British L66A1: A Pistol for Northern Ireland

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In 1974, the British Royal Army Ordnance Corps purchased about 3,000 .22lr caliber Walther PP pistols to issue as Personal Defense Weapons to service members of the Ulster Defense Regiment. These were to be issued to servicemen (and women) who faced personal threats to their lives. the choice of a .22 caliber pistol is a bit odd, but that’s what was done. In about 1980 many of them were refinished with a black lacquer coating called Suncorite and refitted with strengthened firing pins. In 1989 they were officially replaced as Personal Defense Weapons by the Walther P5 Compact and SIG P230, and quite remarkably sold as surplus by the military. They show up today in both European and American collector circles, often not recognized as actual British military-issue pistols.

Thanks to Ozark Machine Gun for loaning me this pistol, and make sure to check out his cool machine gun rental range in Missouri!

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