Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Best Sub-machine gun or machine pistols of WWII?

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by mp38, Jun 18, 2002.

  1. Riter

    Riter Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2020
    Messages:
    813
    Likes Received:
    201
    Not a pisttol caliber firearm. Nice rifle tthough.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    26,462
    Likes Received:
    2,204
    I like naturally the Finnish "Suomi" machine gun

    [​IMG]

    the bullet was a 9 mm sized, and shooting speed 300-400 m/s. So shooting short burts the gun did not kick back much at all. 70 bullets in the drum.cartridge. Also straight cartridge "the coffin" version available.

    [​IMG]




















     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
    George Patton likes this.
  3. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,202
    Likes Received:
    1,158
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for the tip... :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
  4. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,202
    Likes Received:
    1,158
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Do you mean "snail drum" as in 08 Trommelmag Lader? If so, I hope you love the MP18. No Soviet firearms used a "snail drum". You may be confusing this with a drum magazine. Many firearms including Thompsons, PPsH, kp/31 etc used drum magazines. "Snail drum" is a very specific term.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    26,462
    Likes Received:
    2,204
    I liked this video so here it goes....

     
  6. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2021
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    51
    "Best" is just too hard to quantify...

    Early war
    If you're just going by quality of manufacture and reliability; Czech ZK 383
    If you're factoring in the impact that it made on its military; STEN
    If you're talking versatility; STEN
    If you're talking cost: STEN
    If you're talking terminal effectiveness; Thompson M1A1
    If you want terminal effectiveness on the cheap; M3 Grease Gun
    Easiest to shoot; Beretta M38

    Late in the war, the UK and the Russians just ran away with it. The Patchett which became the Sterling Mk4 is easily the best SMG to have seen combat, but it was in very tiny numbers.
    The PPSH-43 is fantastic. Cheap and easy to manufacture, exceptionally reliable, easy to maintain, and once they got rid of the drum, easy to feed.
     
    Terry D and Kai-Petri like this.
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    26,462
    Likes Received:
    2,204
    The KP m/44 (Finnish: Konepistooli malli 1944, lit. 'Submachine gun, model 1944'), nicknamed "Peltiheikki" or "Pelti-kp", which could be translated as "sheet-metal Heikki" and "sheet-metal machine pistol"/"sheet-metal submachine gun" respectively, was a Finnish 9mm copy and modification of the Soviet mass-produced 7.62 mm submachine gun PPS-43.

    KP m/44 submachine gun

    It is unlikely the m/44 actually saw action during WWII but the gun was used by the Finnish Defence Forces as a training weapon until the 1970s. The Finnish Border Guard and United Nations troops also used the weapon, the latter particularly during the Suez Crisis.[2] Willi Daugs, Tikkakoski Oy's principal shareholder, took the blueprints with him to Spain after World War II. The gun was produced there at the Oviedo arms factory, who re-designated it DUX-53. In 1953, the West German border guards (Bundesgrenzschutz) adopted the Spanish-made DUX-53 and DUX-59 submachine guns, copied from the PPS-43 by way of the Finnish M/44.

    [​IMG]

     
    DarkLord likes this.
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    26,462
    Likes Received:
    2,204
    Just that occasional jamming was a problem. It seems holding the gun by the magazine could cause this. For instance I recall the Heydrich killers when facing the man in his car the Sten jammed??



    Heydrich's green, open-topped Mercedes 320 Cabriolet B reached the curve two minutes later. As it slowed down and rounded the corner, Gabčík, who concealed his Sten submachine gun under a raincoat, dropped the raincoat and raised the gun, and, at close range, tried to shoot Heydrich, but the gun jammed.

    Operation Anthropoid

    Perhaps it is the price to pay for all mg´s that were ordered to be made fast and cheap and lots of them?
     
    DarkLord likes this.
  9. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2021
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    51
    The STEN was no less reliable than an MP40. I have owned one, manufactured dozens, and have shot several others extensively; they're good SMG's. While they may look like hell, they don't shoot or work like it. They are generally quite reliable.

    To get it to malfunction, you have to REALLY pull on that magazine…but do that to ANY SMG and you’ll get pretty much the same results.


    The double column/single feed magazine was the somewhat less than optimal. The STEN magazine requires more maintenance than a double column/double feed magazine, but again; the same holds true for the MP40, Grease Gun, etc…It’s a weakness of all of them. Neglect to clean and lubricate a double column/single feed magazine and you'll pay the price, regardless of the design.


    Regarding operation Anthropoid, the truth is; we’ll never know why that STEN malfunctioned at that particular time.
     
    George Patton and Kai-Petri like this.
  10. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    8,199
    Likes Received:
    2,301
    The Owen...
     
    Terry D and DarkLord like this.
  11. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2021
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    51
    The Owen was an improvement over the STEN but I think the most amazing thing about the OWEN is...They managed to make the STEN even uglier!!

    But it REALLY was a fantastic SMG.
     
    Terry D, CAC and Riter like this.
  12. Bolshevik

    Bolshevik Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2022
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    36
    My only question concerns reliability when it's dirty or covered in mud/dirt/sub zero temperature.

    Does it still operate effectively when it's not cleaned? Or if it's been sitting unused for a very lengthy period.

    That would be my pick, whichever weapon meets the above mentioned criteria.

    Also, I note that propaganda and personal photos of Soviet soldiers in WW2 always seem to be armed with Soviet made weapons, with the ubiquitous PPsh series seeming to predominate.

    But i have NEVER seen a photo of a Soviet soldier proudly displaying a captured German weapon.

    And from what I have read, German soldiers liked Soviet sub machine guns much more than any others, particularly their OWN...

    Speaks volumes really.....
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    26,462
    Likes Received:
    2,204
    Finnish sub machine gun, MG 42 and Degtaryev. My Favourites. The second makes you s*** in your pants. Like the 88 mm.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2022
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    3,006
    Likes Received:
    706
    That's something I've always wondered about the Sten - are you supposed to hold it by the magazine? That would seem to invite trouble, but there doesn't seem to be any foregrip or other option for the left/non-trigger hand.
     
  15. Riter

    Riter Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2020
    Messages:
    813
    Likes Received:
    201
    Finnish Suomi and those Soviet smgs. Robust & reliable.
     
  16. ltdan

    ltdan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2021
    Messages:
    118
    Likes Received:
    110
    My favorite is the Suomi: Already worked as SAW when the concept was not even known yet

    After that comes the Owen: What isn't there can't have a malfunction. Compared to that, even an AK-47 looks complicated.
     
    Terry D likes this.
  17. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2021
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    51
    I’m a big fan of the STEN. It was 100% the right SMG at the right time. They were far better than they had a right to be. They were one of the most compact, and lightest SMG’s of the war. SOE/OSS loved the fact they could be taken down and hidden so well. And then you factor in the cost. At the height of production, the STEN cost Her Majesty’s Government $9 a copy.

    PPSH-43 came shortly afterward, and is perhaps all around the best SMG of the war. Super cheap to build, they were light weight, easy to shoot, and quite reliable.


    If cost isn’t a factor, I’ll take the Czech ZK-383…that was one slick little sub-gun.
     
  18. Ricky

    Ricky Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    11,842
    Likes Received:
    42
    Location:
    Luton, UK
    One of my Grandads was a driver in the RAF, and the closest he came to being killed during the war was when he was reporting for duty in a blockhouse and a guard came in, tripped, and dropped his sten gun. It promptly went off, and fired the whole magazine. My Grandad always winced when he remembered standing there with bullets bouncing around the inside of the building. By good fortune, nobody died...

    However, it did mean that he had a low opinion of the safety of the sten!
     
    Kai-Petri likes this.
  19. Terry D

    Terry D Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2015
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    Huerta, California
    I am always leery of these "best of x" discussions. Criteria for bad/good/best are seldom stated, nobody tries to put numbers to anything, and the discussion sinks into the swamp of subjective opinion. But I am designing a notional WWII Allied army for my own amusement so I have been thinking about topics like this, thinking I hope as an ordnance officer or war production manager would think. So I'll give it a try.

    We are, remember, discussing the best SMGs of WWII. WWII was a long war fought by mass armies of conscripts, armies which accordingly required relatively simple weapons in large numbers. At the outset of the war, only Germany had a second generation gun fitting those requirements, that being the MP38/40. That gun virtually served as the prototype for all the second generation guns which came after it, but prior to 1940 when you said "SMG" it meant a rather heavy and expensive gun with a lot of woodwork and various nice but not essential features such as over-optimistic long range sights, a selective fire switch, bayonet lug, etc. There were a ton of guns like this around in 1939, and I won't try to sort out the differences between them in much detail. The British Army tested most of them. The British liked the Suomi quite a bit and indeed that gun had some fine qualities such as accuracy, ruggedness, etc. The British ordered a trial quantity of the Suomi and would have adopted it but the political and legal aspects couldn't be worked out. They kept re-testing the Steyr-Solothurn too and also liked the Beretta M38 (I've heard, unconfirmed, that a trial quantity of Berettas was also ordered by Britain but never delivered). Neither the Steyr nor the Beretta panned out in the end, for obvious political reasons. The British also liked the MP 38, which would eventually help in the design of the Sten, but of course there was no chance of getting any MP38s or a license either with Germany acknowledged even pre-war as the main antagonist. In the end the British opted for the Thompson M1928. Maybe it wasn't ideal in all respects (weight, expense, etc.) but most of the caveats also apply to other first generation guns. The Thompson was a proven weapon with some good features, it was in production in a friendly country, and the ammo was also readily available and somewhat familiar to the British from the Colt M1911. My notional Allied army makes the same choice.

    That takes care of early war. As the war expands, even the simplified M1 Thompson can't be made in sufficient quantity. A second generation SMG is required. The Sten has some good features: simple, dirt cheap, easy to make, virtually straight-line design, light and compact, ammo readily available. But there are complaints about reliability, and while I am not as severe a critic of the Sten as some here the complaints do give me pause. So, while I may take some Stens as a stopgap, I will go with something else for first choice. That is the US M3, the Grease Gun.

    1. Simple
    2. Light and compact
    3. Cheap and easy to make
    4. Ammo (.45 ACP) in inventory in massive quantities
    5. Pretty controllable and accurate for an SMG
    6. You could even get it in 9mm

    Yes, I know there were some problems with the M3. What gun didn't have problems? The cocking handle on early M3s wasn't strong enough and the thing would sometimes fire when you didn't want it to (IE when you dropped it like a fool). But the first problem could be fixed and was and the second problem was common to many WWII-era open bolt SMGs. Nobody has yet put numbers to it that I am aware of, but from my reading I get the impression that with all its faults the M3 was certainly more reliable than the Sten. So my notional army adopts the M3 and in the last 2 years of the war it is standard in front line infantry units.

    I realize that in my choices I am more or less following along the lines of British and American ordnance. But unlike many I think that British and US ordnance made their choices for good reasons and I also think that most of those choices were correct.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2022
    Kai-Petri and Carronade like this.
  20. Terry D

    Terry D Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2015
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    Huerta, California
    Agreed. My notional Allied WWII army standardizes on the Thompson and M3, but units in the Jap war get Owens as often as they can grab them.
     

Share This Page