B&T’s Veterinärpistole 9 (VP9) is one of the most niche products made by Swiss firearms manufacturer B&T AG. A bolt action pistol with a magazine grip designed to quietly kill wounded animals, it outwardly resembles the suppressed Welrod pistol used by the Allied Special Operations Executive (SOE) to assassinate targets during World War II. This, along with the stylish leather case the gun comes in, has led some to suggest that the VP9 is a modern stealth assassination pistol. But a closer look at the design and contemporary technology suggests that B&T was being honest with the name of the pistol.
In mechanical design, it’s amazing how much the modern VP9 resembles its predecessor, the Welrod. It wouldn’t be surprising if the VP9 project started as a way to see if the company could modernize the Welrod. The design of the trigger bar and grip safety are practically the same as the original Welrod, albeit made with better materials and manufacturing. The design of the bolt is also similar, with two locking lugs operated by a rotating knob on the rear of the pistol.
The suppressor itself is where the differences begin to be seen. B&T’s VP9 has a detachable suppressor that screws onto a very short barrel. The detachable suppressor makes it easier to interchange the wipes and perform maintenance on the suppressor. The detachable suppressor also means that the sights are moved onto the front of the upper “receiver,” rather than being on the tip of the suppressor as they are on the Welrod.
So why is the VP9 a true “veterinary” pistol? Part of it is the target market. Police in Germany are often called out to perform mercy kills on wounded animals, an action called a “Gnadenschuss” (directly translated, a mercy shot). These are usually carried out with hunting rifles or Bundeswehr surplus G3s. However, these usually end up bothering citizens due to the loud noise of a rifle shot.
The VP9 provides a quiet alternative that’s less likely to disturb citizens. It ships with a manual that shows the various positions to aim to quickly kill most animals. Prototypes of the VP9 were also capable of being fired with a “tool like” grip, so the VP9 can be used more discreetly than a normal suppressed pistol.
As for actual “assassination” weapons, suppressor and pistol technology have advanced considerably since the 1940s Welrod. For actual “combat” usage, a suppressed semi-auto pistol that provides follow-up shots will always be preferred to the bolt-action VP9. The short sight radius on the VP9 limits accuracy, and even in the case, the whole pistol is a relatively bulky deal.
Mossad assassins in the 1970s were known to use suppressed semi-automatic Beretta 71 pistols in .22LR, a cartridge that suppresses far better and provides rapid follow up shots. A Beretta with a suppressor is a far smaller package than the VP9’s entire case, with its wipes, spare magazines, and additional parts.
Charlie Gao studied Political and Computer Science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national security issues.
Image: Stealth Pistol