Blast from the Past: DeLisle Commando Carbine

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This post is part of two others, about a recent range outing with some very historically interesting small arms, the DeLisle commando carbine, the M50 Reising submachine gun, and the Russian PM1910 Maxim heavy machine gun. All of these are NFA items (either Class III or suppressed) and the owner was extremely kind enough to take me out and blow over a thousand rounds through his small arms.

The DeLisle commando carbine was one of the more fascinating special operations firearms to have emerged out of World War Two. It was reputed to be the quietest of any suppressed firearm used during the war. However despite its lofty reputation, only under two hundred were produced during the war, the majority being used by British special forces behind enemy lines.

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Essentially the rifle was a Lee Enfield No.1 SMLE cut in half, welded to a giant baffle system that was then mated to a .45 ACP magazine well that took 1911 magazines. The action being a bolt action design, commandos could fire a round at an enemy target, and not have to worry about the spent shell casing being discovered if all they needed was that one round on target. It was supposed to be used for covert operations out to 200 meters or so. The biggest limitation being the .45 ACP round itself, terminal ballistics and accurate round placement falling in efficiency as the range increased. There were 9x19mm, .22 LR, and Airborne collapsable stock versions and prototypes made, however these were never as successful as the .45 ACP version that was adopted and used by British SOE.

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If you want to learn more about the DeLisle, Historical Firearms has an excellent post on it, in addition to this article reproduced online from Gung Ho magazine.

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The DeLisle that I shot wasn’t an original, but instead a very faithful NFA reproduction done by Valkyerie Arms, LTD in Olympia, Washington. They produced 167 total, similar to the total amount of serviceable DeLisles that are estimated to have been made during World War Two. The company has even gone so far as to actually cut down a No.1 SMLE to stay faithful to the design. An interesting thing to note about their Delisle is that you need two NFA forms for the rifle, the SBR form, and the suppressor form.

Shooting the DeLisle was a fascinating experience despite two setbacks. Ever since I heard about the rifle through my gun books, I’ve always wanted to get my hands on an actual suppressed one, as there have been a number of dummy suppressed DeLisle rifles produced by various gunsmiths over the years.

Original Delisle from the Pattern Room in Leeds, UK

Original Delisle from the Pattern Room in Leeds, UK

Original Delisle from the Pattern Room in Leeds, UK

Original Delisle from the Pattern Room in Leeds, UK

Original Delisle from the Pattern Room in Leeds, UK

Original Delisle from the Pattern Room in Leeds, UK

At first appearances, the rifle was much heavier than anticipated (8 pounds, 4 ounces). All that wood and steel added up! However, handling it was simple, easy to bring up to my shoulder and acquire the sights. The safety was a traditional No.1 rotating safety on the left of the bolt. The reproduction had two problems though. First, the chambering of the rounds was very rough, and probably could have used some polishing up, as working the round from magazine to chamber turned out to be a chore. Second, the reproduction started having baffle strikes sometime during the range event. We noticed something was wrong when one, the rifle wasn’t grouping well on paper at 50 meters at all, and two, the suppressor started filling up with shards and cut jackets of the bullets passing through it. You could tell because it made a ruffling sound inside whenever the rifle was moved up and down, then we actually were able to pour all the shards out from the opening of the suppressor! At this point, we ceased all firing, and made the action clear.

However, the cute little thing, was wevy wevy quiet!

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Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Slim934

    Wevy wevy?

    Did we mean “vewy vewy”?

    • Tassiebush

      It was the Nordic use of w

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    For an interesting history of Allied agents behind enemy lines in Europe I suggest this book…

    https://www.amazon.com/Man-Called-Intrepid-Incredible-Narrative/dp/159921170X

  • Paul White

    I’d hate to try a 200 yard shot with a 45 ACP. Dang.

    • Anonymoose

      Much easier with a rifle.

      • iksnilol

        .45 acp still has sucky ballistics past 100 meters,

        • DIR911911 .

          what subsonic handgun round doesn’t ?

          • iksnilol

            The non-subsonic rounds.

            7.62×25 for instance is viable at 200 meters.

          • David F. Podesta

            5.7X28 will go through body armor at 100 yds.

        • Evan

          .45ACP will throw a man across a room at 500 yards. Everyone knows that. It can also take out tanks.

          • Dan

            Not to mention the possible injury to the shooter. .45ACP is a nasty round to people on both ends of the gun.

            I ended up in the ER just handling the rounds.

          • Evan

            That’s not what Hollywood told me…

          • iksnilol

            True, but that is within a 100 meter.

          • jcitizen

            I used to shoot at railroad tracks at more that 1/2 mile downhill from my farm, with my ’28 Thompson and a 10″ barrel. I didn’t have to raise the artillery sights very high to actually hit the rock bed in a surprisingly small beaten zone; but then a sub gun is not supposed to be all that accurate at full auto.

          • David F. Podesta

            Well, not quite, but a near-miss can kill a man too. haha

      • Harry’s Holsters

        While much easier with a rifle with only 10 rounds only I think I could hit it quicker with a 9mm handgun. But once I got the hold with a rifle it would be easy pickings.

    • Andrew Miller

      100 yards with a 1911 pistol is do-able, just have to start “walking” the rounds, figure out how much front sight needs to be above the rear sight, and have an aiming point with easy feedback like a milk jug.

      Plus a book to read while the bullet travels its 300 feet.

      • David F. Podesta

        Wouldn’t all that walking of rounds and creating bullet hit puffs visible to everyone sort of negate the need for a suppressor? The idea is 1-shot close-up kills Bada-Bing!

        • Andrew Miller

          Well, ideally you’ve already sighted it in at the target range before trying it out on a potential two way range.

  • Vitsaus

    In before some one demands a company reproduces these guns for sub – $500, makes them take Glock mags, chambers it for (fill in random favorite caliber), and takes AR15 furniture.

    • Anonymoose

      I’d stick some Wilson 10-rounders in it.

    • iksnilol

      Savage could probably make something like that. Just their generic short action with adapter for pistol ammo and mags.

      • Porty1119

        I’d like that very much. In .45 and takes 1911 magazines, factory iron sights, wood furniture available, and MSRP at or below $500. If there’s any company that could do it at that price point, it’s Savage.

        • Paul White

          sign me up! some 10 round mccormicks and it’d be a hoot

      • Badwolf

        Yes it should be doable. Just a simple bolt action, but in pistol caliber and pistol mags like you said. To make it cheaper, you can have a threaded barrel, let the buyer provide his own suppressor. And make it compatible with ar stock, but leave it out, let the buyer provide that as well.

        • AlDeLarge

          That gets away from the point of an integral suppressor, which is the biggest attraction, for me anyway.

          • Badwolf

            non integral is just my suggestion for people who want it cheaper.

    • Evan

      I demand that the company reproduce these in that European 9x21mm caliber, with a picatinny rail, taking Glock mags, and all for $450.

    • BillC

      I DEMAND ONE IN 10MM AND IT TAKE GLOCK MAGS! I ALSO WANT IT SEMI-AUTO AND USE AR15 GRIPS, TRIGGERS, AND ADJUSTABLE STOCKS!!!!! IT MUST HAVE MIL-STD-1913 RAIL, KEYMOD, AND M-LOK!!11!!11!!

    • Bob

      I want one exactly like the original, except maybe with a rail or two, but to make up for my lack of imagination, let’s make it only $200. Then I’ll buy one.

      • Nashvone

        High Point?

  • Evan

    I hope the Lee-Enfield they chopped down for this had already been ruined by being sporterized or some such idiocy. It would be a shame to hack up a nice one. Still, pretty cool.

    • DIR911911 .

      brand new at the factory with a rusty hacksaw . . . how’s that image? 🙂

      • Evan

        Not good. Not good at all.

    • Porty1119

      I don’t really see it as that much of a travesty, if the rifle is being used to replicate one of its historically-significant contemporaries.

      • Evan

        That’s why I’m not up in arms like I’d be if they decided to put some idiotic M4 stock and a quad rail or some such nonsense on it. Still, there are plenty of butchered Lee-Enfield “sporters” and the like out there, and I would prefer if they used those than destroy more rifles that hadn’t been wrecked already.

  • Pete – TFB Writer

    Yes! Thank you. I would love to own one of these.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    How smooth was the action feeding the 45?

  • Kivaari

    I was lucky enough to visit the Valkyrie factory. These DeLisles are better made than the originals. The outer sleve has steel with welded on sights while the original used aluminum and rivets. The barrels instead of being made from cut down Thomson SMG barrels were made from new blanks so the threads were complete. The baffles are titanium and much more durable than the aluminum originals. The workmanship is first rate.

    • claymore

      So what caused the baffle strikes?

      • Kivaari

        Poor alignment. I can’t explain her decrease in quality. People can start out well, and then drop. She has developed a reputation that wasn’t evident when I visted her shop several times. I saw attention to detail and very high quality work. You should take it up with her.

    • SGT Fish

      LOL! except for when they forget to put the baffles in and not porting the barrels, as well as the numerous other complaints buyers had. Not to mention the Hand crank mini-gun that was never delivered…

      • Kivaari

        I have heard some reports that her quality has slipped and that deliveries have gone poorly. Too bad when I visited her shop the place was well organized and left me impressed.

  • andrey kireev

    That’s pretty neat !

  • Audie Bakerson

    Call your congressman and senators to demand NFA repeal. Then everyone can have one.

  • I love the DeLisle carbine. I actually put one (a modern replica) into my first novel, as it made sense as a very simple, very quiet urban sniper’s weapon.

  • Eric S

    I acquired one of the non silenced Rhineland Arms/Century conversations a while back, it’s one of my favorite guns too shoot (when the magazine stays in). We need more bolt action pistol caliber carbines.

    • Gunner4guy

      A re-birth of the ‘Destroyer’ carbine but with modern materials, interchangeable parts and magazines from current handguns(Glock, Sig, etc.).

  • J0shua

    Good article, very cool firearm.

  • Frank Stratton

    As is usual most of the comments miss the reality of the war and abysmal lack of real world experience. I used one of these in British Honduras/ guatamala in the 70s. First you need true combat skills. Second you need to understand the limits of your equipment.
    I normally stay out of these “expert” comments. Just read it on a bad night.
    We updated this a long time ago with the Ruger 77 in 44mag using 44 spl loads.
    Still like the original .45. But I’m an old fart that uses and builds 1911s. One of only two pistols that has been in combat world wide. The other is the Browning high power. Used many other guns from other countries. But go back to these in updated versions.

    • David F. Podesta

      My Remington Rand 1911 saved my bacon several times. It never failed from lack of maintenance, dirt, mud, etc.

  • Gunner4guy

    Got to handle one of these at APG in the mid-70’s but the person who could authorize me to shoot it was on leave at the time. The action was smooth, rifle was slightly butt-heavy but I liked the balance, the finish and stock looked near new as well. Seem to recall hearing they’d just gotten it in along with some other weaponry from an un-named Asian country and it’d just been refurbished so that may be why it seemed newish.

  • ThatOneChap

    Armalon used to make a nice range of gallery rifles based on the Enfield action in very much the same set up as the De Lisle, albeit without moderators. I’ve seen one chambered in 9mm that used Glock magazines, for instance. Currently not in production though and certainly was not on the market for under $500.