The Mandalorian Carries an 1894 Bergmann No.1

The new Star Wars TV series “The Mandalorian” does, in fact, feature a sidearm based on the Bergmann No1 / 1894 semiauto pistol. These are extremely rare today (probably only 5 or 6 still exist), and I am quite sure the prop was built from scratch and is not an actual original gun. However, the prop designers made a great choice, in my opinion. The very first Bergmann automatics were magnificent looking guns, and they fit right into the Star Wars film universe – where from the very beginning the weapons have been basically really military arms with sci-fi bits glued on. I plan to do a video later discussing the prop guns from the original three Star Wars films, but this appearance of something as cool as the Bergmann forced my hand…

For the record, no – I had nothing to do with the design or choice of the gun.

Full video on the Bergmann:

 

28 Comments

  1. Hell, I just want a copy of the prototype Colt based on the Bergmann profile. Somebody has a little shop or garage with tools and I will help you out as long as you make two, one for me, and one for you.

  2. As far as Star Wars enthusiasts scooping up collectible hardware to transform into their favorite weapon, you’ll find camera and accessory collectors hard pressed to find a Graflex flash unit that hasn’t been co-opted into a second life as a light saber.

  3. The first small series of Bergmanns was made by Mauser. So a fitting combination with Han Solo’s Mauser C96 and the later P08. Seems the Star Wars Universe has a Mauser factory somewhere 🙂

  4. Please tell me – what ‘real’ weapon was the light saber based on ?
    (steam punk is often weirdly close to reality – like a distorting mirror).

    • The fighting style, particularly in the earlier Star Wars films, is based on kendo, and Lucas was inspired by Samurai movies, so one could argue that the lightsaber was “inspired” by the katana.

  5. Director: Ok, we are doing movie with futuristic setting, faster than light travel, spaceships battles and so on, but we need to equip our hero with handgun. Can you take care of it?
    Prop master: *bring oldest automatic pistol at hand*
    🙂

    • Re Han Solo’s DL-44 blaster, it somewhat predated the Star Wars franchise. It had its genesis in the 1972 British crime drama Sitting Target, starring Oliver Reed and directed by Douglas Hickox;

      http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Sitting_Target

      The modified Mauser 712 used by Reed was modified in a very similar way.

      The connection? John Stears, the special effects and prop supervisor on the first Star Wars film, did the same job on Sitting Target.

      cheers

      eon

      • The assassin (whose face is never seen) in the ’70s John Wayne Dirty Harry-ripoff “McQ” also wields a Mauser Schnellfeuer. Machine pistols were seen as particularly badass in the ’70s.

        • The most common machine pistol other than in Hollywood at the time was the MAC-10. And it was more of a fully-automatic 9mm sawed-off shotgun in terms of effect.

          Having used the MAC(with live ammunition rather than theatrical blanks), I was often reminded of what Mark Twain said about the Allen pepperbox in Roughing It;

          I should have shot that long gangly lubber they called Hank if I could have done it without crippling six or seven other people- but of course I couldn’t, the ol’ Allen’s so confounded comprehensive.

          IMPO, a machine pistol on full-auto is a good weapon for my opponent to use. That said, I wouldn’t pass up a transferable 712 if I was offered one for a price I could afford. As Col. Cooper said of the Star Model M (a selective-fire 1911 clone in 45 ACP!), I could leave it on single-shot until I wanted to attract a lot of attention.

          cheers

          eon

          • Yes, in McQ the machine pistol used was in fact a MAC-10 9mm.

            It’s much more controllable with blanks. Explosive squibs at the receiving end help, too.

            The MAC itself achieved a sort of Star Warsy look in Escape From New York (1981). However, in real life a scope on a MAC-10 is pretty much useless, especially attached to the detachable suppressor.

            My vote for the silliest looking SW “blaster”? Tie between Boba Fett’s blaster carbine (actually a Webley & Scott flare gun with what looks like a washing-machine wringer for a barrel, plus the stock off a single-action percussion Colt revolver) and the Jawa “droid zapper” (an SMLE action with the stock cut back and a discharger cup for a 36M Mills Bomb attached to the business end).

            Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say.

            cheers

            eon

      • “(…)British(…)”
        Wait, this is yet another influence of British cinematography on A New Hope.
        Most visible is Lawrence of Arabia https://www.starwars.com/news/the-cinema-behind-star-wars-lawrence-of-arabia (see Tatooine setting and its dwellers’ clothes), but other might be found as well. Take for example star fighters banking during turning, which make no sense in void – this might be explained as carried of from Battle of Britain (1969), while attack on Death Star seems to be greatly influenced by The Dam Busters (1955).

  6. I just experienced an insight, watching this video. For years, I have wondered why all the early automatics seemed to universally gravitate towards the “magazine-forward” format, and why it took so long for the “magazine-middle” through-the-grip format to come to the minds of the designers. What has just dawned on me is that they were copying the “design grammar” of the revolver!

    I don’t know what took me so long to see this, but once you have seen it, there you are. Magazine-forward makes perfect sense to someone who has only ever known the revolver…

    • Revolvers in turn took their form from early flintlock and caplock (and probably matchlock etc) pistols, whose locks included the trigger, so that mechanism was naturally in the middle of the pistol ahead of the grip. It took some cleverness to break with tradition and put the magazine in the grip.

      It’s interesting to work backwards and wonder how different flintlock and caplock pistols would have been if they had thought to put the guts of the lock behind the trigger. Shorter, better balance, more concealable.

    • The Bergmann especially reminds me more of a muzzle loading pistol in layout and style than a revolver. In most revolvers the drum is above the hand, not in front of it.

    • “(…)I don’t know what took me so long to see this, but once you have seen it, there you are. Magazine-forward makes perfect sense to someone who has only ever known the revolver…(…)”
      Such layout might be explain in two ways – either as legacy of revolver or legacy of magazine rifle – as they were already in service in 1890s and generally by that time have box-magazine in front of trigger guard, so it might looks like natural place.

  7. And I have to wonder: How well do those old irons hang in the firing hand? How easily can you acquire a sight picture? How much would the muzzle flip if they were chambered for any sort of powerful cartridge?

    We already can see what a cool fashion statement they make. Maybe that’s enough.

    • 1. Most had a muzzle-light balance, much like the revolvers they resembled in layout. So the weight was closer to the top of your hand than that of a typical Browning-type automatic.

      2. Most handguns of the era, even “target” types like the Colt Bisley target revolver or Smith & Wesson Straight-Line Single Shot, had abysmal sights by modern standards. But you have to remember that one-handed, duellist-style “point shooting” was the standard procedure of the day, pre-Cooper. The Fairbairn and Sykes “Shanghai Municipal Police” technique still continues to this day, because it works;

      https://ia801303.us.archive.org/26/items/ShootingToLiveWilliamFairbairn/Shooting%20to%20Live%20-%20William%20Fairbairn.pdf

      3. There weren’t that many high-powered handgun cartridges back then, other than the Gabbett-Fairfax Mars series. And in any of those calibers, which were “Magnums” by any definition, the long-recoil Gabbett-Fairfax Mars pistol was nearly uncontrollable due to its violent recoil.

      Its failure in both military adoption and the commercial marketplace probably helped reduce interest in high-velocity handgun cartridges for a number of years, until the development of the .357 Remington/Smith & Wesson Magnum revolver round in 1934-35.

      cheers

      eon

  8. “For the record, no – I had nothing to do with the design or choice of the gun.”

    1. I would not be surprised to learn that the propmaster reads Forgotten Weapons.
    2. It is not french. So obviously no Ian McCollum influence there. 😉

    MAT49 or MAS38 with scopes on top and other bits added would fit right in to Star Wars movie props though. Star Model1914 would fit as well IMHO.

  9. The Grammar of the Revolver—
    It must be noted that as John Moses had not conjured up the slide at this point, designers would have a problem with the overhang of the bolt if they used a magazine based on the pistol grip. In order to do that you would need to go full on Gabett Fairfax. Now that’s a Star Wars special if ever I saw one

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