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Finnish m/44 Prototype Blowback 9mm Pistol

Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on I’m Ian McCollum, and today we’re taking a look at a very unusual Finnish prototype army pistol. Now, this is the Model of 1944 pistol. Of course, there was never a formal adopted 1944 pattern pistol, because this never made it out of the prototype phase. Originally, this gun was requested because during the Winter War the Finnish Defence Forces had a serious shortage of military pistols. They had adopted the Lahti L-35, more commonly seen as the Husqvarna m/40, and these were good guns. They were reliable in the cold, which is of course important, but they were … relatively complex and very expensive and slow guns to manufacture, and they just couldn’t make enough of them quickly enough to supply the Finnish military. So the Finnish Ordnance Department put
out an order for a new pistol to be designed. And this was given to a designer
by the name of Birger Linkomies (I think I’m probably horribly
mispronouncing that name), at any rate, he … was a long-serving Lieutenant
Colonel in the Finnish Defence Forces, he was considered one of their primary
firearms experts, and he set about designing a new pistol that would be a lot
cheaper and faster to manufacture. In February of 1943 the Inspector
of Artillery in the Finnish military authorised the purchase of 5,000 of these
pistols, which is surprising given that it wasn’t until later in March of ’43 that they actually had the
blueprints finished for the guns. They were clearly really in a push to get these guns. At this point we’re
in the Continuation War, and they really needed pistols. Well, they ran into some difficulties, namely that every
… factory in Finland that had expertise in manufacturing small arms already had more work than
it had time and materials to work with. So there was some problem in
allocating resources to make these pistols. And ultimately they assigned the project to VKT, the state
rifle factory, and when VKT got the blueprints for these they got together with the designers and they started
making a bunch of changes to them in order to make them better guns, and more producible guns. And in fact by
the time they finished making a bunch of these changes it was now September of ’43 and … the design
had changed enough that they re-designated it. It had originally been called the 1943
pattern, it was now called the 1944 pattern. And at this point VKT finally got started on
making the first test production batch of guns. Now they would do a total of 25, and these
guns weren’t actually finished and delivered to the Finnish military until November of 1944. And
by that point the Continuation War was already over, they’d signed an armistice with Russia, and there
really wasn’t this dramatic need for pistols anymore. In fact, thanks to elements of the Allied Control Commissions
and the treaties at the end of World War Two for the Finns, yeah, maybe they weren’t really
supposed to be working on new guns anyway. So, let’s take a look at this point at how this
thing actually works, and how it was designed. … So it’s a little bit of a blocky sort of gun, and it is a
simple direct blowback 9mm, 9×19 Parabellum design. Basic set of markings here on the slide, I
believe that 9.00 indicates 9mm Parabellum. And then, of course, pistol Model 44, made by VKT here. SA is a Finnish Army property mark, and this is serial number 23 of the 25 that were manufactured. Obviously they were intending a production
of something up to 10,000 originally. We do also have a much lighter
0023 stamp on the frame there. Now what made this pistol more
economical than the L-35 is that while the slide was rather finely machined,
the frame was actually made out of two pieces of welded together, basically bent,
heavy-gauge sheet metal. Something kind of like a stamping, but
more along the … Russian style of stampings, something like the PPSh or the PPS, rather than the much finer, thinner metal
of German stampings at this time period. There is no manual safety on the gun. It is single
action only with an exposed hammer right there. Rather long trigger, heel magazine release. Pull the mag out, and a total of, I believe,
an 8 round magazine, single stack. Mechanically, this is actually very similar to
the Spanish, well Spanish/French, Ruby pistols, except in 9mm. In fact, some of you will have
already noticed the lugs on the barrel there. The barrel doesn’t move when you cycle the slide, it’s just straight blowback. And in order to disassemble
it, we are going to lock the gun open using the manual hold open (does also lock
open on an empty magazine, by the way), Then you can see we have some knurled cutouts
in the barrel, we’re going to take this and rotate it. (See that barrel rotating in there.) Rotate it as far as
it will go clockwise, and then you can hold this back, push the slide release down, and the slide
and barrel assembly comes right off the front. Then we can also pull out the fire control unit. This is a single removable piece, like in the
Tokarev pistols. We also have the barrel locking lugs and the recoil buffer. We can pull that
out. And then we can take the grips off by, let’s see, this grip has a little sliding
lever that I’m going to reach in and slide, and then this grip comes off. So this thing is the sliding lever, when it’s over
this way these two tabs lock onto the frame and hold the grip panel in place. And in
this position the grip panel drops right off. And there is the whole gun field stripped.
You may notice I have left the barrel in here. That is because the recoil spring is compressed in between the rear end of the barrel and the front end of the slide here, and that is a rather stiff recoil spring,
and I do not want to deal with trying to compress that thing back into the slide there. You
can clearly see how it works, it’s just a simple barrel. It has locking lugs up in the top here that are rotated into the slide right now, that would normally engage in these matching lugs
in the frame. That just holds the barrel in position. And then the rest of the slide is pretty typical here. We
have a firing pin recess down in the back, it is spring loaded. You’ll notice interestingly there are a
couple of wire springs built into the design. So the … extractor spring here is made of wire, and the spring … for the slide stop,
which is supposed to be nestled in that hole. That’s also just a very simple wire spring there. We have this, which is just a recoil buffer to
absorb the last bit of energy from the slide opening. That’s really important on a blowback gun in 9×19. 9×19 really is kind of the upper limit for pressure
and ballistic power for a blowback pistol. And on this one apparently even as they were
still making the pre-production test series of pistols, they had concerns about whether or
not this was really quite fit for service. Apparently the breech wasn’t quite heavy enough
on these guns, and it would open a little bit too quickly, and they did sometimes get bulging
on the back end of the cases, And firing a large volume of cartridges they
decided was probably going to be a bad idea, both for the pistol and for the
shooter. So had this gone on in service, they would have had to redesign it a bit more. Looking at the frame. You can really obviously
see where the weld is on the inside, right there. And we can actually see it a bit, you can see it right there, It’s not the cleanest, you know, … these weren’t
apparently made by the Swiss or the Germans, this was kind of a rushed project. This
was something they were trying to do with as little expenditure as possible,
make them a cost-efficient gun to manufacture. The trigger assembly is a yoke that
wraps around the magazine, right there. There is a safety right here under
this grip, if that little half round detent is pushed down, it will push the trigger bar down and out of line with the fire control component. So the gun can’t fire unless that is in the upward position. And in the slide, we have a cutout right here
at the back. So when the slide’s fully closed, that’s when this can be all the way upwards, and will allow the gun to fire. This unitised fire control group is the same in
principle to the Tokarev, but a little different in design. You can see it’s got these long
wings in the front. But beyond that? A little interesting note, you can see the two punch
marks there. Those are hardness testing marks. And that’s about all we have going on back here. So at the end of the Continuation War,
after the armistice with Russia, of course there was a bunch of negotiation,
and arms control policies put in place, and the Russians demanded to know … basically
everything that the Finnish Defence Forces had. And well, the Finns had a bunch of material scattered all over the place, and they did probably their legitimate best in trying to
get that information to the Russians, but, humorously rather, when the Russian
delegation visited VKT they happen to spot the batch of 25 of these, having just recently
been finished, sitting on a table in the open. And of course, this is a distinctively different pistol,
and it hadn’t been reported to the Russians because there are 25 guns and no one really
thought to include them in all of these, you know, ordinance listings. And apparently the Russian
delegation kind of blew its stack when they saw this brand-new unidentified pistol
that the Finns were developing, so. They were able to talk the situation down, but
that’s kind of the last notable hurrah of the m/44s. These guns, while they never went any
further in production or development, they would stay in Finnish inventory until 1968. At that point they were dispersed, a
number of them went to museums, a number of them went to Finnish military
academies, you know, design institutes. And a small number of them were actually
sold onto the private market, mostly to officers, and so that is why there are a couple,
like this one, that are still available, mostly in Finland … in private hands.
So a very cool and very unusual pistol. Hopefully you guys enjoyed watching the video. If
you do enjoy seeing this sort of thing on the internet, please do consider checking out my Patreon page. It is support from folks like you at a buck a month, or
more if you like the perks that are there and available. Anyway, it’s your support that makes it possible
for me to find these guns and bring them to you. Thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “Finnish m/44 Prototype Blowback 9mm Pistol

  1. Finished in Finland at the finish of the Finnish/Soviet Union continuation war. They were to Russian to Finnish. Suomen Sisu

  2. People like to bag on HiPoint handguns but the fact is it would have been exactly what warring nations on both sides of both world wars would have bought by the tens of thousands if they could have.

  3. I hope one day we get to see a picture of the collection this mysterious person has, because they seem to have every obscure weird pistol known to man

  4. The cam lock holding the wood grip panels on is very clever much cheaper than drilling and tapping 4 holes and add 4 more parts like in a 1911A1

  5. I found myself thinking of the FEG M37 when you disassembled the Fin /44. Where I know they are not the same there was something in the kinda like this feeling. Weird, just really brought that to mind.

  6. Why didn't militaries make revolvers? Surely the whole frame of the pistol can be cast with low tolerances, and the cylinder, really the only machined surfaces need to be the inside of the cylinder and the inside of the barrel?

  7. The finnish lahti m/35 was a good gun. The swedish m/40 was a low budget "simplified" piece of crap (they removed the accelerator making the gun unreliable).

  8. Was it also "stolen" by soviets like finnish designed T-34, finnish designed IL-2 and whatever else is a finnish claim of the day?;)

  9. Does anybody else find it fascinating so many countries have experimented with 9×19 blowback pistols out of sheer desperation?

  10. On the subject of rare Finnish firearms, I found a Lahti designed Anti-Air machine gun just casually sitting in a local museum here in Finland. Gun had no description what it was, and I was clueless as well, until some in depth internet sherlocking around, found some info on it. Next time I visit the museum, I might ask the staff if they are aware of the guns rarity, as some sources claim fewer than 300 of them were produced. Also, that exact M/44 was totally on auction at James D Julia back in 2014.

  11. Love learning about Finnish gun history, not a very common habit here. The owner has to be a serious gun collector, I hope to see more of these featured.

  12. Interesting how new designs like the sig 320 are basically re engineered from very old design combination. Like the trigger group here and browning blowback design

  13. Every time I see you in front of that brick fireplace I know it's a going to be a good episode. I'm so jealous of whoever the collector is that owns all these awesome semi auto pistols.

  14. Much appreciated! At last a Finnish made gun I've not heard of so far. Even though I'm Finn myself and keen on military history.

  15. So if you have one that you want to shoot get light loads or add a little silver solder where it won't conflict with other parts.

  16. Learned something new today. I thought i had pretty good knowledge of Finnish firearms (being a Finn myself), but for some reason i had never heard of this one. Thanks, Gun Jesus! =D

  17. I read a test in a technical magazine in the 70's. I remember it stating the same problems you mention here. The empty cartridges were bulged and thrown out really hard suggesting too early opening for the bolt.

  18. dose anyone know a video on the challenges of machine any slide all the steps in grooves how did they do they tool for that
    wracking my brain on some parts dont see how they can

  19. Aaand another very cool and interresting vid! I know its not a forgatten weapon at all but can ya do a vid on a real swiss military issue sig 550 (stg 90) ( full auto shooting included :D)? im very courious bout your opinion bout my servicerifle^^ thx a lot for your good work and keep it up it will be appreciated widely!
     best regards form switzerland

  20. Hi Ian. It would be great if you would write the names on the screen so we could read them. You're not expected to be fluent in finnish, so I'm not complaining about how you pronounce it, but it would still be helpful to see the words in writing.
    And finaly I would like to say "postførerverge", just because it's funny word.

  21. The poor Finns in WWII – the definition of "between a rock and a hard place".

    Probably would have preferred to have been on the Allied side, but invaded by an Ally (USSR), and had to get help wherever they could (notably from the Reich). And then screwed again at the end of the war – Goodbye Karellia.

  22. Very interesting story. The gun shares the looks and some features with some other great pistols from around that era. The slide looks elaborate, but the frame cheap. The externals look finished while the inside of the frame is crude. The grip panels are rather costly. The gun looks like a mix of Makarov/Stechkin and Sig P210. The removable trigger unit and yoke lever is quite similar to the Sig P210

  23. Huh, I've never heard of this one, despite being a Finn. Thank you, Gun Jesus, for introducing this interesting piece of our firearms history to me.

  24. Looks better than the Soviet Makarov, which clearly took a few ideas from this pistol. Those grips look like what the Makarov would later use.

  25. Blowback actions greatly assist in the ejection of the spent cartridges. Not as bad of an idea as it looks like.

  26. I'm not sure what the name was but it sounded like Burger… Linkomies? I assume the first name isn't what you said because it sounds funny. The surname was close enough, although I thought you said Linkomings, but I'm bad at listening anyway 🙂 Actually it turned out I had hard time finding finnish literature on this pistol online (actually only one short article), but managed to confirm the designer's name as Birger Linkomies, so you were very close, the name was recognizable! Birger is very rare name so no wonder I couldn't figure it out. Thanks for the video, it turns out to be important since there's not too much info on this one.

    Some trivia from the finnish article was that apparently the designer used to be named Birger Flick and that VKT required a number of changes before accepting to manufacture even a test batch. The biggest being the shape of the slide and its manufacturing process, but they at least took some opinions from Linkomies about the changes being made. The artillery inspector decided to originally make an order of 5000 pistols so I suppose that explains the serial number format. VKT planned a price per item to be approximately 900 finnish marks for 5000 pistols, but if they managed to continue the serie until 10 000, the price per pistol would only be 675 marks per item. They had to add replacement parts to the manufacturing costs, but they somehow ended up to 770 marks per pistol when manufacturing 5000 pistols (these numbers were slightly different in other source though). In the end, when all the manufacturing units were busy, VKT ended up making 10 to 20 test batch (you found out there were a couple more). It was also originally called M743. I also found it to be interesting that this was one of the first guns made in Finland that weren't made mostly by turning and only a few parts were turned anymore.

    The test shootings implied the recoil was way too high to bear and the material strength was also a concern, if the body would break. There were also some problems with loading a bullet and removing the case. I think judging by your video, you found out at least most of these things if not all of them. Here's the source I quoted anyway, by Andy K . Note that the article doesn't have any source references, but it does match to your story.

  27. There was no WWII treaty that would have forbidden arms development. I wonder where on earth that came from?

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