Submachine gun

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General John T. Thompson holding a Thompson M1921 Thompson-and-his-gun.jpg
General John T. Thompson holding a Thompson M1921

A submachine gun (SMG) is a magazine-fed, automatic carbine designed to shoot handgun cartridges. The term "submachine gun" was coined by John T. Thompson, the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun. [1]

Magazine (firearms) ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm

A magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm. Magazines can be removable (detachable) or integral (internal/fixed) to the firearm. The magazine functions by moving the cartridges stored within it into a position where they may be loaded into the barrel chamber by the action of the firearm. The detachable magazine is often colloquially referred to as a clip, although this is technically inaccurate.

Automatic firearm firearm that will continue to fire so long as the trigger is pressed and held

An automatic firearm continuously fires rounds as long as the trigger is pressed or held and there is ammunition in the magazine/chamber. In contrast, a semi-automatic firearm fires one round with each individual trigger-pull.

A carbine, from French carabine, is a long gun firearm but with a shorter barrel than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full-length rifles, shooting the same ammunition, while others fire lower-powered ammunition, including types designed for pistols.


The submachine gun was developed during World War I (1914–1918). At its peak during World War II (1939–1945), millions of SMGs were made as close quarter offensive weapons. After the war, new SMG designs appeared frequently. [2] However, by the 1980s, SMG usage decreased. [2] Today, submachine guns have been largely replaced by assault rifles, [2] which have a greater effective range and are capable of penetrating the helmets and body armor used by modern infantry. [3] However, submachine guns are still used by military special forces and police SWAT teams for close quarters battle (CQB) because they are "a pistol-caliber weapon that's easy to control, and less likely to over-penetrate the target". [3]

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War, the Great War, and initially in North America as the European War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Close quarters combat (CQC) is a tactical concept that involves a physical confrontation between several combatants. It can take place between military units, police/corrections and criminals, and other similar scenarios. In warfare, it usually consists of small units or teams engaging the enemy with personal weapons at very short range, up to 100 meters, from proximity hand-to-hand combat to close-quarter target negotiation with short-range firearms. In the typical close quarters combat scenario, the attackers try a very fast, violent takeover of a vehicle or structure controlled by the defenders, who usually have no easy way to withdraw. Because enemies, hostages/civilians, and fellow operators can be closely intermingled, close quarters combat demands a rapid assault and a precise application of lethal force. The operators need great proficiency with their weapons, and the ability to make split-second decisions in order to minimize accidental casualties.


Artillery Luger P08 pistol with snail-drum magazine and removable stock. Arty08.jpg
Artillery Luger P08 pistol with snail-drum magazine and removable stock.

World War I

During World War I, the Austrians introduced the world's first machine pistol the Steyr Repetierpistole M1912/P16. The Germans also experimented with machine pistols by converting pistols such as the Mauser C96 and Luger P-08 from semi-automatic to fully automatic operation and adding detachable stocks. Carbine-type automatic weapons firing pistol rounds were developed during the latter stages of World War I by Italy, Germany and the United States. Their improved firepower and portability offered an advantage in trench warfare. [4]

Machine pistol pistol capable of fully automatic fire

A machine pistol is typically a handgun-style machine gun, capable of fully automatic or burst fire. The term is a calque of the German word "Maschinenpistole". They were developed during World War I, and originally issued to German artillery crews who needed a self-defense weapon, lighter than a rifle but more effective than a standard pistol. Today, machine pistols are considered a special purpose weapon with limited utility, and difficult for all but the best shooters to control.

Pistol Type of handgun where the firing chamber is integral to the barrel

A pistol is a type of handgun. The pistol originates in the 16th century, when early handguns were produced in Europe. The English word was introduced in ca. 1570 from the Middle French pistolet. The most common types of pistol today are the single shot and semi-automatic. Automatic pistols are less common due to laws and regulations.

Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistol

The Mauser C96 is a semi-automatic pistol that was originally produced by German arms manufacturer Mauser from 1896 to 1937. Unlicensed copies of the gun were also manufactured in Spain and China in the first half of the 20th century.

Beretta Model 1918 Beretta M1918.jpg
Beretta Model 1918

In 1915, the Italians introduced the Villar-Perosa aircraft machine gun . It fired pistol-caliber 9mm Glisenti ammunition, but was not a true submachine gun, as it was originally designed as a mounted weapon. This odd design was then modified into the OVP 1918 carbine-type submachine gun, which then evolved into the 9×19mm Parabellum Beretta Model 1918 after the end of World War I. Both the OVP 1918 and the Beretta 1918 had a traditional wooden stock, a 25-round top-fed box magazine, and had a cyclic rate of fire of 900 rounds per minute.

9mm Glisenti cartridge

The 9mm Glisenti is an Italian pistol and submachine gun cartridge.

OVP 1918

The OVP was a submachine gun developed in Italy.

9×19mm Parabellum firearms cartridge

The 9×19mm Parabellum is a firearms cartridge that was designed by Georg Luger and introduced in 1902 by the German weapons manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for their Luger semi-automatic pistol. For this reason, it is designated as the 9mm Luger by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI), and the 9 mm Luger by the Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives (CIP). The name Parabellum is derived from the Latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum, which was the motto of DWM.

The Bergmann MP 18 was the world's first practical submachine gun Bergmann MP18.1.JPG
The Bergmann MP 18 was the world's first practical submachine gun

The Germans initially used heavier versions of the P08 pistol equipped with a detachable stock, larger-capacity snail-drum magazine and a longer barrel. By 1918, Bergmann Waffenfabrik had developed the 9 mm Parabellum MP 18 , the first practical submachine gun. This weapon used the same 32-round snail-drum magazine as the Luger P-08. The MP 18 was used in significant numbers by German stormtroopers employing infiltration tactics, achieving some notable successes in the final year of the war. However, these were not enough to prevent Germany's collapse in November 1918. After World War I, the MP 18 would evolve into the MP28/II SMG, which incorporated a simple 32-round box magazine, a semi & full auto selector, and other minor improvements. [5]

Luger pistol semi-automatic pistol of German origin

The Pistole Parabellum—or Parabellum-Pistole, commonly known as just Luger—is a toggle-locked recoil-operated semi-automatic pistol which was produced in several models and by several nations from 1898 to 1948. The design was first patented by Georg Luger as an improvement upon the Borchardt Automatic Pistol and was produced as the Parabellum Automatic Pistol, Borchardt-Luger System by the German arms manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM). The first production model was known as the Modell 1900 Parabellum. Later versions included the Pistol Parabellum Model 1908 or P08 which was produced by DWM and other manufacturers such as W+F Bern, Krieghoff, Simson, Mauser, and Vickers. The first Parabellum pistol was adopted by the Swiss army in May 1900. In German Army service, it was adopted in modified form as the Pistol Model 1908 (P08) in caliber 9×19mm Parabellum. The Model 08 was eventually succeeded by the Walther P38.

Drum magazine high-capacity magazine for firearms

A drum magazine is a type of high-capacity magazine for firearms. Cylindrical in shape, drum magazines store rounds in a spiral around the center of the magazine, facing the direction of the barrel. Drum magazines are contrasted with more common box-type magazines, which have a lower capacity and store rounds flat. The capacity of drum magazines varies, but is generally between 50 and 100 rounds.

Gun barrel firearm component which guides the projectile during acceleration

A gun barrel is a crucial part of gun-type ranged weapons such as small firearms, artillery pieces and air guns. It is the straight shooting tube, usually made of rigid high-strength metal, through which a contained rapid expansion of high-pressure gas(es) is introduced behind a projectile in order to propel it out of the front end (muzzle) at a high velocity. The hollow interior of the barrel is called the bore, and the diameter of the bore is called its caliber, usually measured in inches or millimetres.

Thompson M1921 SMG with 100-round drum magazine Campbell Thompson.jpg
Thompson M1921 SMG with 100-round drum magazine

The .45 ACP Thompson submachine gun had been in development at approximately the same time as the Bergmann and the Beretta. However, the war ended before prototypes could be shipped to Europe. [6] Although it had missed its chance to be the first purpose-designed submachine gun to enter service, it became the basis for later weapons and had the longest active service life of the three.

.45 ACP Pistol cartridge designed by John Browning

The .45 ACP or .45 Auto (11.43×23mm) is a handgun cartridge designed by John Moses Browning in 1904, for use in his prototype Colt semi-automatic pistol. After successful military trials, it was adopted as the standard chambering for Colt's M1911 pistol, being named .45 ACP.

Thompson submachine gun American submachine gun

The Thompson submachine gun is an American submachine gun invented by John T. Thompson in 1918 which became infamous during the Prohibition era, being a signature weapon of various crime syndicates in the United States. It was a common sight in the media of the time, being used by both law enforcement officers and criminals. The Thompson submachine gun was also known informally as the "Tommy Gun", "Tôm Sông", "Annihilator", "Chicago Typewriter", "Chicago Submachine", "Chicago Piano", "Chicago Style", "Chicago Organ Grinder", "Drum Gun","The Chopper", and simply "The Thompson".

In the interwar period the "Tommy Gun" or "Chicago Typewriter" became notorious in the U.S. as a gangster's weapon; the image of pinstripe-suited James Cagney types wielding drum-magazine Thompsons caused some military planners to shun the weapon. However, the FBI and other U.S. police forces themselves showed no reluctance to use and prominently display these weapons. Eventually, the submachine gun was gradually accepted by many military organizations, especially as World War II loomed, with many countries developing their own designs.

Beretta Model 38 Beretta 38.jpg
Beretta Model 38

World War II

The Italians were among the first to develop submachine guns during World War I. However, they were slow to produce them during World War II. The 9 mm Parabellum Beretta Model 1938 was not available in large numbers until 1943. The 38 was made in a successive series of improved and simplified models all sharing the same basic layout. The Beretta has two triggers, the front for semi-auto and rear for full-auto. Most models use standard wooden stocks, although some models were fitted with an MP 40-style under-folding stock and are commonly mistaken for the German SMG. The 38 series was extremely robust and proved very popular with both Axis forces and Allied troops (who used captured Berettas). [7] It is considered the most successful and effective Italian small arm of World War II. The 38 series is the longest serving of the world's SMGs, as later models can still be seen in the hands of Italian military and police forces.

The MP40 9mm Parabellum submachine gun with stock extended. Maschinenpistole MP40.jpg
The MP40 9mm Parabellum submachine gun with stock extended.

In 1939, the Germans introduced the 9 mm Parabellum MP38 during the invasion of Poland. However, the MP38 production was still just starting and only a few thousand were in service at the time. It proved to be far more practical and effective in close quarters combat than the standard-issue German Kar 98K bolt-action rifle. From it, the simplified and modernized MP40 (commonly and erroneously referred to as Schmeisser) was developed and made in large numbers; about a million were made during World War II. The MP40 was lighter than the MP38. It also used more stamped parts, making it faster and cheaper to produce. [8] The MP38 and MP40 were the first SMGs to use plastic furniture and a practical folding stock. [8] They would set the fashion for all future SMG designs. [8]

Suomi M31 submachine with 70-round drum magazine attached, 20- and 50-round box magazines. Suomi M31 Torpin Tykit 2.JPG
Suomi M31 submachine with 70-round drum magazine attached, 20- and 50-round box magazines.

During the Winter War, the badly outnumbered Finnish used the Suomi KP/-31 in large numbers against the Russians with devastating effect. [9] Finnish ski troops became known for appearing out of the woods on one side of a road, raking Soviet columns with SMG fire and disappearing back into the woods on the other side. During the Continuation War, the Finnish Sissi patrols would often equip every soldier with KP/-31s. The Suomi fired 9 mm Parabellum ammo from a 71-round drum magazine (although often loaded with 74 rounds). "This SMG showed to the world the importance of the submachine gun to the modern warfare", [9] prompting the development, adoption and mass production of submachine guns by most of the World's armies. The Suomi was used in combat until the end of the Lapland war, was widely exported [9] and remained in service to the late 1970s.

PPSh-41 with 71-round drum magazine PPSh-41 from soviet.jpg
PPSh-41 with 71-round drum magazine

In 1940, the Russians introduced the 7.62×25mm PPD-40 and later the more easily manufactured PPSh-41 in response to their experience during the Winter War against Finland. The PPSh's 71-round drum magazine is a copy of the Suomi's. Later in the war they developed the even more readily mass-produced PPS submachine gun - all firing the same small calibre but high-powered Tokarev cartridges. The USSR would go on to make over 6 million PPSh-41s and 2 million PPSs by the end of World War II. Thus, the Soviet Union could field huge numbers of submachine guns against the Wehrmacht, with whole infantry battalions being armed with little else. Even in the hands of conscripted soldiers with minimal training, the volume of fire produced by massed submachine guns could be overwhelming.

STEN MK II Sten Mk II IMG 4764 (Nemo5576).jpg

In 1941, Britain adopted the 9 mm Parabellum Lanchester submachine gun . Following the Dunkirk evacuation, and with no time for the usual research and development for a new weapon, it was decided to make a direct copy of the German MP 28. However this gun, the Lanchester, proved to be difficult and expensive to manufacture. Shortly thereafter, the simpler STEN submachine gun was developed, which was much cheaper and faster to make. Over 4 million STEN Guns were made during World War II. Indeed the STEN was so cheap and easy to produce that towards the end of World War II as their economic base approached crisis, Germany started manufacturing their own copy (the MP 3008 ) . After the war, the British replaced the STEN with the Sterling submachine gun . Britain also used many M1928 Thompson submachine guns during World War II.

M3 "Grease Gun" top and M1A1 "Tommy Gun" bottom M3 and M1A1 Wings Over Wine Country 2007.JPG
M3 "Grease Gun" top and M1A1 "Tommy Gun" bottom

The United States and its allies used the Thompson submachine gun, especially the simplified M1 . However, the Thompson was still expensive and slow to produce. Therefore, the U.S. developed the M3 submachine gun or "Grease Gun" in 1942, followed by the improved M3A1 in 1944. While the M3 was no more effective than the Tommy Gun, it was made primarily of stamped parts and welded together, and so, it could be produced much faster and at fraction of the cost of a Thompson. It could be configured to fire either .45 ACP or 9mm Luger ammunition. The M3A1 was among the longest serving submachine guns designs, being produced into the 1960s and serving in US forces into the 1990s.

The Owen Gun, which was known officially as the Owen Machine Carbine CompletedOwenGun1942.png
The Owen Gun, which was known officially as the Owen Machine Carbine

The Owen Gun is a 9mm Parabellum Australian submachine gun designed by Evelyn Owen in 1939. The Owen is a simple, highly reliable, open bolt, blowback SMG. It was designed to be fired either from the shoulder or the hip. It's easily recognisable, owing to its unconventional appearance, including a quick-release barrel and butt-stock, double pistol grips, top-mounted magazine, and unusual offset right-side mounted sights. The Owen was the only entirely Australian-designed and constructed service submachine gun of World War II and was used by the Australian Army from 1943 until the mid-1960s, when it was replaced by the F1 submachine gun . Only about 45,000 Owens were produced during the war for a unit cost of about A$30.

After World War II

After World War II, "new submachine gun designs appeared almost every week to replace the admittedly rough and ready designs which had appeared during the war. Some (the better ones) survived, most rarely got past the glossy brochure stage." [10] Most of these survivors were cheaper, easier and faster to make than their predecessors. As such, they were widely distributed.

U.S. Army Swedish K SMG: Soldier firing an m/45B SMG during special weapons training. US soldier with Carl Gustav SMG.jpg
U.S. Army Swedish K SMG: Soldier firing an m/45B SMG during special weapons training.

In 1945, Sweden introduced the 9 mm Parabellum Carl Gustav M/45 with a design borrowing from and improving on many design elements of earlier submachine-gun designs. It has a tubular stamped steel receiver with a side folding stock. The M/45 was widely exported, and especially popular with CIA operatives and U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam War. In U.S. service it was known as the "Swedish-K". In 1966, the Swedish government blocked the sale of firearms to the United States because it opposed the Vietnam War. As a result, in the following year Smith & Wesson began to manufacture an M/45 clone called the M76 .

In 1946, Denmark introduced the Madsen M-46, and in 1950, an improved model the Madsen M-50 . These 9 mm Parabellum stamped steel SMGs featured a unique clamshell type design, a side folding stock and a grip-safety on the magazine housing. The Madsen was widely exported and especially popular in Latin America, with variants made by several countries.

Czechoslovak Sa vz. 25 Samopal Vz 25.JPG
Czechoslovak Sa vz. 25

In 1948, Czechoslovakia introduced the Sa vz. 23 series. This 9 mm Parabellum SMG introduced several innovations: a progressive trigger for selecting between semi-automatic and full auto fire, a telescoping bolt that extends forward wrapping around the barrel and a vertical handgrip housing the magazine and trigger mechanism. The vz. 23 series was widely exported and especially popular in Africa and the Middle East with variants made by several countries. The vz. 23 inspired the development of the Uzi submachine gun . [11]

MAT-49 on display MP IMG 1690.JPG
MAT-49 on display

In 1949, France introduced the MAT-49 to replace the hodgepodge of French, American, British, German and Italian SMGs in French service after World War II. The 9 mm Parabellum MAT-49 is an inexpensive stamped steel SMG with a telescoping wire stock, a pronounced folding magazine housing and a grip safety. This "wildebeast like design" proved to be an extremely reliable and effective SMG, and was used by the French well into the 1980s. It was also widely exported to Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The UZI Uzi of the israeli armed forces.jpg


In 1954, Israel introduced a 9 mm Parabellum open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine gun called the Uzi (after its designer Uziel Gal). The Uzi was one of the first weapons to use a telescoping bolt design with the magazine housed in the pistol grip for a shorter weapon. The Uzi has become the most popular submachine gun in the world, with over 10 million units sold, [12] more than any other submachine gun. [13]

Beretta M12S M12S Beretta.jpg
Beretta M12S

In 1959, Beretta introduced the Model 12 . This 9 mm Parabellum submachine gun was a complete break with previous Beretta designs. [14] It is a small, compact, very well made SMG and among the first to use telescoping bolt design. [14] The M12 was designed for mass production and was made largely of stamped steel and welded together. [14] It is identified by its tubular shape receiver, double pistol grips, a side folding stock and the magazine housed in front of the trigger guard. The M12 uses the same magazines as the Model 38 series.

The Heckler & Koch MP5 Hkmp5count-terr-wiki.jpg
The Heckler & Koch MP5


In the 1960s, Heckler & Koch developed the 9 mm Parabellum MP5 submachine gun. The MP5 is based on the G3 rifle and uses the same closed-bolt roller-delayed blowback operation system. This makes the MP5 more accurate than open-bolt SMGs, such as the UZI. The MP5 is also one of the most widely used submachine guns in the world, [15] having been adopted by 40 nations and numerous military, law enforcement, intelligence, and security organizations. [16]

Steyr MPi69 Steyr-MP-69.jpg
Steyr MPi69

In 1969, Steyr introduced the MPi 69 . This 9 mm Parabellum open-bolt, blowback-operated SMG has telescoping bolt and is similar in appearance to the Uzi SMG. [17] It has a vertical pistol-grip into which the magazine is inserted, a longer horizontal front grip area and a telescoping wire butt-stock. The receiver is a squared stamped steel tube which partly nestles inside a large plastic molding (resembling a lower receiver) which contains the forward hand-grip, vertical pistol-grip and the fire control group. Making the MPi 69 one of the first firearms to use a plastic construction in this way. It has a progressive trigger and is also unusual among modern SMGs, as the MPi 69 is cocked by a dual-purpose lever also used as the front sling attachment point. [17]

Ingram MAC 10 with suppressor. Note: the magazine is missing MAC10.jpg
Ingram MAC 10 with suppressor. Note: the magazine is missing


In the 1970s, extremely compact submachine guns, such as the .45ACP Mac-10 and .380 ACP Mac-11 , were developed to be used with silencers or suppressors. [18] While these SMGs received enormous publicity, and were prominently displayed in films and television, they were not widely adopted by military or police forces. [18] These smaller weapons led other manufacturers to develop their own compact SMGs, such as the Micro-UZI and the H&K MP5K .


Argentine soldier armed with Colt 9mm SMG which is virtually identical to the M16 rifle. Ejercito Argentino.jpg
Argentine soldier armed with Colt 9mm SMG which is virtually identical to the M16 rifle.

By the 1980s, the demand for new submachine guns was very low and could be easily met by existing makers with existing designs. [2] However, following H&Ks lead, other manufacturers began designing submachine guns based on their existing assault rifle patterns. These new SMGs offered a high degree of parts commonality with parent weapons, thereby easing logistical concerns.

In 1987, Colt introduced the Colt 9mm SMG based on the M16 rifle. [19] The Colt SMG is a closed bolt, blowback operated SMG and the overall aesthetics are identical to most M16 type rifles. The magazine well is modified using a special adapter to allow the use of smaller 9mm magazines. The magazines themselves are a copy of the Israeli UZI SMG magazine, modified to fit the Colt and lock the bolt back after the last shot. The Colt is widely used by U.S. police forces and the USMC. [20]

The Heckler & Koch UMP45 with a vertical foregrip HKUMP45.JPG
The Heckler & Koch UMP45 with a vertical foregrip


In 1998, H&K introduced the last widely distributed SMG, the UMP "Universal Machine Pistol" . [21] The UMP is a 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP, closed-bolt blowback-operated SMG, based on the H&K G36 assault rifle. [22] [23] It features a predominantly polymer construction and was designed to be a lighter and cheaper alternative to the MP5. [22] [24] The UMP has a side-folding stock and is available with four different trigger group configurations. [25] It was also designed to use a wide range of Picatinny rail mounted accessories [22] [23]

Vityaz-SN PP-19-01 (351-01).jpg


In 2004, Izhmash introduced the Vityaz-SN a 9 mm Parabellum, closed bolt straight blowback operated submachine gun. It is based on the AK-74 rifle and offers a high degree of parts commonality with the AK-74. [26] It is the standard submachine gun for all branches of Russian military and police forces. [27] [28]

.45ACP KRISS Vector. 2010 SHOT Show - Shooting the Kriss SMG (27547415085).jpg
.45ACP KRISS Vector.

In 2009, KRISS USA introduced the KRISS Vector family of submachine guns. [29] A futuristic design, the KRISS uses an unconventional delayed blowback system combined with in-line design to reduce perceived recoil and muzzle climb. The KRISS comes in 9 mm Parabellum, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 9×21mm, 10mm Auto, and .357 SIG. It also uses standard Glock pistol magazines.

H&K MP5SD3 with integral suppressor. Heckler Koch MP5.jpg
H&K MP5SD3 with integral suppressor.


By 2010, compact assault rifles and personal defense weapons had replaced submachine guns in most roles. [2] Factors such as the increasing use of body armor and logistical concerns have combined to limit the appeal of submachine guns. However, SMGs are still used by police (especially SWAT teams) for dealing with heavily armed suspects and by military special forces units for close quarters combat, due to their reduced size, recoil and muzzle blast. Submachine guns also lend themselves to the use of suppressors, particularly when loaded with subsonic ammunition. Variants of the Sterling and Heckler & Koch MP5 have been manufactured with integral suppressors.

Personal defense weapons

FN P90 FN-P90 2.jpg
FN P90
An MP7A1 with a 20-round magazine, and a reflex sight HK MP7 Bundeswehr noBG.png
An MP7A1 with a 20-round magazine, and a reflex sight

Developed during the late 1980s, the personal defense weapon (PDW) is touted as a further evolution of the submachine gun. The PDW was created in response to a NATO request for a replacement for 9×19mm Parabellum submachine guns. The PDW is a compact automatic weapon that uses specially designed rifle-like cartridges to fire armor-piercing bullets and are sufficiently light to be used conveniently by non-combatant and support troops, and as an effective close quarters battle weapon for special forces and counter-terrorist groups. [30] [31]

Introduced in 1991, the FN P90 features a bullpup design with a futuristic appearance. It has a 50-round magazine housed horizontally above the barrel, an integrated reflex sight and fully ambidextrous controls. [32] A simple blowback automatic weapon, it was designed to fire the proprietary FN 5.7×28mm cartridge which can penetrate soft body armor. [30] [31] The P90 was designed to have a length no greater than an average-sized man's shoulder width, to allow it to be easily carried and maneuvered in tight spaces, such as the inside of an infantry fighting vehicle. [32] The P90 is currently in service with military and police forces in over 40 nations. [33]

Introduced in 2001, the Heckler & Koch MP7 is a direct rival to the FN P90. It is a more conventional-looking design, and uses a short-stroke piston gas system as used on H&K's G36 and HK416 assault rifles, in place of a blowback system traditionally seen on submachine guns. [34] The MP7 uses 20-, 30- and 40-round box magazines and fires the proprietary 4.6×30mm ammunition which can penetrate soft body armor. Due to the heavy use of polymers in its construction, the MP7 is much lighter than older SMG designs, being only 1.2 kg (2.65 lb) with 20-round empty magazine. The MP7 is currently in service with military and police forces in over 20 nations.


There are some inconsistencies in the classification of submachine guns. [35] British Commonwealth sources often refer to SMGs as "machine carbines". [35] [36] Other sources refer to SMGs as "machine pistols" because they fire pistol-caliber ammunition, for example, the MP-40 and MP5, where "MP" stands for Maschinenpistole ("Submachine gun" in German, but cognate with the English term "Machine pistol"). [37] However, the term "machine pistol" is also used to describe a handgun-style firearm capable of fully automatic or burst fire, [38] such as the Stechkin, Beretta 93R and the H&K VP70. Also, Personal Defense Weapons such as the FN P90 and H&K MP7 are often called submachine guns. [35] In addition, some compact assault rifles, such as the Colt XM177, HK53 and AKS-74U, have been historically referred to as submachine guns as they served in the latter's role. [39]

See also

Related Research Articles

Uzi Submachine gun

The Uzi is a family of Israeli open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine guns. Smaller variants are often considered to be machine pistols. The Uzi was one of the first weapons to use a telescoping bolt design which allows the magazine to be housed in the pistol grip for a shorter weapon.

MP 40 WWII German submachine gun

The MP 40 is a submachine gun chambered for the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge. It was developed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by the Axis powers during World War II.

MAC-10 American machine pistol

The Military Armament Corporation Model 10, officially abbreviated as "M10" or "M-10", and more commonly known as the MAC-10, is a compact, blowback operated machine pistol that was developed by Gordon B. Ingram in 1964. It is chambered in either .45 ACP or 9mm. A two-stage suppressor by Sionics was designed for the MAC-10, which not only abated the noise created, but made it easier to control on full automatic. For a decade, the semi automatic pistol version of the weapon was forbidden in the U.S. under the assault weapons ban enacted by Congress in 1994.

Semi-automatic pistol Type of pistol

A semi-automatic pistol is a type of pistol that is semi-automatic, meaning it uses the energy of the fired cartridge to cycle the action of the firearm and advance the next available cartridge into position for firing. One cartridge is fired each time the trigger of a semi-automatic pistol is pulled; the pistol's "disconnector" ensures this behavior.

Personal defense weapon compact magazine-fed, self-loading, firearm; hybrid between a submachine gun and a carbine

Personal defense weapons (PDWs) are a class of compact selective fire, magazine-fed, submachine gun-like firearms — essentially a hybrid between a conventional submachine gun and a compact assault rifle. Most PDWs fire a small-caliber, high-velocity centerfire bottleneck cartridge resembling a scaled down/shortened intermediate rifle cartridge. This gives the PDWs better effective range, accuracy and armor-penetrating capability than submachine guns, which fire the larger-caliber handgun cartridges.

MP 18 submachine gun

The MP 18 manufactured by Theodor Bergmann Abteilung Waffenbau was the first submachine gun used in combat. It was introduced into service in 1918 by the German Army during World War I as the primary weapon of the Sturmtruppen, assault groups specialized in trench combat. Although MP 18 production ended in the 1920s, its design formed the basis of most submachine guns manufactured between 1920 and 1960.

Sa vz. 23 submachine gun

The CZ Model 25 was perhaps the best known of a series of Czechoslovak designed submachine guns introduced in 1948. There were four generally very similar submachine guns in this series: the Sa 23, Sa 24, Sa 25, and Sa 26. The primary designer was Jaroslav Holeček (1923–1977), chief engineer of the Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod arms factory.

Beretta M12 submachine gun

The Beretta Model 12 is a 9×19mm Parabellum caliber submachine gun designed by Beretta. The production started in 1962, the first users were the Italian Carabinieri and the Italian State Police even though in limited number, only in 1978 it was widely issued replacing the old Beretta MAB. In 1962 the Italian Army bought a limited number of Franchi LF57 submachine gun, judged better than the M12 but never issued to the troops, and only in 1992 the M12S2 variant was introduced also if in very limited number. The Italian Air Force, instead, bought a large number of M12S and M12S2 for the airport security units. However the weapon had a higher initial success in the Arab countries and South America. Its debut in combat came during the Tet Offensive in 1968 when the US Marines guarding the U.S. embassy in Saigon repelled the assault by the Viet Cong using the Beretta M12. It is also used by various South American, African and Asian countries, and made under licence in Brazil by Taurus, in Belgium by FN Herstal and in Indonesia by PT Pindad.

The MAB 38, Modello 38, or Model 38 and its variants were a series of official submachine guns of the Royal Italian Army introduced in 1938 and used during World War II. The guns were also used by the German, Romanian, and Argentine armies of the time.

Walther MP submachine gun

The Walther MP (Maschinenpistole) series is a family of 9×19mm Parabellum submachine guns produced in West Germany from 1963 to 1985 by Walther.

The Ruger MP9 is a 9×19mm submachine gun/machine pistol introduced by Sturm, Ruger & Co. in 1995. The MP9 was designed by Uziel Gal, the original designer of the Uzi.

Star Model Z84 submachine gun

The Star Z-84 is a Spanish selective-fire submachine gun originally manufactured by the now defunct Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A.. The Z-84 is a sturdy well designed weapon that never saw high production due to politics. Originally manufactured for use by SCUBA divers, the Z-84 could be used right out of the water without any need to drain the working parts or magazine.

Daewoo Telecom K7 Submachine gun

The Daewoo Telecom K7 is a 9×19mm Parabellum submachine gun with an integral suppressor used by the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. It is based on the Daewoo K1A submachine gun, but is simplified by utilizing a blowback action rather than the gas impingement system of its parent firearm. It was first displayed outside of Korea in the United Arab Emirates at the IDEX 2003 convention.

Socimi Type 821 submachine gun

The Socimi Type 821-SMG was a submachine gun manufactured in the 1980s by the firm of SOCIMI, Società Costruzioni Industriali Milano, SpA located in Milan, Italy.

KRISS Vector family of submachine guns

The KRISS Vector series are a family of weapons based upon the parent submachine gun design developed by the American company KRISS USA, formerly Transformational Defense Industries (TDI). They use an unconventional delayed blowback system combined with in-line design to reduce perceived recoil and muzzle climb.

FMK-3 submachine gun

The FMK-3 is a selective fire, blowback operated submachine gun of Argentine origin and was designed by Fabricaciones Militares in 1974. Around 30,000 were produced for the Argentine military by 1991.

M3 submachine gun submachine gun

The M3 is an American .45-caliber submachine gun adopted for U.S. Army service on 12 December 1942, as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M3. The M3 was chambered for the same .45 ACP round fired by the Thompson submachine gun, but was cheaper to produce and lighter, although, contrary to popular belief, it was less accurate. This myth stems from a US Army training film portraying the M3 as more accurate than its counterparts. The M3 was commonly referred to as the "Grease Gun" or simply "the Greaser," owing to its visual similarity to the mechanic's tool.

Glisenti Model 1910 service pistol

The Glisenti Model 1910 was a 9 mm calibre semi-automatic service pistol produced by the Italian company Società Siderugica Glisenti. It was put in production in 1910 to replace the aging Bodeo Model 1889. It saw extensive service in World War I and World War II with the Italian Army. The Model 1910 has a complex and weak firing system which mandates that the pistol ought to use weaker cartridges than pistols of comparable caliber.

SR-2 Veresk submachine gun

The SR-2 "Veresk" is a Russian submachine gun designed to fire the 9×21mm Gyurza pistol cartridge.


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