Small firearms have one advantage – they are easy to hide. On paper Sedgley OSS .38 was not a very powerful or a very practical weapon. However, no enemy would have wanted to be punched in the head with a fist armed like this.
The Sedgley OSS .38 is a very rare American single-shot pistol, created during the Second World War as an easy-to-hide last resort weapon. Or a tool for assassinations, if it came to these kind of missions. These pistols were issued to some of the US Navy and Marine Corps soldiers serving in the Pacific theater. As you can see, the name of the Sedgley Fist Gun, which we took from Wikipedia, includes the acronym OSS, which could mean that it was used by the Office of Strategic Services (WW2-era CIA and INR predecessor). However, it seems like this glove-pistol was only used by the Navy troops and marines. Interestingly, Sedgley OSS .38 was delivered only as a single glove. This means that for an inconspicuous look a soldier would have had to source a similar looking glove himself.
The Sedgley OSS .38 was invented by Stanley M. Haight. He came up with an idea to make a punch a little spicier with gunpowder. His invention is a small single-shot pistol, mounted on the back of a glove, with a push-button trigger situated in parallel to the barrel. This pistol fires when its user punches someone with a clenched fist. This means that the barrel of the Sedgley OSS .38 would be millimeters from its target when it fires. In theory, the trigger could be pulled with another hand, but the user would be in danger of shooting his finger away and the accuracy would be terrible.
The Sedgley OSS .38 used 9 x 29 mm caliber rounds, which are common in revolvers. Before walking to the target, the soldier or a secret agent could hide his Sedgley OSS .38 under a long coat sleeve. Of course, caution had to be taken to not put your hands in your pockets, although Sedgley OSS .38 did have a safety mechanism. Even though this weapon could be used for secret missions, its actual intended function was different.
One can imagine a secret agent running to some important target and killing him with one punch, but that would be quite a stupid operation. Agent would have to get intimately close to his target and everyone would know it was him. The Sedgley glove pistol was actually intended to be used as a last resort weapon.
World War II veterans said they were told to use the Sedgley OSS .38 in case they were caught by the Japanese soldiers. While a Navy troop or marine would be getting frisked, he would punch his captor in the head, killing him instantly and, hopefully, freeing himself. However, this is a single-shot pistol and there are not many imaginable situations when that would be enough to avoid capture. Firing a second shot from the Sedgley glove pistol required finding a new round, openning the pistol, removing an empty cartridge, loading the gun – it was a lengthy process.
Possibly that one shot would help gaining access to a different weapon, but there is no reliable data about the Sedgley OSS .38 ever being used in combat. It is not even exactly known how many Sedgley glove pistols have been produced – that number should be between 55 and 200.
The Sedgley OSS .38 may look familiar to some readers – it is seen in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”. It was also featured on a Youtube channel Forgotten Weapons.