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Funky pistol designs, part XIV: The Browning BDM

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Marko Kloos, Sep 28, 2003.

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  1. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    I've had a strange desire for a Browning BDM for a long time now, and finally got to add one to the stable on a trade yesterday.

    The BDM was a late entry into the Wondernine race, and its release just months before the '94 mag cap restriction may have contributed greatly to its lack of commercial success. Browning never marketed this gun aggressively, and it failed to attract LEO contracts.

    The BDM's lack of success is regrettable; the gun itself has a number of interesting and unusual features. The funkiest aspect of the BDM is its switchable trigger: a selector on the slide of the slide can switch the pistol from "P" (pistol) to "R" (revolver) mode. In P mode, the BDM works as a traditional "crunchenticker", with the first shot in DA and the subsequent ones in SA mode. The R mode has been called a DAO setting, but this is not entirely correct. The Revolver mode on the BDM makes the trigger and hammer work just like a double-action wheelgun, all shots double-action with optional cocking of the hammer.

    The BDM is an all-steel design, and its strongest design point for CCW use is its incredible slimness. This gun is thin, easily the thinnest double-stack Wondernine ever made. The slide is as thin as a BHP slide, and the grip is no thicker than that on many single-stack pistols. Even the grip panels are artfully recessed into the steel frame to minimize bulk. And despite its all-steel construction, the gun is relatively light, weighing in at 28 ounces unloaded. That's the same weight as an unloaded SIG P226, which has an alloy frame. Yet despite its slim frame and light weight, it holds fifteen rounds when used with un-neutered pre-ban magazines.

    The biggets user gripe about the BDM has been its unorthodox safety/decocker system. The safety goes up for fire, down for safe and decock, just like a beretta 92 or Walther PPK. It also acts as a secondary slide release lever. If you're used to the 1911 system, and the American preference of "down to fire, up to safe", the BDM will mess you up. I use the safety like the decocker on a SIG and think of it in the same fashion: leave it on "go" all the time, and only swipe it down-up for decocking the gun. Easy enough if you're used to shooting SIGs.

    I've had a chance to shoot the gun before I got it, and function has been flawless so far. I can't comment on the accuracy yet, since I haven't had a chance to shoot for groups yet, but it does seem to put the bullets where you want them to go.

    If you want to carry a Wondernine inside the waistband, this is hands-down the best one for the job. It is flat. It may not be the One True Sword, but it has some admirable qualities, and it's certainly Different (tm). I like Different (tm), and it's fun to add good examples of inventive gun design to the collection.

    Here's a picture of the Browning BDM:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    Did I mention that the BDM is flat?

    [​IMG]
     
  3. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Member

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    Thanks for that report, I have long been interested in the BDM. There is one in a two-tone finish at a pawnshop here in town. While I'm interested, it's a tad expensive... and my parent's have put a hiatus to my pistol buying until I'm 21. :cuss:

    Was it worth what you paid for it?

    Thanks again. ;)

    Wes
     
  4. Shake

    Shake Member

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    These were selling at unbelieveable prices a few years back (under $300) in my locale. . .

    Shake
     
  5. Detritus

    Detritus Member

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    dern it now i gotta LOOK for one to examine!!! a curse upon you Marko!! :cuss: lol. aw heck another interesting one to nit pick :D
     
  6. matthewdanger

    matthewdanger Member

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    Marko, that looks like a great find. I am really interested in finding one of these for myself. May I ask a few questions?

    Is the holster in the first picture for the BDM?

    If it is who makes it?

    Do you know of any holster makers making holsters for the BDM?

    About how wide is it at it's widest point? It looks like it would be about the width of a 1911, is this the case?

    Please post about accuracy and reliability when you get a chance.

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  7. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    I have a friend who bought the BDM when they first came out, so it has the hicap mags of which he bought several extra. Anyway, I have shot the pistol a good amount a like it a lot. However, the trigger is a bit different, even in single action, so it takes some getting used to. I prefer the Hi Power trigger and in general the feel of the Hi Power better than the BDM. That being said, I would not hesitate to buy a BDM if I found one at a decent price. I think it would make an excellent hicap 9MM for CCW. As others have stated it is very slim and carries well, plus its one heck of a nice looking pistol and its a Browning.
     
  8. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    I've got to agree that it's regrettable the BDM wasn't successful. It feels quite nice in the hand. If mags were more plentiful, I'd definitely have one in the safe.
     
  9. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

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    I really like the BDM. I could never use one for serious use because I would get shot trying to move the safety in the wrong direction. :) But the gun itself is really slick. I was amazed the first time that I used one, especially since at the time my only real wunder-nine experience was with Rugers and Berettas, both of which are honking fat in comparison.

    Nice gun Marko.
     
  10. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    Nope, it's a Galco Summer Special for a SIG P226. That particular holster has turned into my "universal rig", since the generous frame dimensions of the P226 make the holster a decent fit for most other autos of the same size class.

    Quite a few of them have the BDM included on their list of makes and models. Blade-Tech and F.I.S.T. come to mind right away.

    It's actually a little thinner than a 1911. The slide is 13/16ths of an inch across most of its length, and the grip is just a fraction under an inch wide across the front strap, and 1 1/4" across the little thumb rest swells of the grip. At its widest part, the slide is exactly an inch wide, but only in the section aft of the cocking serrations, i.e. the rearmost 1/4" of the slide.
     
  11. keederdag

    keederdag Member

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    I actually talked my father in law into buying one when they first came out. His is two tone, the switch option is kinda neat, if pointless, and it is really quite accurate. Good sight's, very slim, well finished. Trigger pull is a little strange however. His did not come with Hi-cap's; he did'nt care, as he was used to a 5 shot S&W M-36. Accuracy wise, it's a bit better than my Portugese Assembled Hi-power.:)
     
  12. hksw

    hksw Member

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    If the safety wasn't upsidedown, I would have got at least one when they first came out.
     
  13. George Hill

    George Hill Member

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    I love the BDM. I still want one but have not had the opportunity to make the purchase.
    Its timing.
    When I have money, there is not a BDM available. When I don't have money, there is a BDM available.
    It's teasing me.
     
  14. WonderNine

    WonderNine member

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    I bought a NIB blued BDM awhile back and was not overly impressed with it after shooting it a few times. It came with 6 ten rounders and 6 fifteen rounders. If I recall correctly, the two new fifteen rounders that I actually used rattled alot when loaded. I don't remember about the ten rounders. This was a big turnoff to me for using it as a CCW gun as there are no other mag options. The baseplate of the standard capacity and neutered ten rounders were both made of plastic. This was also a turnoff, sure wouldn't want to accidently drop one of those on concrete during a reload. The follower was like a big plastic hill. The foot of the baseplate on the magazines can be used like a screwdriver to switch the pistol between "pistol" and "revolver" modes. The accuracy was pretty decent, but nothing to rave about. The trigger had alot of takeup in single action mode, but was not creepy. I found the revolver mode pointless. I fired about 500 rounds through the gun during the short time I had it and had zero malfunctions.

    The safety felt clumsy and seemed to get in the way. Not to mention it operated in the wrong direction for a frame mounted safety. To me frame mounted safeties should all be down to fire and up for safe while slide mounted safeties should be up to fire and down to safe. (honestly though if the BDM's safety was down to fire and up for safe it would be in the way even more of the time) The safety seemed strangely delicate compared to the rest of the gun almost to the point that I would worry in the back of my mind about pushing it too hard under stress and/or accidently dropping the gun and breaking it. I don't recommend using the safety to disengage the slide, mine broke internally after using it to disengage the slide only about a dozen times. Funny thing is, I read how this exact same thing happened to someone back on The Firing Line Forum. If I recall they sent it back to Browning, got the gun back and it broke again shortly thereafter.

    The safety on mine still worked, but it would move up and down freely without a click and wouldn't release the slide anymore. The safety is made of plastic and not very confidence inspiring. The gun as a whole was not confidence inspiring and so I ended up only carrying it once or twice before selling it at a decent profit.

    The finish rubbed off VERY easily and was not durable at all. It was a matte black type of finish, not a blueing. I liked the slimness of the frame but the grip was also very blocky feeling. Oh well, can't have it all I guess. After owning one I understand perfectly why these guns sell for $300 NIB or like NIB. The two tone model is not very common and they tend to command a small premium even though I've heard the two toned finish flakes off fairly easily as well.

    Make mine a Hi-Power.

    On a side note, I've heard that Browning didn't actually manufacter the BDM, someone else did and they just put their name on it. Anybody else heard this rumor?
     
  15. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    That's right; it was made by that little no-name gun company, Fabrique Nationale. ;)
     
  16. Richard

    Richard Member

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    Marko, this is what I wrote on another board:

    matthewdanger, I just happen to have a BDM. Its accuracy is second only to my Walther P88 and that is saying a lot for a 9mm. The high capacity (HC) magazines
    are trendy to say the least, the HC magazines run about $100. If you buy the BDM get a bunch of 10 rounders and wait to find a HC at a yard sale. My opinion is the BDM is one fine handgun. Why did it fail to sell? It was a 9mm, designed for the police, in a 40 S&W market. If the price is right buy it. Regards, Richard:D
     
  17. WonderNine

    WonderNine member

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    With the failure of the BDM, do you think they'll start brewing beer, or concentrate on the rest of their line-up instead? ;)
     
  18. matthewdanger

    matthewdanger Member

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    Thanks for the info Marko.

    Do you know of any source of aftermarket grips?
     
  19. Daniel Watters

    Daniel Watters Member

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    The Browning BDM was originally manufactured for Browning by Arms Technology Inc. of Utah. This is the same outfit that produces the Browning Buckmark. I understand that late in the production run, manufacture of the BDM was transferred to FNMI in Columbia, SC.

    This said, FN and Browning have never been above sticking their name on other peoples' products, prime examples include the BDA-series (which were relabeled SIG-Sauer P220 and Beretta Model 84) and the Baracuda revolver (Astra Police).
     
  20. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Really? Maybe that's why later ones have triggers that aren't completely wretched, like the first ones. Hopefully, the frame-cracking problem is confined to early ones, too. :uhoh: (The frame is unbelievably svelte and light for a double-stack steel-frame pistol. Maybe a little too svelte and light, if persistent rumors of frame cracks are to be believed.) Still and all, a really fascinating pistol...
     
  21. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    I was with American Rifleman when the BDM came out. I, and several other staff members, absolutely fell in love with it.

    Why it wasn't more popular I don't know, but it should have been.

    I, too, want one, and figure I'll get one some day.
     
  22. Bladeandbarrel

    Bladeandbarrel Member

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    Classic example of Euro-inspired over-engineering.

    This could have been THE 9mm crunchenticker to have.
    IF

    The safety moved down to fire
    The parts fit was more precise
    The trigger wasn't so dreadful
    It dropped the dubious "Double Mode" feature

    I had the distinct displeasure to fire a DA Only (rare variant) of the BDM last year. It was without a doubt one of the top 3 most difficult handguns to shoot accurately I have ever fired. The sights were poorly regulated and the trigger was WHOA bad.
     
  23. HadEmAll

    HadEmAll Member

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    I like all things Browning, having had or still possess an:

    A-Bolt
    HP in 9mm
    HP in .40 - still got
    Challenger II
    Buckmark - still got
    and that beautiful little .22 auto rifle - still got.

    Not one has been perfect, they've all got some little flaw or other, but I hang onto them because they're BROWNINGS. But.....

    I didn't have any emotional problem at all about getting rid of the BDM. Mine just wasn't as good as the three gun magazines said theirs were.
    If I remember correctly, the ejector was part of the slide lock lever, and when it rode up to lock the slide back, it assumed a different profile that put the last casing either in my face, or left it in the ejection port. Also broke a cheap roll pin early on. Sure did feel fine in the hand, but too big for a 10 round 9mm. Just not a well-engineered pistol, except for the dual-mode trigger action thingy. That was kinda neat. I'd like to have one again, if somebody gave it to me.
     
  24. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

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    Wasn't this the 9mm that the Secret Service rejected? Whichever one it was, FN's Columbia plant got all of them in and had to do a bunch of work to get them right. Biggest complaint was POI/POA differences. Good friend of mine got to shoot all of them. Hope he'll chiime in here...
     
  25. MaterDei

    MaterDei Member

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    Nice write up, Marko.

    Thanks.
     
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