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Finland’s First Domestic Handgun: the Ahlberg

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In the wake of Finland gaining its independence, small arms were much in demand for the armed forces. Many rifles had been taken from Russian stockpiles in Finland, but not many handguns. Hugo Ahlberg ran Ab H. Ahlberg & Co Oy, a machining company in Turku and he decided that making guns for the government would be a great way to get some stable and profitable business. He made a copy of the FN Model 1910 pistol in .32 ACP, and proposed to the Army.

After a bit of tweaking (the barrel and slide were made 15mm longer than the original pattern), a deal was made for Finland to purchase 1,000 Ahlberg pistols. As so often happens in this sort of situation, production turned out to be much more difficult than Ahlberg had anticipated. He failed to meet delivery deadlines, and quality control problems made at least 20% of his production scrap (of 1,000 pistols delivers, serial numbers are known as high as 1,251). Ahlberg grew frustrated that he was taking a financial loss on the project, and the Army got frustrated that it wasn’t receiving its pistols.

Ultimately, the contract of 1,000 pistols was fulfilled by Ahlberg, although the promised additional orders were cancelled. Instead, the Army purchased a quantity of surplus Ruby pistols from France. These would turn out to be unsatisfactory, leading to later purchases of Luger pistols from Germany. Still, the Ahlbergs were used by the government in a variety of roles (included Defense Forces and police) into the 1960s before the last remaining ones were finally sold as surplus.

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