The ‘Terrible’ Tarn Pistol, Designed by a Pole for the UK


The ‘Terrible’ Tarn Pistol, Designed by a Pole for the UK

(Image: Screenshot from Tarn pistol video)

Way back when World War 2 was in its final days, our British buddies across the pond were trying to develop a decent pistol. Thanks to their lame policies on handguns among their populace, during the war the UK literally begged Americans to send their own privately-owned handguns across the Atlantic to help them fight the war, but that’s a subject for another day. Today, we join Ian as he looks over an experimental Tarn 9mm pistol.

In the intro, we learn the Tarn was conjured up by a Polish gun designer residing in the UK, and although it was kept simple, it didn’t even come close to being officially adopted by the British government. Heck, Ian goes so far as to call it terrible!

It looks a bit like a 1911 in overall shape and size, but because Europeans have long been deeply in love with the 9mm Luger, the Tarn was chambered for that cartridge.

Where did the name come from? The stamping on the left side of the slide is “TARN.” and that period suggests it’s an abbreviation for something, but Ian wonders what in tarnation that could be — until a knowledgeable commenter provides him with the information that the pistol was created by Teofil Tarnowski, therefore TARN. is an abbreviation of the designer’s surname.

Tarn pistol

It’s striker fired pistol, operated by blowback — and it’s a lot heavier than a 1911. And I can’t say I am a fan of the heel-type magazine release. Actually, I kinda hate those.

We hear some of the results of the testing of the gun, and none of it is encouraging. The gun is heavy, with the recoil spring smooshed down to half its length just to assemble the pistol, and the testers also added that “the general arrangement of the safety and hammer axis is poor and requires a great deal of care in assembly to ensure that both… are operative.”

During shooting, they found the fired rounds to be “very violent,” whatever that means. Worse, cocking or recocking the pistol in the event of a misfire is “extremely difficult” and “accuracy was of a low standard.”

I totally don’t want a Tarn pistol now. You?

Avatar Author ID 61 - 396623355

Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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