As we are celebrating Glock week here at Guns.com, we felt remiss if we didn’t mention the handguns of Austria’s Hungarian neighbor.
Austria and Hungary not only share a border today, with Budapest and Vienna only about two hours away by car, but the two European countries were even united during the late 19th and early 20th Century in the co-equal Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was during the only days of the Hapsburg monarchy that one of the neater semi-auto handguns came to be.
Rudolf Frommer started working with Budapest’s Fegyver- és Gépgyártó Részvénytársaság (FEG, now one of the biggest water heater makers in Europe) in the 1890s. However, during Frommer’s time, FEG was in the business of making small arms for the Honvédség, the Hungarian military. While at the company, he came up with some interesting early semi-auto pistols, filing his first of over 100 patents in 1899. Becoming the company’s business director, Frommer kept pushing forward with his own gun designs.
By 1910, Frommer had crafted his early masterpiece, the Stop (with some arguing the name alludes to its ability to “stop” a target). A relatively compact — 22-ounce weight, 6.3-inch overall length — semi-auto in 7.65x17mm Frommer Long (basically a spicy .32ACP), the Stop uses a peculiar three-lug rotating bolt long-recoil system with two telescoping springs located in a tunnel above the barrel. In effect, the barrel remains locked with the breech during recoil, which explains its curious profile.
Another one of Frommer’s designs was the updated pisztoly FEG 37M. Beginning production in 1937, hence the model, the blowback semi-auto was chambered in either .32ACP or .380 and was used by not only the Hungarian Army but also the Germans in WWII, with the latter designating the gun as the Pistole 37(u). As FEG had added the name of “Femaru” to the company’s masthead in 1935, and it is carried on the roll mark, these guns are often called Femaru 37s by collectors. Speaking of which, this .380 is one of the great “sleeper” handguns from WWII that has yet to become white-hot with history buffs eager to acquire relics of the conflict, leaving them relatively affordable. You can expect that to change in future years.
After WWII, FEG soon transitioned to making Walther PP and Tokarev clones (the latter of which grew into the 9mm Tokagypt) followed by the very Makarov-like PA-63, which became the standard Hungarian military and police handgun throughout the Cold War. In the 1970s, FEG designer Jozsef Kameniczky next tackled the famous Browning Hi-Power and soon the Hungarian company was cranking out the P9, an unlicensed identical cousin of the gun. Much like Czechoslovakia’s CZ sold the CZ75 abroad during the era, FEG soon began marketing the P9 around the globe. In the U.S., it was imported by Interarms and Kassnar under such names as the PJK-9HP.
Following up on the BHP styling, Kameniczky and FEG introduced a shortened model with a modified double-action in 1980. The gun proved popular and was imported into the U.S. as the P9RK, Kettner M90, and GKK-92 among other names. FEG also produced the gun as the M90DA (double action) for Mauser during the same period. The P9R went on to be adopted by the Hungarian military as the Model 96, where it still serves.
Sadly, FEG exited the firearms industry around 2004, moving into HVAC systems and other household goods, which means that the days of Frommer and Kameniczky are long gone– but you can always pick up a collectible piece of quality Hungarian-made steel to keep their memory alive for future generations.
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