Object Title

Browning Modèle 1900 pistol

Browning Modèle 1900 pistol


Although less well known than iconic self-loading pistols such as the Colt 1911 and Browning Hi-Power, the Modèle 1900 was an important milestone in firearms history. Designed by one of the most prolific and influential firearms designer in history, John Moses Browning (1855-1926), the first prototype of this model was produced in 1896, three years after the ground-breaking German Borchardt pistol. In that same year Hart O. Berg, the manager of the Belgian firearms manufacturer Fabrique Nationale (FN) saw both the potential and genius of Browning's design. Berg invested in some of Browning's patents, and persuaded him to join his company. Browning lived through a period of great innovation in firearms technology. Born at a time when modern self-contained ammunition did not exist, he witnessed many of his designs being used during the First World War.

Production began in 1899, as the Modèle 1899. By 1900 the pistol was modified slightly reducing the barrel length from 122 mm (4.8 in) to 102 mm (4 in). It was then adopted as the Modèle 1900. Unlike Browning's more iconic designs in .45 ACP and 9 mm, the Modèle 1900 chambers the relatively weak .32 ACP (7.65x17 mm Browning SR) cartridge, allowing it to employ the mechanically simple and reliable blowback mechanism. FN eventually produced over 700,000 for sale to civilian, military, and police customers.

Use and effect

The pistol was adopted as a standard service pistol by the Belgian military at a time when low-powered revolvers were the norm. Many countries did not adopt this pistol due to the size and weakness of its cartridge. Combat experience around this time and during the First World War showed that a more powerful cartridge was needed to reliably penetrate heavy clothing and reach vital organs. Browning continued to refine his pistol designs, developing the Modèle 1903 in 9x20mmSR Browning Long, and the .380 ACP version of the Modèle 1910. This led to development of Browning's classic design, the Colt Government Model or Model of 1911. Eugen Schauman used the Modèle 1900 in 1904 to assassinate Nikolai Ivanovich Bobrikov, the Russian Governor-General of Finland.


Action / Operating system Recoil
Barrel length 10.2 cm (4.01 in)
Calibre / Bore 7.62x17mmSR (.32 ACP)
Capacity (rounds) 7
Country of manufacture Belgium
Date entered service 1900
Effective range 20 m (21 yd)
Feed Box magazine
Manufacturer Fabrique Nationale (FN)
Muzzle velocity 282 m/s (925 ft/s)
Overall length 17.2 cm (6.8 in)
Primary operator Belgium
Weight 625 g ( 1 lb 4 oz)


Jonathan Ferguson
Lisa Traynor