FIREARMS FOR DUMMIES: SUB-MACHINE GUNS AND MACHINE PISTOLS
Sub-machine guns are just small rifles
that fire pistol ammunition. This means that they're easier to control than full powered rifles, and the operator can carry more ammunition for the same weight. Since they fire pistol ammunition, the Europeans call such guns "machine pistols".
Though the Italian gun making firm of Glisenti
is accredited with making the first sub-machine gun, it was an American named General John T. Thompson
who really refined the idea. His weapon could fire from a variety of feed devices
, from a 100 round drum down to a 20 round "stick" magazine. The ammunition was located at the center of the weapon, making it well balanced. Equipped with an efficient compensator
on the front of the barrel and a extra handle in front
, the Thompson was very easy to control during full auto fire. Rugged and reliable, the Thompson was also accurate enough for individual aimed shots out to 100 yards.
Very impressive. But it was soon noticed that the weapon was expensive and heavy. To save weight and expense many of the features that made the Thompson stand out were removed in later versions
. With a shorter barrel, no compensator or accurate sights, and the front handle removed the Thompson was a much less capable weapon. Accuracy was reduced to 50 yards, controlling the weapon during sustained bursts was problematic, and with only 20 or 30 round magazines to choose from the ability of the weapon to lay down suppressive fire was severly curtailed.
The German's came up with a cheaper and lighter alternative
. Made from stamped steel parts
and equipped with a folding wire stock
and firing the lighter 9mm cartridge
, the MP40 was an effective and cost effective weapon.
The British decided that they could do even better as far as cheap and light. They came up with the STEN sub-machine gun
. Firing the same 9mm that their Browning Hi-Power pistols
used, the Brits could churn out STEN's for about $11.00 US. Not to be outdone, the U.S. came up with the M3 Grease Gun
, which fired the same .45 ACP cartridge that the Thompson used. Based largely on the STEN, the Americans couldn't resist putting many little extras on the weapon which drove the cost up to $15.00 each.
What is probably the definitive machine pistol is the Uzi
. Short and light, cheap yet rugged, the Uzi has embraced the concept of the machine pistol as a saturation weapon. The primitive sights are set for 100 or 200 yards. Individual aimed shots at either distance isn't realistic. Instead the idea is to just spray the area where the target is standing and you'll almost certainly hit them. The Uzi is also small and light enough to be carried anywhere, such as in a vehicle or cramped tank, without too many problems.
But what about the original idea of an accurate weapon that could produce pin-point automatic fire when needed?
Accurate 9mm machine pistols equipped with telescopic sights
are capable of individual aimed shots out to 100 yards, just like the original Thompson. Many police entry teams
are equipped with assault rifles modified to fire the 9mm pistol cartridge
. This increases accuracy out past 100 yards, yet still provides a lower level of penetration than rifles.
The idea of suppressive fire isn't dead yet, either. Some companies actually specialize in producing high capacity drums
for a variety of sub-machine guns. This
could be used
to keep a whole drug gang
I don't know, though. Just call me old fashioned but I'd prefer to stick with the tried and true