Skip to main content

The Deadliest Handgun in History?

1910 FNWith a total of 35 million casualties, there is little doubt that the First World War was one of the costliest conflicts in history -- and it was all started by just two well-placed  7.65mm (.32 ACP) rounds from a John Browning-designed auto pistol.

This is not to say that the Great War wasn't imminent, anyway -- it had almost begun almost a decade earlier for other reasons -- but when Bosnian nationalist Gavril Princip assassinated heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, with just two shots from his Model 1910 FN Browning (pictured here), the juggernaut towards war began its irrepressible journey.

In brief, it happened like this:

On June 28, 1914, Princip and five other conspirators placed themselves along the rout of Ferdinand's motorcade in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The Austrian archduke was attending the opening of a hospital in that city.


As the royal car and its entourage proceeded, one conspirator threw a hand grenade towards the archduke's car. The driver, seeing the threat, sped up and the bomb went off beneath the third vehicle in the procession, gravely wounding the occupants.

After a delay, Ferdinand decided to continue on to the hospital using a different rout. Unfortunately, his driver mistakenly turned up the wrong street, where Princip just happened to be standing. Thinking the plot was ruined, he had given up and wandered towards a café.

PrincipUpon seeing the royals' car, Princip pulled out his pistol and at a range of about five feet and fired at the Archduke, hitting him in the neck. Sophie threw herself across her husband and was hit in the stomach with the second shot. They were substantial people, but still the relatively anemic 7.65mm round had done the job. Both died after a short time.


Princip was captured, tried and because he was under 20 -- the age at which he could be executed -- ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison, where he died on April 28, 1918.

Today, Princip's 1910 FN, serial number 19074, is on display at the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna, along with Ferdinand's  Graf und Stift touring car and the couch on which he died.




The 1910 FN was an excellent pistol -- one that was made for a number of years and then improved in 1922. Many thousands were sold for military and civilian use. Too bad it was such a great design. If it hadn't been, perhaps things might have turned out quite differently.

OK, so we can't exactly state this handgun is the deadliest ever, but we can say it indirectly led to over 35 million casualties.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Handguns

New for 2023: All-American RIA 5.0 Sporting Pistol

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Suppressors

New for 2023: FN Rush 9Ti Pistol Suppressor

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Handguns

New Big Bore Pistols for 2023: FN 510 Tactical and FN 545 Tactical

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Rifles

New for 2023: FN SCAR 15P Rifle Caliber Pistol

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Handguns

New for 2023: TaurusTX 22 Compact

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Handguns

First Look: Taurus Raging Hunter 460 Magnum Revolver With 10.5-Inch Barrel

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Handguns

New-for-2023 Taurus Judge Executive Grade 410/.45 Colt Revolver

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Handguns

Smith & Wesson Equalizer and the Brand New M&P 5.7 Pistol

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Optics

Acro Distance Challenge

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Optics

Acro Speed Challenge

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Optics

Duty RDS: Forged in Modern Law Enforcement & Affordability

Eric Poole and Tom Beckstrand debunk 3 of the biggest myths with red dot sights. From not being able to use a red dot si...
Optics

Top 3 Myths of Red Dot Optics

Guns and Ammo Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now