Integrally suppressed pistols: The New Maxim 9 and how we got there

This week the good folks over at Silencerco dropped a number of new suppressor designs to include an integrally suppressed 9mm handgun design dubbed the Maxim 9 after the inventor of the Silencer—Hiram Maxim. The thing is, the concept, while super sweet in its latest form by Silencerco, really isn’t that new.

Somewhere in occupied Europe…

In the darkest days of World War II, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and American OSS ran a myriad of operations behind the lines in both Nazi-occupied Europe and Japanese occupied Asia. They set up resistance groups of local insurgents and supplied them with weapons, training, and equipment to help set the Axis rear aflame.

The SOE went to new places and made friends like this mustached Brit operative seen in the center of this group of French resistance

The SOE went to new places and made friends like this mustached Brit operative seen in the center of this group of French resistance

One of the weapons they supplied was meant especially for assassination. This mysterious suppressed pistol was known as the Welrod. The Welrod was not a traditional pistol fitted to a detachable silencer, it was a pistol built *around* an integral silencer.

british welrod sa
To keep gas from escaping due to a cylinder like on a revolver, or a cycling action like on a semi-automatic, the Welrod was bolt action. The simple and effective bolt action could be worked rapidly for a follow-up shot if needed, and doubled as a safety device. The integral suppressor built around the barrel was made up of 12 thin metal washer baffles separated in groups by three leather wipes.

The baffles would start to deteriorate with use and typically was no longer suppressed after about 15-20 rounds. The nose cap of the suppressor was hollowed out to allow it to be pressed into an intended target without undue back blast. The magazine itself, encased in a rubber sleeve like a bicycle grip, formed the pistol grip. With few moving parts, it could be broken down and stored in pieces that did not resemble a firearm. In fact when disassembled it rather looks like a bicycle pump.

Chambered in either the British and German army’s standard submachine gun round, 9x19mm Parabellum; or 32ACP (7.65x17mm), the same caliber as many popular Italian, German, and Japanese pistols, they were heavy at 52-ounces besides being large with an overall length of 14.22-inches. Nevertheless, they were quiet and word is although just over 16,000 were produced, at least some have remained in service with the British military for those special moments even though they are now some 70+ years of age.

Custom integrally suppressed pistols

Over the past couple of decades, a number of companies here in the U.S. have been in the business of taking otherwise factory-stock rimfire semi-autos and making them integrally suppressed. These companies include SRT who take a Browning Buckmark or Challenger; or Ruger MkIII, MkII, or MkI and add a 7-inch tube directly to the gun designed for the US military specifically for use with 40 gr CCI MiniMags.

SRTs Rugers

SRTs Rugers

The cost $725 and up.

Others who do similar are Dark Horse, Norrell, AWC and Coastal but you can be sure with something like 3,026 National Firearms Act Special Occupational Taxpayers (SOTs= gunshops cleared to make suppressors) there are likely far more.

AWC's awesome Ruger-based Amphibian

AWC’s awesome Ruger-based Amphibian

However, these are all rimfire designs. Sure, you can get a screw-on can for the heavier .45/9mm stuff, but where is the fun in that?

The BT Vet gun

Several years ago the Swiss company of B+T AG (formerly known as Brugger & Thomet) came up with the spooky quiet VP-9 “veterinary pistol.”

Can you say, "polymer welrod?"

Can you say, “polymer welrod?”

This modern take on the WWII Welrod made with polymers and modern metallurgy is a single-action (cock it each time) 6-shot 9mm that tips the scales at just 30-ounces and is (only) 11.3-inches long which is something of an improvement size-wise over the 1940s tech its based on. However this rare bird is meant to put down sick and injured wildlife, not make hits on random SS sentries guarding der fuhrer.

Although it could be used for that purpose if you really wanted and had a time machine.

Nevertheless, you can’t walk into your average gun shop and place an order for a VP-9 here in the states.

Which brings us to the…

Maxim 9

No, thats not a holster on the end of that SW M&P

No, that’s not a holster on the end of that SW M&P

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk

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