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Old February 22, 2022, 05:12 PM   #1
PolarFBear
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FN Model 1903 (Browning) 9X20

What have I got --- a wall hanger? Traded for a FN, thinking it was a .380. It is in good condition, nickel plated. I have searched Wikipedia with a caution that some were US imported and rechambered for .380. I cannot get the firearm disassembled to examine its chamber and barrel. It does NOT come apart like a Browning 1903 model III, though it does look like a bigger Browning Model. Anyone have any experience with the pistol or the 9X20 cartridge?
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Old February 22, 2022, 05:24 PM   #2
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No but I wish I did. No help on disassembly, I would have thought it like a Colt, too.

All I have ever seen were butchered to .380. I thought about buying a spare 9mm BL barrel but prices were already higher than I wanted to pay for a novelty gun.

Novelty now, not then. I think it is one of the most underrated service pistols of the day. I'd rather carry one than a Luger or Mauser.
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Old February 22, 2022, 05:45 PM   #3
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Jim Watson. Thanks for your reply. In the interim I did a more "thorough" search on YouTube. Found a good video. And, found a good NRA review from July 2011. It DOES come apart similar to a 1903 Browning but with differences. The barrel is attached to the frame just like the smaller version. Found out the nickel-plated version is quite rare. Looks like I have a 90%+ specimen that I may never shoot. Once I get it apart I can better judge whether it has been 380 acp "butchered". I'm only into it for $400. Spend that much in 9mm ammo on a good range day with the family. But, I still would have rather had a Browning .380. I've got one in 32 acp and it IS a joy.
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Old February 22, 2022, 05:46 PM   #4
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I think you can get drop-in .380 barrels; are additional mods required?

Diagrams, and pics of disassembled pistols, look like the earlier Colt '03s, with a barrel bushing, but I don't see a take-down mark on the slide; I have a couple of printed disassembly guides, and will take a look.

EDIT: Field strip is sort of a combination of Colt '03 and Hi-Power; lock the slide back with the safety in the forward notch, which aligns everything so the barrel can be rotated 90 degrees, which should free the barrel from the frame lugs, and allow the slide/barrel to be pulled off.
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Old February 22, 2022, 06:39 PM   #5
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I have a Husqvarna 1907, same pistol I believe, in 9X20SR (semi-rimmed) aka 9mm Browning Long. This was the Swedish sidearm until as late as 1940. I did find some original milsurp ammo online, but mostly I have fired PPU commercial and my own handloads. The PPU sends a 107 gr FMJ at 1,126/17.2 std. I loaded some 0.359 Hunter's Supply cast 100 gr over Unique to match this velocity, but now I load Power Pistol with those and 110 gr Hornady XTP 0.357. Have not run them past the chrono yet, nor the milsurp. Can't find the Hunter's Supply bullets lately, but the XTPs function fine and are accurate.

Runs at significantly lower pressure than 9X19. It is JMB's second pistol round after the 32 Auto. Both semi-rimmed. He wised up and went "rimless" with the 380, no rimlock (although I have never encountered that phenomenon). Fun shooter.
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Old February 22, 2022, 08:38 PM   #6
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Not to get too far afield, but I read something recently, that the semi-rim on the .38 Auto was so the round could be used in a .38 Colt revolver, which was government issue at the time, in a pinch.
Never heard that before, and it doesn't explain Browning's other semi-rimmed rounds; wonder if there's actually any documentation to support it?

I cut-down .38 Super brass for use in a Japanese revolver, creating, IIRC, 9x22SR; it wouldn't be much more difficult to cut it down to 20mm length, but after trimming, reaming, deburring, etc., it would be a tragedy to lose any of them at the range.
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Old February 22, 2022, 10:16 PM   #7
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Never heard that. Case dimensions are against it and even .38 Auto is substantially higher pressure than .38 Govt.
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Old March 4, 2022, 02:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Runs at significantly lower pressure than 9X19.
Quote:
9mm Browning Long
This sounds a lot like the Spanish 9MM Largo. I like the power it puts out with less pressure than the 9 X 19 parabellum, and have loaded it for years for my Spanish pistols. The Largo was based on the Browning Long and ballistics are very similar, Starline makes brass, or did anyway.
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Old March 4, 2022, 09:18 PM   #9
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Spanish 9mm Largo is based on Danish 9mm Bergman Bayard, a 9x23 tapered rimless, while 9mm Browning Long is 9x20 semirimmed, straight wall, pretty much a shortened .38 Colt Automatic.

FN, LeFrancais, and Webley 9mm BL are blowback actions.

Largo is a good deal stouter. The 1910 Bergman, Star, and Llama are locked breech, although Astra got by with blowback.

Last edited by Jim Watson; March 4, 2022 at 09:29 PM.
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Old March 5, 2022, 11:16 AM   #10
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Thanks ALL for the replies. I truly appreciate them all and welcome MORE. We are well covered on .45 acp/.9mm/.38-357 etc. But it is fascinating to learn of these "old" relics. I do reload and have the capability and capacity to trim cases to size. Now, to find workable brass.
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Old January 24, 2023, 05:58 PM   #11
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Dormant, almost a year

Fortune smiled on me. Attended a Gun Club show in Knoxville. Strolling the tables I FOUND three boxes of 9X20 Browing Long. Packaged 28 rounds to the box. Sixty greenbacks for the trio. Even this "blind hog" found a nut; 74 of them.
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Old January 25, 2023, 03:11 AM   #12
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I missed this thread the first time around. Congratulations finding some ammo for the uncommon round!

I would like to comment on this, though...

Quote:
Not to get too far afield, but I read something recently, that the semi-rim on the .38 Auto was so the round could be used in a .38 Colt revolver, which was government issue at the time, in a pinch.
Never heard that before, and it doesn't explain Browning's other semi-rimmed rounds; wonder if there's actually any documentation to support it?
I doubt you will find any supporting documentation, it sounds like BS to me.

If you look at all Browing's early cartridges they all have the "semi rim" design, the .25, .32, and .38 all have it, and all were designed before, or at the same time as the 9mm Luger. According to gun folklore Browning wasn't convinced that headspacing on the case mouth would be sufficiently reliable, so he put a small rim on his cartridges. After the 9mm Luger (1902) proved it would work, the pistol rounds Browning designed after that, the .45 and the .380 didn't have the semi rim, since it was proven it wasn't needed.

Can't say its true, but won't say its not, I find it much more plausible than him putting a rim on his case design so it would possibly work in a revolver....
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Old January 25, 2023, 07:51 AM   #13
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Gun Jesus on Forgotten Weapons on Utoob had a really good video on the 1903.

I THINK Othias also had a much longer look at the 1903 in his C&Rsenal channel on the toob.

I fired a 1903 years ago, not many shots, but enough to reinforce the thought that I really don't like the grip profile of the early Colt semi-autos.
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Old January 25, 2023, 08:09 AM   #14
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"Not to get too far afield, but I read something recently, that the semi-rim on the .38 Auto was so the round could be used in a .38 Colt revolver, which was government issue at the time, in a pinch.

Never heard that before, and it doesn't explain Browning's other semi-rimmed rounds; wonder if there's actually any documentation to support it?"

None that I've ever heard or seen, and I really don't buy it. At all.

Browning brought out his first semi-rimmed rounds in the infancy of the autoloader era.

At the time he introduced the .32 ACP (his first cartridge, IIRC, followed by the .38 ACP and then the .25 ACP), the ONLY way semi-auto cartridges were being headspaced in the chamber was on the cartridge's.... shoulder.

Yep, Browning introduced the first successful straight-walled cartridges for a semi-automatic handgun.

So, he had to figure out how to headspace the cartridge without a shoulder, thus a rim just large enough to allow headspacking, but not large enough to interfere substantially with feeding from the magazine.

It wasn't long before others proved that the case mouth would do a far better job at headspacing cartridges, so the semi-rim was something of a dead end.

But, sorry, I don't buy that it was done on purpose to allow the cartridge to be used in Colt revolvers.
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Old January 25, 2023, 08:33 AM   #15
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38 ACP, and 38 Super will fit in a 38 Special, and a .357.
I saw it while helping out in a LGS in the late 80s.
A gentleman came in saying he had purchased ammo at a local non-gunshop, and it just wasn't right in his gun. He brought in a box of Federal 38 Super FMJ, that had 5 fired cases in it.
We managed to get him to go back to his truck and get his pistol.
I can still remember the revolver very clearly, it was a Model 36 S&W .38 Special, with pretty Stag grips. We sold him a box of 38 Special and he left happy.
The smith wanted to check his revolver, but he declined to leave it.
With the owners permission, we loaded 2rds of Super, into a S&W model 66 in .357, a non pinned gun, and he fired it into his test barrel.
It worked but I really wouldn't suggest it, it's really high pressure for a 38Special.
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Old January 25, 2023, 09:06 AM   #16
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Whether THAT .38 Super will chamber in THIS .38 Special is a matter of tolerances.
When I first heard of it, I tried some combinations of gun and ammo. Some fit, some didn't.
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Old January 25, 2023, 09:20 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickB View Post
I think you can get drop-in .380 barrels; are additional mods required?

Diagrams, and pics of disassembled pistols, look like the earlier Colt '03s, with a barrel bushing, but I don't see a take-down mark on the slide; I have a couple of printed disassembly guides, and will take a look.

EDIT: Field strip is sort of a combination of Colt '03 and Hi-Power; lock the slide back with the safety in the forward notch, which aligns everything so the barrel can be rotated 90 degrees, which should free the barrel from the frame lugs, and allow the slide/barrel to be pulled off.
The small FN Vest Pocket used the same system unlike the Colt version. The little FN locks back to the take down point while the almost identical Colt locks back at the chamber.
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Old January 25, 2023, 11:52 AM   #18
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Whether the cartridges were designed for it or not, many revolvers were made in .25 acp and .32 acp.
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Old January 25, 2023, 01:56 PM   #19
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MANY?

OK...

What's your definition of many?

I can think of several Belgian and Spanish revolvers that were made in .32 and .25...

And, as far as I know, no American company has ever chambered a revolver specifically for either .25 ACP or .32 ACP.

But nothing even remotely coming close to many, either in breadth or depth.
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Old January 25, 2023, 06:53 PM   #20
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I said nothing about American companies.
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Old January 25, 2023, 07:04 PM   #21
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You didn't specifically omit American manufacturers in your post, so I omitted them for you.

You did say many, and I'm still waiting for your definition of many.

Realistically, I think the term you were looking for was a few.

As in a few models, made by a few companies, with but a few hundred, at best, of each being manufactured.

I'd be shocked if the sum total of all revolvers chambered specifically for .25 and .32 ACP was more than a few thousand, if that.
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Old January 25, 2023, 07:10 PM   #22
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Additionally, I can think of but a single handgun chambered for Browning's other semi-rimmed cartridge, the .38 ACP -- the Webley Fosberry Automatic Revolver.

Total production of WFs in .38 ACP was, according to Gun Jesus, 341, and per GJ, a portion of those were finally converted to .45 Webley in an attempt to get them to sell.

And I'll be... here's one for sale on Guns International...

https://www.gunsinternational.com/gu...n_id=101614798

I'm kind of surprised that the list prices is under $20,000. Last .45 WF I saw for sale was closer to $25,000.
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Old January 26, 2023, 01:18 PM   #23
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Quote:
I'd be shocked if the sum total of all revolvers chambered specifically for .25 and .32 ACP was more than a few thousand, if that.
I guess you could be. For what I have seen, the .25 ACP Velo-dog type revolver was very popular outside the States 100 years ago. Having handled and shot many of them, I can see why. Far better than NAA minis IMHO.
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Old January 26, 2023, 02:09 PM   #24
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I have no desire to get into an argument, Mike.
Suffice to say that early in the 1900s, pocket revolvers in these calibers were pretty popular in Europe. My 1911 ALFA catalog shows quite a few.
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Old January 26, 2023, 02:58 PM   #25
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Quote:
Additionally, I can think of but a single handgun chambered for Browning's other semi-rimmed cartridge, the .38 ACP --
May we count the Spanish pistols marked "9mm/.38", meaning 9mm Largo and .38 Auto?
I think that designation predates the .38 Super, although I am sure a lot of the guns get shot with .38 Super ammo, that being what is available now.
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