksmanship.
In fairness, however, these drawbacks are only apparent when the pistol is compared with larger, costlier and more complicated guns, which in the end proved to be less efficient. it is also a telling point that these Beretta models are still sought-after many years after going out of production, and many thousands of these guns which factory withdrew from the armed forces at the advent of more recent models were quickly absorbed by the civilian market after a complete overhaul.

The production of the 34 and above all the 35 continued for the duration of the war, and the evolution of the conflict had a significant influence on the quality of the guns, especially those produced in 1944 and 1945. Fortunately, the simplicity of these pistols meant that any defect in production affected only their external finish, and not their performance or safety.

A model 1935 pistol Built in 1941. This gun shows the «Regio Esercito» (Royal Army) markings although it is in 7,65 calibre instead of 9 mm, which is what the army usually used. Below, the same pistol is shown in its service holster.
Model 1935 pistol as produced during last months of second world war. These guns have no external finish and show deep machining marks. Serial number and calibre indication are the only markings of this weapon and are badly impressed on frame just above trigger guard.
It is interesting that during the time that the production fell into German hands the criteria for serial numbers changed. The simple progressive numbers which Beretta had always used was replaced by a mixed code of letters and numbers - typically German. Naturally, this does not help any investigation into wartime production at Beretta. We have ascertained, however, that the Model 35 was not produced exclusively at the Beretta plants. Several examples exist with the writing «Pistola Beretta Cal 7.65 M35 S.A. Armaguerra-Cremona 1944», together with the usual mixed German numbering. Unfortunately we have no data regarding this production, which can be defined as external. We cannot tell whether the pistols were produced at other plants as well, or indeed how many of them were made.
The Beretta 1935 model by Armaguerra in Cremona. Eccept for the slide markings the weapon does not present differences worth of any noticie.

 

Mod. 1934 cal. 9C / .380ACP

Start / end of production from 1934 to 1980 (1991)
Quantity produced about 1,080,000

Start - End - Serial numbers
1934 - 1942 - from about 500073 to 999996
1934 - 1942 - from 1 to about 40000
1943 - 1945 - from F00001 to F99997
1943 - 1945 - from G00001 to G57486
1943 - 1945 - from 0001AA to 9997AA
1943 - 1945 - from 0001BB to 9971BB
1946 - 1949 - from C00001 to C99998
1949 - 1954 - from D00001 to D99999
1954 - 1967 - from E00001 to E95760
1967 - 1973 - from F50001 to F61693
1970 - 1975 - from G00007 to G49620
1972 - 1974 - from H00001 to H25000
1971 - 1980 - from T 1 to T 10217
1991 onwards from A28530Y


 

Mod. 1935 cal. 7.65 / .32ACP

Start / end of production from 1935 to 1967
Quantity produced about 525,000

Start - End -Serial numbers
1935 - 1959 from about 411000 to 923048
1962 - 1963 from A10001 to A14130
1966 - 1967 from H14131 to H14673

Interesting Links about 1934 / 1935 Beretta Models

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia / Beretta M 1934

From CLUB LITTLEGUN / ITALIAN GUNS

From Just Pistols / Beretta 1934

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