Founded in the 16th century, Beretta is the oldest active gun manufacturer in the world. Beretta pistols have also long been known for their reliability, function, and trend-setting technology, so it almost seems tardy of them not to have introduced a semiautomatic pistol until 1915.
But Beretta is now celebrating the 100th anniversary of its first semiautomatic pistol, the Beretta Model 1915, by selling a limited number of the 92 Centennial collector’s edition pistols. These are now available through a select network of dealers and the Beretta Galleries in Dallas and Memphis.
The semiautomatic pistol is actually a late 19th century invention. After Hiram Maxim (1840-1916) introduced his recoil-powered machine gun in 1883, several private gunsmiths set out to apply the same principles to handguns. The first model to gain commercial success was from Hugo Borchardt (1844-1924), whose C-93 hit the market in 1894. The C-93 was too bulky to receive widespread acceptance, but its design helped other inventors. In 1896, Paul Mauser (1838-1914) introduced his first semiautomatic pistol, the Mauser “Broomhandle.” These and other semiauto pistol designs led to the Model 1911, a single-action, semiautomatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered in .45 ACP that is still made today.
Still, the Beretta Model 1915 has a place in history. It was adopted by Italian forces one month after Italy entered World War I and was in production from 1915 to 1945. Its development led Beretta to create dozens of other semiautomatic pistols in the century since it introduced its first.
This commemorative 92 Centennial pistol isn’t a Model 1915, but it does take design cues from the original Model 1915, says Beretta. Beretta says this “high brush steel framed pistol features a frame safety, single-action-only configuration. The years 1915 and 2015 are engraved in Roman numerals on either side of the Brigadier-style slide. The same numerals are featured around the medallion logo in the center of the premium grade wood grip panels. The pistols and the certificate of authenticity are presented in a uniquely designed ammunition can bearing the 92 Centennial logo.”
To find a Beretta dealer near you, visit the Beretta website.