4 World War 1 Handguns That Remain Reliable Today

4 World War I Handguns That Still Stand Up Today

World War 1 (WW1) changed the world in countless ways. It also fundamentally changed warfare and how wars were fought. WWI was the first major war in which reliable, high-quality semi-automatic handguns were widely employed by all of the major belligerents. In fact, the early 20th century proved to be something of a golden age of quality and innovation for the semi-automatic pistol. The following is a selection of just a few of the classic, high-quality guns from WWI that any firearms enthusiast should make a priority to look for.

Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless

An iconic sidearm issued to a significant number of generals and other high-ranking U.S. officers, the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless chambered in 32 ACP is a beautiful, elegant, and still-reliable pistol. This triumph of sleek, rounded (non-snagging) art deco craftsmanship was the product of none other than John Moses Browning and popular with notables from General George Patton, to Humphrey Bogart and John Dillinger. It will feel right at home to fans of the Colt 1911 platform, as the Colt 1903 previews many of the features of the M1911.

Colt 1903 Hammerless Pocket Pistol .32ACP_ GunBroker.com
Colt 1903 Hammerless Pocket Pistol .32ACP- GunBroker.com

Colt 1911

No list of classic World War 1 handguns would be complete without the inclusion of the M1911 pistol or Colt 1911. Chambered for the robust 45 ACP cartridge, the Colt 1911 is perhaps the only firearm that has remained in consistent military and law enforcement use for well over 100 years. It is also likely the most-copied firearm, certainly handgun, platform in history.

Colt M1911 45ACP world war 1 handguns world war 2 handguns  GunBroker.com
Colt M1911 – GunBroker.com

Mauser C96

The classic “Broomhandle” Mauser C96 was officially a sidearm for the Central Powers in WWI, particularly Germany and Austria-Hungary. However, their accuracy, reliability, and comparatively high capacity made them popular enough with the British before the war that many British officers carried them into battle. The fact that they were chambered for the high-velocity 762x25mm Mauser cartridge did not hurt either. In addition to their graceful charm and exceptional quality, WWI handguns like the Colt 1903 and the Mauser C96 can also prove a great investment. Vintage and antique firearms in good condition are widely considered an investment. Gun values for collectible firearms have often proved unlikely to depreciate and often appreciate.

Excellent 9mm Navy Arms Tu-711 C96 Mauser Broomhandle with Stock/Holster - GunBroker.com
Excellent 9mm Navy Arms Tu-711 C96 Mauser Broomhandle with Stock/Holster – GunBroker.com

Nagant M1895 Revolver

Of course, it would not do to leave out an inclusion for the wheelgun crowd. Though it was of Belgian origin, the Nagant was primarily used by the Russian Empire in WWI. In addition to firing the odd proprietary 762x38mmR cartridge, the 7-shot Nagant M1895 is unique in another way. When the hammer is cocked back, the cylinder moves forward, creating a spaceless “gas-seal” between the cylinder and the barrel. That seal not only increases muzzle velocity, it also lends the Nagant the distinction of being one of the only revolvers ever produced that can be effectively suppressed.

Nagant M1895 Revolver – GunBroker.com

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