No, I'm not going to talk about masturbation.
I recently went to the movies. I saw that the characters were all using full-auto machine pistols, which are pistols that can be fired like a machine gun even though they're still just handgun sized. This got me thinking about the subject.
The first commercially successful full-auto machine pistol (FAMP) was the Mauser C96, otherwise known as the Broomhandle Mauser. The designers decided to introduce a shoulder stock/holster with the gun so it could be used as a small and underpowered carbine. They did this because the gun fired a very fast .30 caliber pistol cartridge (the .30 Mauser), and someone decided to put that flat trajectory to work. As a quick point of trivia, it wasn't until the .357 Magnum cartridge was introduced in 1935 that the .30 Mauser's high muzzle velocity was exceeded.
Anyway, sub-machine guns started to become all the rage when U.S. gangsters started to get big press. The guys at Mauser responded by adding a selector switch and making a few internal changes so the gun could be fired full-auto. They called the system Scnellfeuerpistole, or "Fast firing pistol".
The biggest problem with this system was one of control. What does one do to keep the muzzle down? I read once that some guys would carry around a stick with a loop of wire on the end. Slip the loop over the sights and on to the barrel and you have a ready made front grip. I've never actually seen any pictures of anyone doing this, so it's probably hocum.
One FAMP that actually predates the Mauser is the Baby Browning. A tiny hold out pistol that could be hidden anywhere, the gun was extremely popular in the trenches of World War I as a weapon of last resort. (I was going to say "last-ditch", but I figured it would be a little much after mentioning the trenches.) Firing an incredibly underpowered .25 caliber round the gun didn't have much stopping power, especially through the heavy woolen uniforms both sides favored. To increase lethality the seer would be filed down so the magazine would be expended in one quick burst with one pull of the trigger. This gun can't be counted as a true FAMP since it's been modified from it's original purpose. And I've never come across even an anecdotal case of where anyone was ever shot during WWI with an unmodified .25, let alone one of these kludged together Barbi's Malibu Machine Pistols. Still, it's an interesting bit of history.
Most governments looked at FAMP's as an overly-expensive oddity. After all, a FAMP isn't as lethal and doesn't have the range of a regular sub-machine gun, but it can cost over ten times as much to produce. Why bother paying more for something like that?
The Russians never saw it like that. Surrounded by enemies, they had visions of a single downed Russian pilot slaughtering hundreds before being overwhelmed. If that happened a few times then the Capitalistic stooges would think twice before screwing with Mother Russia.
With this philosophy they developed a variety of FAMP's, most of which are impossible to find except in a few museums. One of the more successful was a little gun called the CZ61 Scorpion, or Skorpion, which originally appeared in 1961.
The secret to the Scorpion's success is it's underpowered cartridge. It fires a .30 pistol cartridge that's superficially identical to the .30 Mauser cartridge mentioned above, but loaded to a much lower level of pressure. This means that the recoil is controllable even at full rock and roll (though with difficulty). They saw great use in the Russian tank corps, and the best use for the weapon is probably as a last resort weapon for the crew of a stalled tank.
As with all great ideas, someone has to come along to screw it up. The powers that be decided that it would be a great idea to add a little punch to the weak FAMP, so they had the designers chamber it for the .380 Auto (CZ64), the 9mm Makarov (CZ65), and the 9mm Parabellum (CZ68). Although the CZ61 is found in the hands of security forces and terrorists the world over I can't find an example of any other variant. Go figure.
Many U.S. veterans of the Viet Nam War that I've talked to admit that they modified their standard issue Colt 1911 sidearm. Like the guys in WWI, they'd file down the seer of the pistol so it would rip off the entire clip with one pull of the trigger. Every one of them admitted that they couldn't hit anything after the first shot but the modification gave them some measure of comfort when they were on watch in the jungle. I suppose it did it's job, then.
It seems that the popularity of FAMP's are untouched by such considerations as cost and effectiveness. Designers still come up with new designes, and someone must be buying them for the gun companies to give the green light to such projects. The Russians certainly haven't lost their enthusiasm for them, but it's pretty clear that things can get out of hand. (Why not buy a real SMG instead of clipping all that crap to a perfectly good handgun?) The big problem is one of control, since FAMP's generally jump around like crazy when doing the voodoo they do best. To counter this problem, designers are coming up with stuff that would look at home on Star Trek.