Bechowiec-1
Bechowiec-1 is a Polish submaschine gun designed in 1943 by Henryk Str▒poŠ. The gun was manufactured during Nazi occupation of Poland during WWII. It was used by armed resistance organization named Bataliony Ch│opskie (Peasants Battalions). Bechowiec-1 is a blowback operated weapon which firing from closed bolt. This was a rare feature in submaschine guns of WWII era. Weapon does not have receiver, but instead a handgun-like steel frame and the steel slide, which completly encloses the barrel in a manner utilized in semi-automatic pistols. Such type of design caused the slide to be longer than the frame, and necessitated placement of a sling loop under the barrel portion of reciprocating slide. The gun does not have a a slide stop catch. For production of Bechowiec-1 guns, Henryk Str▒poŠ was utilizing properly modified barrels from existing bolt action rifles. The recoil spring is mounted around the barrel which is 240 mm long and rifled with 4 grooves having 224mm right hand twist rate. Bechowiec-1 has extractor mounted on a slide, and the ejector mounted on actuator. Ejection port is located on right side of the slide. Gun has trigger mechanism for single shot and full automatic fire utilizing 2 separate trigger bars. Fire selector is located on left side of receiver, above a pistol grip. Selector lever has three positions. Upper position for safe, down position for single shot, and intermediate position for full automatic fire. Internal hammer is mounted in the frame, and the firing pin with its spring is located in the slide. Bechowiec-1 is chambered for 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge, however very last 2 manufactured guns were built for Soviet 7,62x25mm cartridge. Weapon is fed from 32-round double column steel box magazine, having inspection openings on its forward wall. Magazine well is located under the frame forward of pistol grip, and it has a cut in which engages vertical protrusion of the magazine. The magazine latch is located on a left side of the frame forward of magazine well. Weapon has wooden pistol grip containing trigger spring, and has no provisions for a stock. Bechowiec-1 slides are marked with "S.H.W.44", and "BH". (Mark "BH" stands for Bechowiec, however the proper abbreviation should be "BCh". Henryk Str▒poŠ simply could not get the "C" punch tool to make a proper marking). Gun fixed sights are set for a distance of 50 meters.
Bechowiec-1 design was quite futuristic for a period of time of its conception. Firing from closed bolt and internal hammer were very rare features in submachine guns of WWII era. These features are present in modern submachine guns, such as MP5 and PM-84 Glauberyt. Probably Henryk Str▒poŠ had based his design on the concept of automatic handgun. Bechowiec-1 is light, short and ergonomical. Its accuracy is not high however, due to lack of receiver and stock. Recoil spring placed around the barrel was subject to high temperature exposure, but it seemed not to be a problem due to relatively limited acces of the underground resistance to ammunition, preventing fighters from firing for prolonged periods of time. Field stripping was only possible with the use of hand tools. Shooter had to unscrew several screws for dissassembly. This weapon was manufactured by Henryk Str▒poŠ during 1944, and only 11 Bechowiec-1 submashine guns were ever produced by him. This interesting construction probably inspired design of Polish PM-63 "RAK". Lack of receiver in the later serves as evidence of some influence. Today the most completly preserved specimen of Bechowiec-1 is located in Museum of Polish Army in Warsaw, Poland. (Muzeum Wojska Polskiego w Warszawie).
Bechowiec-1 (Courtesy of Konsky)
Bechowiec-1 summary
cartridge
9x19mm Parabellum or 7,62x25mm
muzzle velocity
360m/s in 9x19mm Parabellum version
barrel lenght
240mm
lenght
445mm
weight
2.4kg with empty magazine

2.8kg with full loadd 32 rounds magazine
fire selector
single and full auto
magazine
32 rounds double column box magazine
rate of fire
700 rpm
Bechowiec-1 (Konsky)
Bechowiec-1 (Konsky)