Preview of Tonight

Want to see a reproduction Bigot actually firing? Tune in to Sons of Guns on the Discovery Channel tonight at 9pm, and you’ll get to see me try one out! If you haven’t seen my video on the Bigot, it is a late-WWII experiment created by the OSS to take the place of a suppressed .45 pistol. A spigot-mortar-like guide rod was installed in the barrel of a standard 1911, onto which a big steel dart would slide. The dart had a .25ACP blank cartridge in its nose, and dropping the hammer on the 1911 would fire that blank. The resulting pressure would launch the dart out at roughly 200 fps. Not very fast, but certainly fast enough to make it very unpleasant to get hit by.

OSS Bigot pistol
OSS “Bigot” pistol

As I am writing this, I have not yet seen the final cut of the Sons of Guns episode where we shoot a reproduction of it (the original pictured here is not in firing condition), but I will apologize ahead of time for the eye-rolling drama that is a staple of this sort of TV show. I’ve been a pretty serious critic of these shows in the past, but I was willing to put that aside for the opportunity to get my hands on a firing reproduction and get a feel for how it actually worked. I know for a fact that there will be some very cool slow-motion footage of it in action, and I am also looking forward to seeing that (I saw the initial replay when we were filming, but don’t have a copy of the footage myself).

I hope that you will take some time tonight to check out the show (the other gun in the episode is a VERY impressive 20mm Hispano-Suiza cannon, and I am curious to see how it ended up working, as I was not around for that bit of filming), and that you will overlook the inevitably nauseating TV elements in order to see a legitimately interesting and forgotten piece of history reproduced! (BTW, there will be a followup post publishing later this evening for the potential wave of new readers who see the site referenced on TV and decide to take a look)

27 Comments

  1. Very interesting topic. Members of the OSS operating in Greece with ELAS and EDES guerrillas in operations against the Germans in the period 1943-1944.The OSS groups attempted under the umbrella of the British Military Mission. During the period up to 1943 till shortly before the liberation of Greece(Oct.1944)they are tested several types of weapons and explosives, such as the early (wooden stock)Stirling submachine in 9mm, the UDM42 (please Ian, make something!!!!) the Gamon grenade etc.

    • It does make you wonder “why not just use a silencer” suppose it depends how quiet it is in relation to the baffles in a Welrod wearing out say, some of these darts being reusable as are Crossbow bolts. Maybe they smeared it, in something unpleasant sort of a biological weapon like those Viet Cong bamboo spikes, probably not. Trying to stop pools of blood lying around from bullet holes, who knows.

    • That looks cool, I always liked Tintin books.

      We ruined Stella Artois brewing it in the U.K, incidentally.

      Mind you, it did make you “violent” more than other brews.

      • British brewed (and consumed) Stella Artois A.K.A “a bottle of wife beater”. British brewed “australian” lager: confirmation that you only rent the stuff, and that there was a tennant there before you.

        It’s amazing how attitudes vary around the world, over much of continental Europe, there are effectively no laws on age for buying or consuming alcohol, but impairment or intoxication is absolutely taboo.

  2. It looks a little screwy to us today, but if you see it in context it makes sense. The Bigot was intended for termination of sentries and removal of guard dogs, which otherwise required close approach and the use of a knife, garotte, etc. (They worked better on sentries than they did on dogs.)

    The other OSS gadgets for this job, Little Joe and William Tell, were crossbow-like weapons using rubbers similar to slingshots, but with more power, to fire quarrel-like darts.

    Little Joe was a foot long, eight inches high, weighed two and a quarter pounds, and fired a one ounce broadhead dart at about 170 F/S to an effective range of about 30 yards;

    http://forum.axishistory.com/files/oss7.jpg

    William Tell was larger, weighed three and a half pounds more or less, and used a set of rubber bands to launch a eight-tenths ounce dart at 180 F/S;

    http://i46.tinypic.com/102uhz7.jpg

    It was supposed to have greater range and accuracy than Little Joe, but service use shows they were about even in most respects.

    Both were bulkier than a 1911, and fiendishly hard to conceal. And both were single-purpose devices with no other practical use. (They might have made good pilot-line launchers, but that’s stretching things just a bit.)

    Bigot, by comparison, was a second barrel for the Colt .45 automatic pistol, plus inner spigot, plus blanks and darts. Delivered in a pouch you could stick in your pocket, it could be fitted to any 1911 that was handy (and the OSS used more of those than they did any other handgun, not to mention dropping a lot to the Resistance), and once you were done “darting” somebody, you could put the regular barrel back in your Colt and go back to doing business in the “usual manner”.

    On the whole, Bigot made a lot more sense than the the two “slingshots” did for the job in question. Even if it does seem just a bit weird.

    cheers

    eon

    • What I would like to know is if these devices or the Bigot really were significantly quieter than the Welrod (especially in .32 ACP) or in fact any .32 ACP pistol with a well designed silencer. Or you could design a silenced bolt action pistol similar to the Welrod around .32 S&W Long, which might be even more silent than .32 ACP, and could be very accurate.

      • No, it was definitely louder than a Welrod – at least the reproduction was. How much quieter the originals were; I don’t know…but it would be pretty hard to be quieter than a Welrod (which I have fired).

        • Thank you, Ian. So, the practical value of the Bigot was that it was a modification of an existing pistol, which I suppose might have been handy in some situations.

          • Devices like the Bigot might explain why the OSS had High Standard build the suppressed version of the HD-Military .22 auto for their use.

            What I’ve always wondered about is- why didn’t they simply have Colt (or Remington or somebody) make barrels for the 1911 that had enough extra length (about 1/2″) to be threaded for a suppressor? The .45 ACP is nearly an ideal round for a suppressed weapon, as its standard load is subsonic.

            Somebody may have figured it out, just after V-E Day. Postwar, the CIA issued special “silencing kits” for the Walther P.38 9mm (which was very common in postwar Europe). Each one included a barrel/locking block assembly with no front sight and the last 1/2″ at the muzzle threaded on the outside, a suppressor, and subsonic ammunition.

            The manual pointed out that not only could this set be fitted to any “locally obtained” P.38, but that after use, the pistol’s standard barrel could be remounted, and as long as you collected your spent cases (so they could not be matched up by firing pin, extractor, or ejector marks), there would be no way the local police could prove which pistol was used in the “incident”.

            That would have done no good under the Occupation (caught with any gun = automatic death sentence), but a spare barrel and suppressor for .45 Colt would have been less of a logistics problem, and would have done the job at least as well if not better. Most obviously, because unlike the Bigot, Little Joe, etc., a suppressed .45 can reach out a bit farther than 15 to 30 yards.

            cheers

            eon

  3. I watched the video in the link above, about this device awhile ago. I liked it, particularly the Grenades 🙂 Someone left a comment on the video about it’s possible use as a line thrower, I suppose it depends on how far it throws it… There’s rifle grenade type line throwers, I think. It looks to be more of a standard “crossbow” bolt clearly, what I was wondering since the device has been brought up again is when the pin activates cartridge in the dart is propulsion gained by the gas blowing the cartridge back against the Spigot? If so, does the cartridge remain trapped in the dart but in a different position than it was originally ie. It started at the front and ends in the back, and this is what makes is quieter. In effect, it’s similar to Russian silenced cartridges as is my understanding of them.

    • Also, what secures the dart to the spigot in manner which will allow it to detach but hold it enough for the pin to strike the primer a “snap on tool, type BB/indent” or something, I can’t watch the show 🙁

      I quite like the idea of a pistol line thrower, fishing line obviously.

      • Just friction. On the original one, the fit between the spigot rod and the darts was very close – you could actually hear a little “pop” when you pull the dart off the rod, as it creates a bit of vacuum inside the dart.

        • Ok thanks, and is the “noise” sealed inside the dart, in a similar manner to the Russian silent cartridge but using the “ejected” case?

      • The “noise” would have to be trapped inside the dart, for it not to make a noise surely otherwise it’s just a back to front barrel.

    • It was definitely not designed as a line thrower – the range is far too short. Original spec called out an effective range of 15 yards – I could throw a line by hand farther than the Bigot could shoot it.

  4. Dangit…gotta start digging up all of Ian’s signatures now, and contact Sotheby’s.

    Congrats on this, maybe you’ll be able to score your own show and start doing some “real” reality TV.

    • Great old photos of that crossbow thing, I enjoyed “looking” at the 1822 cavalry sabre and associated equipment, I like the French beer smileys, in abundance 🙂

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