Best Pistol of WW2

Discussions on the small arms used by the Axis forces.
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JTV
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by JTV » 04 Feb 2018 10:06

LineDoggie wrote: John Moses Browning wasn't stupid. he purposely designed the 1911 to be carried round chambered and on safe
Sometimes referred as "condition 1", which is basically: Loaded magazine in, cartridge in chamber, hammer cocked and manual (intended to be flicked with a thumb) safety on. The other option would be "condition 0" in which thumb operated safety switch is off and grip safety is the only safety being relied on.

It would be worth noting that if compared to modern striker-fired pistols that are now the most popular thing in handgun market, many of the most successful designs (such as Glock) have a safety latch in the trigger that works with the same principle as "condition 0" in Colt 1911/1911A1, while others (like CZ 75/85 series) have manual safety operated with thumb allowing "condition 1" like carry. The popularity for these basic options seem to be based on the fact that they simply work. Going with simple and as easy to use safety design as possible has its obvious benefits - being in firefight is high stress situation with adrenaline pumping and sane people being scared for their lives, hence their fine motor skills and thinking are not at their best. I have some action shooting (movement combined with shooting, shooting scenarios with timer - IPSC, 3-gun etc) experience, which has shown that even the little stress caused by competing against the clock, when timer goes "BEEP" it is not that uncommon for rookie shooters to fumble with safety or even forget to switch it off.

As for magazine capacity - bigger the better. None of the service pistol cartridges used during World War 2 or now was nowhere as effective "a stopper" as rifle cartridges, so needing multiple rounds per target should realisticly be expected. As the latest military pistol manual notes here the using principle for pistols is "keep shooting round after round until desired effect (on target) has been achieved". :milwink:

I have shot P-38 and own P1 (post-war version with aluminum frame made for Bundeswehr). While double action trigger was a useful feature and the design is highly reliable, decocking safety is not that great, magazine safety in heel of grip is slow to use and maximum magazine capacity is limited to 8 + 1. Also original P-38 sights are ok if compared to sights of other period pistols, but not that great.

If I would be allowed to make myself a best possible pistol from all pistol designs available during World War 2 I would go with FN HP and some very small changes. The reasons why I would pick FN HP:
1. Highly reliable (IMO the most important characteristic for military small arms).
2. Good ergonomics - grip works (depends a person though, I used to own one, so I know they work for me), both safety switch & magazine release are well placed.
3. Magazine capacity: 13 + 1 is the best that one can get with World War 2 era pistols. Nowadays also 20 round magazines are available.
4. Uses cartridge that is powerful enough to incapacitate reliably.
5. Strong mechanical design (probably the only World War 2 era pistol that actually survives shooting decent number of extra hot 9 x 19 ammunition that numerous countries manufactured for submachine guns).
6. External hammer - easy to see in what mode the pistol is and also easy to decock.

Details and modifications:
1. The version of HP I would pick as a starting point would be late Inglis manufactured FN HP or with wooden holster attachment point (for versatility for rare cases it might come up handy), but with late rear sight (old tangent rear sight provides sight picture that is terribly small and crowded) opened up a bit to allow faster aiming.
2. Remove magazine safety (easy to do if knows what to do - just remove the pin that keeps it in place). It is not necessary, trigger is much better (less mushy) without it and unlike thumb-operated safety it is not even that useful.
3. Modify thumb-operated safety switch by adding material into it to make it easier to operate. The original switch is just unnecessarily small.
Needless to mention I doubt any country would have usually liked its soldiers to do this sort of modifications for firearms issued to them, but then again apparently some countries did allow their soldiers to carry also privately owned pistols in addition of issued weapons.

Colt 1911 would be ok as well, but what I remember during World War 2 only seven round magazines were available and .45 ACP FMJ is not much better than 9 mm x 19 Luger/Parabellum. Ergonomics in 1911 (I prefer it over 1911A1) are slightly better than in FN HP mainly due to better thumb safety ergonomics, but sights are not that great.

Jarkko
Last edited by JTV on 04 Feb 2018 18:03, edited 2 times in total.

South
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by South » 04 Feb 2018 12:45

Good morning JTV - Jarkko,

Very comprehensive and interesting information combined with your personal experience........

Somewhere on one of the pages of this thread I made a comparison to the pistol use / need of a submariner and an infantryman. This leads me to ask if any of the WWII pistols had enlarged trigger guards / housings to allow for wearing a thick glove.

(No requirement for a lanyard holder on a quality pistol ?!)

~ Bob
eastern Virginia, USA

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Juha Tompuri » 10 Feb 2018 20:57

Juha Tompuri wrote:
Sid Guttridge wrote:It is noticeable that though this thread has had 4,224 views so far, we haven't a single verifiable case of a pistol being used in combat put up on it.
Lotvonen wrote:Veikko Moilanen
“Motti” in Tyrjä

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”, vol. 11/12,1958

The author was an AT gun squad leader, rank Corporal. He is describing the battle on 31.7. - 4.8. 1941 in Tyrjä. After the battle the Regiment adopted the name "Tyrjän rykmentti"....

...As the enemy tanks were detected I, being in the AT Company, was ordered to set out to destroy them. We pushed our 37mm AT gun along a road, heading for the tanks moving about on the same road. MG bursts fired by the tanks were whining above us. Our hearts were racing as we just about had the tanks within range as there was a loud thump. A tank had hit a mine. We ran closer quickly and surrounded the tank. Aspirant Könönen, one of our Platoon leaders, bravely mounted on the deck of the tank, opened a hatch and ordered the “tavarich” to get out, yet the chap stayed put. The Aspirant fired some rounds in the tank with his pistol, then we pulled a frightened man in the daylight, there was another one, dead next to the tank."
https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic ... 9&t=231758
Juha Tompuri wrote:Old threads never die.
My namesake once wrote:
Juha #1 wrote:A little background to the pic with destroyed T-34,if you don't mind.

Pic was taken 30.6.44.This T-34 was one of 2 Russian tanks who had gone thru frontlines in Tali-Ihanta battle and was aproaching Ihantala village.Troops in the area were told that Finnish tanks might appear,they would be idenfield by east turned gun and those 2 tanks had their guns turned to East(Finnish Armoured Division had also few T-34 tanks).

As tanks were just few meters away,men noticed red stars in their turrets(stars were not easily seen because dirt and smut from exhaust pipes).Other tank went to right and was soon destroyed.The T-34 in pic advanced one km and then turned back and headed back to Russian lines.But Finnish antitank teams were waiting.First an shell from German Stug of 2./303.Stug.Brigade hit it to side armour.T-34 stopped and man jumped from turret.As he started run towards frontline with pistol in his hand,Panzerfaust fired by Corporal from GunCompany/12IR hit the tank.T-34 exploted.
As Russian tankcommander fled,he ran to private Viljanen and wounted him by shooting thru his chest.Private Arvi Peräsalo was close but his rifle was in his back.In desperate effort he picked large stone from ground and threw it toward Russian.Russian throught it was handgrenade and changed his running direction towards Finns in foxholes and was shot and killed.He turned out to be an officer,some said he was a Major.

The pic was taken few hours later and tanks is still burning.The men in pic are Sergeant Kaarlo Niemelä on the left and Sergeant Heino Nikulassi on right.Both men are from II/IR12 and experienced tank destroyers.Niemelä (age 24 from Salla) destroyed 3 KV and 1,5 T-34 and Nikulassi (27 from Kemijärvi) destroyed 1 JS and 2-T34.Nikulassi was killed next day.

So that's that pics story.

Cheers/Juha
viewtopic.php?f=47&t=42446&p=713782&hilit#p713782
https://forum.axishistory.com//viewtopi ... 5#p1548428

Regards, Juha

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 10 Feb 2018 21:13

JTV wrote:
LineDoggie wrote: John Moses Browning wasn't stupid. he purposely designed the 1911 to be carried round chambered and on safe
Sometimes referred as "condition 1", which is basically: Loaded magazine in, cartridge in chamber, hammer cocked and manual (intended to be flicked with a thumb) safety on. The other option would be "condition 0" in which thumb operated safety switch is off and grip safety is the only safety being relied on.

It would be worth noting that if compared to modern striker-fired pistols that are now the most popular thing in handgun market, many of the most successful designs (such as Glock) have a safety latch in the trigger that works with the same principle as "condition 0" in Colt 1911/1911A1, while others (like CZ 75/85 series) have manual safety operated with thumb allowing "condition 1" like carry.
Jarkko
Condition 1 . How I carried my 45 Auto on guard duty in West Germany at times. While we were not even supposed to even have bullets, the "Red Army Faction" and the Berlin disco Bombing(terrorists)were still recent history .(1986/87) . We just would call it Locked and Loaded, on safe.

I really like a thumb(manual) safety over just the singular trigger safeties of the Glock, or a grip safety, or the decocker/double actions of the P-38 /M9/ varieties. A gun/pistol without an actual safety, one you not see or physically operate, before firing, does not have a safety at all AFAIC. All such pistols really have is a drop safety or multiple drop safeties. They irk me that way. The Browning /45 design has both, manual thumb / and a drop safety(palm) and can be carried exactly like a Glock or P-38, ready to fire (0 conditon), but at least you have the option/usage of a thumb safety as well by choice.

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by JTV » 11 Feb 2018 08:11

South wrote:Somewhere on one of the pages of this thread I made a comparison to the pistol use / need of a submariner and an infantryman. This leads me to ask if any of the WWII pistols had enlarged trigger guards / housings to allow for wearing a thick glove.
Swedish M40 pistols (other than early production version) have enlargened trigger guard - presumably for gloved trigger finger. Although IMO it would be preferable to shoot pistols without gloves on if possible - especially so if we are talking about gloves typically issued during World War 2. Gloves tend to reduce the level of control that one has from pistol and the thing is that much (most?) of the cold weather gloves issued by various countries were wool, which is a slippery material with grip panels that were normally made from wood or bakelite. Hence wool gloves tend to give very poor recoil control with World War 2 pistols. Leather gloves would another thing, but what I have read they were not yet commonly issued item with grand majority of countries during the war.

Attached is photo showing the standard type of cold weather gloves that Finnish military issued during World War 2 - wool mittens with a trigger finger.

Jarkko
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South
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by South » 11 Feb 2018 10:26

Good morning JTV - Jarkko,

Appreciate info re the Swedish M40s and their enlarged trigger guards. Thank you.

I've seen a version of the pictured Finnish Army mittens. They were from the Alaska Army Reserve. They were white leather with a fleece inside. Am guessing they were Korean War era and not WWII.

~ Bob
eastern Virginia, USA

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JTV
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by JTV » 11 Feb 2018 11:38

South wrote: I've seen a version of the pictured Finnish Army mittens. They were from the Alaska Army Reserve. They were white leather with a fleece inside. Am guessing they were Korean War era and not WWII.
Hi. I think that the mitten type likely was not specifically a Finnish - the basic design with mitten equipped with sepearate trigger finger seems to have been relatively common at least during Cold War, if not before. The pair of mittens in the photo that I attached is Finnish military surplus, although possibly post-WW2 production - what I could find a later version (with hole for trigger-finger) replaced them in production in year 1949.

Fleece did not apparently appear to world-market until mid 1980's: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/magaz ... uggie.html

But back to topic: Condition 1 was probably what made most sense with World War 2 era pistols and with some pistols it was safer to normally carry them without round in chamber. Safety used in P38/P1 was typically quite safe, but it would smart to point these pistols to safe direction when engaging the safety - this because these are now old pistols and if the decocking safety is worn out or broken in a certain manner the pistol may potentially go off when safety is engaged. It is worth noting World War 2 pistols did not really have safe at all in common sense - for example Soviet TT-33 only has hammer half-cock notch.

Jarkko

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by WilliamDS » 04 Mar 2018 21:34

The Colt M1911 was not designed to be carried condition one. The initial design lacked a thumb safety, which was added at the request of the cavalry to rapidly and temporarily safe the weapon with one hand (such as when riding a horse). The intended method of carry was hammer down on an empty chamber, and to bring it into action by racking the slide. This method of carry was common to most all pistols of the era.

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 04 Mar 2018 22:33

WilliamDS wrote:The Colt M1911 was not designed to be carried condition one. The initial design lacked a thumb safety, which was added at the request of the cavalry to rapidly and temporarily safe the weapon with one hand (such as when riding a horse). The intended method of carry was hammer down on an empty chamber, and to bring it into action by racking the slide. This method of carry was common to most all pistols of the era.
You're correct. Memory faulty , I never carried a round in the chamber. For one safety and two , having the hammer back would have gave it away, ifyou had the thing loaded , which I saw people actually do.

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by WilliamDS » 09 Mar 2018 08:44

ChristopherPerrien wrote:
WilliamDS wrote:The Colt M1911 was not designed to be carried condition one. The initial design lacked a thumb safety, which was added at the request of the cavalry to rapidly and temporarily safe the weapon with one hand (such as when riding a horse). The intended method of carry was hammer down on an empty chamber, and to bring it into action by racking the slide. This method of carry was common to most all pistols of the era.
You're correct. Memory faulty , I never carried a round in the chamber. For one safety and two , having the hammer back would have gave it away, ifyou had the thing loaded , which I saw people actually do.
No worries, it's a minor detail. As you noted some people ignored the regulations and that is bound to be true in any military. Personally as long as I had a rigid holster that won't bump the safety off I'd be comfortable carrying a 1911 pattern gun Condition 1, it just wasn't the proscribed method. Leather doesn't fulfill that requirement (and I'm a century behind anyways with my single-action haha).

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 Mar 2018 22:25

Hi Christophe Perrien,

I am not sure why you are getting so exercised. The last thing I wrote was, "I am as sure as you that some pistols must have been used in combat, but it is proving surprisingly difficult to find any verifiable case."

This was true. It is a fact that not a single example of the effective use of a pistol in combat was provided by anyone on this longish thread prior to your post.

Millions, perhaps tens of millions, of pistols were issued in WWII. I would suggest that it is pretty redundant looking for the "Best pistol of WWII" if we lack examples of the entire class of weaponry being used in combat, let alone with any effect.

If the first example of a pistol being used in combat you can come up with for WWII is of a US naval pilot using one to fire at a Japanese warship when his converntional weaponry was exhausted, then I would suggest that you are making my case for me!

What on earth was he expecting to achieve in effective combat terms, beyond giving vent to personal frustration? He might as well have taken his frustration out by kicking his own dog back at base for all the damage it was likely to do to the enemy!

Your second example of German paratroopers carrying them is true, but (1) only as a secondary weapon, as I have said and (2) you haven't provided any examples of their use, let alone effective use, by them. It would be nice to have something concrete, please.

Your third example, Heydrich, was about as far behind the front lines as it was possible to be in Europe at the time! Furthermore, he didn't hit anything.

You reference early WWI flyers using them. With what effect? I would guess absolutely none, but perhaps you have a concrete example?

Your example of executions by pistol is pretty desperate stuff! Combat implies that there are two sides engaged. Shooting defenceless individuals in the back of the neck is not combat.

On the other hand, the "tunnel rats" example is, by contrast, the first viable example of a 20th Century battlefied employment of the pistol as a primary weapon in combat presented on this thread, albeit in a highly specialized niche. Good call! WWI tunnelers/counter-tunnelers also used them because rifles were too unwieldy and concussion ruled out explosive devices.

As regards your other photos, nobody, least of all me, has claimed that millions of pistols were not issued and carried, which is all those images illustrate. Indeed, I have mentioned it before, if you would care to read some of my back posts.

Nor am I asking for photos of their use in combat, for much the reason you give for their lack of availability. What I was noting was the paucity of examples of their use in combat on this thread.

I would welcome more examples, particularly of effective use, as they are as rare as hens' teeth here at present.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Juha Tompuri » 12 Mar 2018 21:08

AFAIK the first Finnish officer KIA during the Winter War was Ltn Jorma Gallen-Kallela.
He was shot dead by a shot down Soviet bomber plane crew member with a pistol, when trying to arrest them
http://brantberg.fi/Talvisota%20-%20Ado ... nrooth.htm (in Finnish)

Regards, Juha

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by WilliamDS » 13 Mar 2018 06:04

Somewhat anecdotal, due to no one actually witnessing the combat but:

Another comrade, withdrawing, offered assistance. Sgt. Baker refused, insisting that he be left alone and be given a soldier's pistol with its remaining eight rounds of ammunition. When last seen alive, Sgt. Baker was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later Sgt. Baker's body was found in the same position, gun empty, with 8 Japanese lying dead before him.

From the Medal of Honor citation for Sgt. Thomas Baker, US Army, KIA 7/7/44 Saipan.

This would also indicate the pistol in question was carried contrary to regulations, with one in the chamber plus a full magazine.

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Mar 2018 18:48

Hi WilliamDS,

It would also suggest that he was an absolutely miraculous shot - eight dead with eight pistol rounds! Genius!

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Juha Tompuri » 13 Mar 2018 20:30

Alvin C. York, six hits with eight rounds availlable?
At one point in the engagement, six Germans charged York’s position – but the man calmly drew his pistol and shot them all down before they could reach him.
Image
https://www.warhistoryonline.com/whotub ... scene.html

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