Tarn: A Terrible British WW2 Experimental Pistol

The Tarn was a 9x19mm pistol developed by a Polish ex=pat designer named Z. de Lubicz Bakanowski. It was a simple blowback design, with a quite heavy slide and recoil spring. It was manufactured by the Swift Rifle Company, and ten examples were made as prototypes. They were tested formally by the British in April 1945, and rejected on grounds of being overly violent in action, difficult to charge, and inaccurate. The FN High Power would be pursued instead, and the Tarn saw no further production or development.


  1. Ian, for God’s sake, why did you not consulted beforehand?
    Ezell mixed up two guys, Lubicz-Bakanowski who worked on training rifles, also at Swift, and Teofil Tarnowski who was the actual designer of these pistols. There were of these made 10, serialed 100 (auctioned last November in Germany, at Hermann Historica) to 109, of which 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 107 and 108 are known to have survived. There was also a smaller version, chambered in .32 ACP, so more appropriate for blowback design, called the TE.TAR, of which similar number were made (three known to exist: N4, N7 and N11), but the British were not interested in them, so they just waved him off, saying that they are on a look-out for a 9 mm pistol – hence the change. There was also an SMG, also called TE.TAR, chambered in 9×19.

  2. As the Duke of Wellington said appropos of his first campaign (as the Commander of the 33rd Foot in Flanders), “”At least I learned what not to do, and that is always a valuable lesson”.

  3. The gun seems closely following the construction of Belgian “Melior”pistol changed in a rather crudely designed take down system from lever to screw retaining feature for the key piece which also acting a rear sight. That piece is also subject to be worked out through violent slide movement which should be very dangerous… IMHO…

      • Thanks for the link… Pistol seems striker fired not hammer… Back of seemingly removable breechbolt and circular plug also reveals that the separate breechbolt being of two pieces inside just resembling to “Melior1” pistols. Does “Nad” stand for “Needle”… If so, that link’s writer might use “Hammer Nad” instead of “Firing Pin” or “Striker”…

  4. Gun was pretty badmouthed by Ian, based on report, but maybe on firing it would not be extremely bad, as its heavily suggested, maybe even biased.

    • “(…)biased”
      To detect that we would need original report and some other reports at automatic pistols from same entity. Do test applied differ? Were more difficult ones applied for this automatic pistols?

      • If the same commitee was to test hi point, they would have same conclusions, even worse, yet hi point has cemented its status in todays market.

        I just feel that Ian got carried away too much in bashing, yet he made an overlooking mistake on not finding/knowing real author of the gun, as Leszek commented.
        Maybe shooting video would redeem him in more serious investigative and research work.

  5. Straight blowback in anything more powerful than .380ACP or 9×18 Makarov is going to be heavy and unpleasant to shoot. A Hi-Point clearly illustrates this, although Hi-Point actually makes a .40 S&W model for maximum punishment. You really need either delayed blowback or a locked breech for 9×19 and up and the modern trend is to use a locked breech for .380ACP. That would make the TARN a dead end regardless of quality.
    In their defense, despite being ugly, clumsy and unpleasant to use Hi-Point pistols are very reliable and have excellent warranties.

      • “(…)Czech vz.24 pistol in 9mm Browning (.380 ACP equivalent) had positive lockup.(…)”
        I would say it is atavism.

        “(…)Germans tried 9mm Para with blow back – and it did not work.(…)”
        Do you mean Dreyse 9mm automatic pistol xor Walther Modell 6 xor Volkspistole xor something else?

        “(…)point of futility(…)”
        How powerful cartridge can be used is proportional to how desperate you are. For example in Leningrad 7,62×25 mm blow-back operated Walther-like automatic pistol was crafted: http://zonwar.ru/pistolet/Baltyets.html
        only 14 examples were made

    • The 9mm Browning Long – 9mm Glisenti – 9X18mm Ultra – 9mm Makarov (power-wise they are in the same ballpark) are the hottest 9mm rounds that can be fired in a blowback handgun without weight disadvantages.
      9mm Luger blowbacks will be comparatively heavy and top heavy.

  6. Some auction sites have detailed photos for this experimental series. What strange thereat being; Serial Nr.100 has a more positive lever retained take down wedge but a trigger blocking safety lever in front of grip piece and Serial Nr. 106 has screw retaining take down lever and seemingly more positive safety latch at back possibly blocking sear… At both samples trigger guard seems being made separately to reduce manufacturing costs… From all it seems, designer kept his mind in low cost building but changed at locating it safety and take down departments… IMHO…

  7. Sample number 100 looks more like an imitation of the Browning imitation.
    Then the next series of 5(?) samples of an even more simplified design.
    Then the next 5(?), even easier, due to cheap steel and simple finishes?
    It looks logical.
    But why can’t we see the marks on sample 108 that are on everyone else?

  8. In the HiPoint .45 ACP pistol, recoil is stiff, but certainly shootable. I think I would enjoy the .40 S&W model rather less, particularly in that it’s not easily convertible to unmodified 1911 mags.

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