The White Letter Chronicles
History of white lettering on handguns
By Dennis Adler
We all hate that white lettering on CO2 pistols. Nothing says air pistol like white lettering…or does it? White lettering on centerfire pistols has actually been used for almost a century. It is much less common today but there are some very noteworthy historical precedents for seeing white!
White lettering is most often seen on German firearms and among the oldest examples is the Bergmann Model 1910/21 semiautomatic pistol. Theodore Bergmann introduced his first autoloader a year after Paul Mauser patented his design for the Broomhandle in 1895. In 1897 Bergmann and arms designer Louis Schmeisser introduced a new pistol using a removable box magazine; the basic pistol configuration that would become characteristic of all future Bergmann designs. An improved version was developed after the turn of the century, and rather than manufacturing them in Germany, Bergmann moved production to Herstal, Belgium, under license to Societe Anonyme Anciens Establissments Pieper. That is the name you see stamped into the barrel extension on the 1910 Model pictured above. Mauser used white lettering as well, often to highlight the manufacturer’s name stamped into the frame. White lettering was also used for export models to denote the retailer, such as Von Lengerke & Detmold in New York, which began selling Broomhandle Mauser pistols in 1897.