Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Top 20 Sneaky Spy gadgets used in the Cold War …

Ian Harvey

Over the years, armies have had some great technology and it improves yearly with new tactics and pieces of equipment that help men and women in the midst of battle. Here is a list of the top 20 coolest army gadgets that were used during the Cold War.

  1. Dual cyanide gun


This gun fires a dual cyanide charge that can kill a person almost instantly. It was first used by KGB officer Bogdan Stashinsky when he assassinated two Ukrainian dissidents who were living in Germany. He managed to hide the weapon inside a rolled-up newspaper; no one suspected a thing.

  1. Dead drop spy bolt

The dead drop spy bolt was hollow on the inside so that men and women could carry secret messages safely to others. If someone searched the pockets of these people no one would expect anything dangerous about a bolt.

  1. Decoder lock picks

These lock picks were generally used for some of the tougher, more sophisticated locks. The devices proved to be real handy for those breaking into enemy quarters.

  1. Lipstick gun
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

Men aren’t the only ones who can act as spies for their countries. Women proved to be fantastic spies during the war since no one suspected a woman would be involved in such dangerous matters. Women were able to carry around this little 4.5 millimeter single-shot gun in the 1960s. Like the spy bolt, it seemed harmless and was easy to conceal.

  1. Telephone monitoring equipmenPhoto Credit: Internation Spy Museum t
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

This gadget is quite easy to figure out. Spies generally carried the case of equipment around and hacked into telephone conversations. The equipment includes a batter, stethoscope, rubber bands, and more.

  1. Disappearing ink pen

Once again, this tiny gadget could go unnoticed during missions. If someone needed to send a secret message, they would resort to writing it with the disappearing ink. That way, if they were caught with the message only a blank piece of paper would be seen. In order to reveal the hidden message on the paper, the recipient would’ve needed vinegar and a heat source – simple as that!

  1. Document photographing

If an enemy discovered useful information on documents, they would photograph the papers to keep them for their records without actually removing them. The piece of equipment they used had two long lights on both sides and a cross member the camera screws on to for straight and steady photos.

  1. Glove pistol
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

Although the glove pistol was originally made by the United States Navy, it was eventually copied by the KGB. Whoever wore the glove would have to push the plunger into the enemy’s body for it to shoot them. The glove is inconspicuous, especially if a jacket covers the pistol part on top of the glove.

  1. Key copying kit

Like the decoder lock pick, this small kit proved to be helpful throughout the war. It all came in a small, convenient tin with a brick of clay to be used for copying any key the soldiers or spies might need.

  1. Hollow coin

No one suspects money to be any danger. Spies especially would use hollowed-out coins to transfer film to others. Like many of these gadgets, if the spy were stopped, no one would suspect a coin to be useful in passing information from person to person.

  1. Camera hidden in the coat jacket
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

At first glance, no one would be able to tell that a jacket had a special camera lens hidden in the button. The person wearing the jacket would have a little button on the inside of the pocket to click whenever they needed to take a photo.

  1. Pen camera
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

This one is a bit easy to figure out. All the spy needed to do was click the top of the ball point pen and they would have a photo. Once again, thanks to the item being so inconspicuous, it was easy to tote around, and a person would not be suspected of anything if caught with a pen.

  1. A gun case

A special kind of silver gun case was able to hide a larger gun such as the AK-47. Although it is a larger item, it does not have the same look as a regular gun case.

  1. Cufflinks

These cufflinks, made in the mid-1950s, had small recessions in them in order to hide microfilm. Any man who wore a suit was bound to have cufflinks, so this was an easy way to hide the film.

  1. Button compass

It’s safe to say a majority of spies were alone in foreign countries during the time of the Cold War. It would have been foolish to try to rely on instinct while traveling. Thankfully, there were compasses hidden in the buttons on their jackets in case they got lost or needed to go in a different direction.

  1. Shoe transmitting device
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

Many spy agencies had their spies tracked in case they fell into danger or had to go off the grid. The easiest way to keep track of spies was a transmitting device. The best place to have such a device proved to be on the inside of a shoe heel. The men’s shoe heel was thick enough to hold all of the wiring and technology that the transmission required.

  1. The passive bug


These bugs were made by Vadim Fedorovich Goncharov. They were small devices planted on the inside of a large wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States. The Great Seal was given by the Soviets to the U.S. Ambassador to the USSR in 1945. The bug wasn’t discovered until eight years later.

  1. Parachuting/civilian shoes
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

With the job as a spy comes the necessity for some crazy stunts. When some spies had to parachute from planes, they had to have special boots. However, after landing they had to blend into the crowds so they would not bring attention to themselves. This resulted in the idea of having zip-off boot tops on regular civilian shoes. All the spies would have to do after jumping was zip off the boot part on the shoes and toss them aside.

  1. Steineck ABC wristwatch camera
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

The wristwatch was made in 1949 by the Germans; however, it was used by the KGB for more than telling time. Many men wore watches so it was not suspicious to do so. The top half appears to be a regular watch, but on the bottom there is a shutter and buttons required for taking photos.

  1. Poison dart umbrella
    Photo Credit: Internation Spy Museum 

This kind of umbrella was actually used to kill Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov in London in 1978. Markov was waiting for the bus to take him to work when he felt a sting in the back of his leg. He saw a man with an umbrella standing behind him. He died three days later in the hospital of ricin poisoning. His autopsy showed a small hole in the back of his leg.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News