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Polish Radom VIS Model 35 9mm Pistol (Grade III German Vis)


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Maker:F.B. Radom, Radom, Poland*
Caliber:9 mm Parabellum
Action type:Short recoil
Length:205 mm (8.1")
Height:135 mm (5.3")
Width:32 mm (1.26")
Barrel length:115 mm (4.53")
Sight radius:160 mm (6.3")
Weight (empty):1025 g (36.15 oz.)
Muzzle velocity:355 m/s (1165 ft/s)

The history of the Vis started in 1929 when the Polish army decided to purchase a license for Czech vz-28 pistol (a modified vz-24, itself based on a Mauser design). Since the price was high (250 000 US$) and the pistol in question was not a very successful design, the decision met with justified opposition from the firearms industry. Piotr Wilniewczyc, an employee of "Panstwowe Wytwórnie Uzbrojenia" (State Arms Factory), presented preliminary plans for a pistol of his own design. It was accepted and plans for manufacturing the Czech gun were scraped. Wilniewczyc was later joined by Jan Skrzypinski, director of "Panstwowa Fabryka Karabinów" (State Rifle Factory) in Warsaw. The first prototype was named WiS wz. 1931 (it was Skrzypinski who suggested the acronym WiS: Wilniewczyc i(and) Skrzypinski). The pistol went through tests in which over 6000 rounds were fired showing high reliability and accuracy. At the same time the name was changed to Vis (Latin for "Power"). At Department of Cavalry request a decocking lever was added and a first production run of around 30 pistols was made between 1932-33. In 1936 the pistol was adopted by the Polish military as Vis wz. 1935 (Vis model. 1935). Production started same year and continued until the fall of Poland in September of 1939.

A .45 ACP version was developed but never made it into production (it was shown to Argentinean officials in 1937). .22 LR variant was also made, but there is no information available on the amount produced and the only known specimen is on display in Hungarian Army Museum in Budapest. Trials were also conducted with a full-auto Vis equipped with larger magazines and a detachable shoulder stock. Plans for this version were scrapped when Mors submachine-gun was developed.

Germany restarted the production of Vis in the middle of 1940 in co-operation with Steyr-Daimler Puch. Pistols were manufactured in Radom but were assembled in Steyr factory in Austria.

Vis is a recoil operated, single-action pistol. Externally it closely resembles Colt 1911 but it's not a copy. It uses a cam-lug system of operation similar to that of Browning Hi-Power. When fired, the barrel and slide recoil together for a short distance until the barrel cam catches the lug in the frame forcing it down and unlocking it from the slide. Slide continues to travel rearwards cocking the hammer then returns stripping of a fresh round out of the magazine. The forward movement continues until the barrel and slide are again locked together.

Vis is made from carbon-steel although the frames of the first 3000 guns were made from alloy-steel. The finish of the Polish gun is rust-blue. Controls consist of a slide stop, a magazine catch, a decocker and a take-down latch. Magazine catch is located on the left side of the receiver, behind the triggerguard. The decocking lever is mounted on the slide. When depressed, it draws the firing pin in inside its tunnel so it can't be struck by the hammer. The hammer is then released. Take-down latch is located where Colt 1911's manual safety is usually found. A grip safety is also present. Grips are made of black, checkered plastic. The left panel has a triangle with letters FB (Fabryka Broni); the right has a similar triangle with letters VIS. A shoulder-stock slot is located in the butt but no original Vis stocks were ever found (There are pictures showing a Vis with a Mauser stock attached).

Vis is disassembled by moving the slide rearwards until it can be locked with the take-down latch. The slide stop can then be removed, the slide can be unlocked and moved out of the frame. On the late German (Grade III and IV) versions which lack the take-down latch, the frame can be locked by pushing down the decocker until it catches a special notch cut into the hammer.

Vis was carried in a leather flap holster equipped with a pocked for two spare magazines and a cleaning rod. German Vis pistols were carried in a typical Nazi-issue holster with pocked for one spare mag.

Wis wz. 1931: (also known as wz. 1930). Prototype version with no decocker and angled rear part of the slide. No shoulder stock slot.

Vis wz. 1935: Standard Polish issue Vis with decocker, take-down latch and shoulder-stock slot. Excellent quality, rust-blue finish. Slide markings (two lines): "F.B. Radom", year of production, Polish Eagle, "VIS wz. 35, pat. No 155567". Proof and quality marks and five digit serial number were stamped on the slide. Around 40 000 of Vis pistols were manufactured 1936-1939. Those made during German Blitzkrieg has non-matching serial numbers.

.22 LR Vis: One known to exist. As standard Vis but chambered for .22 LR, 10 shot (??) magazine, slightly longer barrel and different grips.

.45 ACP Vis: Identical to Vis wz. 35 except for caliber. Offered for export in late thirties but never made in large quantities. Magazine capacity is probably 7 rounds.

Grade I German Vis: First Nazi-manufactured guns. With decocker, take-down latch and shoulder stock slot. Excellent quality, high-polish hot blue finish. Slide markings: "F.B. Radom VIS Mod. 35 Pat. Nr. 15567". Waffenamt acceptance mark and "P-35(p)" were stamped below the first line. Frame was marked with "WaA 77" (Radom) and proof marks "625" (Steyr). Serial numbers are located on the right side of the slide A0001 to Dxxxx. Around 60 000 made in 1940.

Grade II German Vis: With decocker and take-down latch. No shoulder stock slot. Lower quality of fit and polishing, military-style blue (oxidized according to some sources). Markings same as Grade I with exception of "P-35(p)"-marking which disappeared from serial numbers Mxxxx onwards. Serial numbers Exxxx to Wxxxx. Around 140 000 - 160 000 made between 1941 - 1943.

Grade III German Vis: No shoulder stock slot or take-down latch. Hollow sheet-metal crosspins. Fit and Polish of lowest acceptable standards. Red grips supplementing the black ones. Markings same as late Grade II. Serial numbers Zxxxx and Axxxx - Jxxxx (numbering restarted after Z9999). Around 100 000 made.

Grade IV German Vis: (some sources recognize Grade III and IV as same variant) Made by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. No take-down latch or shoulder-stock slot. Very low quality of finish, loose fit and unnumbered parts. Plastic stocks without "FB" and "VIS" or crude wooden grips on late pistols. Simple one-piece recoil spring guide instead of the telescopic one. Magazine follower from P-38. Slide markings: "F.B. Radom VIS Mod 35 Pat. Nr. 155567" on early ones and "bnz" on late ones. Serial numbers: Kxxxx.

Resistance Vis: Small numbers of Vises were assembled by the resistance from parts stolen from the Radom factory. Barrels had to be made by the resistance because their production was moved to Steyr. Reissue Vis prototypes: In august 1992 two exact copies of the Vis were manufactured by Z.M. Lucznik in Radom. Slide markings: "F.B. RADOM, 1992, VIS wz.35, pat. Nr 155567". Serial numbers: A00001 and A00002.

Reissue Vis: Like Reissue prototype but with square sight notch instead of triangle and walnut grip instead of plastic. This model was offered by Z.M. Lucznik on custom basis. With a lined wooden presentation box, spare magazine and cleaning kit it's price was around $2,500.

Original Vis wz. 35 was the standard pistol of the Polish army and airforce before the outbreak of W.W.II. Many Polish soldiers and officers escaped to France and Britain where they formed new units. This might explain the existence of some Vis pistols with British proofs.

Germans issued their pistols to Waffen SS and SS Police. Some were used by Kriegsmarine; earlier ones had distinctive Kriegsmarine markings.

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This product was added to our catalog on Monday 19 November, 2007.

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