The ‘Commando’s Choice’ Was the Quietest Rifle of World War II [VIDEO]
Weapons development during times of war can be stunning. The Civil War began with muzzle-loading smooth-bores and ended with practical repeaters that fired from magazine-fed metallic cartridges. WWI saw epic advancements in aviation and machine-guns. By the end of WWII, Germany was flying jets and we had atomic weapons. But not all of the innovations caught on. Consider the case of the DeLisle carbine.
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Commandos in WWII demanded innovative weapon technologies. Some wanted to fight quietly. As such, suppressors were a hot commodity. Yet most were meant for close-range work. Small caliber pistols were effective, but had limited stopping power.
This is partly a function of physics; a supersonic rifle or pistol bullet produces a crack when it breaks the sound barrier. That snap is loud, even when the muzzle blast is suppressed, and erases any benefit seen from suppression.
Even the typical 9mm bullet of the day was traveling too fast for effective suppression. The .45 ACP, though, which is heavier and slower could be dialed down to subsonic speeds. The heavy projectiles still provided solid terminal ballistic performance, even out to 200 yards.
That’s where the DeLisle comes in. This carbine had an 8″ barrel inside a set of baffles. The 1911’s 5″ barrel allowed for reasonable range from a pistol, but the 8″ barrel allowed for a bit more combustion of the powder behind the bullet, and provided the balance between just-enough-speed and not-too-much-speed.
As such, the gun was effective and quiet. Some reproductions of the gun only register between 85 and 90 decibels. The closed bolt and long suppressor combine for a very quiet gun.
So why weren’t there any more produced? Numbers on actual production vary, but most agree that it was below 200 units. The real reason may have been the practical use of the guns. The .45 ACP bullet drops fast. At longer range, you have to aim high. With fairly basic iron sights, the DeLisle couldn’t be as accurate as the stories would suggest.
One of these stories has a British officer shooting the head off of (floating) duck from 200 meters. While that could happen, it is doubtful that the struck duck was the result of anything other than dumb luck.
Still, it is a handsome gun. And who cares if you can hit ducks from 200 yards. That’s hardly sporting. Check out these videos on the DeLisle.
If you want the inside scoop on the history and variants, check out Forgotten Weapons.
For a more practical approach to usage, the Military Arms Channel has you covered.
Here’s another look: