M1940 Lahti & The neutral Lahti
M1940 Husqvarna Lahti 9 mm parabellum pistol
Modern small-arms (really everything newer than about 1890) is somewhat on the outside of my competence, on the other hand – there are a lot of interesting things out there and a number of them are also piling up in my gun-room.
Sweden imported some German Wather P38’s in 1939, but due to WW2 they had to look for another supplier. They settled for the Finnish Lahti L35 pistol to be produced domestically. Husqvarna received an order for 60 000 pistols in 1941, but did not supply any before late in 1942. There were produced a total of about 100 000 Husqvarna Lahti’s until production ceased in 1946.
The pistol went through a number of minor changes through its production period, but it never became a safe pistol. After some use, the slide started cracking up and after only about 3000 rounds and all use of the pistol was banned around 1980.
Back to 1939 – the Swedes were cowardly, true assholes during WW2 – until they saw that Germany was sure to loose! When The Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1939, the Finns begged Sweden for military help. Finland and Sweden had an extremely close historical relationship for centuries, but Sweden declined help – referring to their neutrality. The Swedes did make a collection though and helped Finland with SEK 4100 and a wedding ring (well, admittedly, they did send a little more later)!
Sweden was not involved in the war, but allowed German troop transports through Sweden, armed planes flying twice a day over Sweden between Finland and Norway, had profits supplied Germany with iron ore, enforced censorship for anti-nazi press coverage etc.
So, why all this crap about Sweden? To explain the background for one of the really scarce pistols made during WW2. The “true” Norwegian government in London purchased 500 of the Lahti M1940 for the “free” Norwegian police troops. The Swedes dared not sell the conventional Husqvarna Lahti in case this would aggravate the Germans, but produced a neutral version without any markings except for the serial number – # 31501-32000. As Germany obviously was loosing the war, Sweden supplied more Lahti’s to Norway, this time the conventional version.
I had a visit from an ex-policeman in the late spring of 2002. He brought a rucksack of pistols and revolvers he wondered if I could be interested in. I picked out some of them and we struck a bargain. With my lack of knowledge, I thought the Lahti he brought was a Finnish model that I really was not all that interested in as it seemingly was so differently marked from the Husqvarna I already had. Well, I was wrong, it was “just another Husqvarna”. Sometimes incompetence is really helpful – it proved to be one of the 500!
Another interesting detail with the Lahti’s. The trigger guards on the earlier models are a lot smaller than on the later ones (small trigger guards are fairly rare). Scandinavia is a cold place in winter and you could not fire the early versions with mittens on.
Any more information on the Lahti (and other Norwegian used small-arms after WW2) is appreciated.