What Caliber is 7.65mm? (2023 Update)
What caliber is the 7.65mm? This is a simple question with a somewhat complex answer. The reason is because there are more calibers than one that have been referred to as the 7.65mm in the past and present.
The most common cartridge that is referred to as the 7.65mm is the .32 ACP, also known as the 7.65x17mm Browning as it is commonly called in Europe. This is the caliber that people are likely referring to in 99%+ of cases where they mention the name 7.65mm.
While not as well used as other small calibers like the .380 ACP (9mm Short) in the United States, the 7.65mm is still a respectable round that has been used for over a century as a self-defense cartridge.
In this article, we’ll dive into the 7.65mm (.32 ACP round) and outline and discuss the benefits that this caliber provides. We’ll also briefly go over other, far lesser known and used calibers that are sometimes designated as ‘7.65mm’ as well to avoid any confusion.
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Which Calibers Can Be Referred to as 7.65mm?
As noted above, there are many calibers that are designated as 7.65mm. The most popular one globally, by a very wide margin, is the .32 ACP.
Nonetheless, it’s important to list out other calibers that are designated as 7.65mm just to clarify the difference for the sake of discussion and to avoid confusion.
The following calibers can be referred to as 7.65mm:
- .32 ACP (or 7.65x17mm Browning) – handgun cartridge
- 7.65x25mm Borchardt
- 7.65x200mm Longue – handgun cartridge
- 7.65x21mm Mannlicher – handgun cartridge
- 7.65x53mm Mauser – rifle cartridge
- 7.65x21mm Parabellum – handgun cartridge
- 7.65mm Roth-Steyr – handgun cartridge
Each of the above calibers, with the exception of .32 ACP, are very rare and only produced in limited runs for the select, older firearms that were chambered for them.
The .32 ACP has been in common use worldwide for over a hundred years and has been in continuous production ever since its introduction. For the remainder of this article, when we refer to the 7.65mm cartridge we’ll be referring to the .32 ACP specifically.
Origins of the 7.65mm (.32 ACP)
The 7.65x17mm Browning round that later became known as the .32 ACP was first introduced in 1899. The cartridge was developed by Fabrique Nationale for use in their FN M1900 semi-automatic handgun, which was designed by John Moses Browning.
The FN M1900 is a very noteworthy pistol, because it was the first semi-automatic pistol to use a slide like virtually all semi-automatic pistols do today. The M1900 actually commenced production in 1899, the same year the caliber designed for this round was developed as well.
FN ended up producing over 700,000 units of the M1900 over an eleven-year production span, but that was hardly the end for the 7.65mm cartridge. The M1900 was a revolutionary production pistol since it was the first pistol to use a slide, and following its release numerous other manufacturers began producing semi-automatic handguns with slides as well.
Capitalizing on the success of the 7.65x17mm Browning round that the M1900 was chambered for, those same manufacturers producing new pistols chambered their guns for the caliber.
Examples include Colt’s Model 190 Pocket Hammerless pistol and Savage’s Model 1907 pistol. Additionally, Browning followed up on the M1900 with the more refined Model 1910, which was another successful handgun.
Due to the wide variety of pistols that were chambered in 7.65mm, the caliber became enormously popular all over the world with both service handguns and compact pocket pistols.
Performance of the 7.65mm
The 7.65mm is a compact round that is often chambered in compact handguns. Even most of the so-called ‘service handguns’ that were chambered for the round are small. For example, 7.65mm pistols that we would consider compact and for concealed carry today were considered as duty people by certain European police forces, such as the Walther PP-series or the Beretta Cheetah series.
Today, many consider the 7.65mm to be ‘too small’ as an effective defensive round. That’s a fair statement to make when you consider that the 7.65mm definitely creates smaller rounds than larger calibers, such as .380 ACP or 9mm Parabellum, that are commonly used in small self-defense handguns as well. There are also fewer defensive loads made for the 7.65mm today as well.
That being said, thousands of people throughout history have successfully defended themselves with the 7.65mm round, and some continue to trust it in their daily concealed carry guns today.
So, is the 7.65mm a suitable round for self-defense? You’ll ultimately have to be the judge of that for yourself.
Regardless, there’s no denying that the 7.65mm has plenty of advantages it brings to the table. Guns chambered for the 7.65mm are often very controllable with limited recoil, which makes it easier to keep faster follow up on shots properly on target. The 7.65mm has also been noted throughout its history for its inherent accuracy.
At the very least, there’s no denying that the 7.65mm is a very pleasant cartridge to shoot at the range. Furthermore, many small or pocket-sized pistols that are known for producing considerable recoil or snap in calibers such as the .380 ACP are known for being much more pleasant and controllable in the 7.65mm.
The 7.65mm Today
Despite the roaring success the 7.65mm enjoyed in the first half of the 1900s, its popularity dwindled significantly in the second half of the century, especially in the United States.
Why is that?
The primary factor is because the .380 ACP produces ballistics that are superior to the 7.65mm and can be chambered in the same guns that the 7.65mm can.
For example, guns such as the Beretta Cheetah, FEG PA63, Kel-Tec pocket pistols, and the Walther PPK are chambered for both the 7.65mm and the .380 ACP.
It’s only a natural question to ask: why not go with the pistol that shoots the cartridge offering superior ballistics and terminal performance? And that’s a very reasonable question to ask, and it’s one that American shooters have been asking for decades.
That’s exactly why the number of pistols chambered for 7.65mm have dwindled while the number chambered in .380 ACP have gone up. In fact, the ATF now reports that for every .32 ACP pistol produced in the United States today, there are one hundred .380 ACP pistols that are introduced.
So the 7.65mm is not quite as popular today as it once was.
But it’s still alive and kicking, and it can still be used for self-defense if you so desire. Remember, the first rule of a gunfight is to have a gun. If the gun you have is in 7.65mm, that’s far better than having no gun at all.
Just make sure if you do carry a 7.65mm that you practice with your gun regularly, as you should with any carry gun.
What Handguns Are Chambered For 7.65mm?
The following handguns are available today and chambered for the 7.65mm round:
- Beretta Cheetah (Model 81 and Model 82)
- Beretta Tomcat (Model 3032)
- Colt Model 1903
- FEG PA63/AP
- Kel-Tec P-32
- North American Arms Guardian
- Seecamp LWS
- SIG Sauer P230/P232
- Walther PP-series of pistols (PP, PPK, and PPK/S)
Take note that some of the above handguns are no longer in production, such as the Colt 1903 and Model 81/82 Beretta Cheetahs and the SIG Sauer P230/P232, but they can still be found on the used market and are perfectly suitable options for concealed carry or personal defense.
There are many other 7.65mm pistols that are produced beyond the ones listed above, but this should give you an idea of what your options are if you’re considering buying a pistol in the cartridge.
A 7.65mm Caliber Conclusion
The 7.65mm, or .32 ACP, is a round that will never die. It may not be quite as popular now as it once was, but it’s a very pleasant-shooting caliber that offers good accuracy and minimal recoil even in compact handguns.
Hopefully this article has served as a good introduction for you into the 7.65mm caliber, its history, and the role it continues to play today.
If you’re considering the 7.65mm for self-defense or for a range piece, it will suffice for both purposes as it has for countless others over the years.