Sub-machine Guns (SMG) were designed as weapons that could fire hand gun ammunition in full-automatic mode. They are an intermediate weapon between the hand gun and rifle.
The name for this class of weapon varies between countries, e.g.
- Germany – Machinen Pistole (as in MP 40)
- U.S.A. – Sub-machine Gun
- U.K. – Machine Carbine
- France – Mitraillette
The first example of a sub-machine gun was made by Italy in 1915, during World War I. This was the Villar-Perosa. This was a twin gun set-up for use by the gunner in aircraft initially.
The Germans came up with their MP-18 I “machine pistol” and these were fielded in battle in 1918.
The Americans developed the Thompson Sub-machine Gun but this did not see service in World War I. It did coin the term Sub-machine Gun which became the English language standard.
Sub-machine guns became popular with gangsters and as a result with police.
Sub-machine guns were gradually developed between World War I and World War II. During World War II they became very common due to their rapid rate of fire, relatively light weight and short length. Models common in WWII included:
- German MP-38 and MP-40
- Italian Beretta MAB 38 / Modello 38
- American Thompson
- British Sten Gun
- Mark I
- Mark II
- Mark IIS (silenced)
- Mark III
- Mark IV – Not issued.
- Mark V
- Mark VI (silenced)
- As well there were experimental version and copies made by various countries.
- Welgun – An experimental SMG developed for Special Operations, Executive (S.O.,E.) during WWII.
- British Pachett
- British Sterling
- Canadian SMG C1
- German Heckler & Koch
- MP-5 SD (suppressed model)
And many more!
Sub-machine guns have fallen out of favour generally in the 21st Century with the “assault rifles” such as the AK-47, AKM, M16 and M4, C7 etc. By long-standing definition, assault rifle use a cartridge intermediate between hand gun ammunition and rifle ammunition, and can fire full-automatic. The ammunition for the 5.56 mm and similar sized means that for not much more weight than pistol ammunition, especially .45 ACP, there is a much greater range, accuracy and hitting power.
Anti-gun politicians and lobbyists who are ignorant, and worse, who know the truth but tell lies, call any scary semi-automatic mid-sized firearm, especially if it has black synthetic furniture, an “assault rifle” but this is INCORRECT. This is a common misdirection by these lobbyists in Canada and the USA. The term “assault weapon” is a meaningless term invented to scare the public. It has no definition and indeed a rock, used to assault someone, would be an “assault weapon”. The unpatriotic and incompetent dictatorial Government of Canada under Trudeau prohibited over 1,500 types of so-called “assault weapons” and this included some civilian hunting shotguns and a couple of web sites!