The Welrod is a nearly completely silent bolt action pistol designed by SOE Section 9 for covert operation and assassination use during WW2. Chambered for the .32ACP cartridge (which is subsonic to begin with), the Welrod uses a ventilated barrel and large-volume suppressor with several solid rubber wipes to bring its firing report down to the minimum possible level. This noise reduction only lasts for about a dozen shots, after which time the rubber wipes have more or less bore-sized permanent holes in them, reducing the suppressor’s effectiveness to pretty much on par with other typical designs.
The Welrod is a manually operated pistol, to avoid action noise. It feeds from a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless magazine, which also serves as its grip. A grip safety is the only safety device, and it fires using a striker mechanism. The Welrod was first introduced in 1943, with a larger 9x19mm version added later in the war. They appear to have been manufactured by BSA, with a total of about 14,000 made. Welrods were in service as recently as Desert Storm, and are most likely still in use for those times when a very efficient silent pistol is necessary.
Thanks to the Institute of Military Technology for allowing me to have access to this very cool pistol and bring it to you! For lots more great information on the Welrod, I recommend Anders Thygesen’s web site.