During and after World War I, four pistols, said to have been made from the same set of drawings, were produced in Germany by four separate firms. The original pistol was the Selbstlade Pistole „Beholla" and was made by Becker and Hollander Waffenbau at Suhl. Apparently, this pistol was intended for military use and many of them, including those bearing very low serial numbers, are found to bear the German War Office stamp, indicating that they were accepted for military service. The other three (Leonhardt, Menta, and Stenda) evidently were not made for military use but were exclusively for commercial sale and do not bear the stamp of acceptance.
These pistols are of a simple blowback type, in which the firing pin acts as an ejector. The barrel is secured by a pin passing through an enlargement in the receiver, below the chamber. This pin can be tapped out through holes in the breech slide, when in the closed position. All four of these pistols are of 7.65 mm. ACP caliber. Data on all four are given in Table 24.
Beholla-Early Beholla pistols seem to be of a commercial form but the entire production is reported to have been taken into military service. The pistol originated about 1915. The early specimens have hard rubber grips with a monogram consisting of the letters BH, intertwined. Specimens made later have serrated wood grip pieces. Pistols made by Becker and Holldnder are marked SELBSTLADE PISTOLS „BEHOLLA" Cal. 7.65 (on left side) and BECKER AND HOLLANDER, WAFFENBAU, SUHL (on right side).
Specimens Nos. 503, 774, 2012, 27,463, and 30,0003 are known, the last being of the military variety. All five of these have six grooves and right hand twist with one turn in from 8.5 to 9.6 inches.
The earliest Beholla pistols do not bear the mark D.R.P. (Deutsches Reich Patent), but the later ones do, and it is believed that this mark may have been added at the time that permission was given to the other three firms to manufacture the same design pistol. The mark is not found on the other three makes.
Just when Becker and Hollander stopped making the Beholla is not known. But pistol No. 49,781 bears the legend SELBSTLADE PISTOLS „BEHOLLA" CAL. 7.65 D.R.P. (on the left side) and STENDA-WERKE, G.m.b.H. WAFFENBAU, SUHL (on the right side) and has the authentic Beholla grip pieces. These markings, and the fact that all of the pistols so far encountered with Stenda markings have serial numbers higher than the number on this „maverick," suggest that the Stenda Company may have taken over completely from the Becker and Hollander firm at this period of production. This might well have been about 1920.
Stenda-German Patent D.R.P. 342,190 shows that Stenda Werke developed a new type of barrel fastening sometime in the autumn of 1920. Pistols of the Beholla type having the Stenda type of barrel fastening are found to be marked ST. W. or STENDA. Advertising material of the summer of 1920 fails to mention the Stenda and refers only to the Beholla. All this suggests that sometime prior to the autumn of 1920 the manufacture of Beholla pistols was transferred from Becker and Hollander to Stenda Werke, but that sales continued under the name Beholla. And it is also considered very likely that shortly thereafter manufacture of the pistol was modified to incorporate the newly patented barrel fastening feature and that from then on the pistol was marketed with full Stenda markings, the Beholla name having been dropped.
Specimens of pistols having „pure" Stenda marking, carrying the Serial Nos. 61,747, 61,907, and 68,959, suggest that the Stenda serial numbers may be a continuation of the Beholla series of numbering. The first two of these pistols have six grooves, right hand twist with one turn in 9.6 and 9.75 inches, respectively, which is practically in line with the Becker and Hollandermade Beholla: However, specimen No. 68,959 and another whose serial number has been removed have variant rifling characteristics: five grooves, right hand twist with one turn in 18.7 and 18.8 inches, respectively. These latter two specimens suggest that the rifling was changed to meet Stenda ideas. How many Stendas were produced is not known, but production is thought to have stopped in the mid-1920's.
Leonhardt-The Leonhardt, made by H. M. Gering of Arnstadt, is practically identical to the Beholla, as made by Becker and Hollander.
Specimen No. 29,681 is identical, with the exception that the hard rubber grip pieces, while similar in design, were not formed by the same die which formed those found on the Menta (another of the Beholla group). The inscription on the left side reads SELBSTLADE PISTOLE „Leonhardt" (the last word in script) and that on the right side reads GERING & CO. ARNSTADT.
A second specimen, No. 37,963, differs from the Beholla in the shape, style, and dimensions of the grip pieces, which are of wood and bear no monogram, and in the shape of the safety release lever. The inscription on the left side of the slide reads SELBSTLADE PISTOLE „LEONHARDT" With the exception of the serial number this is the only marking that appears. Not even the caliber is stated.
The two specimens have six rifling grooves, right hand twist, with one turn in 9.6 and 9.7 inches, respectively. This conforms to measurements of the original Beholla.
Specimen No. 24,281, shown in the Pistol Atlas, is identical to No. 37,963 except that it has grip pieces like those on the Menta and the safety lever is like that on the Stenda.
Menta-The Menta was made by August Menz of Suhl. The specimen examined, Serial No. 8915, was identical externally to the Beholla in practically all respects. The only apparent differences are in the grip pieces, which are also of hard rubber but entirely different in design (with no name or letter monogram),* and in the location of the magazine release. This protrudes from the rear of the lower end of the grip frame instead of from underneath.
*When comparing pistols which are as similar as those in the Beholla group it must be remembered that grip pieces are interchangeable and that those found on a pistol may not be the originals. Therefore, differences which depend mainly on grip piece patterns are not necessarily significant.
The only markings, in addition to the serial number, read MENTA „KAL." 7.65. The rifling has six grooves, right hand twist with one turn in 9.5 inches. This degree of twist is in line with that found in the Beholla.
Specimen No. 6574, reported in the Pistol Atlas, appears to be identical to No. 8915.
August Menz also produced a Menta in 6.35 mm. caliber, which is identical in design to the 7.65 mm. pistol. The only differences in manufacture are the number of serrations in the finger grip at the rear end of the slide (5 instead of 7) and the reduction in size. Specimen No. 4863 has been examined and No. 5347 has been reported. They are identical.
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