Aimo Lahti lent his design talents to a new Finnish semi-automatic pistol which bears his name as the "Lahti L-35". While initially appearing as nothing more than a German Luger clone, the L-35 borrowed the external appearance of the famous weapon while mating this to a Bergmann-style internal mechanism to produce one of the finer semi-automatic pistol examples of World War 2 (1939-1945). The weapon came to be well-recognized for its high level of finish and quality as well as its in-the-field reliability.
Design work began in 1929 and the gun was adopted as the official sidearm of the Finnish Army in 1935 - hence its designation - replacing the outgoing Pistol m/23 series. Production of the pistol was handled by Valtion Kivaaritehdas in Finland and Husqvarna Vapenfabriks Aktiebolag of Sweden during its service life to which some 98,700 examples were ultimately manufactured.
The L-35 was chambered for the globally popular 9x19mm Parabellum, a pistol cartridge originating in Germany and still in use today (2015). The weapon exhibited a weight of 2.75 pounds when loaded and featured an overall length of 9.3 inches with a 4.6 inch long barrel. As in the Luger, the L-35 sported a noticeably backwards-cranked pistol grip handle with integrated ringed trigger area. The receiver was generally boxy in its appearance and only ran through the midway length of the gun with the barrel exposed along the remaining length in the typical Luger way. A rear notch and front blade post made up the sighting combination. The grip handle housed a spring-loaded, 8-round detachable box magazine and the weapon's action was recoil-operated with use of a locked breech arrangement. Muzzle velocity was 1,100 feet per second.
The weapon saw considerable service throughout World War 2 (1939-1945) and featured firstly in the "Winter War" (1939-1940) against the invading Soviet Union. It saw extended service against the Soviets in the following "Continuation War" (1941-1944) and contributed to the Finnish cause during the "Lapland War" (1944-1945) against Germany in the later stages of World War 2. Under the rigors of combat abuse, the L-35 gave a good account of itself as a reliable weapon for its internal design makeup was particularly good in resisting the buildup of dirt. This sort of quality lent itself well to temperate, mountainous, and arctic conditions. Furthermore, a bolt "accelerator" could be fitted to elevate its rate-of-fire though this was primarily used to increase reliability in cold weather operations.
If the L-35 held any detrimental qualities, it was in its complex take-down process which eventually would require a skilled gunsmith to fully strip. It was also notably heavy in the hand when loaded. Otherwise, they were exceptionally well made pistols for their time and often overlooked in the family of Luger-style sidearms appearing during the 1930s and 1940s period.
Husqvarna of Switzerland produced the Lahti L-35 as the "Pistol m/40" from 1940 to 1946. The Finnish L-35 was selected for the Swedish Army only after import of the original selection - the German Walther P38 semi-automatic - was given up with Germany's official entry into World War 2.
Manufacturing Valtion Kivaaritehdas - Finland / Husqvarna Vapenfabriks Aktiebolag - Sweden
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