World War 2 changed general infantry tactics, especially in the field of infantry small arms. Vietnam changed the world of special operations and special operations weaponry. It’s an interesting parallel. We saw units like the SEALs, the Green Berets, and even Marine Recon made quite the splash against guerilla forces in Vietnam. Lots of specialized weapons were born, including many suppressed weapons. One of the most interesting was the Hush Puppy modification of the famed S&W 39 pistol.
The S&W 39 was put together initially due to Army interest in a smaller, lighter 9mm pistol. The Army ditched the 9mm pistol idea for the time being. S&W still charged full steam ahead with the model 39. The Model 39 provided an attractive platform for customization. The famed ASP pistol was a highly modified S&W 39, and the SEALs even used a custom model that accommodated a 14 round magazine.
Of course, today, we are talking about the Mk 22 Mod 0 variant, also named the Hush Puppy. Silencers became more mainstream during Vietnam, and the value of fighting guerillas with stealth rather than full-on force became an effective method for Spec-Ops teams. They often operated far from backup, and maintaining stealth allowed them to operate behind enemy lines without being immediately mercked.
The Need For Silence
Silence is golden, and brass kind of looks like gold. It was brass and the S&W 39 that members of the Navy Special Warfare Units saw potential in. These units could infiltrate deeply, commit recon, and eliminate high-value targets with relative impunity if they could do so quietly. Sometimes even the stealthiest of Secret Squirrels needed a backup plan.
The SEALs wanted a weapon that could quietly eliminate sentries, kill bad guys who got a little too close during recon, and something that could kill guard dogs quietly. If necessary, they could shoot and escape without worry about being followed or detected for quite some time.
Suppressed weapons were around. M14s and M21s had cans, as did M16s at the time. They worked, but they were still quite loud. When you break a gun down by its noisy points, you have three problems.
First, the noise at the muzzle as hot gas escapes the barrel, and we get a big bang. Second, we have the supersonic crack that rifle rounds at the time carried. Lastly, in semi-auto or automatic weapons, we have the loud clack of the action as it operates. The Hush Puppy aimed to solve all three of those problems.
The Hush Puppy Was Born
SEALs were already using the Model 39, and it proved to be an excellent pistol by all accounts. With a gun already in inventory, the Dwarven armorers at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory developed the S&W Model 39 into the Mk 22 Mod 0.
The newest pistol earned the Hush Puppy name because it was quiet, could eliminate dogs silently, and, well, it’s a catchy name that comes from an awesome southern fried snack. The Mk 22 Mod 0 utilized the double-stack magazine that SEALs were already using in their Model 39s. The barrel was extended by an inch and threaded to attach the Mark 3 suppressor.
As suppressors do, it blocked the sights, so they raised them and gave the Hush Puppy suppressor height sights. The little pistol could also mount a stock to increase accuracy. I could see why making sure your silent shot was an accurate one. The Hush Puppy also utilized 158-grain ammunition to ensure it would be subsonic and even more silent.
Finally, one of the defining features of the Hush Puppy was the slide lock. Users could manually lock the slide to keep it from cycling when the weapon fired. This prevented the noisy clack of the action from raming back and forth and creating excess noise at the cost of a very slow follow-up shot.
The Mk 22 Mod 0 addressed all of the issues with the noises weapons generate and produced a very effective little weapon. It was never a mass-produced tool but reportedly remained in armories until the famed HK MK 23 took its place in the 1990s.
The New Generation of the Hush Puppy
A small American company called Super Vel is aiming to bring the Hush Puppy back. They’ve produced suppressor-ready modern pistols, modern suppressors, and modern ammunition. Sadly, the NFA prevents stocked pistols from being a thing, but the Hush Puppy Project has seemingly produced the most modern variant possible.
The Hush Puppy Project has produced numerous variants. This includes a Glock 19 and Glock 43X option Each gun is outfitted with a slide lock device to reduce sound signature and optimize the suppressed experiment. Mix it with Super Vel’s own Hush Puppy ammo, and you might have one of the best options for factory-ready suppressed pistols.
The Hush Puppy is a unique part of American small arms history and is a fascinating part of weapon development. I’m glad someone has decided to bring it back and modernize it.