Bergman 1920s Trials Prototype Pistol

This was, as far as I can tell, the final iteration of the Bergmann pistols, developed by AEP in Liege for potential military contracts. It retains the locking system of the 1910 pattern pistol, but with a simplified disassembly method reminiscent of the C96 Mauser. The barrel was lengthened, the rear sight replaced with an adjustable leaf type, and the magazine capacity increased to 15.

This model appears to have been tested by the French in 1923, and probably by other nations as well. However, by this time the magazine-forward configuration was decidedly obsolete for a military sidearm, and no contracts were to be found.


  1. Excellent work as always! Can you recommend source material for Bergmann pistol variations? I think the time has come to pick one up… I have a line on a 1910/21 but the grips are unusual, and I cannot find one similar in the images I have seen.

  2. “However, by this time the magazine-forward configuration was decidedly obsolete for a military sidearm, and no contracts were to be found.”
    Also, in that time, shortly after end of Great War, there was no special need for new hand-guns, as during war all factories runned at full-power and major belligerents produced and/or bought huge numbers of hand-guns, additionally size of armed forces would dwindle, so no-one of them would adopt entire new design until 1930s.

    • There were some potential buyers of new pistols in the 1920s. For example the Yugoslavian and Finnish militaries adopted new pistols in that decade (the FN 1910/22 and Luger/Parabellum, respectively). Typically these were new nations which didn’t have huge stocks of weapons from WW1.

    • Too bad that this didn’t become a machine pistol or stocked sub machine gun. I see some potential for a tank crewman’s dismounted side arm, just in case he was forced to reconnoiter ahead on foot. Some tank crews were short on infantry support and thus one of their own crew had to scout out the area. Using the entire tank to scout invited artillery spam. Did I mess up?

      • US Army tankers still carried both M1A1 Thompsons and M3A1 subguns at least through the duration of the Viet Nam unpleastness, long after they were declared “obsolete” by the rest of the Army. Seems like I’ve read or heard that “grease guns” could still be found in armor units on the Fulda Gap in West Germany into the 80s – one assumes in the hands of old sergeants with enough hash marks to get away with “unauthorized” weapons.

      • “Some tank crews were short on infantry support and thus one of their own crew had to scout out the area.”
        Can you give source of that information? Deploying tank crew-member which need more training that infanterist in role of latter seems illogical to me, not to mention that it would hinder said tank combat ability

        • Accounts from Otto Carius at Eastern Front show that he was more or less forced to scout ahead of his own Tiger several times at night just to get familiar with the terrain. During one campaign his support troops were just inexperienced grunts, too green and scared to scout ahead for the tank. He also tended to risk getting shot whenever he opened the hatch on the commander position to search for enemy snipers. The worst part was that his superior officer was an incompetent fool who monopolized the company kubelwagen for visiting his mistress… or am I wrong?

      • Typically scouting was to be done by specialized scout troops of the armored formation, who would have moved on foot or on scout vehicles (which could be anything from a motorcycle to a light tank), but of course they were not always available when needed.

        Still, I don’t believe scouting was the primary reason for giving tank crews an SMG and later an assault rifle (e.g. all Soviet post-WW2 medium and heavy tanks had one). The main reason was defence against close-in infantry attacks and protecting the crew if they had to make repairs or other work (like replenishing ammo or fuel) outside of the tank where friendly infantry was not plentiful. It would also help the crew to survive if they hand abandon their tank in battle for whatever reason.

        • “It would also help the crew to survive if they hand abandon their tank in battle for whatever reason.”
          In case of WWII-era Soviet tanks, it was possible to dismount DT machine gun at using in lieu of light machine gun.

      • This is a thought which escaped my attention and it is a correct one IMO. As a compact machine-pistol, there would be no better one perhaps with exception of Astra.

    • “However, by this time the magazine-forward configuration was decidedly obsolete”

      While the magazine-in-grip style pistol certainly made for a lighter and more compact firearm for an officer to have to carry around all day in a holster, the idea of a magazine-forward configuration in a “pistol” would still have a long way to go as a compact submachinegun in the following decades to come.

      So it’s a wonder why this was the end of the evolutionary line as a pistol rather than the beginning as a SMG. Maybe it was because SMGs were generally carried by lower-ranking people than military pistols, and these well-crafted pistols were simply too expensive for such grunts, who were eventually issued cheaper stamped steel SMGs, many varieties of which turned out to be roughly the same size and weight as this “decidedly obsolete” pistol.

      • In 1920s-1930s most sub-machine gun were similar in shape and size to MP 18 – that its featured wooden rifle-like stock. Also sub-machine guns were considered specialized or even gangster-not-army weapon and, in most states, were issued to military in limited numbers.
        Keep in mind that Thompson SMG of 1930s movie fame, was officially adopted for army in service 1938.

        • Maybe the term ‘sub-machine gun’ is too imprecise, since it can presumably cover everything (at least in layman’s terms) from down-sized rifles to up-sized pistols. The term “machine pistol” might be more fitting for some, though under US federal law, a pistol is technically no longer a pistol if it has anything resembling a stock, which is basically required for semi-controlled automatic fire. Then we have the relatively new term “personal defense weapon” which also bridges the gap between a traditional pistol and a traditional rifle/carbine in size and function.

          Anyway, I’ve often tended to dislike the whole concept labels and classifications, which attempt to break up a potentially endless spectrum of things into separate discrete categories. For one thing, it can spawn endless arguments whenever something falls in a grey zone, and that’s not even taking into account the effect of overlapping classifications such as the difference between military and legal definitions, as well as differences between nations and localities.

          • Russian point of view that sub-machine gun has front grip or furniture allowing grip, when machine pistol has not.

          • “Russian point of view that sub-machine gun has front grip or furniture allowing grip, when machine pistol has not.”

            So under that definition, an ultra-lightweight like the Czech SKorpion (perhaps a sub-SMG?) should be considered a machine pistol and not sub-machine gun. But would it’s forward magazine (especially a far-forward one) automatically change that definition if used as an off-hand grip?


            I’ll be the first to admit that these kind of category-naming exercises really don’t amount to much more than a silly game of trivia — unless of course the law is involved.

          • Regarding vz.63 Skorpion; this was named in country of its origin as “samopal” also a misnomer, just like samopal vz.58.

            Definitions are difficult to satisfy.

          • In German of course, “Maschinenpistole” is any full auto capable hand-held firearm chambered in pistol cartridge, no exceptions regardless of the size and configuration. This definition was adopted by many European languages, for example Finnish and Swedish (although the Swedes use the compound word “kulsprutepistol”, literally “bullet hose pistol”).

        • First generation SMGs were also not cheap. SMGs like the Bergmann MP 28-II, Suomi, Beretta MAB 38, MAS-38, MP 38 and Thompson were quite expensive with their all milled parts. Even the Luger, which was probably the most expensive military pistol still in widedpread production in the 1930s, would have been cheaper than the first gen. SMGs.

      • The SMG, with the exception of the US troops, practically replaced the pistol as the primary weapon carried by low ranking officers during WW2. By 1944 one would have been hard pressed to find a lieutenant or captain who didn’t have one, except in the case of US officers, who usually preferred the M1 Carbine. Even higher ranking officers quite often had one just in case.

        This of course came to be because it was finally recognized that even officers needed a truly effective self-defense weapon, which the pistol simply wasn’t. It should have been fairly obvious already in WW1, but armies usually have a lot of institutional inertia. It’s also likely that the short range trench combat of much of WW1 masked the shortcomings of handguns and made them look better than they actually were.

          • Yes, and that also was noticed already in WW1, which makes it even harder to understand why it wasn’t addressed sooner. I suppose the rifle-caliber carbines available at the ti e were still considered too big and cumbersome for officers. They also tended to make a big blast and have stout recoil, which might have made them very unpopular among officers.

            Interestingly though, the Mosin-Nagant M07 carbine was very popular among low ranking officers during the 1918 Civil War in Finland. So much so that most of them went “missing” when the officers returned home, that is, if they were on the victorious White side of the war.

          • “Interestingly though, the Mosin-Nagant M07 carbine was very popular among low ranking officers during the 1918 Civil War in Finland.”
            I think, it might be explained simply by lack of automatic pistol.
            In Russian Empire default handgun was Nagant M1895, however officers could and often did buy and use own automatic pistol – most often of Belgian (Browning designs) or German (Mauser designs) – but import of these become impossible with outbreak of First World War and occupation of Belgium.
            Nagant M1895 has drawback of being one-by-one loading and also notice that there produced in factory which actually were burdened with production of rifles. During Russian Civil War sawn-off Mosin (and other) rifles were used as stop-gap pistols.

          • It is true that compared to the Mosin-Nagant rifles the numbers of M1895 revolvers captured in 1918 from surrendering Russian troops was not very high and there was an acute pistol shortage on both sides of the Finnish civil war. So not just a shortage of semi-auto pistols but handguns suitable for officers in general. The weapons aid from Bolshevik Russia to the Reds does not seem to have included many, if any, handguns, either. The Whites had about 1000 C96 Mausers delivered clandestinely already before the Finnish Declaration of Independence.

            Of course personal handguns were also used. The FN M1900, M1905 and M1910 were popular self-defense pistols in Finland like in most of Europe.

  3. That looks like an excellent reproduction candidate except for in the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia with the 15 round magazine. This has been a great look into the past and is wholly within the mission statement of this great site.

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