While the .22 cal. Fiala is a magazine pistol rather than an automatic, it closely resembles several of the .22 cal. automatics, including the early Colt, and it has some features found on automatics. Consequently, it seems worth while to include it in this chapter.
The pistol was made by the Blakslee Forging Co. of New Haven, Conn., for the Fiala Arms and Equipment Co. of New Haven. It was introduced in 1920 and a total of 4044 pieces were made up to 1923, at which time manufacture ceased. The gun was sold, however, up to ca. 1928. Forty of these pistols were stamped with the name „Botwinik Bros.," presently machinery dealers in Bridgeport, Conn. Contemporary records state that the Blakslee Forging Co. made pistols for the Columbia Arms Co. and that the specifications were identical to those for the Fiala.
The Fiala could be used as a regular target pistol or as either a pocket pistol or a combination riflepistol. With the regular 71/2-inch barrel the total length was 111/4 inches, with a sighting radius of 93/4 inches. The weight with this barrel was 31 ounces. By substituting a 23/4-inch barrel for the regular barrel one could have a pocket pistol with a total length of 61/2 inches, and the weight of this combination was 27 ounces. Or, if one desired the rifle combination, a 201/2-inch barrel could be had, together with an easily attached shoulder stock. The total length of this combination was 35 inches and the weight was 31/2 pounds. The interchange of barrels was very simple, as they were held in place by an easily removable thumbscrew located on the right side.
The pistol was chambered for the .22 L.R. cartridge. Specified data are as follows: bore diameter, 0.217 inch; number of grooves, 4; right hand twist; one turn in 16 inches; depth of grooves, 0.002 to 0.0025 inch; land width, 0.1024 inch; and magazine capacity, 10 cartridges.
The magazine is inserted in the „handle," a bolt lock is pushed in to release the breechblock slide which is drawn to the rear as far as it will go, permitting the magazine spring to push a cartridge up into position so that when the block moves forward the cartridge will be picked off and chambered. There being no recoil spring, the block is pushed forward by hand. When the action is fully closed the block is locked in position, so there is no danger of premature firing. After the shot is fired the block must again be unlocked and drawn back manually to extract the fired shell and pushed forward to insert the next cartridge.
This pistol was claimed to have an advantage over the single shot pistols, formerly popular for target shooting, in that both extraction and loading are easier and the arm is much safer than an automatic because a manual operation is required to load and unload it. It was also claimed that there was less distortion or damage to the lead bullet because the chambering of the bullet in an automatic pistol is violent compared to the hand chambering operation. Another important claim was that a higher velocity was imparted to the bullet because none of the energy provided by the explosion was used in the compression of a recoil spring and in the moving of mechanical parts.
The pistol was well balanced and performed well. Specimens examined had a good appearance and seemed to be well made. The shooting public, however, evidently preferred the faster-shooting automatic.
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