Sedgley Glove Gun

The Sedgley Glove Gun was one of the goofiest projects actually funded by the US military during WWII. Designed for the Navy, it was basically a leather gardening glove with a single shot .38 S&W pistol attached to the back (the original patent calls for a .410 shotshell, but this was changed for unknown reasons). A plunger fired the gun, and the idea was literally that the user would make a fist and punch his adversary, shooting them in the process. Depending on which numbers you believe, somewhere between 52 and 200 of these were actually made, and there is no confirmed record of any actually being used in combat. There are suggestions that the OSS also used them, but these are also unconfirmed.

We had the privilege to examine this mint-condition example at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, and very much appreciate the opportunity!

Patent

US Patent 2,423,448 (S.M. Haight, “Fist Gun”, filed February 29, 1944)

28 Comments

  1. Talk about laying down a punch. Joke aside, this seems to combine the disadvantage of hand-to-hand combat (having to be within 3 ft of the enemy) with the disadvantage of using a gun (lots of noise).

  2. The funniest thing is that they weren’t issued in pairs!
    Some of these defense contractors of oddball weapons were probably sorry to see V-E and V-J days arrive.

  3. One story on the “Hand Firing Device” (a term also applied to the Welrod) was that it was intended for the Seabees in the island campaign. The idea being that a heavy equipment operator, who wore work gloves anyway, could wear it and, when a Japanese soldier tried to climb up on the ‘dozer or whatever to get at him, could punch him in the nose and automatically blow his head off.

    I think W.H.B. Smith said it best;

    Such inane devices crop up in every war period.

    Smith, Small Arms of the World, 9th edition, p.177

    I noticed that the gun mechanism bears a strong resemblance too some types of “trap” and “alarm” guns that were common in the pre-WW2 period. In fact, if the plunger were replaced by a pull-switch to sear off the striker, it would have almost exactly the setup of the old Coyote Trap Gun.

    As it is, it resembles some of the “doorstop” alarms sold for business travelers to use in hotel rooms. Which of course were supposed to be loaded with blanks, usually .22 rimfires.

    cheers

    eon

  4. long gone unfortunately but at one time I had a book that was a reprint of the requisition catalog from which OSS units could place equipment orders and the Sedgely Glove Gun was available at least on paper. if they saw any field use it most likely was with them.

  5. it is truly amazing the shape that thing is in. Usually obscure stuff like that is never taken care off and is a rust trap.

  6. Was it in 38 S&W or in 38 Special? If it was in 38 S&W, how easy would that have been for a US sailor to come by?

    • “the original patent calls for a .410 shotshell, but this was changed for unknown reasons”
      The .38 S&W may suggest that this device has connection with British forces which issued variant of this cartridge as a .38-200. Or the .410 with so short barrel has so miserable muzzle velocity and so big blow cause by unburned powder so it can wound the user and therefore the .38 S&W was preffered.

      • Another factor may have been that the recoil force of the .410 round in a weapon mounted like this could very likely have resulted in a sprained wrist for the shooter.

        There’s also the National Firearms Act of 1934 to consider. While a military-issue weapon in government hands does not fall under the NFA, the Navy may have been a bit leery of manufacturing what would basically be a “sawed-off shotgun” chambered for a shotgun cartridge, on the (probably justifiable) assumption that they would end up in civilian hands sooner or later.

        In that respect, the possibility of the device being “redeployed” on a mounting other than the glove cannot be ruled out. Except for having a plunger instead of a pull-type trigger, it bears a strong resemblance to the 1929 Elek Juhasz sleeve pistol;

        http://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US1726228-0.png

        Mounted on a band around the forearm, with a modified trigger “trip”, this device could have been used in much the same way. Actually, for the OSS, such a version would have made much better sense than the original “issue” form.

        cheers

        eon

    • Seems like you could pack it with five rounds of ammo and have enough for the war. Or maybe bum a few round from the British.

    • Besides the .38 S&W-chambered “Victory Model” version of the Model 10 made for Commonwealth forces, the .38 S&W round was also used in the H&R 925 Defender, a 2″ or 4″ barreled 5-shot top-break often issued to guards at defense plants Stateside.

      So if the Glove Gun were in inventory, there’s no reason the Navy couldn’t have had the ammunition for it in the logistics train, as well.

      BTW, during the war, U.S. Naval and Marine Corps aviators were issued S&W Victory Models in .38 Special as sidearms. While they appreciated the light weight and reliability of the revolvers, most at least tried to “promote” M1911 .45 automatics instead, due to their greater hitting power.

      I suspect they were less worried about the enemy if shot down, than the local wildlife in the Pacific Theater. Notably sharks, which seemed to regard a rubber life raft as a buffet.

      cheers

      eon

      • Or they were just hoping that with “one forty-five caliber automatic and two boxes of ammunition” would also come

        – Four days’ concentrated emergency rations
        – One drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine,
        vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills
        – One miniature combination Japanese phrase book and Bible
        – One hundred dollars in Yens
        – One hundred dollars in gold
        – Nine packs of chewing gum
        – One issue of prophylactics
        – Three lipsticks
        – Three pair of nylon stockings.

        😀

  7. As an idea though it’s pretty spot on i.e. If the objective is to enable you draw a gun from the “hands up” position, this is probably the best way about it in regards speed etc.

    Issuing an accompanying normal glove would probably have made it more practical, for such scenarios.

  8. The most weird oddball weapon off all, was the SS belt Gun !
    high rank SS officer got special belt with gun installed in the belt buckle, it could fire 2~4 shot.
    although there some dispute that the SS belt Gun is real, they think those were made after WW2 in 1950s or 1960s.

    http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,10727.msg101090.html#msg101090
    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=71&t=135325

    http://forum.axishistory.com/download/file.php?id=146348&sid=c65d7f1e0b3e864c04bb18ca85c9371c

    http://snyderstreasures.com/albums/ss/Rare_SS_Gun.sized.jpg

    • According to Lewis Winant in Firearms Curiosa (1954), there were two such “buckle guns” in the collection of Alabama Governor Gordon Persons (1902-65, served 1951-55). They were confirmed as having been captured in Germany during the last days of the war.

      Both were 7.65mm, using “A cartridge similar to the .32 ACP” (possibly French 7.65 Longue?). One was a four-shot, the other a two-shot.

      Neither one was ever issued, both were apparently prototypes. But according to two of my uncles who were with U.S. 3rd Army, the fact that they existed quickly made the rounds of the grapevine. After which any German officer casually resting his hand on his belt buckle while surrendering was risking a bullet.

      cheers

      eon

        • This raises the question: why would the Germans in WW2 use anything else than 7.65mm Browning, which was the second most common pistol cartridge in German service? Was the 7.65mm Frommer Long even in production any more during WW2?

        • Possibly, since Hungary was a German ally and Frommer “Stop” long-recoil pistols in 7.65mm Browning were still standard issue with the Hungarian Army.

          Another possibility is the 7.63 x 21mm Mannlicher Auto pistol round, used in the Mannlicher Model 1900 pistol that was still being used by the Austrian police at that time. Its cartridge case was nearly identical to the 7.65 x 17mm except for being 4mm longer and rimless rather than semi-rimmed, and it launched an 85-grain bullet at 1000 FPS for 188 FPE at the muzzle. That’s only 17 f/p more than the standard 7.65 Browning with its 77-grainer at the same velocity, but it’s still technically “more powerful”.

          I suspect the chambers may have been cut so hat any straight-walled (more or less), 7.62 to 7.65 (roughly) rimless or semirimmed autopistol round up to 21mm (or so) in case length would fit. The longer rounds like 7.63 x21 Mannlicher or 7.65 x 20 French might have headspaced off their case mouths, while the shorter .32 ACP round would headspace off its semirim. Similar to the (highly dangerous) wartime Resistance expedient of firing 9 x 19mm in a S&W Victory Model chambered for .38/200.

          (Yes, it will work. Yes, the 9mm case will headspace more-or-less correctly off the leade’ in the chamber. Yes, a .38 Super round will do the same thing. No, it isn’t a safe procedure, and Yes, it could blow up the revolver in your hand- Don’t Try It!)

          These were intended as emergency Escape & Evasion weapons, so it would have been reasonable to build them to accommodate pretty much any such ammunition that might be available.

          Just a guess.

          cheers

          eon

      • That had be a sight for sore eyes:
        GI yells : Put yours Guns down and come out with hand over your head !
        and start to roar with laughter
        as SS Officers stumble out with hand up and there pants down.

        back to four-shot version, it got on site this letters:

        BLM-44-SS
        R.V. 53. NR. 5/C

        NR. 5 stands for Number 5, means there more that two belt guns

        • That’s a truly interesting inscription, as it’s consistent with the German policy of marking everything in the army with the ID of the unit it was issued to. The style is reminiscent of that used in the 1800s on the grip backstraps of M1879 and M1883 Reichsrevolvers.

          The first line, “BLM-44-SS” clearly indicates Schutzstaffel provenance, and the year 1944. “BLM” is not in any of the manufacturer three-letter code lists, so it more likely indicates an SS “bureau” (they had their own bureaucracy parallel to the Wehrmacht and the NSDAP both). “Bewaffnung Leitfadt Ministerium” (Weapons Control Ministry) is a possibility, but I don’t insist upon it.

          The second line, “R.V.53. NR. 5/C” is consistent with a unit marking. “R” usually stood for “Reiter” (Cavalry), and “V” generally meant “Versuch” (test or experiment, although it could also mean “Vorschrift” (Instruction, i.e. a training unit). “Cavalry Training (detachment) #53”, perhaps?

          “NR. 5” certainly means “Number 5”, which was the number of that weapon of that type within the unit. The “/C” is a poser; “Chrom” (chromium) is the only thing I can think of, possibly indicating chrome-steel composition or plating, but that would be a bit weird in context.

          I suspect what we’re looking at here is a “secret weapon” developed within the SS’ own “in-house” R&D outfit, and issued to a cavalry training unit on a trials basis.

          Again, this is deduction, and guesswork, so don’t take it to the bank.

          cheers

          eon

  9. Old magazines I’d seen from the 1950’s-60’s referenced something like this used in trench warfare from the First World War.

  10. Funny enough that the use of this weapon in Inglourious Basterds was in as sensible situation as is is possible for the gun! That is basically the single purpose it is good for: suicidal attack on a high-profile target while being disguised as a waiter with a napkin over his hand =)

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