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Welrod Mk I (6825681998).jpg
Welrod Mk I
Type Bolt action suppressed pistol
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
Wars World War II (known to have been used)
Falklands War, Northern Irish Troubles, Desert Storm (reportedly used)
Production history
Designer Inter-Services Research Bureau
Designed 1942
Manufacturer The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited
Unnamed others manufacturers
Produced World War II
No. built around 2800
Variants 9×19mm Parabellum version
.32 ACP version
Sleeve gun

The Welrod is a British bolt action, magazine fed, suppressed pistol devised during World War II at the Inter-Services Research Bureau (later Station IX), based near Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdom, for use by irregular forces and resistance groups. Approximately 2,800 were made. The Welrod is an extremely quiet gun, being only 73db when fired, about as loud as a present-day passenger car.


It was used primarily by the British SOE but was also used by the American OSS and Resistance forces.

The Welrod was a "sanitised" weapon, meaning that it had no markings indicating its manufacturer or country of origin; it was only marked with a serial number and some inscrutable symbols and letters. The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) confirmed that they manufactured some Welrod pistols, but that they put no markings at all on them, so it is likely that any markings were added by the British military after delivery.

The Welrod was used in Denmark during World War II, and is reported to have been used during the 1982 Falklands War, throughout The Troubles in Northern Ireland and during operation Desert Storm by British Special Forces.[1] Welrod guns were also found in weapon cache from Operation Gladio.[2]


Welrod Mk II

The Welrod takes the form of a 1.25-inch-diameter (32 mm) cylinder, about 12 inches (300 mm) long.[3] The rear of the cylinder contains the bolt, the middle the ported barrel and expansion chamber of the suppressor, and the front the baffles and wipes of the suppressor. There is a knurled knob at the rear that serves as the bolt handle, and the magazine is also the grip. Removing the magazine/grip makes the weapon easier to conceal.

The Welrod is provided with sights marked with fluorescent paint for use in low light conditions. Although it has a maximum suggested range of 25 yards (22.86 meters) it was intended for use far closer—up to point-blank range. The muzzle end of the gun is cut away so that it can be fired in direct contact with the target. This reduces the sound levels even further and removes the chance of missing.[4]

The ported barrel of the Welrod serves two purposes: it releases the powder gases gradually into the rear of the suppressor, reducing the sound of firing, and it reduces the velocity of the bullet to subsonic speeds (especially important in the 9 mm version since the standard 9 mm loading is supersonic). The baffles and wipes that follow the barrel serve to further slow the gases of firing, releasing them over a longer period of time and avoiding the sharp explosion that occurs when high pressure powder gases are suddenly released to the atmosphere.

The Welrod uses a bolt-action design because it is simple, reliable and quiet. The bolt-action has only the noise of the firing pin hitting the primer, and the bolt can be cycled quietly.

The Welrod is extremely quiet for a gun, producing a sound of around 73 dB when fired.[3] Examples were made in 9mm and .32 ACP, with magazines of six and eight rounds respectively.[5]


The pistol is manually operated using a rotary bolt, locking with two lugs. Loading is performed with a pull/push action using the round knurled knob to the rear of the weapon. The trigger is single stage with a simple safety at the back of the magazine housing. The detachable single stack magazine contains six or eight rounds (depending on calibre) and serves as a pistol grip with the bottom part enclosed into the plastic cover.


The name Welrod comes from the custom that all the clandestine equipment devised at Station IX in Welwyn Garden City had names starting with Wel, e.g., Welbike, Welman. A document was produced towards the end of World War II to ensure that the right persons were properly credited for their inventions at Station IX. This document reveals that the inventor of the Welrod was Major Hugh Reeves who was also responsible for the sleeve gun (similar to the Welrod, though single shot and intended to be concealed up a sleeve) and several other important inventions.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Misinformation". Timelapse.Dk. 1955-10-25. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  2. ^ Die Schattenkrieger der NATO. Documentary by Ulrich Stoll, ZDF Info, 25 March 2014
  3. ^ a b "The Suppressor". Timelapse.Dk. 1945-02-12. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  4. ^ Wolfgang Michel: Britische Schalldämpferwaffen 1939–1945: Entwicklung, Technik, Wirkung. ISBN 978-3-8370-2149-3.
  5. ^ "Welrod silenced pistol (Great Britain)". World.guns.ru. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  6. ^ Fredric Boyce and Douglas Everett. SOE The Scientific Secrets.

External links[edit]