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Review: "The Belgian Browning Pistols" by Anthony Vanderlinden originally by darwin

haven't done a review of a book since college but thought I'd give my best effort at this time on the book titled "The Belgian Browning Pistols". It covers a subject about which not enough has been written in the past, that being the automatic pistols designed by John M. Browning and produced by Fabrique Nationale.

The author, Anthony Vanderlinden, has done a lot of research in order to have the most reliable information available. He has traveled to Liege, Belgium and gained access to FN’s official documentation regarding production information. Part of the reason that so little has been known about FN production before is because FN has carefully guarded those documents. With Mr. Vanderlinden's ability to gain access to the FN records he is able to bring information to the public that has not been available before. He also worked closely with museums and/or ministries of defense including those in Belgium, Finland, Estonia, The Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden.

In his book, Mr. Vanderlinden begins with a history of the FN plant starting with their production of Mausuer rifles in the late 1800's, and then covers their foray into bicycles and automobiles early in the 20th century but quickly establishing their reputation as a quality producer of find automatic pocket pistols due in large part to a rather happenstance meeting with John M. Browning. Their production of John M. Browning's pistols is, of course, the main topic of the book and covers the majority of the models produced until about 1950. This history includes several old pictures of the plant. The history is followed by a short narrative of John M. Browning and covers the relationship that was established between FN and John M. Browning. The importance of this relationship is stressed since it was Mr. Browning’s pistols that saved the company and made it a firearms company that it is today still a producer of some of the finest firearms in the world.

There is also a small section discussing Dieudonne Saive, John Browning’s successor at FN.

The book then briefly covers some other historical events and personages in which FN Browning pistols were involved.

The rest of the book is devoted to discussing many of the different models of Browning designed pistols and the different contracts beginning first with an introduction to the different markings that can be found on FN Browning pistols. Specifically the book covers the following models and their variations and contracts:

FN 1899

FN 1900

  • Belgian Military
  • Austrian-Hungarian
  • Imperial Russian
  • German
  • Police pistols in Denmark, Norway, and Finland
  • French
  • Factory nickeled, engraved or presentation models
FN 1903
  • Commercial and engraved models
  • Swedish military
  • Imperial Russian
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Estonian Military
  • Paraguayan
  • Salvadoran
Husqvarna M/07 - (A licensed version of the FN 1903 produced by Husqvarna for Sweden)

FN 1910 “Grand Browning” - (An short-lived attempt to compete with the Colt 1911)

FN 1910 (Pocket pistol)
  • Belgian
  • French Police
  • Netherlands and colonies
  • Dutch Navy
  • Dutch Ministry of Finance
  • Extended barrel versions
  • Japanese
  • Syrian Police
  • Post-war production
FN 1922
  • Yugoslavian
  • Dutch
  • Greek
  • Turkish
  • Romanian
  • French Navy
  • Danish Police
  • German occupation production
  • Immediate Post-liberation “A” prefix series and French contracts
  • French and German post-war purchases
Le Grand Rendement

Grande Puissance (High Power)
  • Belgian prewar
  • Paraguay
  • Finland
  • Estonian
  • Lithuanian
  • Mystery of the French prewar
  • Argentina
  • German occupation production
  • Post liberation “A” prefix series
  • Danish
  • Belgian post-war
  • Germany and Austria post-war
  • L9A1
  • Belgian Congo
Inglis High Power

Last there is a section devoted to the numerous types of holsters that were used with each of the models.

For someone like myself who has been interested FN pistols for sometime this book has been a God-send. I take great care of it but it is definitely well used. I knew little to nothing about this field of collecting and hardly dared venture into the field. With the arrival of this book I have taken a headlong plunge into the field of collecting FN Browning pistols. There are certainly still some holes and gaps in the information but overall, for an FN pistol collector, I believe this book is indispensable.

You can find purchase information for this book at this web site.
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