The Welrod is an unusual British-designed bolt-action, integrally suppressed pistol designed for covert operations during World War II. Designed by Major Hugh Reeves, the designer of the integral suppressor for the Sten Mk II(S), at the secret Special Operations Executive research and production factory, Station IX, located in an old mansion near Welwyn Garden City, its name takes the Wel prefix used by every device designed there, with rod coming from its shape. The weapon is known as one of the quietest ever designed, producing about 73 decibels, and even less if the gun was fired in contact with the target, something the cutaway muzzle was designed to facilitate. The suppressor design is fairly unique, featuring an expansion chamber in the rear followed by a sequence of 14 metal baffles and three rubber wipes which do not have holes in them, meaning the first 10-15 rounds punch through the wipes and then have the rubber seal behind them. It was said to be very difficult to recognise the report of the Welrod with a new set of wipes as a gunshot at ranges over fifteen feet. Effective range was given as about 25 yards, but it was generally used at ranges of 13 yards or less.
Two versions were produced: confusingly, the .32ACP Mark II was the first version, while the 9x19mm Mark I was the second. The latter version featured numerous alterations in addition to firing a different round: a wire trigger guard was added to make the weapon safer to carry while ready to fire, and the front half of the integral suppressor could be unscrewed to reduce the gun's length and make it easier to conceal or smuggle. Because of the latter, the front sight was mounted halfway along the barrel rather than at the end. In both versions, concealment was made easier by having the detachable magazine, inserted into an Ebonite rubber sleeve, serve as the weapon's pistol grip: capacity was 8 rounds for the Mark II and 6 rounds for the Mark I. Spent casings are ejected upwards though an ejection port surrounded by a large recess.
A third design could also be called a Welrod derivative, the Sleeve Gun. This was a single-shot breechloading weapon with a simple screw-in breech plug using a Welrod-derived suppressor with a trigger near the muzzle, intended to be concealed inside the user's sleeve and used in contact with the target, with a maximum effective range of about 3 yards.
Due to the nature of the pistol, there is not a lot of information on who used it or when: as well as obvious use during World War II, it is known that British Special Forces were using the weapon during the Falklands War with some evidence of use as late as Desert Storm, and CIA SOG operators are known to have used the Welrod Mark II in operations during the Vietnam War, some examples being a US-produced variant with a different bolt handle design and US Navy markings (labelling it the ".32 Hand Firing Mechanism Mk. 1") on the left side of the suppressor. It is believed to have been produced by the Birmingham Small Arms company, which denies this, and almost all documentation about the weapon's production has been misplaced or deliberately destroyed. About 2,800 Welrods are known to have been produced: serial numbers are not sequential with the highest #14,359 but the lowest #2,008. One common inaccuracy in media is showing the Welrod with standard iron sights: they actually came with tritium inserts for night use, but the few Welrods in civilian hands have tritium sources either missing or long past their shelf life.
The Brügger & Thomet VP9 is heavily inspired by the Welrod, though it is marketed as a "veterinary pistol" for humanely killing animals rather than a covert ops weapon. Whether or not this is a euphemism remains to be seen.
(1943 - ? (possibly still in service))
Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum (Mark I), .32 ACP (Mark II)
Weight: 2.65 lbs (empty)
Length: 14.57 inches
Barrel Length: 11.97 inches (actual barrel is only 3.25 inches, remainder is the suppressor)
Capacity: 6 (for 9mm) or 8 (for .32)
Fire Modes: Bolt Action
The Welrod suppressed bolt-action pistol can be seen in the following films, video games, and anime used by the following actors:
|Layer Cake||Seen on a Gun Rack||2004|
|30 Cases of Major Zeman||Radoslav Brzobohatý||Pavel Bláha||"Konec velké šance" (S02E04)||1977|
|Inspector Morse||Murder weapon; "The Last Enemy" (S03E02)||1989|
|Person of Interest - Season 1||Alan Dale||Ulrich Kohl||"Foe" (S01E08)||2011|
|Gunsmith Cats||Natasha Radinov||Mark IIA||1995-1996|
|Game Title||Appears as||Note||Release Date|
|Medal of Honor: Rising Sun||Mark II||2003|
|Sniper Elite V2||Mark I||2012|
|Enemy Front||"Welrod MKII"||Mark I||2014|
|Sniper Elite III||Mark I||2014|
|Day of Infamy||Mark II||2016|
|Sniper Elite 4||Mark I||2017|
|Battlefield V||"Welrod Pistol"||Mark I and II hybrid model; added with June 2020 update||2018|
|Insurgency: Sandstorm||"Welrod"||Mark II; added with June 2020 "Nightfall" update, incorrectly stated to be chambered in 9x19mm||2018|