For their protection work they are armed with Glock pistols and assault rifles

The firearms used by the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the smallest army in the world

The Pontifical Swiss Guard and the Vatican Gendarmerie are the bodies in charge of protecting the Pope and Vatican City.

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The Vatican Gendarmerie, with about 150 officers, is a little-known police force compared to the Swiss Guard, very popular for its colorful ceremonial uniforms and for the fact that it is the smallest army in the world, since it only has 135 soldiers. But if the Vatican Gendarmerie is little known, the fact that the Swiss Guard has modern firearms, in addition to the bladed weapons they use with their ceremonial uniforms, is even less well known.

A swearing-in ceremony for 34 new Swiss Guards in Vatican City in May 2021. Here we see these soldiers in their famous ceremonial uniforms (Photo: Päpstliche Schweizergarde).

In 2022, the Swiss Guard published a 16-page brochure (see PDF) on its official website (a website with a Swiss extension), revealing their weaponry: "The literal weapon of each guard up to the rank of sergeant is a short sword with an S-shaped crosshead or a so-called rapier sword with decorated basket hand protection for officers, chaplain not included.There is also the famous halberd and two spears (partesana) with different endings for the ends and vice-ends".

A Swiss Guard with a SIG 552 Commando assault rifle, equipped with a suppressor on its barrel (Photo: Päpstliche Schweizergarde).

The document then cites the firearms: "For their protection and guard functions, the guards are equipped with Glock 19 and 26 automatic pistols, SIG 550 assault rifle (Stgw 90 ) and SIG 552 assault rifle (Commando), both in 5.56 mm x 45 caliber, OC-Spray and destabilizing devices (Taser X2). modernization of the already aging Stgw 90 (which was donated by the Swiss Army at the time), currently B&T APC 556 assault rifles and B&T APC 9 submachine guns are used."

A Swiss Guard with a SIG SG 550 assault rifle (Photo: Päpstliche Schweizergarde).

In addition to the colorful ceremonial uniforms and blue but also vintage everyday uniforms, the Swiss Guards wear deployment uniforms (as they are called) dark blue , with caps and berets of the same color. They are typically military-style uniforms, and they use Haix Black Eagle High 2.0 military boots and girdles with a Safariland Model 739 pistol holster, a holster for two magazines, a holster with a multitool, shackles and a small first aid kit.

The belt of a Swiss guard. On the right we see the Safariland Model 739 holster with a Glock 19 pistol (Photo: Päpstliche Schweizergarde).

In addition to the aforementioned equipment, each Swiss Guard has an NBC protection mask, WILEY X Rogue 2852 protective glasses and Kinetixx X-Mamba gloves. The Swiss Guard also has bulletproof vests, both inside and outside. For communications they use DP 3441 and 3661 radios.

A SIG 550 (top) and a SIG 552 Commando of the Swiss Guard (Photo: Päpstliche Schweizergarde).

Of course, the Swiss Guard does not have a large arsenal. In their headquarters in Vatican City they keep their old rifles, in the aforementioned document there is a photo of two SIG SG 550 with their respective bayonets. Among the old weapons kept by the Swiss Guard is, curiously, a German MP-40 submachine gun from World War II . Obviously, being a site with a very limited area, the Swiss guards do not practice shooting there, but in Switzerland.

A Swiss guard practicing shooting with a Glock 19 pistol in the canton of Tessin, Switzerland, in June 2020 (Photo: Päpstliche Schweizergarde).

You can see below some more photos of the most unknown facet of the Swiss Guard, obtained through your official Facebook page.

Swiss Guards during a training session in Vatican City. Here we see the beret they wear with their deployment uniforms.

Swiss guards doing target practice with their Glock 19 pistols in Tessin, Switzerland.

Swiss Guard soldiers on a march in Nimwegen in July 2017. They wear the camouflage uniforms of the Swiss Army, but with a patch on their right arm that identifies them as members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

The arsenal of the Swiss Guard headquarters in the Vatican. On the left we see the German MP-40 submachine gun that I referred to above.

The patch worn by members of the Swiss Guard on their right arm on their deployment uniforms. The patch shows the name of this Guard in German (top) and Italian (bottom).

Swiss Guards at basic police training in the canton of Tessin, Switzerland, in July 2020.


Main photo: Päpstliche Schweizergarde. Swiss guards in Vatican City in May 2021.

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