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differentiation the FN Browning Pistols:
Following is a guide for identifying FN Browning pistol models:
FN Browning Model 1899 vs. FN Browning Model 1900: The Model 1899 was first produced in January 1899 and closely resembles John Browning's prototype. It can be differentiated from the FN Model 1900 by the following features: There are no safety markings and no lanyard ring, the frame has small side-plates. The grips are secured with studs and nuts. The FN Browning 1900 was introduced in 1900 after Belgian military trials requested changes to the Model 1899. The Model 1900 has larger grips which are secured with screws, has French language safety markings (Feu & Sur), a lanyard ring and larger frame side-plates.
FN Browning Model 1903: The Model 1903 in 9mm Browning Long was manufactured for the military market. It was not a copy of the Colt 1903 as is often reported. FN requested a (military) handgun design from John Browning in 1901. The same prototypes were presented to Colt and FN, Colt opted to manufacture a pocket pistol while FN tried to fill a void in their line by offering the design as a military pistol.
FN Browning Model 1905 / 1906 vs. FN Baby Browning: The Model 1905 is often referred to as the Model 1906, generally in the U.S. it is known for its first patent year "1905" while in Europe, 1906 refers to FN's first manufacturing year. This model is also commonly known as the Vest Pocket model. The Baby Browning was introduced by FN in 1931, the pistol is smaller than the Vest Pocket model. The Baby Browning is a total different design from the earlier Vest Pocket pistol, parts are not interchangeable.
Beware of Walther style PP pistols that are on the U.S. market with FN - Fabrique Nationale - slide legends…
These are not FN made pistols and do not feature the typical FN quality. The PP pistols were made in one of the former Soviet countries and are available with any marking or manufacturers marking at extra cost. Somebody ordered a batch of these pistols with FN’s older legal name marked on the slide, this was done solely to mislead buyers / collectors into believing that they were getting a genuine FN made gun. FN never produced the PP and these were not made for the Belgian police as often claimed in U.S. advertising. Belgian law-enforcement agencies did not use the PP or PPK.
Popular misconceptions on FN
The following misconceptions circulate in the international collector community. Here are some answers and comments that may clarify how the facts were misunderstood.
FN has always been a Belgian company, from its inception up to
the World Wars. It should be noted that the company did endure a German majority
take-over from 1896 to 1914. In such, the majority of shares were in hands of a
German company. Majority ownership however does not mean that a company changes
national identity. During both World Wars the company was sequestered and under
The Belgian government (not FN) purchased the production
rights for the 1889 Belgian Mauser and ceded those to FN. Loewe had no influence
or control in the establishment of FN. FN engineers did purchase equipment and
technical assistance from Loewe after the company was in existence. Loewe was
selected after FN engineers had explored buying their machinery in the U.S. but
ran into problems when U.S. manufacturers did not want to modify and make the
machinery on metric specifications.
FN was not one of the most useful bodies to the Germans in WWII. Instead it was more a source of aggravation for the Germans, as they could not get production up to desired significant numbers prior to 1943.
FN Browning Pistols
Because no research was done for decades, the first Browning pistol is often credited to the FN Browning 1900. We know now that the 1900 was a modified 1899 model. The 1899 was the first of the Browning pistols to go into production at FN in January 1899. The 1900 followed in mid 1900 after the Belgian military requested changes to the original Browning design. There is a clear distinction between the 1899 and 1900 models, their production run and production periods.
One of the most unfounded assumptions is that the Belgian army adopted both the 1903 as well as the 1922 in the prewar era. The Belgian military only adopted four pistols in the pre-1940 era:
Only two pistol models were produced; the 1922 model as well
as the High Power.
A frustration that advanced collectors share is the fact that the High Power and High Efficiency are rarely credited correctly. The forerunner of the High Power was the High-Efficiency, so named by FN in 1929. The High –Efficiency model was catalogued and made available in the 1929-1930 period. I suspect that the High Efficiency was made in very limited numbers just like FN did with the 1903 model before securing a large military contract. Just like distinguishing the 1899 and 1900 models, it is important to call a pistol by its correct designation.
FN Military Mausers
The confusion with FN Mauser models originated with the 1930s FN Catalogs, which often showed the 24/30 nomenclature. This was done as customers could select either model, as both models were available in the early 1930s.
This nomenclature should never be used today in order to identify rifles as customers did either select a 24 or a 30 model. There is no such model as a 24/30 as there is no hybrid between the two. There are distinct differences between the 1922, 1924, 1930, and 1950 models.
Unlike stated in many places, FN never produced any Mauser rifles during the occupation. Only a select few parts were made, most notable barrels and bolts. Those were exported to other plants and FN’s role was only to supplement parts production.
Another great misconception is that many claim that FN had a
1935 Mauser model.
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