Browning BDA Handguns

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Browning BDA
Browning BDA 45.jpg
Browning BDA Handgun Series
Service history
Used byHuntington Beach Police
Production history
Unit cost$345
No. built1800
Variants9mm x 19mm, .38 Super, .45 ACP
Specifications (BDA)
Mass.51 kg (1.1 lb)
Length200 mm (7.9 in)
Width1.5 in (3.8 cm)
Height5.5 in (14 cm)
Browning BDA .45 ACP Caliber Left side showing Browning Branding.

In 1977 Browning introduced four models of their Browning BDA (Browning Double Action) handgun.[1][2][3] These guns came in two frame sizes from two different makers. The large frame handgun was made in three calibers; 9x 19mm Parabellum (9mm NATO), .38 Super, and .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol). The guns were sold from 1977 until 1980. These guns were made in Germany by Sig-Sauer.[4][5][6][7]

A smaller BDA was offered in .380 ACP caliber as the Browning BDA 380 which was manufactured by Beretta in Italy. The BDA 380 is similar to Beretta's M84.[8]

1983 Browning Hi-Power BDA[edit]

In 1983 Browning was preparing a gun for submission to the USA XM-9 handgun trials. They called this model the Browning Hi-power BDA. This gun was designed and manufactured in many models by Browning until 1999.

Production Origin of the Browning BDA Large Handguns[edit]

The Browning BDA in 9mm, .38 Super, and .45ACP was a modification of the Sig-Sauer Model P220. The Browning version has the sides of the slides polished and blued. The frame is aluminum. The handgrips have Browning on the right side only. On the right side of the slide is the serial number. The Browning BDA 45 shown in the photographs has a production series number starting with 395. The RP that follows shows that this particular handgun was manufactured in 1977.

Serial Number Listing showing codes for dates and production series.

Design Features of the Browning BDA/Sig-Sauer P220[edit]

The Sig-Sauer made Browning BDA series has all the features of the Sig-Sauer P220 early version. This handgun was developed for the Swiss Police and Army to replace the Sig Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (not Sig-Sauer) model P210. It is a full sized pistol easily capable of handing .45 ACP, 9mm, and .38 Super. The action is a locked breech short recoil system based on the Petter-Browning design that was produced in France in their model 1935 handgun. The Browning has a double action trigger which resets after the first shot to single action.

The gun has an exposed hammer that can be safely lowered with a decocker lever on the left side of the pistol next to the hold open lever. There are several safe action features including a shrouded firing pin, a positive firing pin block that can only be released when the trigger has been fully pulled, disconnector when the breech is not in full battery and the safe decocking lever.

The early P220 was designed for police use. As a result, it has a heel catch magazine release, which requires two hands to change the magazine. There is also a lanyard loop attached to the bottom of the handgun. These are found on the Browning BDA as well.

Markings of the Browning BDA/Sig-Sauer P220[edit]

Refer to the photographs on this page... On the right side of the slide is marked "Sig-Sauer System Made in W. Germany." On the left side of the slide is "Browning Arms Co. Morgan Utah & Montreal, P.Q." On the Breech block right side is marked the caliber the barrel is chambered in. The proof markings are on the under side of the slide which is visible only when the slide is in battery. The serial number is found on the slide, the frame and the barrel.


field stripped Sig Sauer handgun, takedown lever turned down

Disassembly is effected by locking the empty pistol slide open by pulling the slide to its rearmost position if an empty magazine is loaded (where it will lock automatically), or by pushing the slide hold lever upward with the slide in its rearmost position. There is a take down lever on the left side of the pistol that can be revolved downward. Once this is done, a loaded magazine must be removed (if present) and then the slide can be slid forward and off of the frame. The barrel can then be removed from the slide by removing its recoil spring which is held into place on the underside of the barrel by its spring tension.

You would then have five assemblies, the slide, the barrel, the recoil spring, the magazine and the frame. This is all the disassembly necessary for cleaning. The gun is reassembled without the magazine inserted and the steps listed above performed in reverse order.[9]


The genius US firearms designer John Moses Browning produced handgun model M1910 for the US Army trials that took place in 1910. While the M1910 was not adopted in its original form it was eventually adopted by the US Military and evolved into the M1911A1 Colt .45 ACP US Government Handgun also known as the Colt .45 Automatic Pistol. This design by Browning set a pattern for many firearms that came later. It served as a US military handgun for over 70 years.

John Browning produced a handgun with a staggered magazine which was one of the first high capacity handguns with his last design. This gun is the Browning Hi-Power The Hi-Power was created for a French Government requirement for a handgun with higher capacity than many that existed at that time. While the Browning Hi-Power did not receive the French contract the Swiss engineer Charles Petter produced a handgun based on Browning's designs. The design he produced appeared in the French pistol model 1935 and is called the Petter-Browning design.

In 1937 SIG licensed this design from the French and created their model SIG P210 Handgun series of handguns. When examining the Browning 1926 prototype, the French Model 1935 and the Sig P210 it may be noticed that the slide mechanisms of all three appear very similar. Like the M1911A1 Colt pistol the breech locking mechanism was a series of grooves in the barrel which matched similar grooves in the slide which were levered or cammed upward to engage thus creating a locked breech action. Only after the slide and barrel assembly had recoiled due to the energy of expelling the bullet from the barrel was it possible for the link to pivot downward, tilting the barrel and unlocking the action. The velocity of movement as high enough to push the slide against its recoil spring to its rear most position. From there the spring was strong enough to push the slide forward, where it would strike the base of an unfired cartridge in the magazine which had risen after the breech block had moved rearward, thus pushing the unfired cartridge into the chamber, effecting the semi-automatic reloading process.

In the 1970s SIG developed a very high quality and highly efficient type of production machinery known as an Automatic Screw Machine.[10] This allowed the efficient production of complex parts with far less cost than could be accomplished previous. Swiss laws however prevented SIG from exporting their firearms products in a profitable manner. They solved this problem by creating a partnership with the German manufacturer of firearms J.P. Sauer and Sohn. This resulted in the company known as Sig-Sauer.

J.P. Sauer and Sohn had been in competition with Carl Walther Arms and others created a handgun to be a pocket and police pistol called the Sauer 38H. J.P. Sauer & Sohn Model 38H This was an advanced design [11] pocket/police pistol which featured a double/single action trigger mechanism and for the first time a decocking lever. JP. Sauer & Sohn had also manufactured the very high quality Weatherby rifles on contract.

When Sig and Sauer together designed the handgun for the Swiss police in 1975 to replace the Sig P210 they used the best features of the Petter-Browning design and incorporated features that had been found in the 38H model. The resulting design became known as the P220, which was produced under contract with some modifications for Browning as the Browning BDA. The Sig-Sauer P220 and Browning BDA can be seen as the latest evolution of Browning's M1910 design.


  1. ^ Gun Digest Browning Models.
  2. ^ "Tested: SIG Sauer P220 10 mm Pistol".
  3. ^ "BROWNING BDA BY SAUER, .45 ACP, 7 RD: - Triple K".
  4. ^ "SIG-Sauer P220 (Pistole 75 / Model 75) Semi-Automatic Pistol".
  5. ^ "Sig Sauer P220". 26 November 2012.
  6. ^ Solutions, SOURCE Web. "Collectors Firearms Archives - Home".
  7. ^ "SIG Sauer P220".
  8. ^ Browning BDA 380
  9. ^ "Owner's Manuals - Sig Sauer" (PDF).
  10. ^ "How Swiss Screw Machines Work".
  11. ^ Smith, W.H.B (1968). Book of Pistols and Revolvers (Seventh ed.). New York, USA: Stackpole. pp. 283–288.