The Story of Pistols

The story of pistols began a long time ago. Ergonomics is a most important quality of a pistol. This is why when trying to analyze the story of pistols from the point of their ergonomic characteristics we can reveal the tendencies that existed.

The conditions in which weapons were used had a great influence on the trends of pistols’ development. It lead to formation of two shooting schools – American and European (Russian).P08 Parabellum,	Germany, 1908-1945 г.

Russian shooting school was formed against the background of continuous military actions in which a pistol wasn’t viewed as the main weapon. A Russian officer participating in a lingering war conflict carried arms for weeks, months and even years. It was inconvenient to use heavy weapons in such conditions. Besides, in the past centuries in Russia and Europe duels were widely spread. All these factors contributed to the specifics of the Russian shooting school: one-hand shooting at an armed enemy ready to shoot back at any moment. By turning his body a shot minimized the hitting area. The shooting culture and the concept of hitting the enemy in accordance with the principle of reasonable adequacy was formed between 1860 and 1898 (see the 1907 Convention). PM 9 mm

Russian shooting school (duel shooting school) – one-hand shooting with body turned. This shooting principle influenced the technical tasks and the design of Nagan (7.62mm) revolvers, as well as TT (7.62mm) and PM(9mm) pistols. If at an early stage of training a shot was taught to hold a gun in a particular way, in a combat situation he will involuntarily take the same position. The shooting position is much like handwriting which is impossible to change.

American shooting school (Russian version). To sum up the reasons which led to formation of the American shooting school, pistols (revolvers) were mainly used for colonists’ defense against Indians and African slaves working at plantations. In most cases settlers had to shoot at unarmed people and people armed with farming tools, unable to shoot back. The shooting distances were very short and the caliber of guns was large, to maximize the stopping power of the bullet and, according to a popular version, “to defend the planter from a falling rake”.

Due to the absence of large-scale armed conflicts within the territory of North American continent, there were no conditions for development of weapons culture based on the principle of reasonable adequacy. In this circumstances American shooting school was formed – both-hands shooting with large-caliber guns at short distances. The weapons were designed taking these peculiarities into consideration. You can see on TV American soldiers shooting from a Colt at full-height figure targets from 5-7meter distance.

The most popular American pistol was 45-caliber Colt, model of 1911– M1911(A1). If you own such a pistol, you have a hidden message for people, which becomes clear only in America and which is conventionally slurred over: “the white want to own a 45-caliber Colt to put the black in their place, while the black want to own it to match the white” (an opinion popular among specialists). From a soldier’s point of view, the gun is too large and heavy, the grouping of shots is too sparse. To carry such a gun with you daily, you need to think of a good excuse. As racial discrimination was banned and started to be prosecuted in the USA only after 1960s, the memories are still vivid. It is considered impolite to write about this topic in the USA.

Note (see Colt M1911 (А1) is a semi-automatic pistol chambered for the 45 ACP cartridge. It was designed by John M. Browning in 1898, and was the standard-issue side arm for the United States armed forces for eighty years, from 1911 to 1990. M1911was widely used in World War I, while A1 model was used in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The Colt was also a popular weapon during “Desert Storm” operation (Author’s note: must have been used for shooting Iraqi mounted troops, on the cavalry?). 

    American shooting school (another version). American patriots strongly oppose such an unfavorable appraisal of the US war history by Russian specialists. They say that “the Americans first started holding a gun with both hands after 1950” (after the atomic bombs fell on Japan and the USA formulated justifications for the bombardment). They also present a 1940 manual for Colt M1911(A1) as an evidence (see ).

Given this, we must also consider the following quotation: “In 1908 a military commission mentioned as a justification for use of .45 caliber that it perfectly served the army’s needs as it was able to stop a galloping horse”. It means that initially the pistol was designed for shooting mounted troops. The horse and the rider could both be the aim. As the aim was large enough, the grouping of shots was satisfactory. This explanation sounds quite reasonable.

All the European countries were inspired by 1899 Declaration and 1907 Convention, specialists discussed the initiatives of Nicolas II and the armies adopted pistols designed for 7.62 and 9mm bullets with muzzle energy about 300 joules. At the same time, in 1906 American experts tested new .45 caliber cartridges on cattle… (see

Given this, we may well agree with the opinion of American patriots and make the following conclusion: the conditions in which weapons were used didn’t have any influence on formation of the American shooting school, but the specific firing method was invented to help shots get used to a pistol designed for shooting horses.

When preparing technical tasks for weapons’ manufacturers, we must take into account the potential markets and the shooting school, for which specific types of weapons were designed. Hollywood forms a positive attitude to the American shooting school: it looks good on the screen. It has become a fashion for force structures to shoot using both hands. This is the result of lack of knowledge and skills characteristic for both – instructors and shots. In the past a lot of time and effort was devoted to forming shooting culture.

Nowadays 45 caliber colts are literally imposed on the countries joining NATO. Beginners are taught to shoot according to the American tradition. The states’ leaders do not understand the Colt’s history and the concept behind it: shooting at unarmed people, violation of the Convention and a great risk to be hit by the enemy’s bullet. The body of the shot is turned towards his enemy, the time before the shot becomes longer as you need to grip the pistol with both hands to feel confident. Such a delay is deadly at short distances.

Note: fighters of special forces detachments are taught to shoot from different positions. They spend a lot of time on such exercises. The above said doesn’t matter much for a typical “customer”. You may disagree with the author’s opinion and shoot with your both hands, it’s your personal problem. If there are no longer any experts in the USA, we will do the work for them as well.

The maleficent American shooting school has a strong negative effect on the training and the morale of the armed forces (the customers) – “the enemy needs not only to be killed, but to be torn apart”. A pistol is a standard weapon borne by the personnel of the force structures and the man-hating propaganda gradually becomes the philosophy of the whole society.

45 caliber guns were not the only distinction of the US army. They also produce expansive (explosive) bullets for almost any gun caliber (see The USA represent a threat for the whole world. They are the first to design new weapon types, upset the parity in conventional armaments, do not keep to the terms of international agreements. Nuclear weapons must be always aimed at this dangerous enemy, the “Evil Empire”. This is now done by the general staff of the Russian Federation Department of Defense.

Declaration on the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body; July 29, 1899. The Undersigned, Plenipotentiaries of the Powers represented at the International Peace Conference at The Hague, duly authorized to that effect by their Governments, Inspired by the sentiments which found expression in the Declaration of St. Petersburg of the 29th November (11th December), 1868, Declare as follows:The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions.

Now the US plan to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Colt M1911(A1). The celebration is going to be more pompous than the one prepared for the sixtieth anniversary of Kalashnikov gun. We congratulate American experts on this important event. US citizens continue to kill each other with explosive bullets, which is ridiculous for many countries. This is partly due to their beloved pistol designed for killing horses.

Specialists representing different countries must gather for a conference to discuss the standard of cartridges for weapons of war.

The offered standard of killing power of a bullet for rifles, carbines and pistols is: kinetic energy consumption no more than 300 joules for the average wound tract of 14cm. European experts insist on no more than 25 joules per 1cm of the wound tract, which is almost the same.

It was offered to do as early as a hundred years ago when signing the 1899 Declaration. We need to gather together to discuss the parameter which could be the basis for design of small arms and ammunition.

22 с

Small Arms Legal Expert, forensic examination,

City of Samara, Russia,

Anton Kolmykov.

© 2008, Independent Expertise Center, Samara, Russian Federation (,

A.Kolmykov. Revising Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal / International Journal of Russian Studies, Wilmington, DE 19803 U.S.A., ISSN: 2158-7051, ISSUE NO. 5 ( 2012/2 ) URL:

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