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Hello my friends, I'm working for a museum and they have this olympic model pistol, dated from 1951, but I don't know it's eactly model. It is writen on the frame: "Pistola Aut. 22 Corto Tipo Olimpionico / Pietro Beretta - Gardone VT Italia"

But I don't know its model, it seems like a 949 model, but I don't think it is this model. could you please help me?

Here follows some pictures I took:

beretta1.jpg beretta2.jpg beretta3.jpg beretta2.jpg beretta5.jpg beretta6.jpg beretta7.jpg beretta8.jpg beretta9.jpg beretta10.jpg beretta11.jpg beretta12.jpg

Thank you in advance and my best regards.
 

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The only gun like it in my references is the Beretta Model 949.
But your sample has non-standard wooden grips (stocks) and an extra, added barrel weight. Also, it's for the .22 Short cartridge.
Further, your sample has a trigger-guard that is shaped slightly differently from that of the 949.

I guess (without any direct knowledge) that your sample might have been especially made by Beretta, specifically for use in the Olympics of either 1952 or 1956.
(Your sample seems to be dated 1951, which might allow for practice time before the games actually began.)
 

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Hello,

This seems to be a Beretta model 949, but chambered for a different cartridge (the .22 Short). Usually the 949 is chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge (see the two links I've included describing similar pistols, below).

This pistol seems different from the standard model 949 in many ways; some of them could be the way it was originally manufactured, and some may have been modifications made by one or more previous owners. For instance, the grips looks hand-made, or at a minimum, custom-carved from larger factory-made grips, to better fit a particular individual's hand. This is a common user-initiated change used by competition shooters around the world.

The barrel, on the other hand, looks to be hexagonal or octagonal in cross-section, where most photos I can find of other model 949 pistols show a round barrel profile. This is unlikely to be a user-made change, as barrels have to be hand-fitted to most target pistols, and some countries restrict major pistol parts (like barrels) as severely as they restrict access to pistols.

However, there are other items on the pistol which look like they might have been modified by a person with at least some gunsmith or machinist training. The front sight appears to be non-standard for this type/model (based on other photographs), and is mounted directly to the barrel by brazing, vs a screw-on attachment or being attached to the barrel's muzzle break as seen in other photos of this model. There is also a "wedge" of off-color metal on the underside of the barrel, near the front of the trigger guard, and the barrel weight has been re-contoured to match this metal. This may be a non-factory-made or reinforced barrel lug, used to attach the barrel to the frame. A combination of the different barrel cross-sectional shape (flat-sided vs round), the non-standard front sight and attachment method for same, the larger-than-normal slots for the slide (compared to other photos of similar models), and the modified barrel and barrel weight, makes me think that the entire barrel may have been replaced at some point. This might have been done to repair the pistol if the original barrel had been somehow damaged, or it may have been an attempt to change the caliber to some other cartridge. As the slide is marked .22 Short (Corto), if the barrel is marked with any other caliber markings, then it is surely a replacement barrel. Also, on the subject of the barrel markings, I don't see any in the photos. The frame and slide are marked with the number "472", and I would think that a target pistol of this quality would also have the barrel marked to match (although the marks may be on the underside of the barrel, where the markings are not visible unless the pistol is disassembled).

In addition to the missing rear sight, it also appears as though the extractor is missing (empty slot on the right side of the slide, just above the "472" marking), along with its mounting pin and possibly a spring (probably located in the rounded section of the slot, to the rear) . The extractor is a strange part to be totally missing from a .22 pistol, but it does commonly happen in one set of circumstances, which I will discuss in a moment.

Finally, there is a hole in the side of the frame, forward of the trigger guard, which is not seen on any other photos I've been able to find of this general type/model pistol. The wear/scuffing marks on the frame in front of this hole suggest that this may have been used to mount some sort of accessory to the pistol, and when this accessory moved/vibrated as the pistol fired, it scuffed the frame's finish/bluing.

Here are some links to web pages that include online photos I've found of similar pistols:

Link #1 >>> Pistola Aut .22 Corto Tipo Olimpionico - RimfireCentral.com Forums

Link #2 >>> Collectors Firearms Archives - Home

If you look closely, you can see many of the differences I've mentioned above.

I've tried to make all of my comments above fact-based. Now it's time for some wild, totally unfounded speculation (but still loosely based on some facts/experiences)!

My guess of what may have happened here: I think a previous owner may have been frustrated by having a very nice target pistol, but in the less-desirable .22 Short caliber, which can be very difficult to find in many areas of the globe, and which is lower-powered than the much more common .22 Long Rifle cartridge. I believe the owner may have decided to try to convert the pistol to .22 Long Rifle caliber (knowing that other models of this pistol type are chambered in this caliber, and .22 LR magazines are available), by having a machinist (who was experienced in metalworking, but had little-to-no experience/training as a gunsmith) modify and install a new barrel, made from a section of another gun's barrel (that would explain the external shape, the larger-than-normal slots for the slide, the crude sight attachment method, and the not-factory-looking curved barrel lug and matching modified barrel weight). However, the people involved in the project did not take into account the more powerful cartridge and the weaker springs of the .22 Short frame and slide, and when they test-fired it, the action opened prematurely, allowing the case head to burst, which blew the extractor off the pistol at high speed, never to be found again (I've seen this happen several times with modern .22 LR pistols that have "blown" a case head, it is not uncommon at all). After this type of serious malfunction, the pistol may have still been able to safely shoot .22 Short ammo, even in the "new" .22 LR barrel, but because the slide no longer had an extractor, each empty casing may have had to be tapped out of the chamber from the front of the barrel, using a short rod or dowel. Eventually, the rear sight may have been lost, and that may have ended the pistol's usefulness (it's very difficult to hit anything when you don't have both of the sights needed to aim the pistol).

I hope you find some of this helpful. The discussion in the first link I posted above references a book which may have more info and photos of this pistol model (they even gave a page number!), and if you can locate a copy of this book, it may prove very informative. The book is Beretta Automatic Pistols by author J. B. Wood.

Argh! Steve beat me again, but I hope the details contained in my post makes up for the slowness of posting it. I actually started my post before he posted anything (yes, really! I type slowly), but it took me a while to examine the photos, and search for links/photos of similar pistols.
 

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Yeah, well...
Slow you might be, but you were also much more thorough than I was.
And your information, including your speculations, was much more interesting — and probably more directly factual — than mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hello,

This seems to be a Beretta model 949, but chambered for a different cartridge (the .22 Short). Usually the 949 is chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge (see the two links I've included describing similar pistols, below).

This pistol seems different from the standard model 949 in many ways; some of them could be the way it was originally manufactured, and some may have been modifications made by one or more previous owners. For instance, the grips looks hand-made, or at a minimum, custom-carved from larger factory-made grips, to better fit a particular individual's hand. This is a common user-initiated change used by competition shooters around the world.

The barrel, on the other hand, looks to be hexagonal or octagonal in cross-section, where most photos I can find of other model 949 pistols show a round barrel profile. This is unlikely to be a user-made change, as barrels have to be hand-fitted to most target pistols, and some countries restrict major pistol parts (like barrels) as severely as they restrict access to pistols.

However, there are other items on the pistol which look like they might have been modified by a person with at least some gunsmith or machinist training. The front sight appears to be non-standard for this type/model (based on other photographs), and is mounted directly to the barrel by brazing, vs a screw-on attachment or being attached to the barrel's muzzle break as seen in other photos of this model. There is also a "wedge" of off-color metal on the underside of the barrel, near the front of the trigger guard, and the barrel weight has been re-contoured to match this metal. This may be a non-factory-made or reinforced barrel lug, used to attach the barrel to the frame. A combination of the different barrel cross-sectional shape (flat-sided vs round), the non-standard front sight and attachment method for same, the larger-than-normal slots for the slide (compared to other photos of similar models), and the modified barrel and barrel weight, makes me think that the entire barrel may have been replaced at some point. This might have been done to repair the pistol if the original barrel had been somehow damaged, or it may have been an attempt to change the caliber to some other cartridge. As the slide is marked .22 Short (Corto), if the barrel is marked with any other caliber markings, then it is surely a replacement barrel. Also, on the subject of the barrel markings, I don't see any in the photos. The frame and slide are marked with the number "472", and I would think that a target pistol of this quality would also have the barrel marked to match (although the marks may be on the underside of the barrel, where the markings are not visible unless the pistol is disassembled).

In addition to the missing rear sight, it also appears as though the extractor is missing (empty slot on the right side of the slide, just above the "472" marking), along with its mounting pin and possibly a spring (probably located in the rounded section of the slot, to the rear) . The extractor is a strange part to be totally missing from a .22 pistol, but it does commonly happen in one set of circumstances, which I will discuss in a moment.

Finally, there is a hole in the side of the frame, forward of the trigger guard, which is not seen on any other photos I've been able to find of this general type/model pistol. The wear/scuffing marks on the frame in front of this hole suggest that this may have been used to mount some sort of accessory to the pistol, and when this accessory moved/vibrated as the pistol fired, it scuffed the frame's finish/bluing.

Here are some links to web pages that include online photos I've found of similar pistols:

Link #1 >>> Pistola Aut .22 Corto Tipo Olimpionico - RimfireCentral.com Forums

Link #2 >>> Collectors Firearms Archives - Home

If you look closely, you can see many of the differences I've mentioned above.

I've tried to make all of my comments above fact-based. Now it's time for some wild, totally unfounded speculation (but still loosely based on some facts/experiences)!

My guess of what may have happened here: I think a previous owner may have been frustrated by having a very nice target pistol, but in the less-desirable .22 Short caliber, which can be very difficult to find in many areas of the globe, and which is lower-powered than the much more common .22 Long Rifle cartridge. I believe the owner may have decided to try to convert the pistol to .22 Long Rifle caliber (knowing that other models of this pistol type are chambered in this caliber, and .22 LR magazines are available), by having a machinist (who was experienced in metalworking, but had little-to-no experience/training as a gunsmith) modify and install a new barrel, made from a section of another gun's barrel (that would explain the external shape, the larger-than-normal slots for the slide, the crude sight attachment method, and the not-factory-looking curved barrel lug and matching modified barrel weight). However, the people involved in the project did not take into account the more powerful cartridge and the weaker springs of the .22 Short frame and slide, and when they test-fired it, the action opened prematurely, allowing the case head to burst, which blew the extractor off the pistol at high speed, never to be found again (I've seen this happen several times with modern .22 LR pistols that have "blown" a case head, it is not uncommon at all). After this type of serious malfunction, the pistol may have still been able to safely shoot .22 Short ammo, even in the "new" .22 LR barrel, but because the slide no longer had an extractor, each empty casing may have had to be tapped out of the chamber from the front of the barrel, using a short rod or dowel. Eventually, the rear sight may have been lost, and that may have ended the pistol's usefulness (it's very difficult to hit anything when you don't have both of the sights needed to aim the pistol).

I hope you find some of this helpful. The discussion in the first link I posted above references a book which may have more info and photos of this pistol model (they even gave a page number!), and if you can locate a copy of this book, it may prove very informative. The book is Beretta Automatic Pistols by author J. B. Wood.

Argh! Steve beat me again, but I hope the details contained in my post makes up for the slowness of posting it. I actually started my post before he posted anything (yes, really! I type slowly), but it took me a while to examine the photos, and search for links/photos of similar pistols.
Hello DJ Niner, thank you for your whole explanation! Everything yoi said seems right. The pistol does looks like the 949 model, just the barrel and some other features are diferent, but as you said, it was probably made by the owner.

My best regards to you my friend!
 
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