The WORST Military Handgun Cartridge of the 20th Century?
Mike takes a look at the Swiss 7.5mm M82 cartridge, which served from the 1880’s until the 1970’s, production ending in the 1960’s. But you’ll be amazed by the most shoking bit of info about this rather weedy little number!
– Hi, this is Mike with TFB TV.
Now, I’d like to invite you to just put aside for one short moment any discussions about whether 9 mm or.45 ACP is a better handgun cartridge for military use.
Let’s go to the opposite end of the scale.
Now, what I’ve got here is possibly the worst handgun cartridge that was on issue for the majority of the 20th century.
This here is the Swiss 7.5 mm ordinance revolver cartridge, otherwise known as M1882.
That number should be giving you pause right now.
Now, let’s just say that the diminutive little .32 ACP is way ahead of this puppy, and anything you’ve read on Wikipedia or in cartridges of the world, just put it aside for a moment because most of it is wrong.
Okay, so, let’s start off.
When this particular version of cartridge was adopted, this is the 1886 version, the earlier version was lead, plain-sided, paper-patch that didn’t last very long.
Now, in the 1880s in Switzerland, you’ve got Colonel Eduard Rubin in the picture, and he was a real pioneer with jacketed bullets.
So, this is one of, if not the earliest, jacketed handgun bullet.
It’s also a small bullet though; it’s a bit of a tendency.
Now before you say it was to match the rifles, the small bull rifles, the 7.5 mm rifles, didn’t come in until almost a decade later.
But, in any case, from about 1886, the Swiss were loading FMJ revolver ammunition, and it was doing a massive 620-650 odd feet per second.
I’ve chronographed it through several revolvers with the original ammo, and yeah, it’s not terribly impressive.
But anyway, not only were the Swiss impressed with it at the time, but the Swedes and the Norwegians adopted very, very similar ammunition with very, very similar ballistics.
At around the same time, in fact, a little bit later, Wikipedia says it was developed in Belgium for some reason, but I’m not entirely sure about that, and I can’t confirm it.
So, if we take a bit of a closer look at this cartridge now, it’s a full metal jacket, and it’s dip-lubed in paraffin wax, and why will become apparent in a moment.
And if we take a look at this one here, I’ve pulled the bullet out a little bit so that you can see that it’s heeled.
So the front section of the bullet outside the case is wider than the bit that’s inside the case.
Now, as I said, the Swedish and the Norwegians and some others adopted a very similar cartridge, differed a bit in the bullets.
On the Swiss side, we have the Model 1882 revolver chambered for it.
Now the Swiss must have liked it a lot because in the late 20s, early 30s, they developed the Model 82/29 for the same cartridge, and we’re not going to get into these today, that’s for another time.
I’ve also got a little Belgium Bulldog concealed carry revolver from the end of the 19th century, start of the 20th century.
That’s also chambered for it, and the ammunition was loaded until the 60s.
I’ve got some here that’s 1960, 1962, and it seems that the revolvers finally went out of Swiss service as late as the 70s, which is pretty crazy given the best part throughout this cartridge’s entire career, it was loaded, (gun fires) yep, with black powder.
(gun fires) Yep, the Swiss were still loading black powder handgun ammunition for rear echelon troops as late as the 1960s.
(gun fires) Now, I’ve never found a reference explaining exactly why this is yet, and I have my own couple of little theories.
Now, what you’re gonna want to understand with the Swiss militia system is that unless people reequipped, or an entire unit was reequipped due to a caliber change or something, people will keep the same gun that they were issued at the start all the way through their career.
Now, it’s often reported that these revolvers were replaced by the Lugers.
I mean, the Swiss adopted the Model 1900 Luger, one of the very, very first adopters of a semi-auto handgun.
Only, these weren’t displaced.
What happened was that first of all, infantry officers, new entry infantry officers, would come in and would get a Luger.
This just sort of got pushed back down the priority list, and these Model 1882 revolvers were still being made until as late as, I think, 1932.
These ones, the replacement, were still being made into the 1940s, and then they were still being used in sort of military police dog-handler roles into the 1960s, and I’ve heard reports of people still having them on strength in the 1970s before they were finally replaced.
Now, you’ve gotta remember that by this time, the Swiss had been issuing SIG 210s from the early 50s onwards and were almost getting towards the SIG 220 at this point.
I mean, this is the longevity of these, and they’re totally obsolete revolvers by this stage.
But I think that the ammunition stayed as it was for two reasons: one of which, it worked well enough.
There was no priority on them, the sort of priority went to infantry officers with Lugers and later that went over to 9 mm Parabellum with the SIG P210.
It was just such a low priority, and it worked.
Why didn’t they start loading it to Nitro like the Swedes did? I think the answer for that is that some of the early Model 1882 revolvers had very, very, very thin top straps, and they increased the top strap thickness several times.
This is a late one; this one’s 1925, so this has got the thick top strap on it.
It was so thin that it would even be eroded by black powder, and I suspect, but I have no evidence of this, this is just me playing dollar store Sherlock Holmes here, they were possibly worried about Nitro, even though it would have been like two and a half grains of powder or something, it’s really light stuff, gas cutting the early revolvers that were still possibly kicking around in the system somewhere, or if not, might be being used by people as their target guns.
There’s also a slight other possible reason.
I mean, this is a proper FMJ; this is not copper-plated.
And you hear people trying to load for these and getting bullets stuck in the barrel, and I’m wondering if they didn’t think, “well if we’ve got to change the bullet design as well as the powder design for something that we don’t really care about because it’s all non-commissioned people, privates doing rear echelon roles, we don’t really give the slightest about it, so we’ll just leave it.
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(military band music)
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November 9, 2017 at 10:09AM