The B&T VP-9 – 21st Century Welrod

B&T VP-9 silenced pistol

B&T's new VP-9 (image courtesy of allshooters.com )

Whilst film buffs complain about the seemingly endless Hollywood cycle of remakes and reboots, those in the firearms world couldn’t be happier when a classic design is revisited for the modern age. Case in point, the new Brügger & Thomet VP-9 pistol, a 21st Century ‘re-imagining’ of the World War 2 Welrod integrally suppressed pistol. This pistol debuted at IWA this year, and is now starting to appear in the firearms press. Its product data sheet can be reviewed on B&T’s site, and Max Popenker’s new entry on the type appears on his worldguns.ru site.
Curiously, B&T are marketing it as a humane dispatch pistol that won’t disturb the neighbours, hence the designation ‘VP’, for ‘Veterinary Pistol’. Whilst I’m sure the original users would appreciate the irony of a Welrod so described, their targets were of course Nazi soldiers rather than ailing animals. This new variant appears mechanically very similar to the British classic, though clearly smaller and lighter. It isn’t clear what advancements in baffle and wipe technology might also have been incorporated into the suppressor portion. The most obvious upgrade is the use of a polymer grip/magazine well rather than the  rubber-sleeved steel original. Despite this apparently clear design lineage, B&T don’t seem interested in pointing out the similarity, and there is no mention in their marketing material of either the Welrod or any potential warlike application of this new version. It remains to be seen whether present-day special operations and security forces will take to the VP-9 as they did the Welrod, but a handy and efficient suppressed pistol would seem to have its uses even in today’s world.

A Mk.I 9x19mm Welrod from the collection at the National Firearms Centre, Leeds, UK (Image courtesy Anders Thuygesen)

A Mk.I 9x19mm Welrod from the collection at the National Firearms Centre, Leeds, UK (Image courtesy Anders Thuygesen, timelapse.dk)

For those not familiar with the Welrod, I recommend perusal of Anders Thygeson’s site. it was developed by the Birmingham Small Arms company in 1942 to meet a Special Operations Executive requirement for a truly ‘silenced’ pistol that would allow them to quietly eliminate enemy soldiers and assassination targets. The type was supplied to resistance fighters, and a U.S. version was developed for SOE’s American counterpart, the Office of Strategic Services. The name derives from Welwyn Garden City, where SOE were based and, erm, ‘rod’, because the end product resembled a smooth black baton with additional pistol grip/external box magazine arrangement. The suppressor was integrated into the design to ensure correct capture of propellant gases, and it was made essentially bolt-action to prevent any sound from reciprocating working parts. .32 ACP was chosen to keep pressures low, though a 9x19mm variant was produced later. These design choices are widely thought to have produced the most effective suppressed weapon ever conceived, and the type served Britain into recent decades, there being no direct replacement available for this niche weapon. Basic pistol-style iron sights were radium painted for use at night, which poses a challenge for those collecting them today.

At the UK National Firearms Centre, we are fortunate to preserve numerous examples of the classic Welrod, including the original prototype with cranked bolt handle, pictured on Anders’s site. We also aim to acquire examples of the new VP-9 for the collection, and hope to test its capabilities against the Welrod. Look for more info on TFB later in the year.

Related

Jonathan Ferguson

Jonathan Ferguson is Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK. He is based at the National Firearms Centre, one of the most comprehensive firearms collections in the world and successor to the MoD Pattern Room. His research interests include the use and effect of weapons, and their depiction in folklore and popular culture.


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  • Brad

    I’ve been wanting something like this for years.

  • wetcorps

    Cool stuff, but strange marketing. Looks like they were afraid to market an “assassin’s pistol”, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
    I’m pretty sure people will mostly buy this as cool range toy and collector piece… Like most guns, even the ones that were used to shoot at people in a war.

    Do American vets use guns often? Are they interested in this?
    At least they can afford the tax stamp, given their cost :)

    By the way I didn’t know about the radium sights on the original Welrod That makes it even cooler.

    • Cymond

      Maybe the Swiss have some restrictions on the marketing/sale/export of military weaponry or something.

      And I can imagine vets using suppressed pistols to put down livestock in some countries where suppressors are less restricted than the US. Ammunition is cheap. Also, there may be some cases when a wild animal is wounded, diseased, or otherwise a danger. A vet wouldn’t want to get within arm’s reach to administer an injection.

      What I find strange is that they appear to have copied the Welrod so completely, even the strange trigger and removable grip/magazine.

      • wetcorps

        Makes more sense then. Maybe some vets will actually use it, not knowing they are using a WWII design ^^

      • Mazryonh

        “Humane dispatch”? What about the “Captive Bolt Pistols” commonly found on farms for the slaughter of animals, some of which use compressed air and thus don’t use smokeless powder (most famously seen in the movie No Country for Old Men? Or, if you’re out hunting, the right incision with your hunting knife?

        Ammunition isn’t necessarily “cheap,” either, as the ongoing supply choke shows. At least a knife or compressed-air captive bolt pistol doesn’t require expensive resources to keep using again and again.

        • bbmg

          Good point, and a non-captive projectile also might ricochet. However as Cymond mentioned the animal is not always necessarily within arm’s reach. I suppose you could always strap a boltgun to a stick…

          • Mazryonh

            How about a bayonet fixed to your hunting long gun for humane dispatch, then? It could work if you have something like a Mossberg 590, for instance.

    • sneekygreen

      In northern ireland, up unitl maybe 10 years ago vets used .22 single shot rifles for humane kills. They changed to captive bolts recently, though a few vets still use it, or a small .410 single shot. Can’t speak for america, just NI though, hope this helps. Wish someone would make an airsoft version of the welrod, or a repo version, as theres a substantial amount of Living history blokes that would love one!

  • Mark

    Am I missing something or does this pistol have no trigger guard?

    • bbmg

      No, just like the Welrod Mk. II

  • bbmg

    While I cannot say how happy I am that someone has finally updated the Welrod, I have to question how effective it would be for covert operations when compared to the Russian series of pistols firing the SP-4 captive piston cartridge, such as the PSS as reviewed here by SADJ: http://sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=307

    While the VP-9 has greater projectile energy, and can use widely available ammunition, the PSS is more compact and gives the benefit of semi-automatic fire while being just as quiet, which makes it a better weapon tactically.

    Also, there are no worries about baffle wear or “first round pop” as one would have with a conventional suppressed weapon.

    If used in the Ots-38 revolver, you get the same performance for 5 shots without leaving any cartridges on the ground:

    http://popgun.ru/files/g/4/orig/1467167.jpg

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Yea, but

      This is being marketed to a group that wants a modern recreation of an old classic, that despite its history never really saw a ton of action.

      Yes, there are clearly better designs. But, if you’ve been paying attention, As long as you are sanctioned by a government you can pretty go where ever you want and openly kill whoever you want – I mean of course you have to justify it as “terrorism” but that’s easy when you just mark everything as classified.

      So given the new reality where the US can openly kill its own citizens without any due process, England and the rest of NATO are no better, Russia can openly invade an island and just say “no, that’s not us” and no one will say shit to them….

      I’m not sure the world needs much of a market for silenced covert ops pistols. Covert is so 20th century. This B&T is clearly for collector purposes.

      • bbmg

        The world is changing, but that does not mean that a government would not want covert means of assassination. Georgi Markov was killed by a ricin pellet from an umbrella gun in 1978. With the progress of technology since then, imagine what they can do now.

        I would imagine this pistol would be more useful to special forces in an actual military operation than a covert assasination.

        In any case, no matter how silent the gun is, you still have the potential of a screaming guard alerting the whole base. No matter how silent the discharge of the weapon is, you still have impact noise to deal with as well as the target potentially calling out.

        In the section on “sentry removal” in FM 21-150, there are no firearms mentioned: http://library.enlisted.info/field-manuals/series-2/FM21_150/CH7.PDF

        My favourite by far is Figure 7-8 :D

        • wetcorps

          Ow the Belgian takedown is nasty.

          Who draws these by the way? Best job ever XD

          • bbmg

            Nastier than being beaten to death with your own helmet? :D

          • wetcorps

            Well at least they do not smash your balls with it ^^’

          • Fox218

            Crush larynx, subclavian artery stab!

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    Why do radium painted sights pose a challenge for people collecting them today? Because of the radioactive material?

    • iksnilol

      Pretty much. Radium is not something you want to be exposed to

      • Mud

        Radium has a half-life of 1600 years.

        • iksnilol

          Half-life isn’t the problem.

          Radium emits radon, which is the problem

          • Cymond

            I knew Radium emits dangerous radiation (forgot which kind), but never realized that the half life was so long. In other words, those sights are as deadly today as they were 70 years ago.

          • Jonathan Ferguson

            More deadly in fact, as the paint begins to crumble and flake.

  • Eric S

    There’s prolly a joke about how ‘rabid animals’ need to be put down, especially ones that enter your home uninvited.

  • 101nomad

    This is one choice I would pass on. I can hear the wheels turning, “Isn’t it bad enough they are making rifles, pistols and magazines of mass destruction? Now, they are making firearms for assassination of government officials too.” They ain’t gonna buy that “VP”. Don’t go rabid on me, just pointing out a potential problem down the road.

  • FourString

    Glad to see a piece from the UK. Would be nice to see more TFB posts written by individuals living in the UK, perhaps especially on firearms ownership.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      B&T is Swiss.

      • Rogier Velting

        I think he meant this: “Jonathan Ferguson is Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK.”

        • Julio

          The only context within which ordinary civilians can own pistols chambered for commercially available cartridges in the UK is “humane despatch” of domestic livestock or wounded deer. This gun would seem to fit the bill. I suspect the price would put most off though, as B&T are not known for the affordability of their products.

        • FourString

          Precisely. By ‘piece’ I meant the article not the firearm.

  • gamam

    It’s not an assassination pistol it’s a sentry removal pistol. That’s the only case where it would be useful since you only get one shot. Assassinations call for versatile weapons which this bolt action pistol clearly is not.

  • Michael

    Can we have one with a fake suppressor for sale in USA?
    Is this imported into America?

    • JumpIf NotZero

      How about one imported with no suppressor and you can skip all the fake crap about do the real deal?

      I’m not up to speed with import laws. I’m not sure if maybe they actually could import this because it’s not a semi auto, it’s a bolt gun. I have no idea if it fits in with the same “point system” that imported handguns are held to.

      • Geodkyt

        It’s still a handgun, and would have to be approved as “sporting” and have enough points on the import feature list (things like safety, “target sights”, etc.) to be approved for import.
        With a suppressor, it cannot be imported to the US for sale to regular citizens — only military and police sales. They would have to add a suppressor HERE for it to be “transferrable” to us peons.

  • guest

    Don’t like it, but kudos for B&T they really are an innovative company. They cans though (made of inconel) are built to survive both full auto fire and the apocalypse.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      … Rehashes a relic of the second world war… is called “innovative”

      :D

      • guest

        Relic or not, the concept is very useful (probably the quietest conventional ammunition shooting handgun, since it is manually reloaded).
        The choice is either that or silent ammunition, so yes, they are innovative because as far as I know nobody made anything similar since the origianal Welrod. Everything else is ATM regular guns with cans attached, which are still quite loud.

  • hydepark

    Is this something they actually plan on bringing to market, or is it just for publicity / engineering sake??

  • Lusaka

    Ironically humane dispatch would likely be the only way you could legally own one in the UK on a firearms licence.

  • Mystick

    While I like the concept, I would still rather have a Ruger Amphibian.

  • J

    That’s cool.

  • BOB

    NAZI soldiers? well, maybe some of them. Let’s not be overly broad with that brush with which we paint.

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      Sorry Bob, no offence intended. It was more a comment upon who they were fighting for at the time than any individual views. The German armed forces were under Nazi control and direction, therefore ‘Nazi soldiers’, and that’s certainly how they would have been viewed at the time, which was the context of my comment (i.e. how SOE/OSS would have considered shooting them as a form of ‘humane dispatch’. Perhaps the irony did not come across.

    • RocketScientist

      Oh Lord, not THIS old argument again. Yes, it is very true that not all (probably a minority?) of German soldiers in WWII were members of the Nazi party. But this is not what anyone means when they are referred to as nazi soldiers. They are referred to as nazi soldiers because they were soldiers fighting for nazi-controlled Germany. Much in the same way that no one is suggesting buildings or tanks or pistols or ships were members of the nazi party, but they are often referred to as nazi tanks, nazi headquarters, nazi lugers, nazi battleships, etc

      • BOB

        Thats the equivalent of saying “Republican Tanks, HQs, Berettas, Cruisers, etc.” National Socialist Party, come on. I have always referred to German weapons as what they are, German weapons, regardless of which time period they were used or produced in.

        • RocketScientist

          I agree 100% that you are technically correct. All I was/am saying is that in common usage, the vast majority of people use the term Nazi ______ in the context of military forces/tools/facilities to mean those of Germany during WWII, not to specify party affiliation. Just watch any documentary on the subject or read any book/article and count how many times they use that word construction. It may not be technically accurate, but it is one of those things that are in common usage, and commonly understood such that confusion rarely exists.

  • Pierangelo Tendas

    The opening picture comes from ALL4SHOOTERS.COM!

  • Avery

    Oh, wow, they’re marketing it as a literal “hush puppy”.