FN BDA9: One of the most used military pistols in history

FN BDA9 pistol
FN BDA9 pistol chambered in 9 mm (Photo: FN)

The FN BDA9 pistol is the successor of the Browning Model 35. The Browning high-power, or Model 35, became one of the most widely used military pistols in history, being adopted by over 55 armies, and it remains in production to this day, for demand has far from ended.

But Fabrique Nationale moved with the times, and responding to more modern specifications they have developed the design into the BDA9 (for Browning Double Action 9 mm) pistol.

Design

The general appearance shows a definite ‘family resemblance’ to the older model, and the mechanism is broadly the same, using the FN-designed shaped cam beneath the chamber which, acting against the slide stop pin, causes the rear end of the barrel to be drawn down to disconnect from the slide during recoil.

It is interesting to see that FN still adhere to the use of locking lugs machined in the upper surface of the barrel and mating in recesses in the slide, rather than simply forging a square block around the chamber and locking this into the ejection aperture as do many other modern designs. The fitting of the two lugs to their recesses is a precision task, but FN obviously thinks it worth the effort.

FN BDA9 pistol chambered in 9 mm
FN BDA9 pistol (Photo: FN)

The principal change with the FN BDA9 pistol is the adoption of a double-action trigger mechanism and a de-cocking lever in place of the safety catch; this de-cocking lever is duplicated on both sides of the frame so that the FN BDA9 can be used equally easily in the right or left hand.

The magazine release is fitted for right-handed use but can be easily removed and replaced on the right side of the butt for left-handed users. There is also an automatic firing pin safety system that locks the firing pin except during the final few degrees of trigger movement just before the hammer is released.

Loading and de-cocking mechanism

As with other pistols of this type, loading is done by inserting a magazine and pulling back and releasing the slide to chamber around. This leaves the hammer cocked and the pistol can be fired in single-action mode; alternatively, the de-cocking lever allows the hammer to be safely lowered on the loaded chamber.

From this position is only necessary to pull through on the trigger to cock and release the hammer; there is no safety device to be manipulated. After the first shot, subsequent shots are in single-action mode until the hammer is again de-cocked.

Technical specification: FN BDA9

Manufacturer:FN Herstal SA, Liege, Belgium
Type:Recoil-operated semi-automatic, double-action
Caliber:9 mm Parabellum
Barrel:4.65 inches (118 mm)
Weight (empty):32 oz (915 gm) with empty magazine
Capacity:14 rounds
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