The Office of Strategic Services was a joint intelligence and operations agency founded by the Americans during World War 2. It served as a precursor to the CIA and was ran by a man who went by Wild Bill Donovan. The OSS did fascinating work and was invaluable to the war effort. They honed and created some of the modern intelligence tactics and techniques we still use today. They also took part in designing a variety of different technologies, including several OSS weapons. Some were effective and efficient… Others were a little crazy. Here are 5 of the weirdest OSS weapons for your consumption.
The Sedgley OSS .38
The Sedgley OSS combined a gun with a glove for one heckuva knockout punch. This might be my favorite OSS weapon. The Sedgley OSS .38 is a single shot pistol attached to a heavy leather glove. It was loaded with a single 38 caliber round that would fire when the plunger was depressed. The plunger was oriented to depress when the user punched a bad guy.
To be fair, the OSS .38 was not just an OSS Weapon. It was issued by the Navy to allow Sailors to have a quick attack weapon if they encounter the Japanese when clearing brush in the dense islands of the Pacific.
That’s actually where the gun saw success. Well, not exactly success, but more success than most OSS weapons. It was indeed issued, but there doesn’t seem to be any recorded uses of the Sedgley OSS .38.
The Stinger Pen Gun
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar… but sometimes a pen is a gun. One of the more famous OSS Weapons is the Stinger pen gun. This covert gun looked like a pen and could be carried quite discreetly. The Stinger pen gun was designed to be disposable. It fired a single .22 Short round, and users discarded it after it was fired.
The operator could hide the Stinger Pen Gun in a shirt pocket, approach their target, put a single round of .22 Short into his face, drop the gun and take the cannoli. It’s super small and very simplistic. Unlike most OSS Weapons, these stingers went into full production with over 50,000 produced and distributed.
Pen guns were not uncommon at the time and were also quite cheap. In America, they have since become NFA weapons that required a tax stamp, lots of paperwork, and a 200 dollar fee. You can find de-milled Stinger Pen Guns every now and then, however, if you want your own example of the most common OSS Weapon of World War II.
The Welrod Mk 2
The Welrod Mk 2 is not a weapon developed by the OSS. It was developed by the Brits, but American OSS agents did put it to good use. I think that qualifies it for our list of OSS weapons. The Welrod Mk 2 is a single shot, bolt action pistol. That’s already weird enough. However, it gets even weirder when you acknowledge the integrally suppressed design.
The Welrod Mk2 came together to be a superbly quiet weapon. An automatic pistol makes all kinds of noise, including the noise of the slide reciprocating, and the Welrod eliminated that. The Welrod came in both .32 ACP and 9mm. Though as you’d imagine, a single-shot pistol isn’t great for gunfights.
It is great for assassination missions, however. Well, kind of great. It’s an option if you have to get close to your target to eliminate him, or could work well for removing sentries and silencing guard dogs. The Welrod reduced the sound of a gunshot down to a very impressive 73dB, or less than half of that of a standard 9mm round. That’s not movie quiet, but it’s about as close as a centerfire gets.
The Flying Dragon SAC 46
SAC 46 is a heckuva name for a pistol, but like most things in the military, it has another name, and apparently, that name is the Flying Dragon. OSS weapons often exemplify their mission and how spies work. In this case, that means the weapon was quiet–very quiet. It’s a dart gun that propels a dart down a very long 32-inch barrel via a CO2 cartridge, making it similar in some ways to the BB guns you can buy at Walmart.
The poison dart would strike the enemy in silence, deliver a lethal dose of poison, and allow the operator to disappear into the shadows. The design was nutty but it was rather efficient. It propelled a dart roughly a hundred feet with a good degree of accuracy. The weapon was also designed to be assembled quickly and easily–something spies always appreciate.
Users had to load the cartridge and dart into the gun, and then attach the two 16 inch sections of barrel. If need be, they could use a single portion of the barrel at the expense of range and accuracy. Assembly may have been easy, but reloading was a strenuous effort that required taking the weapon completely apart. It doesn’t seem the SAC-46 made it past the prototype stage.
The William Tell
Remember the story of Wiliam Tell? The archer who shot an apple off his son’s head? It’s a bit of folklore that’s fascinating and has roots that date all the way back to the British bowmen. One of our OSS Weapons was named in his honor, and honestly, for a good reason. While technically a bow, it wasn’t just any bow; The William Tell was a very modern, incredibly quiet crossbow… of sorts.
You might also say the William Tell was a sort of slingshot that used a rubber harness instead of a traditional pair of upright arms and rubber line. This odd combination of a crossbow and slingshot resulted in a very compact and silent weapon. The William Tell was reportedly the quietest weapon in the OSS armory. Not only is the William Tell audibly sneaky, but it also lacked a flash associated with a firearm.
The design was compact, with a folding stock, and was designed for close-range, silent eliminations of enemy fighters. However, testing proved the design had significant shortcomings. Most notably, the weapon wasn’t entirely effective at taking down threats silently, despite its quiet operation. Sure, you can get the arrow in them silently, but it might not stop the guy who caught the bolt from screaming about it.
OSS Weapons – Poke, Prod, and Punch
The early world of international spies was a fascinating one. OSS weapons clearly showed no lack of imagination, even though they might show a lack of overall usefulness. Wild Bill Donovan and his boys and girls were hell on the Nazis regardless of the crazy weaponry they wielded. Have I missed any? If so, let me know below!