Two m1951s- a Beretta and a Maadi, both from Egypt. The lower gun is an Italian-made Beretta M1951 Series 2 Egyptian Contract gun. The Egyptians were interested in the M1951 but requested a number of changes; a slightly longer barrel, a simplified grip, larger sights and a heel-magazine release.You can also see the Egyptian crest on the slide. 50,000 of these were made for them in this form; this is a relatively early gun with an EC3000-series serial number and the slide is marked ‘1955.’ Mechanically this gun is smooth as butter despite it’s hard-used cosmetics. It also has no importer or import marks; one wonders exactly how it got here…
After that contract was completed the Egyptian arms manufacturer Maadi licensed the design and bought tooling from Beretta to do their own production version, the Helwan. Strangely the Helwan did not include any of the modifications requested on the Egyptian Contract guns- it used the shorter barrel, smaller sights and magazine release from the standard m1951. The grip is unique to the Helwan, but mimics the shape of the Italian production M1951s. This particular gun was a commercial gun imported by Interarms, probably in the 1980s.
The M1951 is a design based on the Walther P-38, and uses a very similar tilting locking block under the barrel. It is a single-action auto, and the unconventional cross-bolt safety looks awkward, but is actually very easy to remove with the ball of one’s thumb. These guns feature an 8-round single-stack magazine. They are the immediate ancestor of the Model 92 and all of it’s descendants.
These guns attained a reputation for infallible reliability in the desert, and variations of the M1951 were used by a number of middle-eastern nations including Israel, Tunisia and others. The Iraqis produced their own licensed version.
While the Italian guns will tolerate a limited amount of high-pressure rounds their middle eastern counterparts will not; the materials and heat-treatment are inferior to the European product. This Helwan required repair after a single magazine of +P ammunition.
Helwans can usually be bought for $200-$300 dollars, with the military-marked guns fetching a premium as they are reputed to be of higher quality.
An M1951 in decent condition will run considerably more- if you can find one. They were imported to America for a short time, but the high-capacity Model 92 was introduced in the same period and totally eclipsed it’s older sibling.
The gun became famous for a time as one of Mack Bolan’s guns in ‘The Executioner’ series of novels, and over the course of dozens of books he used it to dispatch enough Mafiosos to populate a small city.
These are rather flat guns, easy to carry, accurate and comfortable to shoot. The Helwans can be a great bargain- or a dreadful mistake- as quality can vary considerably.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 1 July 17
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