Object Title

Browning Modèle 1910 pistol

Browning Modèle 1910 pistol


Developed by John Moses Browning (1855-1926), the Modèle 1910 was manufactured by Fabrique Nationale (FN). Whilst Browning's military arms were produced by the Colt Arms Company, Hartford, U.S.A, his pistols and sporting guns were produced by FN. There were two versions of the Modèle 1910; one developed for the .32 ACP (7.65x17 mm) cartridge, and one type for the slightly larger .380 ACP (9x17 mm Browning Short) cartridge. The .32 ACP type held seven rounds and the .380 ACP six rounds. A few models were designed with interchangeable barrels to accommodate both calibres.

This pistol employs the simple blowback mechanism, a popular feature of Browning's early self-loading pistols. Weapons which use this system require cartridges with low velocities and pressures. Unlike its predecessors the Modèle 1900, Modèle 1903, and most other pistol designs of the time, its recoil spring is coiled around the barrel. This configuration is found on later pistol designs, such as the Walther PPK. This pistol featured three safety mechanisms. The first was a magazine safety that prevented firing when the magazine was removed. Secondly, a grip safety was fitted allowing the weapon to discharge only when grasped by the hand. Finally, a frame mounted safety catch was incorporated.

Use and effect

The pistol was never issued as a standard service weapon, but did see use in the Belgian military through private purchase. In 1922, Browning modified the pistol for the Yugoslavian military. The barrel was lengthened and the grip enlarged, increasing magazine capacity by two rounds. This became known as the Modèle 1922 (or Modèle 1910/22). Both models were manufactured until the early 1980s being replaced by FN model 140DA/Browning BDA380 pistols.

The Modèle 1910 will forever be associated with the outbreak of the First World War. On 28 June, 1914 Gavrilo Princip, member of the Serbian nationalist group 'The Black Hand' used his Modèle 1910 in .380 ACP to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg. A failed assassination attempt by the group that same morning had injured one of the Archduke's aides. Later that day en-route to the hospital a one off chance presented itself to Princip. Taking advantage of the royal couple's wrong turn down a side street, Princip pulled out the easily concealed Modèle 1910, and shot the couple from a distance of about two metres. The first shot hit the Archduke in the neck, severing his internal jugular vein, mortally wounding him. The Duchess received a fatal wound to the abdomen from a bullet that penetrated the side of the vehicle. Ironically, a pistol that was not as powerful and accurate as some of its foreign equivalents helped to unleash a new type of warfare.


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Browning Modèle 1910 pistol being loaded and fired into ballistic gelatine target.


Action / Operating system Recoil
Barrel length 9 cm (3.5 in)
Calibre / Bore 9.65 mm (.380 ACP)
Capacity (rounds) 6
Country of manufacture Belgium
Date entered service 1912
Effective range 25 m (27 yd)
Feed Box magazine
Manufacturer Fabrique Nationale (FN)
Muzzle velocity 300 m/s (1000 fps)
Overall length 15.2 cm (6 in)
Primary operator Belgium
Weight 590 g (1 lb 5 oz)


Lisa Traynor