Having completed the final design, the Birmingham Small Arms Company (B.S.A.), Small Heat, Birmingham - in all probability and under great secrecy - was commissioned to mass produce the Welrod pistol. The only distinguishing markings on the pistols were that of a little five-pointed star and square along with a serial number. All markings were stamped underneath on the tube right behind the pistol grip.
The serial numbers, numeric only, are either 4 or 5 digits and, in addition to the above mentioned position are also stamped into the breech and etched into the magazine with an electrical pen. Not all magazines bear serial numbers however. The very first bore no markings at all. The molded ebonite grip was slightly differently shaped than on most of those we find today. Also the magazine was of a different model which can best be distinguished on the magazine jaws. This was an earlier Colt magazine that was used until 1926 and apparently happened to be available yet. The production Welrods were made with current production Colt magazines.
When the magazines began to bear markings it was only the two last digits of the serial number. Probably not until around #3000 was the full serial number marked on the magazine and it is also around this time the grip got its final design by making the “neck” sturdier. The cut-outs for the magazine locking mechanism can vary somewhat in shape and size. On some of the first grips a cross-filed pattern can in rare cases be seen on the locking mechanism.
The one to the left is one of the first models with a slim “neck” this particular one has no number stamped. The one to the right is the "standard” grip with the "fat" neck. Also notice that the locking mechanism on the early one is cross-filed.
On the Mk IIA series the entire serial number has been etched into magazine whereas this Mk II model (above) only has the two last digits "37" on the back.
Less noticeable are the markings one may find on the butt of the receiver. On some of the Welrods I have had the opportunity to inspect these markings have varied between – and on occasion appeared in combinations of-: "F","T","L","Z","D", In addition I have seen “L” inside a figure of double diamonds and “P” inside a circle. Apparently there is no pattern or system to these markings. Far from all of the pistols carry these markings.
The square and the five-pointed star appear without exception on all of the inspected weapons. Yet it has not been possible to establish their true significance. A qualified guess is that the markings represent a form of testing and/or inspection or maybe some sort of coding like the German “byf”, “cyq”, “ac” and others that indicated place of production of German weapons.
Above is shown examples of 4 different stamped markings. On the pistol to the left is stamped with an “F” and “k” whereas the pistol on the right bears an “L” inside a figure of double diamonds and a “P” inside a circle. The steel ball protruding top left on the receiver is spring loaded and assures that the closed breech is held in place by locking into a corresponding hole on the breech.
Here is clearly shown the small square marking along with the five-pointed star. On this Mk II the serial number is stamped along the length of the tube whereas the Mk IIA is stamped abeam of the length.
B.S.A. has been unable to confirm this. They claim none of the pistols bore serial numbers or other markings that could reveal the manufacturer. They do however confirm having produced parts for the Welrod as well as entire pistols but that several other British companies were involved in the production.
Here is an excerpt from the correspondence:
[quote] Regarding the information that you are requesting on the Welrod pistol, although we have in the past manufactured specific parts for these particular pistols, we have no information regarding production development or variations of these pistols. All we know is that they were produced by a number of companies in Britain including B.S.A. and these were developed specifically for covert operations in occupied Europe. They, therefore, bore no serial numbers or indication as to where they were manufactured. [/quote]
But if B.S.A. did not mark the weapons then who did?
The National Firearms Centre (NFC) in Leeds, England has a rare prototype of the Welrod Mk.IIA pistol. The text “PROTOTYPE WELROD Mk.IIA” is engraved on the left side of the receiver just below the rear sight. The interesting part however is that the only mark to be found is the five pointed star exactly as we know it from all the other models. This does in my humble opinion mean that the star most likely belong to the Birmingham Small Arms factory and was put there during the production.
The text is stamped on the receiver below the rear sight. (Photo Richard D. Jones, Custodian MOD Pattern Room)
Only the five pointed star is to be found on the prototype which indicates that it was in fact a British marking.
(Photo Richard D. Jones, Custodian MOD Pattern Room)
I regret not being able to account for the significance of the markings in a more precise manner than the above written so I will leave it up to each individual to draw his own conclusions.
The production of the Mk II was not officially up and running until late 1943, but several documents reveals that it was indeed available already at the beginning of 1943. According to the serial numbers at least 14.000, were supposedly produced. Not until the middle of 1944 did the production of Mk I get under way. The amount produced is unknown. The beginning of the production of the Mk I so late in the war is undoubtedly the reason it was never dropped into Denmark. A recently discovered drawing of the Mk.I bears the date May 17, 1944 with the last revision made on what looks like May 15. 1956! (printing is faded and difficult to read). The drawing is marked with the trademark: B.S.A. GUNS LTD., England.
Part of the engineering drawing showing the bolt and receiver. (Drawing from the MOD Pattern Room)