31 March 2012

FWS Armory: The Submachine Gun

If you grew up in the 1980's, like I did, the submachine gun seemed to the coolest gun on the planet, and it was linked to Special Forces due to media sateration. This created the general public's prepection of  counterterrorism operations or hostage rescue, or even the local metropolitan  SWAT team being kitted out in black gear and in their hands was sound suppressed submachine gun, most likely, the MP5. In reality,up until recently, the submachine gun. especially the MP5, was the cornerstone weapon-of-choice for counterterrorism operations, SWAT teams, and action movie star, but that is beginning to change with the assault commando-length carbine taking their place. In this blogpost, FWS will explore the submachine gun, from its history, to the MP5, and the dim future for the SMG, along with the subs of sci-fi.   

The Defination of an SMG

Submachine guns are compact, fully automatic weapons smaller than a typical assault/battle rifle that chambers a pistol cartridge. The best examples are the H&K MP5 that fires the 9x19mm round and the WWII era Thompson M1A1 SMG that fired the powerful .45 ACP also found in the Colt 1911 pistol. Some works label the FN P90 and H&K MP7 as SMGs, however, these new breed of weapons are actually personal defense weapons, which chamber a specially designed high-velocity round that defeats body armor. SMGs also differ from the assault carbine or the even shorter 'commando 'carbines, like the AKS-74U. These weapons chamber an a typical assault rifle .30 caliber round over a lower-power pistol cartridge.

The History of the SMG

The original of the concept behind the submachine gun began during the Spanish-American War, when John T. Thompson witnessed the awsome power of the Galting Gun. His goal from then on, was to develop an auto-rife for the infantryman. While Thompson was still in the Army, he led the R&D on the auto-rifle until 1914, when he left the Army over their unwillness to see the fire of such a weapon. One of the primary technical hurels was solved in 1915 from the a patent by Bill Blish on reloading heavy naval guns via blowback gases. 
Prototypes of the auto-rifle, called the Annihilator One  were taken to Chicago to test cartridge on live cattle and dead bodies, leading to the useage of the .45 ACP due to extremely short-range effective, especially when fired at 110 RPM. The idea was to use the compact weapon as a 'trench broom' that would sweep it clean of enemy targets. The few hundred prototypes of the Annihilator One were readied to be shipped on November 11th, 1918, the day the war ended. So, the Thompson that were to go to the front, instead sat on a Pier in New York.  
Instead, the first submachine gun used in combat during the Great War, was the 9mm  Maschinenpistole 18/I  (MP-18).
The German Army saw a need for a special weapon that could be used in the close quarters combat conditions of trench warfare, and around 1915, they attempted to retrofit their Mauser C96 pistol for fully automatic fire, however, this did not work as well as they hoped. Instead, they turned to Theodor Bergmann's company to develop an entire new type of compact fully-automatic fire weapon, and one of the key engineers on the project was Hugo Schmeisser, the father of the STG44 and its shortened cartridge.
Between WWI and WWII, most of the major militarises explored fielding their own SMGs, while the Mp18 was updated and the Thompson SMG was shopping around the USA for law enforcement sales, but instead was it was bought the Irish Republic Army and the Chicago gangs. During these dark days of SMGs, some were used in combat by the US Marines in their operations in Nicaragua in the 1920's and 1930's.
World War II became the high water mark for the submachine gun, being that there more SMGs were used in that war than any other since. It seemed that every major power field their own SMG to the frontlines, the basic Sten of the British Empire, the superior MP40 of the 3rd Reich, the Italian Army Beretta Model 38, the PPsH-41 of the USSR. But, it was gun that the US Army didn't original want that was shipped around the global to friendly forces, the Thompson M1 military grade SMG. While the Thompson earned an iconic status in the minds of most people, it was officially replaced by the much simpler (and cheaper) M3 Grease Gun by the time of the Korean War, and saw its last war in 1991during Desert Storm operation. The Colt M4 assault carbine would replace the M3 officially in the mid-90's. 
The postwar decades of the1950's and 1960's were not the best of times for SMGs, given that most militarise were adopting assault rifles. However, one of the best subs and most iconic ever to be developed was field in 1954: the UZI. The UZI was designed by Major Uziel Gal in the late 1940's and officially adopted by the IDF in 1954 as their standard submachine gun, and primarily used by artillery, armored, and SOF units. A number of variants were manufactured over the decades that UZIs served in military units along with various calibers, and was only officially replaced by the IDF in 2003 by the IMI Micro-TAR assault commando carbine. The UZI gained international attention during the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981, when the US Secret Service agents pulled out UZIs (the Secret Service uses FN P90s today).  While the UZI was the SMG that sold the most copies in the 1960's through the 1980's, it was a German sub that dominated the remaining era of the submachine gun: the Heckler & Koch MP5 (There is a complete history of the H&K MP5 below this section). 
While the MP5 was rapidly becoming the global choice for SMG, it was during the 1980's that several firearms companies, Colt and Steyr specifically, attempted to counter the viral spread of the H&K MP5 by retrofitting some of their more popular weapons to fire 9mm. Colt took their shortened 10inch barrel M16 'Commando' and transformed it into the Colt 635 SMG that was used by the USMC and the DEA for a time. The Austrian firearms company, Steyr, took their 5.56mm AUG assault bullpup rifle and created a 9x19mm  SMG version in 1988, called the AUG Para, which is still being produced. The thought was, that operators that normally used the M16/AUG could use a SMG variant without any need of extra training or loss of muscle memory. Oddly, this is one of the reason that the shortened 'commando' variants of assault rifles have been replaced the MP5 SMG since the the 2000's. Sadly, the glory days of World War II and the 1980's for the submachine gun came to a close. Today, few nations or special police units field the aging SMG, they have turned to either assault carbines or the even shorter, 'commando' length weapons. The weapon that really took their place was the cousin to the SMG: the Personal Defense Weapon.  

Why is the SMG dying out?

1. Competition-If we take the example of the MP5, it's own company, H&K, has developed two weapons that directly competed with their own product: the MP7 and the UMP. In addition, the FN submachine gun, the P90, also competed with the aging MP5. H&K felt that the MP5 had achieved all it could, and that it was time for the MP7 and the UMP to take its place.

2. The Spread of Body Armor-The 9x19mm round is effective against targets without body-armor, especially when delivered by the MP5. However, in recent years, the effectiveness of the 9mm round has lessened, to the point that the US military is adopting a .45 H&K pistol to replace the M9 pistol, and boxing their stock of MP5s.
One of the issues that lead H&K to develop the .45 UMP and 4.6mm MP7 was the spread of body-armor. Now, cheaper body-armor can defeat the 9mm round, allowing for the target to return fire, however the 5.7mm, 4.6mm, and the .45 found in the MP5’s competitors, do defeat body-armor. When an operator or SWAT officer assault in CQC, the moment between life and death is a heartbeat away, and often, all the shot placement in the world cannot do you any good if you cannot make the target bleed. This was demonstrated in this Future Weapons video:

3. The rise of the Assault Carbine/Commando-With these new wars and new combat environments, soldiers cannot switch their rifle for an MP5 most of the time, when the soldier must engage a target in CQC, they cannot be fighting with the length of their weapon along with the enemy. The MP5 is deadly in CQC, but on the street, the 9mm round lacks the punch and range to be an effective an open combat.
At times, a soldier must engage targets in an open urban environment, and then purse the target into a building in a moment’s notice, where there is no time or no ability to switch from their rifle to an SMG. To answer this, most army’s are switching from an assault rifle to an assault carbine with barrels that are about 14 inches in length. In addition, the assault carbine uses a full-sized rifle round that can defeat body armor. When SWAT teams and CQC operators, like DELTA and the DEVGRU, began to replace their MP5 for weapons like the Colt M4 and the M4-CQBR models, it was major nail in the coffin of the SMG/MP5. At times, the assault carbine is not the best tactical choice, due to close quarters, vehicle operations, or close protection duty, these SPECOPS soldiers turn to SMG-sized variants of their familiar assault carbine that feature 10 to 11 inch barrels, like the H&K 416 CQC variant and the M4 CQBR. Some sources have labeled this SMG sized carbines, 'commando'length carbines.

4. The Decrease in the market share-The MP5 was vastly popular in the 1980’s and 90’s, with sales to many organizations, and about 80 nations, and most of the world’s SWAT, CQC Operator, and close-protection service. However, due to the quality of the MP5 and its specific mission usage, the weapon is often bought once and not again. Plus, the weapon does not tend to be used to a high degree or often, making an MP5 a long-term item. With the spread of body-armor, assault carbines, and new caliber SMGs, the MP5 dropped in sales, and H&K is a business that most focus on making a profit, and the MP5 was not.

The Best there was: the H&K MP5

The Maschinenpistole 5 was developed in 1964 from basically cutting down the G3 rifle into chamber the 9x19mm pistol round. At the time, SMG were not a big part of any military planning, and the UZI dominated the market that there was for one. The West German Border Police was the first to accept the weapon, in 1966, and then the counter-terrorism GSG9 adopted it around 1972, after the terrible events at Munich. This was just in time for the GSG9 use it in the daring 1977 rescue of all 86 hostages from the Flight 181 Lufthansa in Mogadishu. This gave the MP5 a mad street cred, and caused the British SAS operators to adopt the weapon, due to the close working relationship that the SAS and GSG9 shared.
On May 5, 1980, the SAS was called to end the hostage crisis at the Iranian Embassy, and the SAS teams used their MP5 SMG to kill five of the six terrorists. This event was partly seen on TV, and caused every major CT unit and Police force to ring up H&K about that little 9mm wonder. I have read that during the mid-1980's, H&K could not keep up with the orders that floored in.
During the 1980’s and 90’s, the MP5 was king, in both CQC and movies, you could not be cool without an MP5 spraying out 9mm! This even caused toy companies to build toy-guns, I even had battery-powered water gun version, and one that fired caps! (Remember those days?)The MP5 was developed in over 23 forms, with the MP5A3 (collapsible stock), MP5A3SD (collapsible stock built-in suppressor),MP5K (PDW version), and MP5N (the US Navy version.) are the four most popular. In 1992, H&K re-chambered the MP5 for .40 S&W and 10mm for the FBI HRT teams, and special agents, the FBI bought 1400 MP5s for their armories. Tom Clancy had his CT unit, Rainbow Six, use the MP5/10, but called it the MP10. This version was really a limited production for the FBI and few other US CT groups used the MP5/10/40, but fewer than 2000 were sold, and in 2000, H&K cancelled production, but not support of the 10mm and .40 S&W versions.
The MP5 was retooled for the civilian gun market has the H&K94 to compel with US gun laws. The MP5 is still being used by personal security companies, SWAT teams, and some counterterrorism all over the world, but it is slowly being phased out in favor of PDWs, carbines, and commando-length carbines.
Why was the Heckler & Koch MP5 the most popular sub-machinegun in the world? I'm glad you asked! Here are four answers:

1. Easy of Use-On fully-automatic, the MP5 allows for the user to make good hit placement, due to its delayed blowback recoil operated roller-locked bolt that fires from a closed position coupled with a relativity small round. It has proved over and over in combat to be very accurate and reliable, even under the worse conditions and situations, and requires little maintenance. Another element, is the feel of the weapon in the hand, I firmly believe that the MP5 has the best feel and natural placement of items on the sub. Like the controls for HALO, it is a natural organic feeling of the MP5 over things like the M16 and AK47, which make the weapon user-friendly. In addition, there 23 versions of the MP5, allowing for customizing the weapon for a specific role and/or client.

2. Effectiveness-The MP5 is able to be fired on full-auto, and not suffer from spray the wall, and this ability to aim and unload allows the MP5 to be deadly in CQC. Shot placement in the certain ends the hostile encounter quickly, and allows the mission to move forward, speed is a key factor in CQC.

3. The “Cool Factor”-During the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, it seemed that every SWAT team, CT unit, SEAL, and over-muscled movie star used the little Sub that could. In my opinion that was in large part, due to the weapon being trendy. If you did not wielded a MP5, as a SWAT officer, than you were just not has cool. Helped by more movies than you name, and later by video games like RAINBOW 6, the MP5 gained worldwide acceptance.

4. Battle Tested-Two events pushed the MP5 into the world stage, the 1977 GSG9 rescue of hostages in Mogadishu and the 1980 SAS hostage rescue from the Iranian Embassy in London, Operation Nimrod. These events showed how the MP5 could be used with deadly effectiveness to terminate terrorists and rescue hostages in the role of Counter-terrorism. This pushed every major CT unit and SWAT team in the world to buy the MP5.

The Future of SMGs

For the most part, the glory days of the sub is over, the PDW and commando-length carbine are taking over. However, one of the bright spots in the dying world of SMGs is the KRISS Vector .45 ACP submachine gun, which was featured in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 causing the global awareness of the SMG. 
This little compact weapon features a 5.5 inch barrel, and unique recoil dambing system called Super-V,  that allows the .45 ACP to be used like the 9mm MP5, allowing the shooter to knock down targets with the powerful round at 1100 RPM. Recently, the KRISS Super V SMG won as the best CQC weapon on the Military Channel due to its controllable and cartridge.

SMGs in Science Fiction

During my research into the use of SMGs in sci-fi, I discovered that the vast majority of submachine guns used in science fiction works are either redressed current real-steel SMGs (like the MP5), are badly misplaced in the fictional world or they are actually Personal Defense Weapons. given that SMGs were uber cool in the 1980's and a symbol of Special Operations Forces, Sci-Fi creators attempted to tap into that common cultural stereotype, even when these short-range, limited firepower weapons are tactically unsound, like in the 1994 film Stargate and 1987's Predator. Also, there is another common mistake that science fiction makes when showing futuristic SMGs, they are actually personal defense weapons, like when Bungie mislabel their own caseless M7 as an SMG in the HALO 2 game manual, when it is clearly a PDW.
Another interesting item I found while researching this topic was the limited number of SMGs in science fiction as a whole. My theory is that some creators of sci-fi works,  Also, most sci-fi creators are not thinking along military lines when they develop the weapons of their characters (Both Nigel and I do), and I don't even think it crosses their minds.  A question that popped up when I was writing about SMGs, could there be directed energy weapon submachine gun? Could a particle, plasma, or even laser weapon be designed to fire less powerful, but fully automatic fire bolts or beams that were equal to the output of an DEW pistol?


Crysis 2

In the video game Crysis 2, on of the more interesting gun, and my personal favorite, is the Crynet built K-Volt. This little weapon fires 4mm electrostatic pellets, jolting its target with doses of electricity to either stun or kill (much like the TASER from Syphon Filter). In the game, the K-Volt is one of the best gun to kill alien squid with.
Several sources cited that the K-Volt is being a submachine gun, but I trouble believing that. If anything, the K-Volt is a PDW.

In the ROBOTECH RPG, the Steyr M-36 "Badger" was introducted in 2020, chambering the 9x21mm "Largo" round, and was the standard SMG of the REF and Southern Cross Global Military Police. However, during the M-36 was phased out by the surviving Southern Cross units as well as the REF, due to the lack of effectiveness against their armored exoskeleton battle armor. However, the remains of human civilization did still use the Badger to defend themselves against their own kind.  


There are no less than three seperate SMGs in the Killzone games universe. The first is the M66-SD that chambers an 7.62x33mm subsonic round and seems to be the weapon-of-choice for the ISA's elite intelligence gathering agents, the Shadow Marshals. One of the interesting elements of the M-66SD in the original game, was that the player could have the option of selecting either a single-shot sound suppressed fire mode, or a full-automatic, full noise mode. This could be an advance in 23rd century weapon technology that saves the sound suppressor from thermal damage. The only issue about the M-66SD is that it does not fire the same caliber as the M4 semi-automatic pistol (from the original game), which is a 9x19mm round. (Which I doubt, given the effect of the powerful cartridge), making the M-66SD a PDW.
The other SMGs used by the ISA is the LS57 SMG that fires the 9mm round, making it a true submachine gun, but is only used in multiplayer and seems based on the H&K MP5.
The Helghast primary SMG is the Stahl Arms StA-11 that fires the same pistol round as the StA-18, the 9.2x20mm in the ammo cylinder drum. The StA-11, like all weapons in the Killzone games takes design elements from the Russian AKS-74U and the PP-19 Bizon.

Mass Effect

Submachine guns are featured in the far future universe of Mass Effect in the second and third game. I never used the SMG in Mass Effect because I was a 'soldier' class player. Once again, there is a sci-fi creator that does not understand the basic definition of the term submachine gun, because the shaved nano-block projectile is not, mostly likely, reduced in size to be akin to a pistol nano-round. It is more likely that the SMGs in Mass Effect are actually PDWs, due to their design usage, and the fact, that the soldier class cannot use them.

Stargate SG1 and Stargate (1994) and Stargate Universe

For the first four seasons of Stargate SG1, the team carried the H&K MP5A3, until it was replaced by the FN P90 PDW. In the 1994 film, a majority of the Air Force team that first crossed the stargate was armed with variants of the MP5 SMG. This would make sense for the time, everyone that was anyone simply had to carry an MP5. Not to mention that the MP5 was the choice for counterterrorism missions and missions needing sound suppression. But the use of an SMG for off-world exploration, especially when the threat of hostile alien showed up, is frankly a bad move, an assault carbine would have a better, more logical choice. After the fourth season, SG-1 teams begin to carry the more powerful FN P90. In the latest Stargate series, Universe, the humans seen in the series use the H&K UMP .45 ACP in several episodes.    

Turok (2008)

In the failed attempt to reboot the aging Turok video game series, there is an rather cool SMG, the ORO FP9 submachine gun. This SMG strongly resembles the Seburo 5mm C25, from the from the original manga, that fires the Seburo M5 5mm pistol round.   

Ghost in the Shell

The original Manga by Masamune Shirow,Section-9 uses a number of weapons from Seburo, including their standard pistol, the Seburo M5 5.45x18mm and the SMG that chambers the same round, the C25. In the Manga, Shirow himself states that the C25 was based on the FN P90, save for a bass catcher and magazine placement. Now, here is the question, is the C25 a SMG or PDW? The real-steel 5.45x18mm Russian round was developed in the 1970's and intended to be used by KGB, Soviet officers and Police as a pocket short-range pistol, and is close in size to a .25 ACP. Which makes the bullet in the realm of an PDW, but since the Seburo M5 and C25 share a common round, like an traditional SMG, does that make the C25 an SMG? Would that, then make the FN P90 an SMG since the FN FiveSeven pistol uses the same round?
Then there is the oddball Japanese SWAT bullpup SMG from Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex and Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig. This gun is stated to fire an 9x19mm round, but burrows elements from the British L85 bullpup assault rifle, the iron sights of an H&K firearm, and fires a traditional bullet, and does not seemed linked to the standard arms manuflactor of Japanese security forces, Seburo.


In both the Anime and Manga verisons of Masamune Shirow post-WWIII (non-nuclear) world, the ESWAT of New Olympus favors the Seburo J9 SMG that chambering high-velocity 9x19mm rounds. In the databook for Appleseed it states that the Seburo J9 is a "assault machine gun"...that fires 9mm...odd. Much like the Seburo C-25 PDW or SMG (depends on how you look at it), the J9 takes its appearance from the H&K MP5.

Total Recall (1990)

Total Recall is a fine example of what I was talking about above, where sci-fi works take an existing SMG and put some plastic pieces on it to make appear that is futuristic. Here, the special agents from the Federal Martian Colonies operating on Earth use an MAC-10 9mm SMG, but to make appear that it is a weapon from 2084, the prop master took the MAC-10 and fitted handguard mounted on the front, and appears to serve no purpose save for being cool.

Escape from New York

When Snake is sent into the New York Prison, his primary armament (most likely be used as a PDW) is a 9mm MAC-10 outfitted with a rifle scope that extends down to mounts on top of the sound suppressor. The MAC-10 is an interesting, but oddball choice for a primary armament. While the suppressor would be a mission critical element for this weapon, and the MAC-10 was a proven compact weapon, the MP5SD would a better choice. But the its not the weapon, which SMGs were so cool in 1981, but the rifle scope that brothers me today when watching this epic film. Why? Most SMGs at the time (1981), were used with iron sights, and the rifle scope would nearly completely useless for the type of weapon, not to mention if fired, the scope would be bounced around and it's mounted too far down the weapon to be of any use. There should be a flashlight in its place. However, far be it from me to question Snake...

The Running Man

Before there was the Hungry Game...there was Arnold running for his life in a futuristic TV show where convicts run from specially outfitted hunters, similar to the old American Gladiators TV show (you had to be there), expect with blood and cheesy one-liners. One of the interesting elements of the film is that at the end of the film, Arnold takes it to the bad guys with the civilian market variant of the MP5, the HK94, but this one fires fully automatic, and Arnold doesn't use the factory mounted foregrip.  

Red Faction

For the most part, this is a plain-Jane SMG in the Mars-based sci-fi shooter is nothing new. However, when I took a closer look at the Red Faction SMG, I wondered if it is the gamer designers making a visually nod to the 2001 shitty Ghosts of Mars? In that 'film', several actors use the Franchi LF-57 SMG, and it as a close approximation to the SMG in Red Faction.

I, Robot

In this cinema raping of the brillant original work by Isaac Asimov, Dr. Susan Calvin and Detective Spooner are seen using a sci-fi plastic casing mocked up an 9mm Sites Spectre M4 SMG. This yet another example of a film prop master taking an interesting real-steel gun and overlaying some plastic to make it futuristic.   


Andy McNabb on the MP5 and shooting it (watch a real SAS use it!)

The Navy SEALs use MP5s in CQC

The World Guns Article

The H&K Pro fan-site on the MP5: the best there is

The IMFDB page: this one is fun!

Here is a great video on the history of the Thompson SMG:


  1. The problem is that most writers and movie makers don't bother to learn any firearm terminology (or indeed any terminology at all), so they don't know the actual definition or proper use of a SMG. Thus we find SMG's anywhere and everywhere, just to look "cool".

    The future of the SMG is rather dim, other than the Kriss Vector 45. SMG. The role of a compact, powerful automatic firearm is being taken over by the PDW. Pistol rounds just don't have the power to penetrate modern body armor reliably. So, we will see plenty of compact automatic weapons that people will mistake for SMG's, but nothing that is actually a SMG. Speaking of the Kriss Vector 45.- I think I saw it in the new "Total Recall" trailer, along with the Mateba Autorevolver!

    In the farther future, the modern day definitions of SMG, assault rifle, and battle rifle will probably lose all meaning. The difference between an SMG, PDW, and assault carbine is based on the rounds these weapons fire. Militaries provide reduced varieties of weapons with standardized caliber because it is much easier to provide for an army that has one or two gun designs than ten or twenty that all call for different rounds.

    Ray-guns can't be categorized caliber, as they don't fire an physical projectiles. The incentive for standardization diminishes since widely differing weapons can use the same ammo- electricity from power packs. Thus no "energy submachine guns", any more than we would have "flamethrower submachine guns". I prefer the term "projector" for ray-guns, used commonly be E.E Doc Smith, since it accentuates the difference between slugthrowers and energy weapons.

    Exotic weapons like the K-Volt aren't really SMG's either. If you are dragging around weapons that shoot electrically charged darts, heat-seeking micro-missiles with explosive warheads, etc., then the term SMG doesn't apply. The term SMG applies only to automatic weapons that fire pistol rounds. You could make a case for such exotic weapons being SMGs if there is a handgun that fires the same round, however. All in all, however, the term SMG is just too 20th century. Time and new developments in weapons technology will bring new terms to describe new weapons. It is easiest to classify futuristic weapons by role, not caliber related terms.

    Christopher Phoenix

  2. That is very good point, Mr. Phoenix, and believe you are correct, the future of close combat weaponry will be PDWs, which is a true that apply to KEW or DEW types. I guess we could have "projector personal defense weapons"...
    I recently watched the new Total Recall trailer, and I believe both of those weapons appear in the new film. I'm sad that Mars will not be in the new film.

  3. Hi William!! It is too bad that Mars is not in the new Total Recall, but at least we get ROBOTS!!!! If I had been making the new Total Recall, I would have had Douglas Quaid go to Mars- and I would have hired Robert Zubrin as the scientific consultant.

    The one thing that bugged me about the original Total Recall was the ending scene where Arnie single-handedly makes a breathable atmosphere on Mars in a few minutes. The force of shooting that much atmosphere out would have stripped everything from the surface of Mars in a few seconds. I had already been politely ignoring the "Aargh!! My eyes are bugging out of my head because it is Maaarrs, and even though this absolute bull-shit the audience thinks that because it is space my eyes must bug out of my head, aaarrhh!!" scenes, and Earth is far to large in the Martian sky. In reality, Earth will just be a small blue glimmer, just as Mars is a small red glimmer from Earth. With a telescope, you could resolve the disk. One just can't expect to much accuracy from a movie full of cheesy one-liners and rubber mutants, though. See you at the party, Richter!!!

    I think I misidentified the revolver used in Total Recall- I think it is actually a Chiappa Rhino. The Rhino, like the Mateba Autorevolver, aligns the barrel with the bottom chamber of the cylinder. This helps tame the muzzle flip, making the revolver easier to control. The only pistol I knew with that configuration was the Mateba Autorevolver- I had forgotten about the Rhino. The flat-sided chamber and ribbing above the barrel is a dead give-away to the revolvers true identity. Go check it out here: http://chiappafirearms.com/product/728 Damn, now I want one- I think Hollywood is the best advertising firearms companies have.

    In the future, our weapons will still fulfill similar roles as do modern weapons- be that role personal defense, heavy combat, security, etc. However, terms like submachine gun, PDW, assault rifle, etc. organize weapons by the round they fire. PDW's are a compromise between assault rifles and submachine guns, just as assault rifles are a compromise class between full-sized battle rifles and submachine guns. If guns shoot deadly rays, then the distinctions will blur.

    Ultimately, I don't think we should limit ourselves to modern gun terms when describing death rays, as death rays really don't resemble any weapons we have today. Even the term "laser rifle" is a misnomer, as lasers don't even have barrels to have rifling in. Of course, we say "laser cannon", an equally anachronistic term. We probably will continue to say "laser rifle" and "laser cannon", too, just as we continue to say "blueprints" even though engineers don't use actual blueprints nowadays, unless E.E. Doc Smith's terminology catches on!!

    Christopher Phoenix

  4. after I read this, I dug out my VHS copy of Total Recall and watched it...and remembered how much I enjoyed seeing this in 1990, and how some elements are still very cool, despite the cornball lines, but Michael Ironside is worth watching in about anything he does. I think it is one of the better Arnold Movies, of couse the best was Predator. There were so many little touches, like the red money used on Mars, the look of 2084, the little inside jokes, and the Johnny Cabs. In some ways, I wish they hadn't remade the film, look at the dogshit job they did on Conan.
    I love hwo there eyes are bugging out one minute, then they are totally fine. Some people think based on the 'blue skies on Mars'line when Arnold goes to Recall, that everything is a dream. As a kid, I loved the Vehroeven violence.
    Thanks for the comment, Mr. Phoenix!

  5. PDW isn't really a weapon class because there's no consistent description or set of guidelines to define what a PDW actually is; the term originated in marketing materials for the MP5K-PDW and was also used for the Jatimatic (both totally normal 9mm subguns) and has since been applied to everything from machine pistols to carbine rifles. Since all "true" PDWs tend to share the SMG characteristic of firing a smaller-than-intermediate round (and usually one which would easily fit in a pistol), you might as well just call them what they are.

    The PDW concept was primarily going for the same roles as the AKS-74U (special forces, vehicle crews and support units) and the general idea was pitched heavily towards vehicle crews since that's a lot of units. Before Iraq / Afghanistan vehicle crews would generally certify with their weapons very rarely (once or twice a year) so the combination of a weapon that's easily stowed, has mild recoil and is effectively point and squirt was supposed to tempt buyers into purchasing. In the event, it turned out vehicles in this war come under attack far more often than in a "traditional" war, so the military wasn't interested and PDW sales were somewhat disappointing; countries didn't even bother replacing their old stocks of MP5s with new metal in the end and only the P90 enjoyed any real success.

    The Vector would have sold well in the 80s, but it's now a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist, and it strikes me all that stuff swinging around inside would gum up pretty easily in actual combat. Couple that to the inventor being an egomaniac who thinks his silly swingy thingy will render all Browning-derived weapons obsolete and the fact that that controllability and accuracy is pissed away on a weapon with the same barrel length as an M1911 and you can see why nobody's buying. TDI's changed its name to ALLCAPS ARMS or whatever and seems to be focusing exclusively on the US civilian mall ninja market, I don't think they have a single serious military buyer.

  6. "US Civilian Mall Ninja"... damn that is funny! You are correct that the PDW concept has been applied to a few guns, including the World War II M1 Carbine.
    I also agree that the original problem that the PDW was going to solve, was solved by weapons like the M4 carbine and commando carbines. The market that the P90 is gaining is in the close protection services...the US secret service uses P90s.
    Ah...the Vector. What a badass machine! Too bad more of them are used in Black Ops II than in the real world....
    For FWS, the description of a PDW is pretty clear, and I just wished everyone else got the memo.
    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. Also, if you look carefully at the StA-11 you'll see the entire receiver is actually from an Uzi, the rear sight is from an M249 SAW, the stock from an AKS-74U and the magazine and front grip from a Bizon.

    M-66SD is a H&K Mk 23 with a giant elongated slide for the weirdo bullpup layout, so I'd say if anything it's a big bulky machine pistol.

  8. Handguard, rather, not front grip.

  9. I get handguard and front grip confused at times...the weapons of KILLZONE are an odd lot, but the designers have done their job right, they are interesting.
    Thanks for reading and commenting

  10. Heh, I actually liked the I, Robot movie, even though it didn't have much to do with the book. Yea, I had to have an MP5 clone, mostly because of the Rainbow 6 games I played when I was a kid.

  11. For an SMG's role, you seem to forget that not everyone is an soldier in the military. Support personnel (logistics, artillery, etc.) are given a gun with little training, and little chance of use in combat. The SMG is transitioning to the role of a backup gun (pistols take more training to achieve the same proficiency as compared to a SMG).

  12. Maybe I just missed someone else making this point when my eyes glazed over 1/3 of the waythrough the comments, but - THE definition of a submachine is a firearm capable of fully automatic fire that is chambered for a PISTOL round. SInce there are at least 2 pistols chambered for the 5.7mm round (as of this writing) the fully auto-capable PS-90 has become, by definition, a sub-machine gun. A machine gun is a firarm capable of full-auto fire that is chambered for a RIFLE round. Yet the M-16 (M-4) and M-14, chambered is 5.56mm and 7.62mm respectively,are considered automatic rifles, not machine guns. Further, the M249 SAW, chambered for 5.56mm, is a light macine gun, and the M-60, chambered for the 7.62mm, is a medium machine gun. The difference between full auto weapons being considered either automatic rifles or machine guns, is the manner in which the rounds are fed into the weapon. The M-16(M-4) and M-14 both take box magazines of, generally, 20 - 30 rounds (as I recall) whereas the M-249 and M-60 are belt-fed. Then of course there is the venerable (Designed during WW ONE) and awesome M2 Browning .50 cal. With it's BIG round and being belt-fed, it is the very definition of a heavy machine gun.

  13. Pardon the typos. It's late and I'm detoxing from caffiene.