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GUNS Magazine June 2012 Digital Edition - Page 24
STORY: Mike “Duke” Venturino PHOTOS: Yvonne Venturino My First handGun And it was a peculiar one. A s we reach senior citizen years it is common to look back on our youth: remembering things like our first car, first date or, for me personally, my first handgun. It seems I was born wanting one and must have pressed the matter enough that at about age 6, my non-shooting father borrowed a .22 revolver. He let me shoot it into a fallen tree and then we dug the bullets out so I would understand what happens when a gun is fired. When I was around 12, Dad came home one evening and handed me something in a brown paper bag. It was a real pistol resting in a full flap military-type holster! I was excited but confused too. What kind of pistol was it and how did he come up with it? drunk. I suspect the fact Dad was a bill collector also had something to do with it. All the standard safety rules such as no handling it without him there and no taking it out of the house to show off for other kids had to be obeyed but I was still allowed to keep it in my room. The reason Dad felt safe with that pistol was because he said there was no ammunition available for it. With his lack of gun knowledge I still don’t understand how he knew that because neither of us had any idea as to what that handgun actually was. Even at that early age, I could see that it faintly resembled the “Army .45” which of course was the Model 1911. Its bore size was smaller and even odder to me was the fact it looked like it was painted black. Over the years by reading all I could about firearms and asking anyone perceived as knowing anything about them, I discovered the pistol Dad brought home was made in France. (That was a bit of a disappointment, I admit.) Duke bought some nice, clean military surplus 7.65mm Long ammunition and not a single round of it would fire; however, the Model 1935A functions perfectly with his handloads. Mystery Gun Our local chief of police named Rossi Bucci (pronounced Butch) gave it to him. As the name implies Bucci was also of the town’s significant Italian community. Being in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, our town was rather rough in character, which I think is why there were always a few Italians on the police force. Although Dad and Bucci grew up in the “Little Italy” area they weren’t close so I wondered why he gave Dad that handgun. Dad would only say that the police took it off a Set the French Model 1935A beside a Colt 1911, and it’s easy to see where Charles Petter got his inspiration. But on the plus side it was a French military pistol which could have been (probably was) carried in World War II. It was chambered for an odd cartridge called the 7.65mm Long, which truly was not available then. And Model 1935As did have a bakedon black enamel finish. In his book Military Handguns Of Two World Wars, author John Walter says an engineer named Charles Petter employed by Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques (SACM) copied much of John Browning’s ideas to develop the Model 1935A pistol. It was adopted by the French army in 1936. Walter goes on to state only a “few thousand” SACM-Petter pistols were delivered to the French government before the German victory over them in 1940 and then by 1944 another 40,000 or so were taken by the Wehrmacht before France was liberated. By age 17, I was perusing every month’s issue of The American Rifleman. Therein I found an advertisement for some newly imported French 7.65mm Long ammunition. By then I had two target pistols of my own (Ruger Mark I .22 and S&W K38) so Dad had no objection to me ordering some for trying in the long-unfired Model 1935A. It was steel cased, grungy looking stuff but every round went off. Stoppages with the old pistol were common which could have stemmed from years of my youthful mishandling. Now here’s the ironic part. Late in 24 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • J U N E 2 0 1 2