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The Beretta model 1934 is a blowback design, self-loading, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered in .380 ACP, which is also known as 9 mm Corto or 9x17mm Browning Short. This compact pistol utilizes a 7 round detachable box magazine and weighs in at a hefty 26.4 ounces when unloaded. The barrel length is 3.46 inches and the overall length of the pistol is 5.91 inches. This simple yet reliable pistol design is composed of only 39 parts. The front sight is of the blade type while the rear sight is a V notch. The pistol is fitted with black textured plastic grips that have the "PB" monograms indicating Pietro Beretta on the bottom of each side. The model 1934 in the above pictures is shown with a post WWII magazine floor plate.

The model 1934 was manufactured by Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta or simply Beretta for short and was first introduced in 1934. Seeing the success of the Walther PP pistol in the 1930's, Beretta set its sights to develop a compact pistol for the Italian Army which accepted the model 1934 in 1937. The model 1934 is mechanically an improved model of that of the 1915, with the addition of an external hammer similar to that of the 1923 and 1931 patterns yet having a cleaner external appearance.

The pistols that were manufactured during the Fascist Era will be marked with the year of manufacture in two forms, the conventional Julian date in Arabic numerals and the date of the Fascist Era in Roman numerals. The Fascist calendar began on October 28, 1922, so a pistol from 1937 may carry either "XV" or "XVI" as its Fascist year. The model 1934 would go on to become the company's most produced firearm prior to WWII with production finally ending in 1991 with over a million pistols being manufactured. 

This Beretta model 1934 pistol featured on this page was manufactured for the Romanian military in 1941. In August of 1940, the Romanian military placed a contract with Beretta for 61,000 model 1934 pistols. This contract specified that the pistols were to be delivered within seven months. The first of these pistols was not delivered until February of 1941 due to the shortage of steel and Romania's failure to send Beretta the entire fund amount for the pistols. Beginning in February of 1941, Beretta delivered 10,000 pistols with the promise of 5,000 more per month until the total contract was filled. By August of 1941, Beretta had sent a total of 40,000 pistols, but the remaining 21,000 were never delivered. This means that there are less then 40,000 of these pistols in existence today. The first of these Romanian contract pistols can be identified with a 0(zero) at the beginning of the 5 digit serial number. The Romanian contract pistols are identical to the Italian model 1934 versions except that the slide is marked 9 SCURT instead of 9mm Corto as seen in the pictures below. These Romanian model 1934 pistols were normally issued to the Romanian officers during WW2.

Romania in WWII,

In November 1940, the Germans took over as "Big Brother" of the Romanian Armed Forces. Then in June of 1941, Romania joined Germany in attacking Soviet Russia. One of their goals was to recover Bessarabia and northern Bukovina which Stalin had taken in 1940 due to the Hitler-Stalin pact. In the early stages of the war the Romanians did well, but these troops were never supplied with enough material to wage a proper campaign. As such, these Romanian troops were decimated when the Germans retreated after the loss at Stalingrad. The Romanians kept a strong force in the border areas facing Hungary, their ancient enemy, fearful of an attack by their supposed allies.

As 1944 began, Germany increased its supplies of arms in way of payment for Romanian oil, but Germany couldn't deliver the desperately needed war material to keep Romania in the war and on Germany's side. Nor could Germany halt the advance of the Red Army. At this point, the Romanians switched sides in the war as the German Army Group South continued its retreat before the unstoppable Soviet advance. The Romanians were eager when they attacked Hungary in the hope that they would be allowed to reclaim Transylvania which they had lost in the Arbitration of Vienna in 1940. Now under Soviet control, the Romanians suffered heavy casualties as they fought through Hungary and into Czechoslovakia as they pushed the Germans west. At the end of the war, the Romanian Army was down sized and in 1947 was reorganized along Communist lines. 

While one might think that switching sides in the middle of a world war is a rare and unique occurrence, Romania actually switched sides three different times during the first world war. They ended that war on the side of the Allies, and by the terms of the peace treaty, doubled the size of the country at the expense of its neighbors. During WWII, Romania then under King Michael, had the third largest Axis army, and when the country switched sides in 1944, they formed the fourth largest Allied army.  

The photograph on the left is of the front and rear of the Model 1934 pistol. The picture at the top in the photograph on the left is of the muzzle of this pistol. The round object under the bore is the guide rod which has been left in the white just like the hammer and has not had a finish applied. As can be seen in the picture at the bottom left, the hammer has not been blued and there is no grip safety on these pistols.

The photograph on the right is of the top and bottom of the pistol.  

The photograph on the left shows the markings that are found on the left side of the slide. These markings read as follows, "P.BERETTA-CAL.9 SCURT-Md 1934-Brevet." and then underneath that is GARDONE V.T -1941". The first line of this marking translates to Pietro Beretta - Caliber 9 Short - Model 1934 - Patented. The word "SCURT" is Romanian for "short". The word BREVET is short for Brevettato. The second line translate to Gardone Val Trompia which is a town and comune in the province of Brescia, in Lombardy, Italy. The 1941 is the date of manufacture of the firearm. The right side of both the slide and frame on the Romanian model 1934 contract pistols are marked with a five digit serial number.

The photograph on the right is of the right rear of the frame which is marked with the letters (CM) in a circle. This stamp is either the initials of an Italian inspector or the Romanian Arsenal proof or acceptance mark. Other similar marks found on this pistol is (EZ) which is located on the left top of the trigger guard, a (TG) stamp found under the lanyard ring on the left side of the pistol and a (CI) stamp found on the left side of the magazine release.  

The picture on the left is of the top of the pistol. The photograph on the right is a picture of the top of the barrel with a close up of a stamp that no collector wants to see on a historic firearm that is in their collection. This is an importers stamp that is now required to be placed on firearms that have entered the U.S. after the late 1980's. On the plus side, every marking on a firearm will help to tell us its history and this importers mark is no different.

With this importers mark, we now know that this Romanian contract model 1934 pistol came in to the U.S. some time after the late 1980's. This import stamp reads as follows, "ARMAMENTOS WPB FL 380ACP ITALY". This marking is exactly what the law calls for except it would have been nice if the importer would have hid this stamp under the grips rather then stamping it on the top of the barrel. This stamp identifies the importer and where the firearm was manufactured. It tells us that the importer of this pistol is Armamentos Inc. and that they are located in West Palm Beach, Florida. It also indicates that the caliber of the pistol is 380 ACP and that the firearm was made in Italy.  

The import law that is mentioned above can be referenced by viewing the gun control Act of 1968, Public Law 90-618 and under Subpart F-Conduct of Business sub-section 178.92 (a)(1) Firearms. 

  

 Resource:

Beretta website located at: http://www.beretta.com/

The standard directory of proof marks by Gerhard Wirnsberger

Official guide to gunmarks by Robert Balderson 

Cartridges of the world by Frank C. Barnes

Wikipedia website located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beretta_M1934  

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