Best Pistol of WW2

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

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Sep 2014 15:35

Hi JTV,

The pilot's primary weapon was his aircraft. How often, one wonders, were aircrew pistols actually used? If they came down behind their own lines they were unnecessary and if behind the enemy's they were effectively unemployable. Only in cases of fluid ground battle with friendly forces close might they possibly have been of some use, but even then how often were they actually used to advantage when all likely opponents would be better armed?

The primary weapon of tank crews was the tank. Again, one wonders how often were their pistols actually used effectively, olr even at all? Every enemy they were likely to run into would be better armed. In North Africa the crew of a Tiger with a thrown track had to surrender to a Greek jeep!

Again, for snipers it was a secondary weapon.

The Number Twos on crewed machine guns were initially issued with pistols, but even in the under equipped Romanian Army they were later ordered replaced by SMGs.

In none of these cases was a pistol the weapon of choice. At best it was one of last resort, but one rarely used due to adverse circumstances or its inherent limitations.

Cheers,

Sid.

jednastka
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by jednastka » 14 Sep 2014 19:21

I think the answer is the one you have, and have ammunition for it. I know of a personal account of a man cornered in a haystack field by two Abwher agents. They counted shots, and charged after eight. The man had a Browning Hi-Power. He lived, they didn't.

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JTV
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by JTV » 14 Sep 2014 20:13

Sid Guttridge wrote: In none of these cases was a pistol the weapon of choice. At best it was one of last resort, but one rarely used due to adverse circumstances or its inherent limitations.

Again, for snipers it was a secondary weapon.
I would not put it like that. For one thing - practically nobody got weapon of their choice, what they got was what was issued to them. What I remember your earlier writings your hypothesis apparently is that pistol is useless as a military weapon - am I right? Just for those service roles mentioned, one could say that in military use pistol had/has a important established role as a secondary weapon for variety of roles. Maybe it is just me, but IMO for some weapon to be secondary does not equal it being useless. For example modern fighter planes have automatic cannons as secondary armament to missiles while infantry carries rifle grenades & hand grenades as secondary weapons to their rifles, machineguns etc - but is anybody seriously claiming that those secondary weapons are useless?

As for if pilots and tank crews using their pistols - at least here they did for number of occasions. I have also heard and read about few cases in which officer or NCO armed with pistol as primary weapon survived the firefight to tell the story. Maybe the most unlikely case was very brief & one-sided firefight due to four Soviets armed with rifles suddenly running into one Finnish company sergeant who had quite a few medals for military pistol from pre-war Finnish championships. One can always claim that the cases are individual cases or exceptional, but in such case feel free to provide any statistics about the matter.

Anyway, this is going off-topic.

Jarkko

jonnyboy369
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by jonnyboy369 » 15 Sep 2014 09:18

I forgot about those holster/stocks turning these pistols into small carbines. Im off my own topic I started, but I wonder how effective these weapons were. Paticularly the C96 Mauser with the larger magazine and the PO8 Parabellum artillery model Luger with a stock and 32 round snail drum. In WW1 these were available when there were few submachine guns until very late in the war. It had to be better for storming a trench than a long cumbersome bolt action rifle.A semi-auto 32 round carbine seems like a pretty potent cqb weapon for that time. Ive seen numerous photos of the broomhandle carbines being used by ss troops in ww2 also, and I wonder if that was a few soldiers primary issue weapon. An Mp38 or Mp40 would seem like a much better weapon to have than an old Mauser Broomhandle carbine.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Sep 2014 14:27

Hi Jednasta and JTV,

It is noticeable that none of the anecdotes are sourced, placed or dated and so have no evidential value.

Though I await firm examples, I have no doubt there were occasional instances of pistols being used to effect, but I would suggest that they were probably very much the exception, not the rule. For example, the firmest anecdote offered yet is about the unnamed Finnish sergeant who had been a bemedalled pistol champion before the war. This is clearly an atypical case by virtue of the fact of his background. Very few people could attain such standards. If it takes a champion to use a personal weapons system effectively, how good can the weapons system be?

JTV, you write, "What I remember your earlier writings your hypothesis apparently is that pistol is useless as a military weapon - am I right?" Pretty much. Furthermore, I would suggest that this has almost always been so. I am aware of only one short-lived field tactic based on the mass use of pistols - the "caracol" of early dragoons, who were meant to ride up in turn discharging pistols at pike armed infantry in the 17th Century. I know of no instance of it being used effectively in battle even then and it seems to have been dropped as a tactic very quickly.

A stray and cynical thought - Assuming that RAF and USAAF aircrew all carried pistols but that none of those who came down over Germany were in a position to use them, this would make Bomber Command and the 8th USAAF the delivery systems by which Germany acquired tens of thousands of factory-fresh pistols! I wonder what the Germans did with them all? Perhaps they ended up arming the Volkssturm. Any ideas anyone?

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 15 Sep 2014 16:25, edited 1 time in total.

LineDoggie
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by LineDoggie » 15 Sep 2014 16:24

JTV wrote:
Poot wrote:The limitations of the pistol to CQB environments for all but the most highly trained and capable operators are part of what spurred the development of the US M1 Carbine.
While this goes somewhat off-topic, I find the reasoning behind that seems bit weird, since there was already an existing and tested equipment concept for that role - namely submachine gun. So, why develop a totally new type of weapon concept instead of developing a better submachine gun?

Pick a weapon for CQB back then:
1. M1 carbine: Semiauto with 15 round magazines and ammunition which gained poor reputation for lack of stopping power.
2. M1928A1 Thompson: Select fire with 20, 30 or 50 round magazines in .45 ACP.
Seems to be rather obvious choice?

Jarkko
An M-1 Carbine fully loaded weighed 5.8lbs a M1928A1 TSMG loaded (20 rd mag)weighed in at 10.6 lbs. For a Support Soldier (reason Carbine was designed ) their primary duty is not individual combat but gives them a firearms capable of better accuracy and range than a handgun, or SMG.

If I am a 3rd Army Wiredog laying telephone wire out in 1944, I dont need a Thompson or Garand for my primary duties as they would interfere with my primary mission. IF I need a firearm to defend myself a carbine is easier
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

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Poot
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Poot » 15 Sep 2014 17:35

jonnyboy369 wrote:I forgot about those holster/stocks turning these pistols into small carbines. Im off my own topic I started, but I wonder how effective these weapons were. Paticularly the C96 Mauser with the larger magazine and the PO8 Parabellum artillery model Luger with a stock and 32 round snail drum. In WW1 these were available when there were few submachine guns until very late in the war. It had to be better for storming a trench than a long cumbersome bolt action rifle.A semi-auto 32 round carbine seems like a pretty potent cqb weapon for that time. Ive seen numerous photos of the broomhandle carbines being used by ss troops in ww2 also, and I wonder if that was a few soldiers primary issue weapon. An Mp38 or Mp40 would seem like a much better weapon to have than an old Mauser Broomhandle carbine.
A shoulder stocked pistol is not a carbine, a short rifle is a carbine.

No matter how you dress it up, a pistol still only shoots a pistol round, shot from a weapon with an excruciatingly short sight radius with comparatively low muzzle velocity, and next to no penetrative qualities and abysmal terminal ballistics in FMJ form when compared to rifle rounds. The two types of rounds are poles apart. Jarkko mentioned what a skilled operator could do with a pistol, but that is the exception. There was even less training time and ammo allotted to pistol training than rifle training, and probably none in theater.

SMGs, although having somewhat higher muzzle velocity, still only shoot pistol rounds. They did have the advantage of longer sight radius, select fire and large magazine capacity, but that's it. The round is what does the job; the more limited the round, the fewer options exist for the operator.

Pat
He who lives by the sword, should train with it frequently.

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JTV
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by JTV » 16 Sep 2014 05:52

Poot wrote: A shoulder stocked pistol is not a carbine, a short rifle is a carbine.
Might be worth noting while the term is most commonly used with short rifles that shoot rifle round, there were also actual carbine-versions manufactured from both Mauser C96 and Parabellum/Luger, although neither was a real commercial success and they were sold only to civilian market. Hence the line is not quite that clear as some might assume.

What difference does the shoulder stock make - my limited shooting experience with pistols equipped this way suggests that:
1. Shooting to normal pistol-shooting distances (25 meters) become exceedingly easy. This is likely to happen any shooter, no matter the experience level.
2. The combination is more effective to ranges beyond distance for which pistol is normally effective. As Poot noted experience is probably major a factor here and so is what kind of cartridge is used - namely lower the bullet trajectory, easier it is to hit targets from longer distances. Although it would be difficult to say how much real difference there actually was/is in between possible cartridges.

Roughtly said C96 with holster stock attacked way have been one of the most successful in this regard - most common versions had 140-cm/5.6-in barrel and due to due to design the pistol has quite a long sight radius. If the pistol is also in 7.63 x 25 caliber, the cartridge has quite high muzzle velocity and therefore relatively low trajectory. Artillery luger also had long barrel and but shorter sight radius and 9 x 19 pistol ammo had notably smaller muzzle velocity (-> higher trajectory).

When it comes to comparing pistol with stock to actual proper submachinegun, there obviously was no real competition - submachine gun simply was so much more effective. M712 "Schnellfeuer" Mauser was also somewhat of a failure as a design - mainly due to its rate of fire being so high, that user was likely to empty whole magazine with just 2 - 3 bursts.

Jarkko

1984Landcruiser
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by 1984Landcruiser » 17 Sep 2014 04:15

Greetings from a new member. This is my first post. My vote for the best pistol of WW2 is the Radom VIS (P35). It is intuitive to use, sits deep in your hand, is quick to aim, and is a sturdy, reliable design. It merges the best features of the Browning Hi Power and the Colt 1911. Having shot many WW2 pistols, I'd choose the Radom hands down.

David from Colorado

jonnyboy369
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by jonnyboy369 » 17 Sep 2014 08:38

Thanks for all the replies guys. I have personally never fired any of these period weapons, I have fired some modern handguns of similar caliber and makes though. I have to agree with most of you that even the best of them would probably be pretty useless weapons except for last ditch personal defense. I remember shooting my grandpa's .38 S&W down in the country plinking cans and it was pretty useless unless you were 20 feet or less away. Even my old lever .22 rifle was a far more capable firearm. The full auto C-96 seemed an archaic weapon to me and I was really surprised to see photos of S.S. troopers using them in combat in Russia. With the insane rate of fire and tiny magazine it had to be good for no more than a single burst or two of wildly erratic fire. Kind of like a time period Mac-10. LineDoggie, I was surprised you listed the Nambu 14 as I hear so many people always say what a terrible round the Japanese 8mm was. Again Ive never fired any of them though. 1984Lancruiser, I always thought the Radom was a cool looking pistol also. It looks so similar to a Colt 1911 but not exactly, and if I remember correctly it was a totally different design. The only WW2 weapons I ever owned were a Mosin-Nagant 91/30 and a 98k. Ive never been in battle but with either of those I felt pretty well armed.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 Sep 2014 11:59

Hi Poot,

I know from experience that, while SMGs can shoot pistol 9mm rounds, they shouldn't.

In Rhodesia I initially had a Sten Gun. While locking the farm security gate I accidentally dropped it. It fired a long burst which, fortunately, hit nothing of importance.

On investigation, we found that the top of the magazine had been filed with pistol 9mm, not SMG 9mm. The difference, apparently, is that the SMG round is more powerful in order to throw the heavier SMG working parts back. The 9mm pistol rounds were not powerful enough to throw the Sten working parts all the way back, where they would lock in position after a single shot. Instead, they stopped short without locking and then moved forward again to fire shot after shot. Hence my multiple negligent discharge. I was advised this affected other SMGs as well.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Poot
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Poot » 18 Sep 2014 17:32

Sid,
Yes, correct on the 'hotter' loading of the SMG rounds. Good on you for calling it a 'negligent discharge' instead of the 'accidental discharge' nonsense! The Sten fires from an open bolt, yeah? That wouldn't help things when combined with the use of pistol rounds in a Sten magazine.

What's interesting is that up until the time we used rifles (AR15) across our entire entry element, most personnel used MP-5s loaded with 147 grain pistol ammunition, the same ammunition that was used in the pistols themselves. I think by then they had reached the 'sweet spot' of the loading and powder combination with a load that would accommodate/cycle in both weapons systems.
Pat
He who lives by the sword, should train with it frequently.

ChristopherPerrien
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 19 Sep 2014 00:12

Sid Guttridge wrote: I know from experience that, while SMGs can shoot pistol 9mm rounds, they shouldn't.
In Rhodesia I initially had a Sten Gun. While locking the farm security gate I accidentally dropped it. It fired a long burst which, fortunately, hit nothing of importance.

On investigation, we found that the top of the magazine had been filed with pistol 9mm, not SMG 9mm. The difference, apparently, is that the SMG round is more powerful in order to throw the heavier SMG working parts back. The 9mm pistol rounds were not powerful enough to throw the Sten working parts all the way back, where they would lock in position after a single shot. Instead, they stopped short without locking and then moved forward again to fire shot after shot. Hence my multiple negligent discharge. I was advised this affected other SMGs as well.
Sorry, never heard of an "9mm smg load", perhaps it was a load made particularly( and locally) for that POS STEN gun, but I have never run across an "smg load" for any smg. One of the advantages( and Army prerequisite ammo commonality) of most smg's was/is the fact they used/will use common pistol rounds with standard loads. You go changing that, then you end up with/might as well have, an Automatic Carbine or an Assault rifle.

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JTV
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by JTV » 19 Sep 2014 21:16

Sid Guttridge wrote:It is noticeable that none of the anecdotes are sourced, placed or dated and so have no evidential value.
Basic rule of adademic/scientific detabe: Person with the theory has the burder of proving it valid, while those suspecting it invalid are not. Hence I am not planning to spent huge amount of hours to provide to evidence for or against you theory.

Just for the heck of it I did check some of the (assault gun related) source materials that am otherwise reading at the moment. At least in here unit war journals, combat reports etc in situations in which armoured vehicle was abandoned due to vehicle loosing mobility or worse do not practically ever mention such details like if the crew took any of its weapons with them, or if they fired against the enemy infantry in cases when they were under fire etc. These documents just do not go into such level of detail. Only articles or books written by the soldiers who belonged to that particular crew may mention such information. However I have no interest or time to read through few hundred magazines and few dozen books just to locate "sourced, placed and dated anacdotes".

Jarkko

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Best Pistol of WW2

Post by Juha Tompuri » 19 Sep 2014 21:39

ChristopherPerrien wrote:[Sorry, never heard of an "9mm smg load", perhaps it was a load made particularly( and locally) for that POS STEN gun, but I have never run across an "smg load" for any smg. One of the advantages( and Army prerequisite ammo commonality) of most smg's was/is the fact they used/will use common pistol rounds with standard loads. You go changing that, then you end up with/might as well have, an Automatic Carbine or an Assault rifle.
"9mm smg load" ammo existed also at this part of the world and AFAIK some of it was bought abroad.
That ammo also broke several pistols (slides?) when used with them.

Regards, Juha

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Israeli and British ammunition are presumably loaded for submachine gun use. (If the headstamp of British cartridges is "9 MM" with black number and capital letters, they are actually loaded in Canada: Very strong medicine, able to ruin some weak handguns like Luger P-08). Finnish surplus cartridges with headstamp "SO" are presumably loaded for handguns like P-08 and Lahti L-35 with usual 9 x 19 mm powder charges. That's why the lower firing rate.
http://guns.connect.fi/gow/QA11.html
Last edited by Juha Tompuri on 19 Sep 2014 21:45, edited 1 time in total.
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