From the Vault: Beretta M1951 Pistol
Today, Brownells Gun Techs Steve Ostrem and Keith Ford go to "Area 51".... No, not that Area 51, but rather a special zone occupied by the Beretta M1951 9mm pistol, sometimes referred to simply as the "Beretta 51" or its U.S. import name, the Brigadier. The M1951 is special because it was Beretta's first locked-breech pistol. Before that, all Berettas were simple blowback designs, and in fact the Model 1934 was the mainstay of the Italian military in World War II. The 51 was specifically developed to court a post-war Italian army contract, which didn't materialize. But the Italian navy and Carabinieri (national police) DID adopt the M1951 as their service pistol. The Egyptian army also adopted it, manufactured locally under license as the Helwan, and it was even produced in Iraq as the Tariq. The M1951's design, especially its lockup, was heavily influenced by the Walther P38. Don't believe it? The guys have a Walther on hand for comparison! The Beretta 51's weakness is its locking block, which was prone to sheering off, maybe due to the use of higher-pressure 9x19mm NATO ammo. Keith explains how the Berretta engineers fixed this problem. And Steve offers his own assessment of the cross-bolt safety and the location of the mag release.
WARNING: Never attempt to disassemble or reassemble a firearm unless you are absolutely certain that it is empty and unloaded. Visually inspect the chamber, the magazine and firing mechanism to be absolutely certain that no ammunition remains in the firearm. Disassembly and reassembly should follow the manufacturer’s instructions.