William J. Ricca Surplus Sales

Government Surplus 1971-2018

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Reprinted here by The Carbine Collectors Club
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The US Navy Glove Pistol
A Defensive Weapon From WWII

Probably one of the scarcest firearms in existence is the Hand Firing Mechanism Mark 2 (MK 2), produced under a very small US Navy WWII contract. The contracting firm was R. F. Sedgley of Philadelphia. Many people are familiar with Sedgley. It was the same company that had several contracts for 1903 rifle parts for the Marine Corps and Army. The production of the MK 2 was very small. Today most that exist are in government and law enforcement reference sections. A few exist in private hands and almost every museum is lacking an example.

To gather information I have tried several internet searches; all ending in disappointment. Very little information has been found in the archives in Washington, so I have to rely on facts gathered approximately 40 years ago. My notes indicate the extensive use of the word "Device" but the term "Navy Glove Pistol" is the more commonly used term by collectors. I have also seen the terms "Fist Pistol", "Sedgley Glove Pistol", and "OSS Glove Pistol".

In the early 1970's I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Dan Musgrave at a Maryland gun show. Dan published several hard covered "Encyclopedia" type books on Machine Guns, Sub Machine Guns, and Assault Rifles. Dan was a very knowledgeable individual from the defense industry. He worked as a consultant to the Navy and was well known in Europe. He also represented several Dutch manufacturers of ordnance materiel in their attempts to sell to the US. He had a hand in the US purchase of the golf ball sized hand grenade during the Vietnam war. Dan and I had become good friends.

Circa 1965/66 Dan attempted to find a MK 2 for sale here in the US. That was his motivation to research this information. None were available here, but after scouring Europe he managed to find an owner who was willing to part with the one in his collection. After much paperwork and several thousand dollars later Dan was able to get it imported into the United States for his friend. After hearing about his experience I asked for information about the MK2. This following is what I learned.

In the mid 1960's Dan had friends in Navy procurement do some research and they were able to provide him with limited information.


Development and Production

History had shown the loss of many Navy and Marine personnel. They were being killed by Japs that were left behind to ambush the unsuspecting servicemen. Most incidents resulted in a physical fight, usually resulting in a lost unarmed American. The MK 2 was made available to the working Seabee or Marine Engineer as an instant self defense single shot device, which was reusable. The device was designed to be attached to a work glove and accompany the serviceman while he was seated on a piece of heavy equipment like a bulldozer. However, heavy equipment operators (Seabees) were not the only ones who ended up with them. A small quantity of later production (probably .38 Special) were distributed to the Marine Corps.

Although officially marked "Mechanism", there were references calling it a "Device". Initially the pistol had several design requirements:

  • Easily attached to a work glove
  • Re-usable and durable
  • Easily reloaded while wearing work gloves.
  • Caliber .38 S&W

There is a debate as to whether the Navy initially considered it a firearm. The pistols had no serial numbers for accountability. The two theories are:

  1. Due to its unique design and use limitations, the devices were produced knowing they would never be used in another conflict and plans were to destroy what was left.
  2. With a designation of "Firing Mechanism", the hope was to keep the existence of the devices unknown to the Japanese. Although produced by the Navy Bureau of Ordnance, a low keyed approach was used by distributing the devices under the supervision of Naval Intelligence, keeping their existence quiet. This theory may provide the "Clandestine Connection" attributed to the device over the last 60+ years.

At this point I think there is some truth to both theories. Only with more documentation will all the facts be clarified.

The deliveries from Sedgley came without work gloves. It was the responsibility of the using unit's support element to mount the devices. As the contract was nearing the end the Navy changed the requirements for the remainder. At the end R. F. Sedgley produced a very small quantity that were chambered to the larger caliber .38 Special. The time of production and delivery of the contract was sometime in 1943. Dan had no specific quantities of production, but he estimated approximately 200 were produced. It was not possible to estimate the total ratio of .38 S&W to .38 Special, but it appears the devices chambered for the larger cartridge were far fewer.


The Mechanics of the Design: A single shot reusable self defense device

Shown below, this specimen is being extracted from Sedgley's original wrapping, less cosmoline. Since seeing it many years ago void of cosmoline, I have doubts it was ever applied. I suspect the Navy wanted it put into immediate use and eliminated the need for de-greasing it upon arrival to the using unit. It was a rush project to help defend our servicemen working in the Pacific Islands.

Image missing

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Opening Sedgley's wrap shows the original shiny black finish. This device is the scarcer late model in .38 Special, some of which ended up being used by Marine Corps engineers.

A - Safety Latch in fire position. To apply safety push the latch upwards which interrupts the mechanical firing train and covers the red dot indicator. Red dot indicates ready to fire. When red dot is covered the safety is engaged. The requirements for the safety were high reliability and ease of operation. The safety is easily engaged or disengaged with a heavy glove on the other hand.

B - Breech Locking Latch in closed position. Pushing latch to the right allows breech and barrel assembly to pivot upward, opening the breech and exposing the .38 Special chamber for loading.

C - Barrel

D - Firing Plunger. Strike an object and the plunger depresses the mechanical firing train which sends the firing pin forward, striking the primer, discharging the cartridge, and sending the projectile down the bore.

E - Cartridge Case Extractor. With the pistol opened, pushing the cartridge extractor to the left extracts the empty case, allowing the operator to reload for another incident. The cartridge case extractor is the round steel button at the very top of the illustration shown below.

Image missing

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Hand Firing Mechanism-MK-2 was the later US Navy designation. Note the Circled S, which was the trademark of R. F. Sedgley. The MK 2 is opened for loading. In view are the five mounting holes for the glove. On top is the cartridge extractor and not in view is the .38 caliber chamber. To the left of the locking latch and to the right of the upper right mounting hole and barely visible is the breech locking plunger. This plunger keeps the breech locked for firing.

Italian Trulli
A few years ago this image was sent to me by somebody on the internet. I do not know the origination of the photograph, but it shows another mint condition MK 2 mounted on a work glove. Probably a museum photo.

(The image above is a temporary sustitute as the original image is missing. If you have this image, please contact us)

The glove with the loaded device was always accessible to the operator. If an enemy soldier was encountered, the operator's goal was to strike the enemy in the chest or head, discharging the round. Field reports showed the device to be impractical, but those that were fielded remained in use.

As the war progressed the few that remained in the field were used up to the point of un-serviceability and were withdrawn for destruction. Hard tropical rains usually destroyed their finish and the few that have been observed are either bright with no finish or have rust spots and problems with rusty firing trains. Once the war was coming to an end the Navy looked at the devices as unaccountable and dangerous. With no practical use in future conflicts and the lack of serial numbers, the decision was made to destroy all that were left. The Navy destroyed the remainder in storage before the war ended, not wanting the accountability, maintenance and liability problems associated with a device that would never be used again. The Navy "Glove Pistol" is the WWII equivalent to the 1903's Pedersen Device, except much fewer glove pistols were produced.

The American Rifleman, the monthly publication of the National Rifle Association, had a nice article on the device in the Dope Bag Section of the September 1979 issue. The article showed two devices from the FBI's Firearms Identification Collection. The devices were mounted on both a right and left hand work glove. Some of Dan Musgrave's information was confirmed, but not much more was expanded. There was a notation that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had records of the existence of a few devices in caliber .38

Special, confirming the scarcity of the larger caliber device.

The article showed two different markings, one early, one late. In both cases the S inside the circle is below the markings. Both were in caliber .38 S&W, as follows:

R. F. SEDGLEY, INC. HAND FIRING

U.S. NAVY PROPERTY MECHANISM-MK-2

Over the years many have misreported the purpose of the glove pistol. In a Jack Anderson column from 1987 entitled Cloak-And-Dagger-Museum he stated the existence of a glove pistol in the Central Intelligence Agency's reference section.

"The collection, which isn't open to the public, includes a macabre assortment of lethal devices used during World War II by the CIA's predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services. OSS agents performed feats of derring-do behind enemy lines in a style later fictionalized by Ian Fleming in the James Bond series", stated Mr. Anderson. This implied the glove pistol was a product of the OSS for use in clandestine operations. That is a mistaken assumption that has prevailed since the war.

That is not the only misinformation about the devices. Over the years many publications have described the device as being part of the secret world of spies. Imagine spying on your enemy, in civilian clothes, but wearing a work glove with a device attached. That is ludicrous to say the least.

Value: I have no idea of the value of these things today. Only an auction will tell. I can say the one that Dan Musgrave spoke about was several thousand dollars in 1965/66. If a new automobile sold for $3,000.00 in 1965 what would an equivalent one sell for today?

Legality: The device is legal to own. In 1976 the glove pistol was removed from NFA restrictions and was classified as a Curio and Relic. On the ATF's Curio and Relic list it is referred to as the "OSS Glove Pistol". It is a modern handgun by classification and all applicable federal, state, and local laws apply if one should be transferred.

This page is possible due to the work of the late Dan Musgrave. He surely is missed.

The information and images on this page may be used by anybody.

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