Hutton-Williams "Viper"

Calibre: 9x19mm
Barrel: 4.7in
Length: 21.4in
Weight: 4lb 14oz
Magazine: 32 rounds
Country: United Kingdom
Years: 1945

In 1945, the Director-General of Royal Ordnance Factories, Mr. Derek Alfred Hutton-Williams, designed his own submachine gun or "machine pistol". Dubbed the "Viper", Mr. Hutton-Williams' goal was to meet the General Staff specifications that had recently been put in place regarding submachine guns. The April 15th GS specifications stated that, for a submachine gun to be considered for service with British forces, the weapon must weigh no more than 6lb unloaded, have a fire at a rate no higher than 600rpm, have a magazine size of 30 - 60 rounds, and have bayonet fittings for the British No.5 bayonet. The Viper managed to meet most of these specifications, except the fire rate; the Viper fired at an "excessive" 692rpm.

Hutton-Williams created his weapon in three forms, each with a different barrel length. The first model had a 4.7in barrel, the second had a 6in barrel, and the third had a 7.5in barrel. Each model was designed to be fired with one hand, using the wooden shoulder stock to maintain stability when firing. The trigger guard was enlarged to make it suited for large winter gloves. The pistol grip was very short and stubby, and the weapon's magazine (actually an MP-40 magazine) basically acted as an extension of the pistol grip. The safety system was probably the most unique aspect of the Viper; rather than a switch, it was a button. If pressed down fully, the Viper would fire in full-automatic mode. If pressed down half-way, it would fire in single shots. Single shots were also achievable through pulling the trigger half-way, regardless of the fire mode.

Trials were conducted for the Viper but there was no major interest in the weapon and it was rejected promptly. Mr. Hutton-Williams designed no other firearms during his lifetime, but later became Superintendent of the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield. Retired in 1975 and died in 2001.

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