Spending an afternoon with Larry Vickers is like visiting a demented Santa Claus. That is if ol’ Saint Nick were cool and into guns and mayhem. Every time I see him he has something new to show me.
I had a chance to visit with Larry on the set of “Tactical Impact” at US Training Center in Moyock, NC. In addition to the amazing amount of firearms lore that just rolls off his tongue, Larry started pulling treasures out of the back of his truck. He would mumble “Hey, have you seen this?” as he rummaged through a couple of bags. Out would come a rare firearm or a gadget currently under development.
But two of his finds are worthy of mention, simply because they are classics and quite rare. Both were used by Allied Special Forces in World War Two.
The first was an original FP-45 (Flare Projector) Liberator pistol developed by US Amy Psychological Warfare during WW II. The name was adopted to conceal the true nature of the project with weapon components also having innocuous names used in standard manufacturing parts. The weapon was adopted by the OSS for use by partisans behind Axis lines. The simple design allowed the shooter to neutralize an enemy in order to procure his weapon for himself. The breech lock pistol was shipped in a cardboard box with 10 rounds of .45 ACP ammunition, a wooden dowel to remove the empty shell casing, and an instruction sheet in comic strip form showing how to load and fire the weapon. Extra rounds of ammunition could be stored in the pistol grip. Designed to be cheaply mass produced ($2.10 a copy), there were only manufactured over an eleven week period in 1942 when over one million pistols were produced. Interestingly, while there are numerous stories about the Liberator’s wide spread use in occupied France, it actually saw more use in the Pacific theater.
The second find is a reproduction Hi Standard HD-M silenced .22 pistol first produced during WWII. As you can see from the photo, the pistol featured an integral silencer and after the war many of the weapons passed to the US intelligence community. Oddly, one of the pistols was included in the survival equipment carried by U2 pilot Gary Powers when he was shot down over the Soviet Union. The suppressor component was designed to drop the weapons signature by 28 decibels and can be removed for cleaning or maintenance of the pistol. However, the suppressor was only designed for 200 rounds and would be discarded after use and replaced with a new component.
Keep an eye out for more surprises from Larry Vickers and his co-hosts Jason Falla and Kyle Defoor on Tactical Impact and Tactical Arms. Check your local listings for time and channel.