The history of Bernardelli mostly coincides with the history of Valle Trompia, a valley just outside the city of Brescia famous for the production of hunting and sporting firearms.
When the Romans were governing the region, it was the presence of iron ores that attracted their attention the most. The first documents concerning the extraction of iron to be used for gun production go back to the year 15 B.C.
This culture and specialization has never ended. It has changed over the centuries going from the production of knives to firearm components first and complete firearms later.
The first small artisan workshops evolved and between 1600 and 1700 they grew into organized structures precursors of the modern gun making companies.
There are a few documents available today which date the beginning of Bernardelli back in 1721. The image shows a reproduction of the notary deed documenting the official foundation of Bernardelli. It was only in 1865 though that the founder, Vincenzo Bernardelli and his children, started to manufacture handguns for the army.
In 1903 the company relocated to a bigger facility.
The following pictures show the production departments the way they looked back in the early 1900s when Bernardelli started to expand its offering including the hunting side by side shotguns which made the brand famous all over the world.
Apart from shotguns, Bernardelli also specialized in the production of handguns from revolvers, to automatic handguns and small caliber handguns which are still produced now.
Bernardelli was the first Italian company to manufacture a semiautomatic shotgun in 1947. Clearly derived from its military counterpart, the gun came with a magazine and was produced up until the end of the 60s. It is indeed true that Bernardelli has always been a leader in innovation and R&D.
Bernardelli handguns and shotguns were marketed and sold all over the world which is documented by plenty of photos taken at international trade shows year after year. The first two images feature two important Italian politicians while the last image features the Persian Shah, Reza Palevi, at a trade show in Teheran in 1958.
Apart from manufacturing hunting shotguns and handguns Bernardelli was very active in the military sector. It designed and manufactured an assault weapon and a semiautomatic shotgun called Galil under license by the Israeli Army.
In the 80s and 90s next to the more traditional production of side by side shotguns, Bernardelli engineered and manufactured a new over and under shotgun and a new double stack handgun.
At the end of the 90s Bernardelli relocated again to a new facility just outside Brescia, and since then has focused on the production of semiautomatic shotguns, side by side shotguns, rifles, pump guns and only one model of handgun (Mod.68).
The range of product is smaller than it used to be, but everything is still manufactured with the same attention to details and professionalism which have made the Bernardelli brand well known all over the world.