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 The Silent Revolver

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Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: The Silent Revolver   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 10:51

Dennis Martin

Although “silent” weapons have been around for years, it was World War Two that really ignited their development. Various sound-suppressed weapons were developed for the clandestine services. The Welrod, De Lisle Carbine and “Silent Sten” were used by SOE and OSS. So successful was the Welrod that it was still in service with UKSF fifty years later.

The Vietnam War saw the development of the “Hush Puppy, a S&W Mod 22 modified 9mmfor killing guard dogs, as well as sentries.
Note that all these weapons were based on self-loading weapons. Hollywood and cheap fiction often featured a silent revolver, but this was, largely imaginary.

[Den firing the suppressed Sterling, the successor to the "silent-Sten"]

Although special silent ammunition was developed for the revolver for use with the Vietnam Tunnel Rats, silencing a revolver was generally impractical.
The sound signature of a weapon comes from several factors:
1] The percussive report of the cartridge firing.
2] The supersonic crack of high-velocity bullets
3] The mechanical sound of the action, as the hammer and slide function.
The cartridge percussion can be moderated by a traditional silencer [more correctly known as a “sound suppressor”] affixed to the muzzle. A series of baffles absorb the sound energy, leaving a much quieter and less recognizable noise.
The sonic crack is avoided by using subsonic ammunition. In some cases the suppressor will actually drop the velocity below sonic levels.
Some weapons have been fitted with a catch which keeps the slide in place for the shot, reducing the mechanical noise.
The problem with a revolver is that the percussive sound leaks out through the cylinder gap, as well as the muzzle, making an orthodox silencer ineffective.
Joe Peters a German armourer became interested in the technical problems in silencing a revolver. Since the received wisdom at the time was the rather glib “you’d need to encase the whole pistol in a pipe” he went ahead and did exactly that! The result is an extraordinary weapon, and, as far as I know it has never been shown online before.

[The Peters Stahl silent revolver]

Taking a S&W Mod 25 revolver Peters added almost total encasement. The barrel is encased in a large diameter tube, filled with baffles. This then forms a shroud covering the body of the revolver as far back as the cylinder endplate. The cylinder release catch and butt is left exposed. On activating the cylinder catch a trapdoor opens in the shrouding, allowing access to the cylinder, which has also swung open for reloading. Because the sights are covered various optical sights have been added atop the weapon.

[Detail of the opening mechanism]

The result is a massive six shot, very quiet weapon.

[Silent revolver with baffles removed]

A friend of mine was the UK importer of this weapon and I arranged through a contact for him to demonstrate it to the Special Forces. He went down to Hereford, and they thought it was an interesting weapon technically, but was less useful than the Welrods and H&K MP-5 SDs they already had in the armoury.

I guess Jeff Cooper would have summed the silent revolver up as “an ingenious solution to a non-existent problem”
Cross reference Firearms oddities

Check Six,
Dennis Martin
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