After Israel became a state post WWII, they needed small arms to equip their fledgling military. They used a number of different firearms during these early years ranging from former German WWII 98K Mausers to FN-FAL's. Many of the guns they procured were either given to them as aid or were purchased second hand, including a bunch of Browning Hi-Powers.
Eventually Israel would develop its own indigenous small arms like the famous Uzi, Galil and the Jericho 941 handgun. Guns like the Galil and 941 were more or less clones of well established service weapons developed in other countries. In the case of the Galil, it is a variant of the Russian AK-47 but is a near perfect copy of the Finnish RK62 (which is based on the AK-47 but is more refined). The Jericho 941 is a near perfect clone of the Czech made CZ-75 right down to the fact they use the same magazine.
The CZ-75 is easily one of the worlds most successful 9mm pistols. It was developed in Czechoslovakia in the 1970's during the Cold War. I remember to this day when I read about them in Soldier of Fortune magazine. Robert K. Brown's crew had found one in Afghanistan and did an article about it. I was fascinated by it.
I have to get this out of the way. I'm a HUGE fan of the CZ75. I have actually held, in my very own hands, the very first (serial number 00001) CZ-75 produced.
Ok, ok... Let's take a step back and talk about the pistol featured in this post; the Israeli made Jericho 941F. The "F" in the model designation denotes a frame mounted safety. You will find Jericho 941's without the F designation which have the frame mounted safety as you can see on this recent import from IWI US (pictured below).
I've also toured the IWI factory in Israel and was told the IDF and internal Security Forces only used the frame mounted safety guns. The slide mounted decocker safety guns were developed for commercial sales and were sold in the US by Magnum Research as the "Baby Eagle". These may be found with an assortment of markings, but here's an example with IWI grips and "Desert Eagle" roll marked on the frame.
Here's where things get interesting. Most gun collectors don't know that the IWI Jericho 941 had a version that was Single Action Only (SAO). Most believe only a Double Action/Single Action (DA/SA) was produced. You can spend hours Googling "single action only Jericho 941" and you'll get an assortment of posts from people across countless forums. The general consensus is that such a gun doesn't exist or most people have never heard of one.
I think by now you know the SAO 941F does in fact exist, but why does it exist you may ask?
That's a fair question. I don't know that I can answer "why" both a DA/SA and SAO only version exist vs. simply one or the other. But I can answer why guns used by internal Security Forces (including police) exists with only the single action functionality.
When Israel was using the Browning Hi-Power there really wasn't a safe way to carry the gun loaded and ready to fire like we commonly carry handguns today. Even during my time in the Marine Corps we never carried our 1911's with a round chambered and the safety on (cocked and locked). We carried them with a full magazine inserted with an empty chamber and the hammer down. Carrying a pistol with an empty chamber was a common practice for many of the worlds militaries since the invention of self loading handguns.
I know some of you will ask, "Why did you have 1911's, didn't you serve when the M9 was being issued?" A long story short: many Marine units continued to use 1911's when the rest of the Fleet used M9's. I served in Marine Corps Security Forces (MCSF) which used MEU(SOC) pistols that came about starting in 1985. The M45A1 was the last MEU(SOC) pistol to be adopted.
The Israeli's couldn't carry the Hi-Powers with a round in the chamber with the hammer down safely as the guns don't have a firing pin safety. They didn't feel they could carry them safely with a round in the chamber and the hammer back with the manual safety on because the safeties didn't have positive detents. The 1911 has a very positive click when going from either fire or safe and the detent keeps the safety lever securely in place. The Hi-Power doesn't have this detent system. So, they carried them with an empty chamber and a full magazine inserted.
The Israeli's came up with the famous "Israeli method" of drawing, loading and shooting their pistols. You can see this being demonstrated in my video from 2013 when I toured IWI. If you click here it will take you to the video and the part where the IDF operator uses the famous method with his 941 pistol.
What I found curious was why they were still using this system of carry and deployment. The original 941 was purposely designed as a DA/SA pistol which means it is safe to carry with the chamber loaded and the hammer down. The only thing the IDF version of the 941 lacks is a decocker (which the Baby Eagle does have).
Initially the Security Forces that wanted the SAO option were obviously using the "Israeli method" of carry and saw no use for the DA option therefore sought to disable it for their troops. Armorers initially took standard DA/SA 941's and converted them to SAO. Later IWI would make guns that were SAO right out of the factory. The armorer conversion guns can be identified by an extra roll pin just in front of the trigger pivot pin that is used as a stop to prevent the trigger from returning all the way forward to its DA position.
The gun I have is a factory SAO made gun. It also bares the Star of David on the right side of the frame. This means it was likely used by Police.
With the exception of the SAO trigger, the gun shares every part with the standard 941.
Just like the CZ-75 it borrows so heavily from, the Jericho 941 uses full length inverted slide rails and the original has steel upper and lower assemblies making it a very heavy, but robust, service pistol. A polymer frame 941 is also available on the US market.
Actually, the 941 has even more rail than the CZ-75 because it extends to the muzzle whereas the CZ-75's stops about 1.5" before the end of the barrel. You can see the two pistols side by side in this next photo (CZ-75 right, Jericho 941F left).
Disassembly of the 941 is identical to the CZ-75 and incredibly simple. The only thing more simple is a modern day gun like a Glock which lacks the cross pin borrowed from John Browning's designs (1911 and Hi-Power). As you can see, the parts are big, well made and well suited for a conscript Army.
You'll also note that the gun I have wears the IWI (Israeli Weapons Industries) emblem while you will also find SAO 941's with the IMI (Israeli Military Industries) emblem. What's the difference? All small arms manufactured for IDF and Security Forces used in Israel were originally made by IMI. That's why you'll see IMI marked pre-89 guns like the Uzi, Galil, 941, etc. In 2005 the Israeli government decided to split their small arms manufacturing away from IMI and privatize it. IMI still exists but builds everything except small arms (tank guns, missiles, anti-tank weapons, vehicles, etc.) and is a state owned company.
What's neat is that I found this 941F recently on the Classic Firearms site. I got the email and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Until this point I hadn't seen a SAO 941 on the market. I know they've come in previously in small shipments, but they're so rare that as I mentioned above, many people don't know they exist.
If you're a military collector, here's a chance to own a relatively rare variant of the 941. The gun I have here is likely a nicer specimen than what you might get if you were to order one. I placed the order like anyone else would, and selected the "hand select" option for $25 extra. In full disclosure, Classic saw my order, recognized my name and refunded my money. As you know, I don't go around asking companies for free stuff.
The fact they refunded my money won't change what my opinion of the firearm is, or if I manage to break it that I won't show the failure on video. You know I will.
Stay tuned for the video! If you have any questions or if you know more about the history of this gun, please post below. I love the fact many of you know more about various things than I do and it really helps me when it comes time to make videos.
(NOTE: Patreon is broken right now so this blog post is available to everyone! :D It gives folks an idea of what some of the extra content is as a perk.)