Schouboe .32ACP Pistol at RIA

Before he adapted it to .45 caliber for US Army pistol trials, Jens Schouboe was building his pistol design in .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning). It was a blowback action, hammer fired, and very quick and easy to field strip. The gun was reliable and well made, but just didn’t catch on in the market, and not many were made. This particular one has a rather interesting feature of a second magazine latch location to act as a disconnect, firing single shots with the magazine held in reserve.


  1. “firing single shots with the magazine held in reserve”
    As some repeating rifles from that time, however so far I know it wasn’t popular in automatic pistol. Only other automatic pistol with that feature is – so far I know – REISING .22 AUTOMATIC PISTOL

    • Ian mentions the third one in the video, namely the Webley & Scott self-loading pistol. I can sort of understand why the magazine cutoff was popular in military repeating rifles, but having one in a pistol seems pointless.

      • Pointless to the point of asking why anyone actually did that during the time when replacement magazines were scarce? Most people could afford to buy one handgun and maybe two magazines during that era, right? Where do you get the convenient spare magazine if you’re not a government employee?

        Schouboe probably believed that it was easier to single-load the gun through the open slide than to remove the magazine and insert loose cartridges one at a time into the magazine and then reinsert the magazine into the gun.

        • If the cutoff is an alternative to additional magazines, wouldn’t allowing stripper clip loading be a better one?
          It seems rather clumsy to disengage the cutoff. If the bottom edge of the ‘magazine cutoff magazine cutout’ was ramped, it would be a simple tap-rack-bang to get access to your ’emergency reserve’. Uh, except your strong hand little finger would sort of get in the way… Well, it would work better. Also a slide release would probably speed the single-loading.
          I can imagine a situation where a magazine cutoff in a rifle could be useful (if only marginally); taking potshots at very long range from a fairly secure position. I can’t fathom a situation where this feature would be beneficial to a pistol (especially one intended for civilian use)

          Besides that one imponderable little function, I actually really like this gun. I’d love to see the design updated with some more modern ergonomics. (and isn’t that a common refrain around these parts)

        • I suspect the reasoning had to do with European gun laws. Most countries there had strict controls on civilian gun ownership even then (left over from Metternich, 1848, and the anarchists of the 1890s- see The Dynamite Club by John Merriman). So the primary market would have been police and military.

          The .32 ACP was considered an entirely reasonable police service caliber back then. (See FN Model 1910/22.) This pistol is about the size I’d expect for what was considered a typical pistol for open carry in a holster on a policeman’s Sam Browne belt.

          As such, the “single-load” feature was probably a range safety measure to be used when teaching recruits the use of their newly-issued pistols. By definition, they would have no previous experience with firearms, let alone self-loading pistols, so the potential for ADs with such weapons would be high.

          (Even in our “gun” culture it happens. Once while teaching a pistol course, I nearly collected a 9mm JHP in the foot when a student with a shiny new S&W M39 fired a five round string, then replaced it in his holster without applying the safety.

          Yes, he had started with a full 8 rounds in the magazine.

          Yes, the hammer was still cocked.

          No, he didn’t remove his index finger from the trigger guard before said index finger hit the top edge of the holster.

          Yes, bullet hit the ground one inch from my left little toe.

          And YES, I had a talk with his boss, and the next time he showed up for class, he had a S&W M10 .38 Special 4″.)

          The magazine lockout would allow the pistol to be used as a single-loader during basic training, with the students graduating to magazine loading once the instructor was satisfied that they weren’t maladroits.

          It would be cheaper than having a separate inventory of single-shot pistols exclusively for training, and the students would only have to learn the manual of arms for one handgun from start to finish.

          It actually makes pretty good sense in that context, as per Elmer Keith’s axiom;

          Beware the man with only one gun. He probably knows how to use it.



          • 7.65mm Browning was considered a reasonable police caliber in Europe all the way until early 1970s. FN M1910/22 and PP/PPK were used widely. Only the resurgence of Palestinian and domestic terrorism (such as the RAF etc.) convinced European authorities that perhaps something a little more potent was needed. Countries not directly touched by terrorism then followed suit. Still, the PPK was used as a detective weapon (its original purpose) in many countries until the 1990s.

  2. IIRC the mag on the .455 Webley auto held 7 ctgs and the ammo came in 8 rd packs. I thought it was so a full mag could be loade then a single round placed in the chamber, closed, and then insert the mag fully.

  3. The observation I want to make is not so much related to inner workings of this particular design, as clever as they may be, but to its ‘anti-ergonomics’. This is, may I say, an utter example how NOT to shape a handgun.

    If you lay your hand of preference in front of you, you must notice that the level of index finger, thumb and web between them is identical. This very fact is woefully ignored here and much as is in many otter design. Besides, from side view, the arch does not have to be as large although I understand it might contain mechanics.

    Anyone, who wishes to design new handgun should look at their own hand first and them shape the product to fit it. With properly shaped grip area everything goes easier – even hitting target.

    • There were a few other pistols made in Europe back then with a similarly weird “reverse taper” to the backstrap. The Mann Model 1921 6.35mm pocket auto comes to mind;

      This little beast also had the nasty habit of pinching the web between your thumb and forefinger between the frame and that cocking piece. Hard enough to draw blood.

      The Galbreaths to the contrary, “ergonomics” was not a concept that most engineers or gunmakers in Europe knew much about back then. They didn’t care much, either.



      • Yes, quite true.

        In contrary and as a proof of endeavour to fit into our times we have items such as Walther and HK pistols – fully compliant with ergonomy requirement. Of course, plastic can be shaped to any form as long as it can be removed out of mold.

        Sometimes they going too far, such as interchangeable side panels on HK-30.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.