One of my favorite pistol designs from yesteryear is the Frommer “Stop” pistol. Designed by one Rudolf Frommer, a Hungarian accountant turned arms designer, the Stop was one of his less successful designs. It is, however, a very interesting handgun in more ways than one!
What’s interesting about the pistol (aside from its operation, which we’ll get to shortly) is the designer himself. Frommer was a business administrator/accountant for a bank in Budapest, and about the turn of the last century he was given an interesting assignment: the FEG arms factory, a fairly well-known concern today, was teetering on the edge of insolvency. They had been taken over by his bank, which promptly dispatched Frommer to assume the administrative duties and put the factory back on a firm financial footing.
Regardless of how good an administrator he was, what’s important to us is that Frommer was apparently something of a gun nut. While he was doing his day job of overseeing the bank’s interests he was also puttering around the shop a bit. (To be fair to Rudolf, he was something of a talent — he spent nearly 40 years at FEG, designed everything from handguns to double-barreled machine guns, and ended up with over 100 firearms and manufacturing patents in his name as evidence of his abilities.)
During his time there he designed several pistols which made it to production, all but one of which used the “long recoil” action. In a long recoil firearm, the barrel/chamber and bolt recoil a distance at least equal to the length of the cartridge; when the assembly comes to a stop, the barrel is left to return forward while the bolt stays at the rear for a brief interval. During that time the spent casing is held by the extractor on the bolt, and the barrel slides away. The casing is ejected, and as the bolt follows the barrel forward it picks up a new round the guides it into the chamber.
The long recoil action has never been terribly popular. The two most famous examples of the genre are probably the Browning Auto-5 shotgun and the French Chauchat machine gun. (Yes, both Browning and the French had the same idea. Scary, isn’t it?) Another fairly common example of a long recoil firearm is the Remington Model 8 autoloading rifle.
The Stop was made in two calibers, one of which is basically interchangeable with our .32ACP and the other with the .380ACP. In both cases the complex long recoil action was overkill for the cartridge, being both unnecessarily complex and very expensive to manufacture (which is probably why Frommer abandoned it in favor of the simpler and cheaper blowback system in his M37 pistol.)
This might be why his early guns didn’t sell all that well: Nambu-like styling. (Photo courtesy of Ed Buffaloe at unblinkingeye.com)
The Stop is rather conventional looking, but only when compared to his earlier pistol designs. It’s still rather ugly and ungainly to modern sensibilities, which is probably why I want one!
I’ve had a chance to handle, but not shoot, a Frommer Stop. It’s finely made and heavy for such a small pistol. When Ian McCollum at Forgotten Weapons asked what guns he should turn his new high-speed video camera on, one of my first suggestions was a Frommer Stop. He’s done just that with this video, which clearly shows the long-recoil action in operation.
Now if I can just find one for a decent price!
-=[ Grant ]=-