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Small Arms of WWI Primer 011: German Becker & Hollander Beholla Pistol


With the world at war, sporting arms
weren’t selling, and more importantly the demand for military arms was nearly
limitless. Many commercial manufacturers would turn to support the war industry
and we’ll see plenty of gun makers expanding rapidly in this period. This
includes the sporting rifle and shotgun concern Becker & Hollander. [music] Hi, I’m Othais, and this is the Becker & Hollander “Beholla” pistol. It’s a little small so let’s get into the light box so you can actually see the thing. At a length of only 5.5 inches it’s rather surprising that this gun still weighs in 1.4 pounds unloaded. It has a magazine capacity of 7 rounds, and chambers the .32 ACP cartridge. While we’ve seen this cartridge before and
we’re going to see it again, I’m gonna tell you now, you’re only gonna get a peek
at it until we get around to the Browning 1900 that introduced it. Now
we’re calling this the Beholla, but honestly, that’s up for debate. There’s a lot of controversy
around just where this little pistol came from the reason we refer to it as
the Becker & Hollander Beholla is because Becker & Hollander would be the
largest manufacturer of this pistol during WW1, or really ever.
So the name sort of sticks. It’s just how we identify it. But if we’re gonna
talk about just where it came from, let’s look at its most likely parent.
This is the Little Tom by Alois Tomiška. It was a pocket pistol with several unique
qualities: it featured a double-action trigger and top loading magazine.
Interestingly many features of this gun were patented before the outbreak of
WW1, but it was not popular until after. If you’re curious about this
gun, a friend of the show, LifeSizePotato, actually has a video on
YouTube that shows a lot of its unique features. We’ll put a link down in the comments.
If we take a closer look at the Beholla, we’ll actually see that it resembles the Little
Tom. It’s overall very compact. It shares the same sort of profile. It has an open top
slide. It has a barrel fitted in same way. But this gun is actually a fair
simplification of the Little Tom in that it’s a single action striker fire and if we take a look real quick, we can see – oops lemme lock here open, We can see that our firing pin is acting as our
ejector, so you know, not just the High Point, people, this goes back a long way. Alright, while I have the gun right here, lemme go ahead and do quick field strip ’cause everybody’s been
been asking for these. Unique to this pistol though, is that we have to drift
out a pin in order to get into it. So you wouldn’t
actually want to “field” field strip this gun. It’s a small part, you’ll see in just a moment. Alright so, like we were saying, we have a pin to drift out. So we’ll take a punch and we’ll place it
in the right side and pop her out. It takes a little bit of poking and you gotta make sure you
capture it so you don’t lose it, because it is quite small, with my dumb fingers. Alright,
now I’ll use the safety to lock open the slide. You can see it on this side, and then
I’m going to push back on that barrel. Oops, magazine out would help. Push back on that barrel, and lift her out. There we go. Now, retain the slide, release it forward. This is
important and it’s hard to show on camera, but I’m gonna try to cover the striker
and spring ’cause its gonna try to fly. So, I just want to make sure that I get that
spring out safely. There we go. Release that slide forward. There’s our recoil spring, our slide,
our frame. All this is what came out of there. Should be good to go now. So that’s
a field strip. The problem with that, obviously, is that you have one spring that
wants to go flying and you have a very tiny pin that you need to keep control
of. Also just for anybody’s information, that little guy right there? Gained from messing around with this thing. The firing pin projecting, when trying to reassemble, I slipped the slide and it gave me a good poke, so that firing pin’s not my best friend in the world. Alright, while I reassemble this pistol,
lemme go through a couple of things with you, which is that we’re not 100%
sure of who invented it at this moment. If somebody knows a better resource than
I have, great let me know. I’ve seen claims from all three of the major
manufacturers. I have a theory though, and we’ll get to in just a moment. But let’s
just go down the line of who produced this pistol and how. Becker & Hollander
were sporting rifle and shotgun manufacturers before the war. While they
very well could have designed a pistol of this nature, it seems to have been an
unlikely pairing.They would produce nearly all of the Beholla pistols for
the war effort, roughly 40,000. They can be found with
either hard rubber or wood grips. These were offered for sale by the German army
arsenal for 41 marks. Becker & Hollander would be bought out
by Stenda after the war, ending the “Beholla” name. August Menz also produced
the gun during a war, albeit in very small numbers, perhaps only a few hundred.
Menz remained in pistol manufacturing postwar and many of his designs
favour Little Tom features. To us, he is the most likely candidate for the actual
creation of this pistol. Under Menz’ production it was branded the “Menta” and
would be produced until 1927. During the war, the Menta was a deal at 35 marks.
Postwar, Stenda Werke purchased Becker & Hollander, and so the “Beholla” became
the “Stenda” from 1918 until production ended in 1925.
This pistol is unique in that they added a takedown lever. Perhaps rarest of the
variants is the Leonhardt made by HM Gering. This model has been a point of
confusion as it appears to be their only pistol model produced. It would imply it was made for wartime
use, but no German acceptance marked models have ever been noted. Additionally, a postwar advertisement for
their sale has been found. Perhaps the factory geared up before the armistice
and was left holding a new product? Alright, let’s just get a look inside
this thing. We’re dealing with a fairly simple pistol here. It’s blowback single-action striker fired. Note the unique sear set up though. The trigger
bar pushes down an arm which tilts the sear, creating a smooth break. The safety simply blocks that sear arm from
dropping, which locks up the sear. Also note the disconnector resetting
the action. That’s about it really. Not much else
unique on this one so we’ll finish up the mag and hand it over to Mae. Let’s load up our seven round magazine. Take aim, and… pew! The left side safety is pretty simple, A few more… And let’s see how I did. Alright, nerd alert! I hate to say it but
service life for the Beholla isn’t very interesting, with about 40,000 made for
the war effort, that really ended their use. And again, even then, these are rear, rear, line
pistols they don’t even have the same capacity of .32 ACP as the other ones do,
but they’re really compact and handy and they stay out of your way if you’re not
actually on the front line, which is a lot of what officers wanted in those
days. Now after the war, Germany kinda had to fish through their inventory and pick
the best of the best because they weren’t allowed to keep everything, and
these guys kind of got kicked out. You don’t see a lot of them with postwar
police markings and things like that, although I’m sure there are exceptions.
So they sort of go in the civilian market. They’re fairly common to find out there,
despite their low numbers and they’re nice little pistols. They’re just
unremarkable in a lot of ways. So, unfortunately there’s not a big deep
story to this gun. However we thought it was worth an episode because there is so
little written about them and they’re so poorly recognized. To be honest with you
their fascinating just in the fact they’re so dang small and so dang heavy.
They’re fantastic the shoot given their size. However like we said there’s some
of the things fit a little bit better in your hand in this. Especially for someone
like me, where I’m lucky to get three fingers on the thing. But I’m not our designated
markswoman, so let’s go ahead and get Mae’s opinion on this pistol. Alright, we made
room for Mae once again and she’s sort of our field reporter on this. So let’s get
her opinion of shooting the Beholla. Now, will you start us off on the handling? Sure. So even just now when you pass it to me, it instantly came back of how dense
and heavy this gun is for how small it is. Compared to the other .32s that I’ve shot in
the past that have an inch or two on this little guy, this one weighs just as much,
which is insane to me. And notice by the way, I’m having to hold my little teacup
grip when actually handling this. I can’t actually get all fingers on this gun
comfortably. As far as actual function, handling, the slide a bit heavy to pull back,
but it was still pretty smooth. It’s got a heel release for the mag, which everyone knows I don’t like, but this one’s actually really easy to handle. Like,
I could probably do this heel release all day and my thumb would never get
tired. The safety: easy to one-hand pretty simple. Overall, I’m not a fan of this teacup
grip that I’ve gotta have. It’s not a bad… it’s not a bad handle for a .32. Yeah, you know it’s a tiny gun, but it’s fairly well thought out. I mean, this is not sort
of a slap-together, and it certainly feels pretty polished. While you were
shooting it, did you happen to notice any problems with functioning, having to do
with that firing pin acting as an ejector? By the
way because there is no ejector in this gun, like we said, the firing pin acts as
the ejector. You know we had a failure – a couple of failure to feeds on this gun,
but we really didn’t have any failure to eject, so obviously that wasn’t a problem
there for us. Right now, this gun has a unique trigger, so I wanna your perspective on it. Remember from our animation, the sear is being tilted by
an internal arm that’s connected to the trigger bar. How did that play out for
you actually shooting the gun? As far as the trigger goes on this one, it was as smooth as a
1914. It was like glass the entire way through, and I couldn’t even tell when it
was about to break. However it was as heavy as a double action revolver, but I
actually tend to like heavier triggers, that is my thing. So for me this is one of the
nicest triggers I’ve ever handled. Yeah, it’s kind of odd. There’s no grit, there’s no lope, there’s
no hang up. It’s smooth, but it is heavy. I mean it is… I’m not saying like twelve pounds
heavy, but you know for these little .32s that we’ve been shooting, we expect, you
know, she’s like four pounds maybe, and this
thing is closing on seven or eight. I’m not sure I’m not great at these things. We should
probably take a measurement but we’re not quite that active. The point being though is, it is
a firm, almost no take up smooth pull all the way through, and then it pops, which is
fine for shooting, but you gotta put a little muscle behind it. Alright the rest of the
thing, recoil, sight, how to go for you? So for the recoil, I thought it was a little
bit snappy, but honestly I think the weight was what saved it in on this one. It brought it
down a little bit for me. But other than that it was nice, it was ok, it was
manageable. The sights, as far as this gun goes, they’re short but easy to read. I don’t
think I drilled a hole with this one, like perfect, but I’m still fairly
accurate with it. Yeah, that shorter length is gonna give you a poor sight radius, so, I mean you can stay on paper fine, you can even start to group well if you
practice with it, but it’s not as natural as some of the longer barrel pistols we’ve shot
and I would agree: I felt like to me it was a little snappier than some of the
other .32s, but not as bad as I expected. Anything else, final thoughts?
Would you take it into battle, I guess? That’s our big question, right? Actually, I would not take this one into battle. There were enough little things about it
that I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. Like I mentioned before, I don’t have a
full finger grip. It’s got a heel mag release. Limited capacity. The short
barrel on it. I wasn’t nearly as accurate with it, like we mentioned before, so no, actually,
this was not one of my favorite guns we’ve shot and I would not take it into battle. It’s just, I don’t
think I’d be as accurate with it. Would you say that it’s sort of a good commercial pocket pistol for the time, but a bad field pistol? Exactly, yeah, I just felt that it
would not hold up the standards in battle that the others that we have shot
so far would. To be fair, honestly, most of the users of the Beholla were probably not using it for real defense. It honestly is just one of those pistols that ends up being an icon
of rank and it’s convenient and out of the way. It fares pretty well against other
.32 ACP pistols that are in that sort of ultra compact category of the time, but I
just can’t see any enthusiasm for running into war
with one of these. Alright, well I guess that wraps up the Beholla, so go ahead
and leave your comments below that you might have about this. Let us know your
questions and as always thanks for tuning it. Yeah, thank you so much everyone. [music] Just another late night catch-up. I’m actually still editing the Beholla right now, but I thought I’d get ahead. Patreon I believe is at $765 as I’m recording this,
and important to that: past couple weeks I’ve been seeing a lot of $1 and $5
donations coming through. I actually really like seen those. We currently have
over seven thousand subscribers. If they were to give $1 each, the show would be a massive success.
I’d be able to bring in some extra help and we’d have a lot more to show you.
So that $1 if you haven’t given it, it really helps. And if you don’t feel like giving
it, that’s fine too I really don’t mean to build any guilt there. On top of that,
I need to think very personally Dr. Evans for providing a number of .32 ACP’s, which
include today’s Beholla. It’s great to have people from across the nation
sending us things that we can use to film, because it saves us money and it gives
us a chance to really interact and share with the collectors. In addition to that
I need to point out that this episode featured a new little song segment during the
shooting portion. That was provided again by the
recently married “The Moon and You”. We’re huge fans and we’re so thankful for
their support as well. Last thing, lemme think here… Oh, I need to kind of
apologize for this being sort of a episode, and go ahead and inform you
that next week’s is… well, next two weeks is gonna be a light episode as well. This
is done very much on purpose. I’m sorry if it represents kind of a lull for your
interest, but we are going to be restructuring our schedule here, because
right now it’s sort of ad hoc and I keep having to break down the equipment and
rebuild it to film one thing at a time and I realized how of a waste it is. I think I’m burn like 60 hours a week
on this, when I really don’t need to be. Instead I’m going to start bulk recording
everything that I possibly can, not just the filming outdoors. So, while it may be a
little disjointed it’s going to mean that we can really get ahead on filming.
We won’t be missing any deadlines. Not that we have so far, but by the skin of
our teeth, and it’ll give me more time to do side projects. Those of you
that are $5 and $10 Patrons probably have noticed that I’ve fallen behind on
the behind the scenes footage and bug of the month. I promise promise promise to catch
up and I’m so so sorry. The flood put us real far behind on top of already trying
to catch up. The new schedule should permit me about four days out of the
month that I can really just work on doing the extra sideline stuff. Alright, thank you all again for your
support and we’re really glad to have you. Till next time.

80 thoughts on “Small Arms of WWI Primer 011: German Becker & Hollander Beholla Pistol

  1. I love these lesser known guns, but i'm looking forward to seeing some of the better known but not too reviewed guns, like the good old warhorse the Webley Revolver, comparisons between models and .355 versus .455 cartridges. Either way, you have my tiny patronage, and i might raise it in future, these are the videos i look most forward to on youtube.

  2. Another great video.   I have a question to those watching this.   Would you be bothered if they put ads on the videos,  knowing it will help them in their production costs?

  3. I enjoy  your presentations and the take  you guys give on weapons..the below comment on ads, I subscribe to a couple of you tubers who have ads and each show their ads prior to the start and at the end of their presentation and I find those of no bother what so ever…just an old mans opinion.

  4. You guys had to pick your loadout of waepons to go to battle with in ww1. With that i mean 1 pistol/revolver, 1 carbine and 1 rifel.

  5. Another great video! I have a pretty big collection but we're not allowed .32s in the great white north, so I'm really enjoying seeing such detailed videos on them!

  6. I'm always impressed with the quality and finish of the videos for being such new and small channel. hope to be watching this channel for years to come

  7. A cool episode on a service pistol I'd never heard of! How long does it take to put together one of the light box animations?

  8. The moment i saw the black dot on your finger, i knew it was firing-pin related. That must have stinged real bad.

  9. can you use metric system for you know like the whole rest of teh world that doesn't use the stupid inferior system

  10. just watched it. I've already told you I love the format and diagrams.
    as for this video, personally, I thought it was the best one so far. I knew nothing about this pistol before this video. cheers

  11. Interesting little blow-back .32–would love to own one as a collection, not for carry.  Question, besides the weight issue, is it small enough to be carried in a front pocket conceal holster?

  12. Looking forward to seeing the results on the restructuring, while I cannot afford to donate while I'm currently in uni, I'll be getting out in December to start working, and I'm hoping I can pledge between 5 and 10 dollars. I'd like to support you guys over some other channels, just because I know it will make a bigger impact. As always, I'm sharing the channel with those I know who'd be interested!

  13. Great episode. Not all need to be extra long. It was cool to see a pistol I haven't previously heard of. On some level, there's only so much to say function-wise about a blow back 32.

  14. Short and interesting videos are just as good as long and interesting ones, it adds some variety to the channel. Great video!

  15. Have the feeling that you are adding one bit of production value every episode and it's really great to see the improvements. When I recently went to Thuringia I saw no reason to visit a town like Suhl but since watching your videos, I probably should do just that.

  16. Tim, you have an unlinked account so I hope you see this:

    The Dutch Mannlichers were not involved in WWI, however, we will eventually get beyond the scope of the war. At that point I would love to break them down because I rather favor them.

    One gun closely related, the Romanian 1892 and 1893 series, was in the war though. We'll be trying to cover them.

  17. Thank you for producing these videos. The history has been fascinating, the technical detail intriguing, and the feedback on using the weapons an awesome perspective.

    Would you consider creating an episode about the economics of these weapons? From mentioning the price of these second/third line pistols, to the sale of "bolo Mausers"or the consortium that copied and sold the Ruby – we can not deny this was a major factor. You have me wondering now what 35 Marks would be in today's money, and what the original cost of a C-96 vs an Colt 1911 of the time would be. (Its apples and oranges now since one is still in production, and the other hasn't been built for decades.) I apologize f it is a lot to ask of you.

    Keep up the good work.

  18. European Military and Police sure seem to like .32 acp pistols. Maybe ease of carry and use? Because it was one of the main cartridges available?

  19. Well, I am extremely impressed with these videos. The way you present the information and the degree of detail you put into each one is on par with any college level class. As an aspiring gun designer seeing the how internals work is wonderful ,as I can try and incorporate some of the designs of old into my own work. I am particularly looking forward to the day when you cover the M95 Styr as one of my ideas hinges on how the blot's locking lugs work. So, keep up the good work!

  20. I've got an Ortgies .32 that I would guess is a little bit larger than this, but is also remarkably heavy for its size. I haven't weighed it, but it feels noticeably heavier than my Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless, which is about the same size and takes the same cartridge. Maybe it's a German thing. 🙂

    (Also, much like the Beholla here, the Ortgies is comfortable but would really benefit from one of those finger-rest magazines like they made for the Walther PPK.)

  21. I saw one in Norway, which looked exactly like the one in this video, except that it was more worn.
    According to the owner the pistol was brought to Norway by a German soldier or officer during WWII. The German dug it down in a box in the woods, but he was tailed by a resistance member, who dug the pistol up after the German left.
    It makes me almost wonder how that German got the pistol and why he was digging it down. If i were to guess, it was probably a private purchase, since no records I've seen says that the "Beholla" was issued by Germany during WWII.

    If anyone might have some information on this, i would love to know!

  22. Bahala l have one brought home from WWII! Missing parts? Any available? Or drawings? Thanks just found you will start to fallow.

  23. because I'm really been tryin to get hold of a colt 1903 for my collection for a number of years now if you know anyone who has one that would like to sell it could you PLEASE refer them to me I'd really appreciate it . thanks again

  24. No, Mae; you weren't pretty accurate with it; look at your target again. and we know it's not your fault; the trigger sounds like it's implicated in this shot scattering little piece of junk. Beholla=Fail.

  25. I have one these unremarkable pistols, thank you for the video! Could never figure out how to field strip it. Will be watching more videos,and subscribed!

  26. If anyone knows where there is a Becker Holländer 7.65 for sale please contact me. My grandfather had one and it was in a house fire. I still have it but it can not be fired anymore. I'm looking to buy one that can be fired. Thanks

  27. Yeah, I know I'm a year behind…

    I realy like that Mae is more vocal now that in the first couple of episodes.

    Oh, something else I noticed during the firing demostration was the rounds ejecting towards the shooter. Were there any issues with hot brass in the cleavage? I've had hot brass go down my collar when on Army ranges and tht is bad enough.

  28. Would it be a "Fair Guess" that any ruptured primer should be considered the greatest threat to its function ? (breaking the firing pin)

  29. The guy who invented it WAS the same guy who invented the Little tom, he did not make enough money after the War on the Little tom so he used his knowledge of time and space to travel back BEFORE WW1 to sell it then. He didn't make it double action because that would disrupt the Space Time Continuum…

  30. I'm all caught up now! This was the last regular episode I had left to watch. I found this channel on The Great War channel and I thought I'd never watch vids this long… so 75 episodes later EDIT: oops 76 episodes

  31. I realize that if you had found significant use in police work, you would have reported it. Still, I can see this as a 'back of the waist' holster pistol for detectives or for urban (close quarters) clandestine work. I've just been reading some well-researched police procedurals focused around WWI and the Weimar Republic: the authors like to reference some of the pistols and long arms you have studied. The Beholla is a model I would write into 'my' hypothetical stories, if only for its 'head-scratching' value. Thanks for another fascinating foray into the world of vintage firearms.

  32. Is this such a big deal not getting all three fingers on the grip. There are many pistol shooters who only use the top two and some that recommend only using the middle finger with the others along for the ride even on larger grips! The manufacturers of small guns must think it not necessary to use all three.

  33. I'm working back through the primers to make sure I didn't miss any (YouTube play order is not nice to them)… I know I'm learning from these because the moment that you said it was heavy despite being small my first thought was "must be blowback".

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