Staff Writer (Updated: 12/31/2013):
The Model 1889 Bodeo proved a most conventional revolver design through and through. It was a solid frame development (featuring a bridge over the cylinder to help make it stronger) with a six-shot rotating cylinder. The hammer protruded from the rear of the frame with the barrel extending ahead in the usual fashion. The weapon was chambered for the unique 10.4x22R Italian Ordnance cartridge with a loading gate set to the right side of the body and an ejector rod fitted under the barrel. The pistol grip was integrated into the frame's design as normal and the grips featured a diamond pattern. A lanyard ring was affixed to the butt of the grip for ease of carrying into combat. The revolver appeared in two general forms - an "infantry-minded" version sporting a folding trigger assembly (lacking a traditional ring guard) and an "officer-minded" version featuring a full trigger guard. The folding trigger option was intended for when the weapon was stowed. Additionally, infantry types were finished with octagonal barrels while officers were issued revolvers with rounded barrels. Despite these distinct variations, models containing both octagonal barrels and trigger rings eventually appeared as well. Otherwise, the Model 1889 followed suit with the many revolvers having proliferated the firearms market throughout the mid-to-late 1800s.
The Model 1889 was produced by a bevy of Italian brands throughout its run. This included Castelli, Metallurgica Bresciana (producers of the failed Glisenti Model 1910), Siderurgica Glisenti (original holders of the Model 1906/1910 design), Real Babricca d'Armi and Vincenzo Bernardelli. Manufacture of Bodeo revolvers spanned from 1889 to 1925 and some 200,000 examples were believed produced. The design was attributed to Carlo Bodeo.
When Italy went to war in World War 1, the Model 1889 Bodeo revolver was already embedded as its standard-issue revolver. Due to the large quantities required of the war effort, Errasti and Arrosteguiof Spain were also enlisted to provide additional manufacturing of the type. To this end, production of the gun spiked considerably during this period and, as expected, dwindled in the immediate months following the armistice of November 1918. However, the work was done and the Bodeo would continue to serve in large numbers in the decades following.
Despite the arrival of the semi-automatic Model 1910 Glisenti, the Bodeo survived as a sturdy revolver option into the Italian wars of the 1930s and 1940s. The Glisenti design was doomed by its weak receiver forced to fire a more powerful 9x19mm Glisenti cartridge (with lower charge) to help mimic the performance of the famous 9x19 Parabellum round. The coupling never wholly succeeded and led to the Bodeo revolver and Model 1910 semi-automatic pistols serving concurrently in the lead up to World War 2 (1939-1945). To make up for the short fall that was the Glisenti, the Italian Army adopted the semi-automatic Beretta Model 1934 and it was this design that ultimately resigned the Bodeo to history. The Bodeo revolver did manage to see combat service throughout all of World War 2 and, somewhat amazingly, outlasted the Glisenti Model 1910 in production - the same gun intended to succeed it.