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My WW2 Handgun Collection

Discussion in 'Weapons' started by George Patton, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    It was a great thread. I find pistols (particularly auto pistols) more interesting than long guns. So many designs showed up in the 1900 - 1940 time frame, and all of them were trying to avoid patent infringement on other guns - even, in this case, Browning couldn't use his own swinging link design owned by Colt, so he used a cam to tilt the barrel. In that case it was one less part, so a success.

    It was interesting looking at your collection. It's surprising that they worked so well with so many patents to get around.
     
  2. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    It seems like every time I check in on this thread some of the photos aren't displaying. This time it was all the Hi Power photos. I trust everything shows up OK now?
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    GroFaz knows there is an issue with photos and is looking to resolve it.
     
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I hope you'll drop in after you shoot it and let us know the results.
     
  5. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    George, this thread has been a great pleasure to follow. Your photographs are well composed and informative and I particularly like your format of giving a history of the various models in general then a explanation of your particular piece. I applaude your diligence and patience. .

    When I was 15, 1955, I worked for a friend of my father named walther Craig of Selma, Alabama. He started out as a gun collector and grew into a retail and wholesale gun dealer. He bought lots of military surplus weapons , like a small version of Interarms. One of my jobs was to clean the cosmoline off hundreds of guns, decide if a gun was worthy of selling and if not salvage parts that could repair others. I got to handle, and shoot many WW2 issued weapons including all the pieces you have collected. If only one had foresight !!!

    Of all the ones you have shown I prefered the Highpower the most as it fit my small hands best and the 9 mm was easier for me to shoot. I ended up with one, an inner-war Belgium made piece that I removed the damnable magazine release from but keep it for resale. the Luger was everyone's historical favorite, a beautiful form, but I did not like shooting it. Toggle was more difficult that an slide, barrel too light to me and trigger odd.....but beautiful to my eye. Second favorite was the 1911, original Colts plentiful them but mostly rebuilt. Great feel but the 45 was a bit difficult to control given my size. the CZ had too long a reach and pull for my small hands but a fine gun, .

    You thread brought back many a fond memory, hours covered in grease, solvent, grime, guns and heaven ! A 15-16 year old boys dreams come true.

    I am down to a Sig 228, fine gun but arthritic hands are making it difficult, wish I had gotten a 225 instead but racking still a problem. Not sure what to buy now. A steel J Frame S&W looks promising. Looked at a older Colt Diamondback, very smooth, but poor built quality....last of those built by Colt. ( The Original Company)

    Sorry to go off topic but your thread was simply terrific....Now for the long guns. !!!!

    Gaines
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Of course you did! You are a smart man, even sagacious. So, like me, you know the P35 is the best gun ever made (as soon as you pull that stupid mag disconnect out).
     
  7. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    First thing I did !!!! I think you said it first and best but I have never had a pistol fit my hand so well....small hands and full size military autos do not usually go together so well. In hind sight I should have kept it , put in a set of Wulff springs and sold the 228 !! Then I would have earned your compliment :)
     
  8. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    I figured out the issue with the photos. Originally I used Photobucket, which I've used for years. Due to the popularity of this thread I exceeded my monthly bandwidth limit so I switched to OneDrive from Microsoft that I've used for file hosting for a couple years. That worked well and I had no issues with bandwidth. However, at the beginning of June they ceased using static URLs for photos in favour of dynamic URLs that change once per day. This is likely a economic move on Microsoft's part to discourage people from using OneDrive for file hosting. As a result the photos from the Hi Power will display for one day before becoming corrupted. Those photos posted before June still retain their static URLs. As a temporary solution I've switched the Hi-Power photos back to Photobucket.

    I will look into reactivating my old website to use exclusively for file hosting as I still own the domain and pay for a sizeable bandwidth limit, even though the site has been offline for almost 2 years now.
     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Professor, everybody in the world (outside the US) seemed to think the P35 was finest pistol ever. It fits everybody. I have average to large hands and it fits me. And it's as close to 100% reliable as any auto pistol ever made. The early ones, like George has, have slightly humped feed ramps so they have trouble feeding a very few wide-mouthed hollowpoints. They changed the ramp in the late 60's and they'll feed anything now. Yet, even my old Argentine P35 clone with a humped feed ramp will feed 90% of the hollowpoints on the market today. Slug designs changed about twenty years back and they began looking for hollowpoints with better feed profiles. Almost all of them will feed with 100% reliability even with the old ramp because they've figured out how to narrow the front of the slug and still get reliable expansion.

    The real test with any handgun is to pick a target and without indexing the sights - eyes completely focused on the target - draw and pull the trigger (unloaded gun), then focus down the sights when you hear the "click." If those sights are lined up, then you have perfect alignment, fit, ergonomics, whatever you want to call it. The Hi-Power will do that.

    I'm a little disappointed that more of our British and Commonwealth friends haven't chimed in on this pistol. Most of them must have trained with it or even carried it in service and I'd like to hear about their experiences with it. Very few Americans have ever shot one.
     
  10. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    I had the "Grande Puissance" from Fabrique Nationale as a service gun, we were trained on it but we hardly ever carried it! It was a rugged and reliable handgun, with an excellent precision, it's a handgun as good ad the 1911A1. I won't touch the .45ACP vs. 9mm Pb. issue, both calibers have their pros and cons, for a normal, average "user" both are equally well suited.

    But when it comes to WWI - WWII handguns I am a sucker for the1911A1! It's something purely subjective though!
     
  11. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    If forced to go with full metal jacket slugs (Hague convention), the 1911 (.45acp) may well have the advantage when you hit your opponent. But... only hits count and I think nearly everyone would get more hits with a P35.

    I own them both and shoot them both and like them both. With modern hollowpoints, I think the P35 begins to have a real advantage.

    The Czechs copied the P35 ergonomics in their CZ75 series, only with a heavy first-shot double-action trigger. Now, they've released a Single Action trigger version that is in almost in every way a P35, at much lower cost. A new FN Hi-Power will set you back about $1000 here in the US. A new CZ75 Single Action can be found for under $400.
     
  12. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    New purchase today: a Chinese Contract Inglis Hi Power (one of the ones with the tangent sight). I'll post pictures and a writeup when I recieve it.

    Fine Print: This purchase was in no way influenced by the Hi Power propaganda machine that is KodiakBeer
     
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  13. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Hell froze over and I broke out my camera to take photos of my Inglis Hi Power:
    [​IMG]

    Background:

    Since the development of the Hi Power, and production in Belgium, was already covered on Page 3 I won't repeat that here. Let's pick up in Canada:

    A Chinese government delegation visited Canada in 1941 to shop for arms and ammunition. One of the parties they met with the John Inglis Company in Toronto, Ontario. Inglis was tooling up to begin production of the Bren light machine gun and the Chinese placed an order for a version in 8mm Mauser. Although Inglis was not manufacturing handguns, an inquiry was made about purchasing pistols. Inglis said they were willing to manufacture them. The Chinese delegation proceeded to place an official request for a Canadian-manufactured copy of the FN Hi Power (China was familiar with the design, and had several thousand on order from FN at the outbreak of war), and a formal agreement to supply arms was signed in 1943. After a rather interesting political back-and-forth, Inglis recieved permission to manufacture the Hi Power under license from FN's exiled staff then stationed in England. Test pistols were ready in early 1944, and production for China began immediately thereafter. These "Chinese Contract" Hi Powers had a tangent rear sight and slot for a shoulder stock in the backstrap. Serial numbers included "CH" (of the form "xCHxxxx") to indicate the customer. In September 1944, as a result of a number of factors including pressure from American CBI Theatre Commander Joseph Stillwell and the expanding civil war between the Nationalist and Communist Chinese factions, the contract was cancelled. Approximately 4000 pistols were sent to China.

    While this was occurring, the Canadian Army - then equipped with American 1911s/1911A1 and British Enfield/Webley revolvers - took note and a request was made to acquire the new Inglis Hi Powers. By late 1944 and agreement was reached to recall the revolvers then in service and replace them with the Inglis Hi Powers. Due to the cancellation of the Chinese contract, some 15000 "CH" pistols remained in Canada. SOE (Special Operations Executive) procured 6000 of these, and the remained were issued to the Canadian Army. These pistols were designated the Mk1. Production of a purpose-designed "Canadian" model began at this time. Known as the No2, it lacked the tangent sight and shoulder stock slot but was otherwise identical. Approximately 90,000 were made. All of these featured a "T" in the serial number (of the form "xTxxxx"). These "T" series circulated into Europe and were used by Commonwealth forces.

    A second Chinese contract (also with tangent sights and shoulder stocks) was delivered in late 1945, and thus production of the "Chinese Contract" pistols continued until October 1945. These were mechanically identical to the first Chinese Contract, with some differences in markings.

    By the end of 1945, Inglis had ceased production of firearms and returned to their pre-war business of kitchen appliances. The Inglis Hi Powers continued to see use in China - then in the midst of a civil war that would eventually see the Communists come to power - and with the Canadian military. The tangent sight models procured from the Chinese contract were phased out of Canadian service, and inventory was standardized to the "T" series. The Inglis Hi Power remains the standard side arm of the Canadian Armed Forces to this day! I should emphasize that these are the original 1944 and 1945 produced pistols -- no new models were ordered from FN. This is truly a testament to the durability and excellence of the Hi Power design. I've heard talk on and off about replacing the Hi Powers but nothing ever seems to come of it. The last I heard was that it was to be replaced with the Sig P226 or the Glock. As an unashamed Sig aficionado you know what I'd recommend.

    My Pistol:

    My Hi Power belongs to the "second" Chinese contract and was made in 1945. This pistol was shipped to China in mid 1945, and made its way back to Canada years later. The pistol is in excellent mechanical condition with an excellent barrel. The grips have some chips - as you'd expect with these early synthetics (chipped USGI 1911 grips are also common) - and the finish is shows some scratches. These pistols were refinished in China, and it appears that some type of paint-like substance was used. The finish is rather thin and scratches easily. As an interesting aside, the parts are interchangeable between the Belgian (and German occupation Hi Powers) and Inglis Hi Powers. You'd of course expect that the parts would look the same, but I imagined that some of machining tolerances would be different and as such they wouldn't be interchangeable. Turns out I was wrong!

    Inglis Hi Powers are not uncommon in Canada and tend to command a premium for the "local connection". The "CH" series are more uncommon than the "T" series, and command slightly higher prices on average. The shoulder stocks are harder to find than the pistols but in the weeks after I purchased this I acquired an original one. Approximately 30,000 were produced by the Canadian company "Small Arms Limited" (located near Toronto) between 1944 and 1945. My particular example is dated 1945. Low-quality Indian counterfeits are out there and are often passed off as originals.

    Onto some photos. I'm limited on Canadian militaria, so I've thrown in some British .303 and 9mm rounds. If you recall, I received an Inglis Hi Power holster and spare magazine with my German Hi Power. This has been acquisitioned and is now the prefect match for this gun.

    As you can see, the controls and appearance is identical to the Belgian Hi Powers. Without even looking at the markings or finish an easy way to tell a prewar/wartime Belgian production model apart from an Inglis model is that the Inglis pistols always used plastic grips.
    [​IMG]

    Profile view. Note the lanyard ring on the base of the frame, and the tangent sight. Proper holster is to the left.
    [​IMG]

    Detail of the tangent sight. The sight is marked in 50m increments; from 50m to 500m. For those unfamiliar with tangent sights on handguns, it is essentially a miniature rifle sight. A 50m zero is standard, but the logic behind a military handgun sight being adjustable to half a kilometer is questionable.
    [​IMG]

    Detail of the marking on the slide. "MK. 1*" is on the first row, followed by "Browning FN 9MM HP Inglis Canada" on the second row.
    [​IMG]

    Adding the shoulder stock makes for a handy little carbine (what we'd today call a "Personal Defense Weapon"). Stocked pistols were not unusual from the mid to late 1800s through to the 1920s -- C96 "Broomhandles" and Lugers are common examples. However, the Chinese stuck to the idea for about 25 years after it fell out of favour in the West. To my knowledge, these Chinese Contract Hi Powers were the last military handguns to come standard with a stock. With the stock, the prospect of a sight adjustable to 500m is a bit more understandable, but you'd better be a damn good shot if you expect to hit a man-sized target with this at that distance!
    [​IMG]

    Now for the interesting thing -- the stock doubles as a holster. The inside is hollowed out to permit the Hi Power to be carried inside. A hinged lid keeps it secure, and unlocks via a catch and the metal button seen on the stock near the pistol hammer. You can also see the stock slot in the backstrap -- the stock slides into this and is locked in place by a tensioned lever (seen in the previous photo, just behind the back edge of butt of the frame). I've tried carrying it holstered, and it is far less comfortable than a standard canvas or leather military holster (far too clunky, bulky and heavy). If nothing else it is a nice example of quality 1940s woodworking!
    [​IMG]

    Finally, one of the pistol in the "holster". The canvas strap is how you connect it to your belt.
    [​IMG]

    How does it shoot?

    I took this to the range a couple weeks ago. Its accurate and has very nice balance. Again, like the German example the trigger is not the best due to the magazine disconnect but I can live with that in a military handgun. I was concerned over the prospect of getting "bit" by the hammer, but it really is not a problem if you hold it properly. I will say that shooting it with the stock is uncomfortable. Recoil is next to nothing and it feels solid. However, the length of the stock is too show and I have large hands so don't find there's enough "real estate" left on the grip when the stock is attached. I was at my pistol range which is only 25m, so I'll have to go to a rifle range to see how it shoots at longer distances. I neglected to take a photo of the target (I'll do it next time) because I was too busy with my beautiful "new" nickel 6.5" Smith and Wesson Model 29-2 but that's totally off topic :) .


    Up next: Finnish Lahti L35 and another Nambu Type 14
     
  14. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    Magnificent!
     
  15. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    When you do shoot the pistol at longer ranges you'll find the standard 25 meter zero is adequate at 100 meters. I think, on paper, the drop is 4 or 5 inches (100 or 125mm) but since fixed sights in military pistols are generally sighted about two inches high, you're pretty close to the mark at 100 yards/meters. It will be interesting to see what you can do with that tangent sight at longer ranges. I'll bet you still get hits at 300 yards and beyond in windless conditions.
     
  16. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I would like to be a bit younger for a number of reasons but clearly one would be to get aq P 35 exactly like you have shown and be able to shoot it properly.. the commercial models make more sense, but the military guns are covered in history !
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    AIM Surplus generally has old P-35's in inventory at very reasonable prices. They have different types at different times, but this is the current inventory: http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=F1FNHP
     
  18. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    The GP 35 is one of the greats, without a doubt. A round nearly as hard-hitting as the .45 with nearly twice the magazine capacity of the M1911 is hard to beat. I have heard that the M1911 could be tiring to hold in the hand, but I haven't heard that about the 35. No negative comments at all, in fact. Of the military-size automatic pistols of that era I'd go for a 35 or a Colt Super .38 over anything else.
     
  19. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Another year, another post! Here we come to the Finnish Lahti L-35.

    [​IMG]

    Background:

    Finland is a relatively recent country by anyone's standards; just celebrating the 100th anniversary of its independence this year. After a civil war and other internal unrest, in 1918 Finland began the process of modernizing her army. The Finnish inventory at the time consisted entirely of Imperial Russian era weaponry, with Nagant M1895 revolvers being standard issue (see one of my earlier posts for a writeup on the Nagant). Realizing that the Nagant was a horrid handgun, Finland procured pistols from foreign powers in the 1920s including a quantity of Lugers from Germany and Ruby pistols from France. By 1929 - following the opening of two arsenals - the focus had shifted to domestic weapons production and the Finnish Army issued a request for a pistol which was to be made in Finland, and designed to function in the harsh winter climate. Aimo Lahti, a prominent Finnish self-taught weapons designer and army officer, responded by starting work on a unique design. Six years later, in 1935, the Lahti L-35 was finished (pun intended), and entered service that same year.

    Although having some visual similarities with a Luger, the "Lahti" is a completely distinct weapon. Like the Luger, the Lahti used the conventional recoil operated locked breech principle and was chambered in 9x19mm. However, while the Luger used a toggle-lock the Lahti used a bolt and sliding "locking block" much like a Bergmann-Bayard. When "in battery" (i.e.ready to shoot) the locking block locks the bolt and slide together. When fired the recoil pushes the slide, bolt and locking block backwards. The locking block is cammed upward via a cam track in the frame, which allows the bolt to become unlocked and recoil back freely. It is then returned to battery by spring tension.

    Remember that "function in the harsh winter climate" requirement? Well, Lahti addressed that by including a bolt accelerator in the design. There are two factors at play: in cooler temperatures the combustive forces in the cartridge is reduced, and friction between the slide, frame and bolt is likely to be increased compared to a more mild climate. The bolt accelerator is a small crank lever which acts as a "kicker". When fired, as the slide recoils the bolt accelerator pivots against the frame and imparts a strong "kick" to the bolt. The best way to see this demonstrated is visually, so here is an excellent graphic: http://candrsenal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Swedish-Pistol-Lahti-m-40.gif

    The Lahti was in production from 1935 through 1951,with approximately 9000 being produced. Of these approximately 6000 were completed by mid 1944, when the war ended for Finland. While a big and heavy gun -- weighing in at nearly 3 pounds! -- the Lahti was superbly accurate and reliable, and was a popular gun in the Finnish military.

    The design was also licensed to Sweden, where approximately 90,000 were produced by Husqvarna and designated the m/40.

    My Pistol:

    My Lahti was one of the last wartime guns made, putting the production date sometime early to mid 1944. Mechanical condition is excellent, but with some honest finish wear like you would expect from an issued sidearm. The manufacturing quality is absolutely superb and puts any modern gun to shame. Everything is tight and smooth. It is for lack of a better phrase, built like a brick shithouse. Overbuilt and overdesigned, overly large and heavy, but a fantastic piece to handle and shoot.

    In Canada - as in the US - Finnish Lahtis are very difficult to find even when compared to the Swedish Husqvarna m/40s. There are several Lahti variations which I won't get into here, but I was looking for a proper non-refurbished wartime example for about 5 years before coming across this one. There are 66 registered in Canada (a country of ~35 million people) so this gives you an idea of the relative scarcity.

    As usual, onto some photos. In the photos you'll see a Finnish M91 Mosin Nagant bayonet with scabbard (note that the Russians did not issue M91 bayonets with scabbards, nor did the Soviets with the M91/30), a KP/31 SMG magazine, a couple rounds of 1944 production Finnish 7.62x54mmR ammo and a handful of modern 9mm ammo.

    The Lahti is a massive gun, weighing in at about 3lbs loaded and being over 9" long. However, balance is excellent and it naturally "points" with your hand due to the use of the "Luger" type grip angle.
    [​IMG]

    The Lahti sports a big, heavy 4.6" long barrel. One unique feature of the design is a loaded chamber indicator (see the small elevated rectangular section on top of the base of the barrel - the center bar will lift up when a cartridge is under it to provide the user with a visual indication that the gun is loaded and ready to fire).
    [​IMG]

    Looking down at the top of the pistol. This thing is wide and chunky.
    [​IMG]

    The pistol with the bolt open. To manually manipulate the bolt, two knurled gripping surfaces are provided on the rear. Note that the slide is in the "unlocked" position, having traveled back a few millimeters. Note that there is a slot cut to accept a detachable wooden stock. The stocks are extremely rare, with only a few hundred having been produced before the idea was abandoned. Regardless, all Lahtis retained the cutout.
    [​IMG]

    The pistol disassembled. Disassembly is a breeze; rotate or remove the disassembly lever at the front of the frame (this is the "L" shaped object in front of the frame; this sits in the hole above the trigger guard), push the slide forward off of the frame, and drop the bolt out the back of the slide. You can see the bolt accelerator towards the front of the slide just above the trigger guard of the frame. A manual safety takes the form of a rotating lever on the top right corner of the grip.
    [​IMG]

    How does it shoot?

    Like you'd expect a big 3lb pistol to shoot. Essentially no felt recoil, very little muzzle rise, very easy to hold on target and superbly accurate. This is without question my favourite military handgun to shoot at the range. Here's a typical grouping at 25 yards. I am by no means a great marksman and no doubt some here could do much better, but comparing it to some of my other targets will give you a good idea about how the accurate of this pistol compares.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
  20. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I did not realize how few Finnish guns were produced, especially war era guns. I have only seen one Swedish version at a gun show. You have a rare gun in fine shape.
    The size and weight astounded me ! I am small of statue and it would be a two hand shoot for me , which was not popular back then. It is wonderful to see guns of that era's fit and finish, excepting the wartime German and Japanese late production. I had a 1939 Luger, strawed, blued and walnut that was a finely made gun.. Even a current S&W 41 does not come close.

    But nearly 48 ounces !!!!! I would need a mono shooting stick !!! :)

    Gaines
     

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