If you’re looking at the Beretta M1934 and saying to yourself “this looks familiar,” you’d be right. The open-top slide design is also featured on the ubiquitous M9. The M1934, much like the M9, is the result of Beretta vying for a military contract. In 1934, the Italian army began searching for a new sidearm, pitting the Walther PP against the Beretta M1934. Eventually, after a couple of design changes, the M1934 won the day and was adopted by the Italian military in 1937 who purchased 150,000 of these little pistols. This pistol sports the “RE” insignia on the standing for Regio Esercito or the Italian Army.
Chambered in 9 Corto, 9mm Short, in Italian this gun can fire .380 ACP. As mentioned, this pistol underwent numerous tests to defeat Walther for the Italian military contract and because of this you’ll find early versions with a unique slide safety. This was eventually abandoned in favor of a half-cock hammer safety. It proved to be a very popular design with a 57-year production run resulting in over 1 million pistols manufactured. Some of these came home as “liberated” guns in the duffel bags of GIs returning after the collapse of Mussolini in WWII. This hammer-fired, single-action pistol sports a 7+1 capacity.