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One of the worst pistols in history – Glisenti Model 1910 was ruined by a bad decision

Posted May 30, 2019

There are many poorly designed pistols, but rarely they are a bad as the Glisenti Model 1910. However, despite obvious flaws Italian army used this weapon during the First and Second World Wars. The main problems were actually written in the history of the pistol itself – it was not meant to shoot 9 mm ammunition!

Glisenti Model 1910 was a really terrible handgun, mostly because it was originally designed to use smaller caliber ammo. Image credit: Daderot via Wikimedia

Italian inventor Bethel Abiel Revelli created this pistol as a replacement for the ageing Bodeo Model 1889 revolver. Revelli created the complex semi-automatic mechanism with 7.65×22mm bottle-neck cartridge in mind. However, initial tests disappointed the officials of Italian Army – the gun was not powerful enough. At least not compared with the Bodeo revolver. This, as well as envy towards German 9 mm ammunition, lead to a decision that Glisenti pistol had to be modified to use something similar to German 9 mm Parabellum cartridge. And that is where the trouble began.

Modified pistol was much more effective and was accepted for service. However, almost immediately users started having issues with reliability. Glisenti Model 1910 was jamming all the time. And if it did shoot, soon it would start falling apart. Manufacturer knew these problems and designed this pistol to be used with less powerful 9mm Glisenti ammunition. And still, many officers preferred using the old Bodeo revolver over the new semi-automatic pistol.

Big problem was the firing mechanism, which featured recoiling barrel and bolt. The Model 1910 had many small delicate parts, which were easily dislodged from their places, making the gun unusable. Glisenti Model 1910 could be taken apart for cleaning by undoing the screw at the front of the frame. This solution was also less than ideal. The frame itself was not stiff enough for operation with 9 mm ammo. This pistol quite literally would eventually fall apart.

There were attempts to solve these issues in 1912, but they were short-lived as the First World War broke out and pistols had to be used. They were slowly phased out for spanish Ruby pistol from 1916 and eventually in 1934 they were replaced with Beretta M1915. However, a lot of them remained in service throughout the Second World War. Due to obvious flaws in the design, this pistol did not reach a big international recognition, but some were brought to US as war trophies.

Glisenti Model 1910 was a poorly designed pistol. However, due  to its function it was carried around without much problem. Wars are fought with rifles and machine guns, not with pistols. This is why there are still so many Glisenti’s around. In fact, some enthusiasts are still shooting them. Even the worst guns can still be used with care.

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