Best sidearm of Great War

Discussion in 'World War I' started by The Basket, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You had an awful lot of NIH. (not invented here). The Germans had the 9mm parabellum. and despite much of the hype in gun magazines there isn't that much difference between the 9mm and .45. the 9mm has a higher velocity and flatter trajectory which makes hitting at a distance easier but since armies never give enough pistol training this advantage disappeared in reality.

    French theory in both pistol and submachine gun cartridges and weapons is totally unfathomable to a non-Frenchman. AN awful lot of time and money spent on some of the least effective weapons of their class.

    That covers the two largest European armies.

    The "famous German inter war pistols were .380 ACP" were blowback pocket pistols. Used in service because of shortages, distance from the actual fighting and weight/size requirements. Like issuing to pilots/aircrew who were very unlikely to fire their pistols at another aircraft in flight. They were also issued to tank crewmen who are also very unlikely to fire them in combat unless forced to bail out of their tank.

    By the way I have owned a Walther PP in .32 ACP, (Ex West German Police pistol) a Mauser 1914, a Colt pocket auto, and a Beretta 948. which is an aluminum framed model 94 in .22 caliber. Yes you can carry them in a holster on a belt with a spare magazine but trying to use them in combat against powerful service pistols?

    I would also note that the British commonwealth used over 500,000 S & W revolvers in WW II. Chambered for .38/200 like the between war Enfield and Webley, so the issuing of non-standard pistols to some forces doesn't mean that the weapons were considered first choice by the armed forces involved.
    The US Navy and Marines also issued the same revolver to aircrews in WW II and in fact a few leftover revolvers were issued to National Guard Air tanker crews during Desert Storm. Sure doesn't mean anybody really thought the old S&W 10 was the equal of the Beretta 92/M9.
    It meant there weren't enough M9s and viable .45 1911s left in inventory.

    I would also note that of those "famous German inter war pistols" three of them were double action pistols. You could carry them with the hammer down on a loaded chamber with the safety in the off position and a simple long pull on the trigger would cock the hammer and fire the pistol. But in regards to this thread (Great War) they didn't exist.
    And I am not convinced that carrying a 1914 Mauser "cocked and locked" was really a very good idea.
     
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  2. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    It's far easier to train raw recruits on a low powered weapon. Better a low powered hit than a high powered miss.
     
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  3. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    C-96 was perhaps the first modern pistol to be so converted, but nearly all pistols are more or less capable of some form of adaptation to carbine

    Pistol Carbine Goes Mainstream
     
  4. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    Of course i’m not saying that pistols have not practical value in a war…

    From wiki
    “The optimum operating crew of an MG 42 for sustained fire operation was six men: the gun commander, the No.1 who carried and fired the gun, the No.2 who carried the tripod, and Nos. 3, 4, and 5 who carried ammunition, spare barrels, entrenching tools, and other items. For additional protection the commander, No.1 and No.2 were armed with pistols, while the remaining three carried rifles. This large team was often reduced to just three: the gunner, the loader (also barrel carrier), and the spotter. The gunner of the weapon was preferably a junior non-commissioned officer (or Unteroffizier).” (My bold)

    Germans Generals probably found Walther P38 more than adequate to the task.
     
  5. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    The C96 wasn't modern.
    Ok it was modern in concept but it was quickly outdated and only worked at its best as a carbine.
    The design wasn't copied and quickly outdated
     
  6. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    IIRC Winston Churchill in his memories talks about how C96 saved his life in the Battle of Omdurman, but more than once complains of how heavy C96 was with all its gadgets.
    Apparently Lawrence of Arabia used a C96 as well.
    Webley was not fashionable between British Officers, or so it seems.
    In Italy C96 was adopted enthusiastically by Regia Marina. I can imagine: sailors, generally, don't not have to march like Infantry...
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    How many German generals actually made use of a pistol, other than a means to end it all when things didn't go well.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Most armies didn't give enough training for the caliber to really matter, It was a rare army indeed that allowed even 50 rounds of pistol ammo per soldier on an annual basis. And most of the low powered pocket pistols had small sights, closer together and small grips.
    [​IMG]
    Plastic finger rest on the bottom of the magazine is for the little finger. Often the spare magazine does not have it and depending on the size of the hand the little finger catches the edge of the bottom of the frame or goes under it.
    Try holding a pistol with the 2 middle fingers and pulling the trigger with the fore finger. The little finger may not seem like much but it does help.
    There were a variety of sub-caliber conversions for Webleys and a few other pistols. Reduced power ammunition for training was also a possibility for training if an army was serious about it. Most were not.

    Soldiers may not have been well educated in ballistics but some once said that when faced with an armed adversary intent on killing you any weapon you can pick up with two hands is going to seem too small.

    Back to the great war. This is a Mauser 1914
    [​IMG]
    See the lever and the button behind the trigger?
    Push the lever down to put on safe. push the button and the safety flies up and off.
    The pistol is striker fired and striker protrudes out the back slightly when cocked.
    There are no other safety mechanisms.

    Pocket pistols are not service pistols.
     
  9. soulezoo

    soulezoo Active Member

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    That's a nice PP you have there SR6. Assuming of course that's yours.
     
  10. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I would have to see figures that British officers used broomhandles during ww1. They were usually limited to Webley 455 rounds. The C96 was surprisingly long lived in the Chinese civil wars and even were copied by the Spanish. Coz after all it's a very iconic gun.
    Did the 1911 have a shoulder stock version? If memory serves FN pistols did. Pretty much all pistols of the 1900s decade offered shoulder stocks. So would have to assume the 1911 had likewise.

    Walther did have a very successful pistol in the war the model 4. Simple blowback in 32 ACP. I gets the feeling that pistols were more swag than shooters.
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Not mine, Mine has more holster wear.
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You know you can google some of this stuff fairly easily.
    [​IMG]

    And this brings out some of the problems with pistol/carbines.

    1, you need a large, heavy and clunky stock and while the idea of using the stock as a holster sounds good you wind up with something that few soldiers really want strapped to their belt all day long.
    2. you get a screwed up sight picture. The pistol sights were meant to be used at arms length or close to it and bringing the rear sight back to just a few inches in front of the eye means that the rear sight notch/grove appears much too wide for the front sight meaning less precise aiming.
    3. Unless you use a complicated sight like the Mauser or artillery Luger the curved trajectory of pistols means they are very hard to hit with at long range, long for these weapons being 150-200 yds. If sighted for 100 meters a 9mm Luger bullet is about 12 cm high at 50 meters and about 40cm low at 150 meters, at 200 meters it is 116cm low. The .45 is even worse.
    If you have fixed sight pistol the sights are usually set at 25yds/meters and very rarely at 50. This means the drop at ranges over 100yds/meters are even more pronounced.

    Now I will note that changing to a longer barrel with a 1911 is a matter of minutes should you have one available. Changing the barrel on the Luger or C96 requires a gunsmith.
    I would also note that in carbine form you can't hold the barrel of any of these guns without chancing malfunctions as anything that slows down the recoil of the barrel may screw things up.
     
  13. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I would assume the shoulder stock on the 1911 was a civilian add on as not got details of its military use.
    The 45 ACP doesn't come across as a long range round. Bit too fat.
    So...the Lange Pistole artillery Luger with 32 round Trommel Magazin and shoulder stock offered plenty of trench goodness.
     
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  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It offered trench goodness but you couldn't turn a standard Luger into an artillery model in the Field or even in a unit (battalion) armory.

    The snail drum magazine was not cheap and it was hard to reload, it needed a special tool to fully reload against the stiff magazine spring/s.

    The Snail drum was a rather specialized bit of equipment.
    [​IMG]
    5 magazines, loader and boxed ammo in a wooden crate. There were leather belt pouches to hold the magazines.

    had anybody wished to devote the same manufacturing effort into turning another semi-automatic pistol into a trench gun it probably could have been done.

    [​IMG]
    Extended Magazines for the .45 did exist and fitting a shoulder stock was not a big trick. You need a new main spring housing
    [​IMG]
    machined to fit the stock attachment of your choice.
    [​IMG]

    There is nothing in that picture that could not have been made in WW I.

    None of these pistol rounds are "long range". Best of the Bunch is the 7.63 Mauser and then you have a 86 grain .308/9 bullet at about 1400fps compared to the WW II American carbine round of 110 grains and .308 diameter but at around 1990fps and it wasn't that great over 200 yds.
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what you consider long range with a pistol , but 100 yards would be it for me.
    At that range don't count a .45 out.
    Pistol barrels, Federal FMJ
    9mm initial MV 1160 fps, 345 ft. lbs 100 yards 960 fps, 250 ft. lbs.
    .45 initial MV 850 fps, 370 ft. lbs. 100 yards 770 fps, 305 ft. lbs.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You can hit at long ranges but it takes lots of practice, good sights and either knowing the distance or taking ranging shots.
    One of the most famous long range pistol shooters was Elmer Keith, and american gun writer who helped develop the .44 magnum.

    [​IMG]
    he also used special front sights.
    [​IMG]
    something like this to help with the proper elevation without using screwdrivers on the rear sight.

    laying down or sitting with the back supported can help a lot but hardly practical for most combat. try googling 'long range pistol postions'
     
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  17. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I've read of Elmer Kieth's abilities with pistols before, not many people are going to approach the accuracy with a pistol he had.

    I carried a M3 ( grease gun) as a E&E weapon in the chopper for a while. With practice, and work on the sights, it was acceptable at 100, sorta at 200. It's 8 inch barrel helped speed the .45 ACP up a little more, but firing from a open bolt just made real accuracy impossible.
     
  18. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    That Elmer Keith picture doesn't show a shoulder stock and shoulder stocks didn't seem to go past ww2 for pistols.
    The C96 Schnellfeuer would have been perfect but wasn't in this time frame
    If you look at the Luger Carbine it's too big for a pistol and too weak for a rifle so it ends up as neither. The Chinese civil war was a main user of pistol carbines due to the fact rifles were banned from import but pistols were ok so turning into carbines have a distinct advantage.
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    In the US there was a law passed in 1934 that pretty much banned pistols with shoulder stocks ( they were considered sawed off rifles or a shoulder weapon shorter than 26 inches). So that did away with the largest commercial (non military) market. As time has gone on som eof the older weapons have reached curio/relic status and the restrictions have been lowered.
    I don't know what the Chinese laws were but since the country was effectively broken up into larger or smaller territories by various warlords in the 20s and 30s effective enforcement of a law by a central government/power wasn't good.

    The C96 Schnellfeuer had a few problems of it's own and was used as a small submachine gun. Since it fired closed bolt and had a small/light barrel it tended to reach temperatures where it cooked of rounds in the chamber fairly quickly compared to real submachine guns. Great weapon for War Lords or South American dictators facing ill armed peasants. It also tended to climb rather quickly (a fault of most if not all full automatic pistols, even with stocks) and the preferred technique by some Chinese "soldiers" was to hold the gun horizontal (sideways) at waist level and the the recoil create a horizontal fan of bullets. Hardly long range stuff.

    None of this takes away from the 1911 being the "best side arm of the Great war" as by the time you add detachable shoulder stocks, wooden crates for magazines, special barrels and so on the gun/s cease being a side arm and become a primary arm.
    Nobody carrying a M98 Mauser was also carrying an Artillery Luger with shoulder stock and snail drum magazine. Chinese private army troops with C96 Schnellfeuers were not carrying Mausers across their backs at the same time. And so on.

    The Picture of Elmer Keith was to show the positions needed for long range with a pistol, that is not standing up and using either one or two hands. a lower braced position is needed. It was also to show that simple military sights don't work at long range.
     
  20. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I accept the 1911 is the better side arm of ww1.
    It isn't the most interesting.
    It's certainly lasted the test of time.
    In my view 45 ACP is not the best round and 9mm parabellum would be better or 7.63 Mauser.
    However the logic of choosing the 1911 is there.
     
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