We come now to the final chapter in the Bergmann pistol saga – the Danish M1910 and 1910/21 pistols. When Pieper (AEP) in Belgium contracted to build the 1908 Bergmanns for Spain, they also got the rights to build the guns under license for commercial sale. Bergmann’s own company had decided to get out of the pistol-making business and concentrate their arms production on heavy machine guns.
In addition to selling 1908 Bergmanns on the civilian market throughout Europe, Pieper managed to make a major contract sale of the guns to the Danish military in 1910. A few changes were requested to the design:
- Semicircular cutouts at the bottom of the magazine well, to allow a better grip on the magazine.
- Textured gripping surfaces on the magazines
- Changing the flat mainspring to an “S” shaped one
- Enlarged magazine catch
- Slightly larger grips
With these changes made, Denmark ordered 4,840 pistols in 1910. These guns bear two numbers, an AEP serial number in the 6,000-11,000 range located in the standard places (primarily on the front underside of the frame) and also a Danish property number from 1-4,840 stamped on the right side bridge at the read of the frame. They will also have a crown over “D” marking indication Danish acceptance and standard Belgian commercial proof marks. The Danish order was completed by 1912, and AEP continued making commercial Bergmann pistols. When World War I began and Germany occupied Belgium, they had the factory continue to produce the pistols for German use (these were in the 15,000-16,000 range of serial numbers, and did not have the Belgian proof marks). Production ended at the end of the war, but a few more guns in the 17,000 range were assembled form the remaining stock of parts.
By the early 1920s, the Danish military was in need of more pistols and replacement parts for the existing ones, and was unable to get them from AEP – so they decided to produce them domestically instead. Production began in 1922, with a few more minor design changes under the designation M1910/21. These changes were a larger and stronger extractor, larger contoured grips made of Trolit (an early plastic) and replacing the sideplate catch with a screw – no significant mechanical changes. The first batch of 900 was made between 1922 and 1924, and are marked “HÆRENS TØJHUS” instead of having AEP’s name. A second batch of 1,904 pistols was made in 1924 and 25, marked “HÆRENS RUSTKAMMER”. These Danish made guns also had two different numbers; serial numbers starting at 1 and Danish issue numbers picking up at 4,840 where the Belgian guns left off.
At the same time, most of the M1910 pistol in Danish inventory were refurbished and updated to the /21 configuration.
We have some video of the M1910/21, both at the range and in the shop for disassembly. I made these videos several years ago, and the shooting video has a few factual goofs in it – eventually I will have a chance to redo these with better info and in high definition. But for now, here they are:
My overall impressions of the Bergmann pistol are a big clouded by the aesthetic crush I have on them – I think they are a pretty darn comfortable pistol to shoot. R.K. Wilson disagrees, calling them “clumsy” and “very unhandy”. I do admit that magazine changes are slow (at least on the examples I’ve handled – the mag catch is very stiff, and removing the magazine causes the bolt to slam forward) and the 6-round capacity is a handicap. Still, they served the Danish military until 1946 (when they were replaced by the FN High Power). I still don’t have one in my personal collection, but eventually that will change!
Caliber: 9x23mm Bergmann (aka 9mm Largo)
Weight: 36oz (1020g)
Overall length: 10.0 in (254mm)
Barrel Length: 4.0 in (102mm)
Magazine capacity: 6 rounds
Action: Short recoil
Locking System: Vertically-sliding block
Photos of a Bergmann-Bayard M1910/21 (click to download high-resolution copies)
Buffaloe, Ed. Bergmann Bayard (web site)
Ezell, Edward C. Handguns of the World. Stackpole Books, New York, 1981.
Wilson, R.K. Textbook of Automatic Pistols. Samworth, 1934 (reprinted by Wolfe Publishing, Prescott AZ, 1990).