SOMMER-&-OCKENFUSS "P-21" selfloading pistol

SOMMER-&-OCKENFUSS

The German firm of SOMMER+OCKENFUSS, previously known for their odd single-shot Bull-Pup hunting and sporting rifles as well as for their Bull-Pup "TW" SWAT-entry carbines in .44-Magnum and .50-AE, shown the P-21 pistol at the MILIPOL 2002 expo. The weapon had been conceived by the Swiss engineer MARTIN TUMA, already known for having been the chief engineer of other gun manufacturers, mainly Swiss-based, like ITM - INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY MACHINERIES (developer of their AT-8x pistols based on the CZ-75), SPHINX SYSTEM (developer of the, still CZ75-based, AT-2000 pistols cache and the tiny AT-380, as well as of their newer AT-3000 pistols quite recently), and ASAI - ADVANCED SMALL ARMS INSTITUTE (developer of the "OnePRO" pistol in .9x19mm/.9x21mm and .45-ACP/.400-CorBon). In fact, at a quick glance, the P-21 bears a lot of similarities with another "typical" Martin Tuma's project, the MTE-9/MTE-45 compact handgun that has been prototype-manufactured by Tuma himself with the machineries he is in possession of, and which is being made in series by CZ-STROJIRNA S.R.O. of Czech Republic (http://www.czstrakonice.cz), to the limited extent of the 9mm samples, specifically the compact MT-9 for concealed carry and service and the MT-9L for practical shooting featuring extended magazine and compensator. Martin Tuma has a long history of co-operation with Czech-based firms: its "trademark" PDW, the MTE-224V/224-VA, has been jointly-developed with CALIBER-PRAGUE and LUVO-PRAGUE (and in fact LUVO seems to be the entity behind CZ-STROJIRNA, on their Website it is pointed as their "Exclusive business partner"). Martin Tuma seems to be the engineer behind the CZ-STROJIRNA's "CZ-TT" pistols (for which he mixed his "trademark" features with the well-known CZ-75 design and the advanced external appearance and materials of the Italian TANFOGLIO handguns). The P-21 pistol came in two versions, the "Combat" and the "Police", not much different between each others. It was basically a compact or semi-compact semi-automatic handgun with a polymer frame and a SA/DA action. Its main feature was that it had a fairly high capacity (ranging from 14+1 to 16+1 rounds), and that it was available chambered in three calibers (two of them being pretty common, the .9x19mm "Luger/Parabellum/NATO" and the .40 Smith-&-Wesson), one of them being another Martin Tuma's trademark, the .224-VOB, or .224 HV (High Velocity). This round is engineered from a .7'62x25mm Tokarev pistol cartridge case necked-down to accept a .5'56mm bullet. This obtained a .5'7mm bullet of 2,9g x 720m/s, developing an energy equal to 750 Joules, or 76,6 kgm, obviously conceived as a light armor-piercing round. Another feature was that its safety device was "grip-mounted", and that it worked by decocking the external hammer. This made the weapon safe to carry with round in chamber and readily usable with a DA first shot (or, as I like, by cocking the hammer with the thumb before firing the first shot, so to exploit the light trigger pull of the Single Action). Additionally, they weapon had a key-safety to be "locked" when stored. Nonetheless, the P-21 was an otherwise unremarkable pistol. It was just another polymer-framed multicaliber compact or semi-compact pistol, and even with an external hammer (at a time when internal-hammer pistols like the Glocks are lording it on the market, but even not wanting to pick up a Glock, there was, and still there is, plenty of choice alternatively to the P-21). The decocker-only safety could have made many people turn up the nose as perceiving it as a "lack of effective safety" (I don't understand such a position since the market is full with designs which have such a feature as a safety option if not as their only safety, and most of them are well-known and well-selling, the decocking and double-action-ready carry is an appreciated option between both professionals and simple civilians who carry guns for self-defense). But basically (in my humble opinion) is that the P-21 failed on the market because it was "just another" pistol sharing features that many other designs had, most of these "other designs" being on the market since a long time, well-selling, trusted and respected. This is just another demonstration, if ever it was needed, of the fact that the gun market is a very conservative place that tends to clog with already-well-known designs and leaving poor or no space to innovations, if them don't come from known manufacturers (and even then, success is not guaranteed), or if them aren't pushed with force somehow. In my opinion, it would have had a chance as a concealed-carry weapon for Security forces personnel (Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Secret Service, etc.), but again, even that market was already glutted with pistols like Berettas, SIGs, Glocks, S&Ws, etc., plus the Walther P-99 had been recently introduced and was stealing a lot of marketplace (THAT's what I'm talking about when I say of a design being "pushed with force", nothing pushes the sales of a gun more than appearing in a 007 movie feature). Plus even its "main course", the .224-HV armor-piercing chambering, was "just another one", and so was its high magazine capacity, being at the time the main world market for firearms (the American one) plagued by the ban that limited the maximum ammo capacity for civilian-sold guns to 10 rounds, and being the Military/LE/Governmental market, once again, full of high-capacity offers. By 2002, the need was not felt for a concealable or holsterable compact handgun for service or concealed carry that could have such armor-piercing capacities; not to mention that other designs and other ammunitions (an infinity, starting with the Belgian .5'7x28mm ammo and FN P90 sub-machinegun) were fulfilling the "felt needs" for such ammos; and many other firearms and ammunitions designs based on the same concepts were bound to fail or to remain niche weapons. SOMMER+OCKENFUSS GmbH closed down later in 2002, the same year when the P-21 was introduced; this is confirmed by BLUEBOOK. Some sources state that the P-21 was "commercialized" by Sommer+Ockenfuss, but the brief timeshift between the first appearance and the shutdown of the manufacturer makes me doubt seriously that it has ever passed the demonstrational working prototype stage. TECHNICAL SPECS -Calibers: 9x19mm "Luger/Parabellum/NATO" \ .40 Smith-&-Wesson \ .224-HV High-Velocity Armour-Piercing. -Capacity: 16+1 rounds (9mm) \ 14+1 rounds (.40-SW) \ 16+1 rounds (.224-HV) -Total lenght: 178 Millimetres ("Police" model) \ 164,5 Millimetres ("Combat" model) -Barrel lenght: 90 Millimetres ("Police" model) \ 79 Millimetres ("Combat" model) -Weight with empty magazine: 750 - 790 - 820 grams depending from the caliber ("Police" model) \ 720 - 760 - 780 grams depending from the caliber ("Combat" model) -Sights: fixed -Working system: short barrel recoil -Safety systems: decocking lever \ anti-shock safety \ slide-mounted key safety for "locking" the gun at the moment of the storage -Finish: black matte -Particular features: differentiated firing-pin release weight (1,8 Kg trigger pull in Single Action vs. 4,2 Kg trigger pull in Double Action); "ballasted" (heavy-weighted) magazines; side-mounted mag release lever; polymer frame with tactical accessories rail -Recoil coefficient ("Police" model only): 3/3,7 m/s (9mm) \ 2,3/2,54 m/s (.224) MANUFACTURER Sommer+Ockenfuss GmbH (now out of business) Last known contact informations: S+O GmbH, Buhlerweg 4 / D-77270 Baiersbronn (Germany) http://www.sommer-ockenfuss.de ENGINEER MTE - Martin Tuma Engineering http://mtuma.ch (website temporarily out of service)

Submitted by: Pierangelo Tendas & Roger Desbois