Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

The compact and easy to use semi-automatic pistol has sat on the hip of officers and enlisted men for over a century. But the pistol was always a weapon of last resort, something for when the enemy was close and death imminent. And so, from time to time, there was a notion to turn handguns into minute machine pistols. Today, Glock successfully markets their G-18C. But in the 1950s, Italy's legendary Beretta took their M1951 pistol and turned it into the M951R, or Raffica.

The basic M1951 Beretta was a semi-automatic short-recoil operated pistol with a magazine of 8-rounds of 9mm NATO. The magazine was released by pressing a button on the lower grip panel and quickly replaced. Italian special forces of the period liked the pistol, which lives on in the Beretta 92 series, but wanted something with more punch.

The M1951 became the M951R when the 8-round magazine was extended by two rounds and the semi-automatic feature became select-fire. A selector switch on the frame allowed the operator to choose single short (or semi-automatic) or full-automatic.

At a rate of fire of 1,000 rounds per minute, the M951R loosed a hellacious stream of rounds, but it was also notoriously inaccurate due to that high rate of fire. A folding wooden fore-grip was added to aid in controlability  However, the grip only did so much. Still, the idea of a full-auto pistol lived on in the halls of Beretta. Eventually, the designers worked out the kinks, managed to tame the full-auto beast a bit and churn out the Beretta M93R (the cosmetically doctored gun used by Robocop if you were wondering what that fire breather was.)

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Comment by Dan G. on January 12, 2013 at 11:21am

Hard to always second guess the original ideas behind an engineer's designs. I look at these "Machinos" and ~ I ~ see the old ACW era LeMatt Revolver given a technological upgrade. Nine shots of .36 or .44 cal for the standard pistol work, and a 16 gauge "Grape-Shot" shotgun round for those TOO DARN CLOSE moments. Little wonder she was a favorite of the Confederate Cavalry (when they could get their hands on them.)

The way I figure it, the "Machino" engineers might have had much the same use in mind for their full auto. However, as most folks are aware, Use doesn't always follow Design. Give a Trooper (or a Hood) something with Full Auto and they're going to blow off full clips all day long. They'll also wonder WHY it even comes with a Fire Selector. . . .Of course, they'll also spend all day complaining about how they can't hit the broadside of a barn with it too. . . . But, HEY, it sure does make a LOT of impressive noise!!! (LOL)

Comment by Jake Holman Jr. on January 11, 2013 at 11:19am
Dan, interesting observation about more rounds on target. During the height of 1930s German small arms design, they believed a high rate of fire in a crew served weapon, MG34 or MG42, meant you'd get more rounds down range in a shorter amount of time. That worked when you put the weapon a weighted, recoil buffered tripod. However, with a small, light pistol the shot dispersion is incredible when in full auto. Even when firing single rapid shots, muzzle whip and climb is significant unless your train for it. Full auto pistols, maybe you get one round center of mass, second clips top of silhouette and the rest sail off into the sky. But, if the bad guys are bearing down on you, then unleashing a spray of hell seems like a good idea.
Comment by Dan G. on January 11, 2013 at 10:45am

Yet another Great Article, Jake!

Personally though, I think that too much emphasis is often placed on the accuracy of these types of beasts while on Full Auto. As you pointed out, a pistol is a close quarters weapon. If you are down to the Pray & Spray option then you are already too deep in it. You aren't looking to hit a single target at any sort of range. All that you are hoping to do is to keep ~ them ~ from getting into the TOO DARN CLOSE range. At which point even having just those ten close grouped rounds flying through the air could make for all the difference in the world.

Comment by Jake Holman Jr. on January 11, 2013 at 7:00am
D.T., yup the Beretta and Colt are cousins from opposite sides of the world. Its interesting to see the tool of 30s gangster refined to the weapon of special forces. There are a number of tweaks designers could've done to make the Raffica make viable: oil piston recoil damper, muzzle compensator, heavy duty springs or even slide weights.
Comment by D.T. McCameron on January 11, 2013 at 2:57am

It seems kinda funny to churn out ten bullets at 1000 rounds per minute.

Also looks a whole lot like those Machinos you covered earlier.

I think the "vertical compensator cuts" on those might have been of some use here.

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