John Moses Browning is likely the most famous gun designer ever to have sketched on a cocktail napkin. And if you design weapons for the military, you have to know they’ll be used to kill people. But when JMB designed the .32 caliber 1910, he couldn’t have expected that one pistol in the hands of a disaffected Yugoslav nationalist would lead to the deaths of so many. It was on this date in 1914 that Gavrilo Princip used a model 1910 FN Browning to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. That, of course, set in motion a series of events that led to the carnage that was World War I, set the stage for World War II (60 million more) and reverberates in the Balkans to this day. That’s a lot of mayhem for one gun. And to think most people call a .32 underpowered.

10 Responses to This Day in Handgun History: Browning 1910 Kills 38 Million

  1. Just an hour ago, I was having a discussion with a friend about why
    the pocket pistol revolution happened with the .380 and not the .32acp.
    One point in the .380s favor was the power factor.

    This does kinda put things into perspective.

    I’m keeping my .380, though. 😉

  2. I’m sure the gun used was a 1910, but I’m not sure whether the round fired was a .32 or a .380. I’ve heard both.

    Either way, dumb luck is dumb luck…

    • If he had been shot in Baltimore WWI never would have happened (In an alternate universe where for some reason the Arch-Duke was riding around Bal’mer in the 1990’s). They have kick-ass trauma care in Baltimore.

  3. I have built military ordnance for this great nation and I will say that the thought of something that I touched killing a person bothers me. I can understand why a person would not want that on their conscience. That aside, I feel that trying to make the link between the gun used and the radical SOB that used it is in poor taste considering the url is TTAG. IMO the Great War was the perfect storm of technology, influenza, and out of date political systems. In other words it was inevitable.

  4. I was just talking to my (pro-gun control) aunt how the guns that have changed history have been simple handguns or hunting rifles, citing this specific example. One wrong turn by a driver, one man deciding to go to a deli on Franz Josef Street, a car stalling at just the right time. Had the attacker shot a few inches lower, Ferdinand’s woven silk body armor may have saved his life. It is frightening how such small things can turn into something so much greater.

  5. Don’t for get that the .32 finished the European front off when one traveled from a Walther to Hitler’s brain cage.

  6. “That’s a lot of mayhem for one gun.”

    No. That’s a lot of mayhem for one person. What gun was used was/is inconsequential.
    You’re sounding a bit like the lib media who, when covering the Gifford’s shooting in Tucson, focused on the Glock 19 and not on the perp.

    Careful Danny-boy.

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