The Beretta M418
is a 6.35 mm (.25 ACP
The .25 ACP centerfire pistol cartridge is a semi-rimmed, straight-walled pistol cartridge introduced by John Browning in 1905 alongside the Fabrique Nationale model 1905 pistol...
) easily concealed Italian "pocket pistol
A pocket pistol is an American term for any small, pocket-sized semi-automatic pistol or, less-popular, any other handgun of small caliber, suitable for concealed carry in either a front or rear pocket of a pair of trousers, or in an exterior coat pocket...
". The earliest examples were made between 1919 and 1922. There are several versions, including the 1920 (V1 & V2), 1926, 1926 - 31 (V1 & V2), 1934, 318, and 418 models.
Uncertainty surrounds which year Beretta began producing their first .25 calibre pocket pistols. Dates suggested by various sources range between 1919 and 1922, but it is possible that design work started before the First World War. Exigencies of wartime demanded that precedence be given to military needs, so work on the little 6.35 mm was only resumed at the end of the conflict. The first version of the gun was very similar to the Model 1922; nearly a scale model in fact, with the single important innovation of a spring-loaded firing pin rather than an internal hammer. Mechanically this change was detrimental; it was probably made due to considerations of size. In every other way the two pistols are identical. They share the trigger mechanism fitted with an escaping disconnector, which is typical of all Beretta pistols of that period. A short time afterwards a second version (Model 19) appeared, with an automatic grip safety fitted on the frame backstrap. Presumably the safety was added to make up for the reduced level of safety inherent in guns with a striker-type firing pin.
In 1926 a third version of the 6.35 mm pocket pistol was introduced, in which the firing mechanism was completely redesigned, to incorporate a disconnector similar to that used in the Beretta M1923. This simple and economical modification contributed to the fame and commercial success of the 418. It involved a slight change to the left grip, and can easily be seen without dismantling the gun.
Apart from the mechanical alteration made in 1926 production of the 6.35mm pocket pistols continued steadily from the beginning of the 1920s until the middle of the 1930s, when Beretta felt a need for a change. Towards 1935 the appearance of the pistol was deemed outdated, and the handgrip was altered to be similar to the Beretta Model 1934. Later a cocking indicator was also introduced. It consisted of a firing pin which extended from the back of the slide when in the cocked position. Otherwise the so-called small Berettas
remained more or less unchanged in that most of the essential parts - barrel, magazine, etc., - are interchangeable. While changes to the gun during this time were minimal the name was changed often. These various model numbers can be found only in the Beretta catalogues. All guns manufactured up to the mid-1930s are marked simply IBREV. 1919
, and subsequent models until the end of the war are marked Brevettata
and included their date of manufacture in both the Julian Calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...
and Fascist Era based Roman numerals. Similar guns produced immediately after the war can be marked Brevettata
, but more often as Brevet
Beretta Model 418
The 418 was the final model of production line and very successful. Thought underpowered for combat, it found favor with high ranking Italian Officers during the World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
. Some found their way to German Command in Rome, distinguishable by a "4UT" Proof Stamp. The M418 remained in production until the middle of the 1950s, overlapping with the production of more sophisticated guns Beretta had developed in the meantime. Towards the end of the 1940s a frame in light alloy was also developed. Slight aesthetic modifications were also added shortly afterwards.
The M418 in Ficton
The Beretta 418 is also known as the favorite pistol of James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...
. In the James Bond novels his pistol is described as having a skeleton grip (i.e. grips removed - frame only), and either a threaded barrel to support a silencer or completely sawed off barrel. It was his weapon of choice up until the novel and theatric adaption of Dr. No when a Major Boothroyd,introduced as "the greatest small-arms expert in the world", insists it be replaced by the Walther PPK
The Walther PP series pistols are blowback-operated semi-automatic pistols.They feature an exposed hammer, a double-action trigger mechanism, a single-column magazine, and a fixed barrel which also acts as the guide rod for the recoil spring...
. In reality Ian Flemming received a fan letter in 1957 from Geoffrey Boothroyd, a Bond enthusiast and gun expert, criticizing the choice of firearm for Bond calling it "a lady's gun" and suggesting several alternatives.
| Model Number || Serial Number Range
| Mod. 1920 Version I
|| 100000 to 106000
| Mod. 1920 Version II
|| 106000 to 112000
| Mod. 1920 Version III
|| 112000 to 155000
| Mod. 1926
|| 155000 to 187000
|| 187251 to 198000
| Mod. 1934
|| 603700 to 608300
| Mod. 318
||609000 to 610000
| Mod. 418
|| 611000 to 658016, from 10001A to 99999A, from 00001C to 46410C