What sets the Glisenti model 1910 and the Brixia model 1912 apart? The answer is, not much at all. The Pistola Automatica Glisenti modello 1910 was known simply as the Glisenti, but another pistol known as the Brixia, also issued to none other than the Italian army, was essentially identical.
While the Glisenti was a Swiss design conjured up by a couple of Swiss engineers, the initial production run took place over the nearby Italian border in 1905. It was produced by the Turin factory of Societa Siderurgica, and they cranked out a whole bunch of the little semi-automatic pistols for the Italian military, but two years later they produced an almost exact duplicate, the Brixia.
The Swiss were initially a little peeved about that, as the Brixia was claimed to be an all-Italian creation. The Glisenti and the Brixia were just about identical in appearance and specifications, with the only difference being the lack of a grip safety on the Brixia. Aside from that, it was almost impossible to tell one from the other.
The Glisenti used a mechanism that employed a locking breech system but it was never very effective. As a consequence, it could never make use of full power cartridges such as 9mm Parabellums. Instead, it had to fire its own special cartridge with a less powerful charge, the 9mm Glisenti. While you could fire the 9mm Parabellum round through the pistol, doing so sometimes meant destruction of the weapon, not a good idea when being used in combat.
Under combat conditions the frame of the pistol could become distorted to an unacceptable degree, even with the less powerful rounds, and that would cause either the access plate to fall off or the weapon’s complete destruction.
The weight for both firearms was 1.76 pounds and the overall lengths were 8.315 inches. Both barrel lengths were right at 3.74 inches and the muzzle velocities came in at around 846 feet per second with the less powerful 9mm Glisenti rounds. They had magazine capacities for seven rounds each.
All in all, those two little semi-autos were more dangerous to the user than their intended targets it seems, but the Italians did use them through both world wars. I tried to find something, anything, about those two pistols that I could hang my hat on, you know, something famous they were used for, but not much was found at all. The one thing I did find was that when the Italian troops surrendered in mass both in Sicily and later in mainland Italy in WWII, whole stacks of Glisentis and Brixias were confiscated by the Allies.
I have tried to find one of these guns in working order, but haven’t had any luck with that either. My buddy up in the RCMP, however, has both models on display, somehow managing to find not only two working pistols, but a bunch of original documentation and even a handful of 9mm Glisenti rounds. Either can be found at auction with the starting bid at around $600.