I was at the Preston arms fair yesterday and purchased a rather nice Browning pistol at a bargain price, but it wasn't until I got home and examined it more closely that I realised I had actually picked up a rather rare example. This model is in 9mm short, but as I looked the pistol over, I noticed some stampings on the grip strap. One of the characters appeared to be Chinese Hanzi, and so I googled 'Chinese contract Browning' and came up with some very interesting information.
Apparently the pistol was issued to the Mobile Gendarmerie who operated in the Vichy French Concession area in Shanghai around 1932. The markings on the strap - GM 351 - corroborate this. There is a further stamping with the Chinese Hanzi for the Shanghai Police - followed by the issue number of 431. By 1943 the Japanese authorities were insisting that the French Concession was returned to China. After the war the pistols were transferred to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. In the book: 'FN Browning Pistols' by A. Vanderlinden, he claims that only three of these pistols have been 'observed or reported' in the serial number range covering 245,000 to 246,000 series. My example is in the 245,000 range. (All information gathered from a posting on V Bulletin by Bruno 38)