15 March 2021

FWS Armory: The Machine Pistol and the Assault Pistol

They are the queens of the up-close-and-personal quick-kill in virtual battlefields, the darling of Hong Kong cinema slow-motion, and the tool of the drive-up...they are the Machine Pistol! These little automatic pistol spew brass and bullets downrange with varying degrees of accuracy and have a dicey history with military organizations and law enforcement. In addition, in this article will be discussing the oddball bigger cousin of the machine pistol: the Assault Pistol. So strap in as we here at FWS attempt to explore and explain this very interesting weapons platforms!     

What is an "Machine Pistol"?
These types of limited range, high rate of fire personal weapons are often constructed around already established pistols, like the Beretta 92 and the Glock 17. Given their foundation are pistols that were mostly designed for combat roles, this means the bulk of machine pistols are chambered in the 9mm range. Often, the machine pistol looks like their semi-auto only pistol parent with the addition of grips, stocks of all types, and extended magazines.
Machine pistols can be select-fire in either full-auto or burst in addition to semi-auto. This unique, tactically limited, weapons were originally designed for defensive purposes for mostly non-direct combat roles and some specialized units. The term for this weapon category was coined by the Imperial German Army during the First World War, given that the first auto-loading pistol was created by German engineer Hugo Borchardt in 1896 with the C-93 7.65x25mm handgun. However, that is were it gets…complicated. The 1880s-1910s were an explosive time in firearms experimentation and invention that forged fertile ground for the firearms innovation brought out by the First World War. During the war, the Imperial German Army fielded some of the first machine pistols, like the 9mm Luger 08 Artillery and the 9mm Repetierpistole M1912/P16. It was also during this hellish time-period that the first submachine gun was fielded, the 9mm MP-18 by Hugo Schmeisser (father of the MP40) and Theodor Bergmann. While the MP-18 clearly fits within the SMG category to us today, it was called an “Maschinenpistole 18”. This usage of the term “machine pistol” by the Germans muddied the waters between actual machine pistols and very similar SMGs. The term “Submachine Gun” was actually coined by the American inventor of the Thompson machine gun, John T. Thompson. To this very day, the “MP” designation is still used in German firearms manufactures for SMGs like weapon, as seen in the H&K MP5 and the PDW MP7.  

The Combat Role of the Machine Pistol
When we examine the genesis behind Machine Pistol around the First World War, we see that they were intended to be used by support soldiers, like artillery or armored crews, to defend themselves with greater offensive/defensive capability than a standard issue pistol. The high volume of fire and compact size made a choice for some close quarters’ combat/counter-terrorism scenarios associated with Special Operations and specialized Law Enforcement units. At times, some have selected to use a select-fire machine pistol as a secondary weapon. Some of the role of the machine pistol is seriously undercut by weapon platforms like the classic sub machine gun and the more recent personal defense weapon. Another fact that has undercut the combat role of the machine pistol (and military adaptation) have been the negative reviews, bad press, and a common misconception about accuracy.          

The 5 Types of Machine Pistol Layouts by Yoel
When Yoel and I were discussing this topic a few months ago, he came up with the five types of layouts for machine pistols both present, past, and possible future. The first layout is a machine pistol feed from a rectangular box magazine in the pistol grip. With the magazine being either straight or angled. This is the classic machine pistol that we think of and seen in iconic machine pistols like the Glock 18c, the micro-UZI, and the Beretta 93R. The majority of these first layout of machine pistols are just that, select-fire variants of pistols or more compact variants of submachine guns. 
The second layout of machine pistols is where the magazine is loaded/inserted in front of the pistol grip, think the iconic Czech Skorpion vz. 16. layout. For the 2nd type of machine pistols, the magazine can be straight or curved. The curved magazine is more suited for necked cartridges for large capacity without creating too much bulk. Placing the magazine in front of the grip can have some other benefits. The barrel bore can be lower compared to in the grip magazine layout cause the firing mechanism behind the bolt in the grip. Plus the weight of magazine in the front reduce muzzle climb during rapid fire, with the down side being the overall length is larger for given barrel length. Check what Colt tried with their SCAMP (Small Caliber Automatic Machine Pistol), the magazine insert in the grip but the firing mechanism is placed ABOVE the slide, like an hump
The last three layouts are the most uncommon. The third layout of machine pistols is a sort of bullpup layout, normally chambered in 9mm or .45ACP and is operated one handed. The user braces the weapon against their bicep instead of the shoulder. While uncommon, there was the experimental Colt Arm-Pistol in 5.56mm, the Sidewinder 9mm/.45ACP developed by Sidney McQueen in the 1960's. These weapons were designed with pilots and dog handlers in mind, but no military organization ever adopted them, 
The 4th machine pistol mechanical layout is where the ammo is being feed from a horizontal magazine, similar to the FN P90 5.7mm PDW. While the P90 is not a machine pistol. unless you are Teal'c, there were two prototype machine pistols that feed from a horizontal magazine: the 9mm Hill H15 and the Marshall Arms SMG prototype.
Lastly, we have the 5th mechanical layout of machine pistol, those that feed their ammunition from a helical magazine that is often mounted under or on top of the weapon. While seemingly uncommon, there was an entire firearms company developed to helical magazine firearms: Calico. Their futuristic firearms, like the 9mm pistol M590, gained in popularity among Hollywood productions and TV shows, causing a number of Calicos to be featured.  

What is the Difference Between the Machine Pistol, the SMG, and the PDW?
Here is the $64,000 Question when it comes to these types of compact weapons: what is the real difference between them? For the most part, machine pistols have the core design constructed around an established pistol. This is seen in the select-fire Glock 18 machine pistol being based on Glock 17 and the Beretta 93R being based on the 92 series. There exceptions to the rule as well, like the MAC 10/11. For the most part, the majority of machine pistol chamber the 9mm round and this puts them in the same category as the submachine gun. The most iconic machine pistols and the most iconic sub-guns both fire the 9x19mm cartridge, thus mudding the waters on difference between them. SMGs and machine pistols are selected for some of the same tactical situations and by the same users, however, the SMG is larger and longer, has better recoil control, easier to attach a sound suppressor, more choice in pistol calibers selection, and is generally designed from the ground-up as an SMG, not based on a handgun. Another more subjective element between Sub-guns and machine pistols is how the magazine location. In most classically machine pistol designs, the extended magazine is loaded in the grip of the handgun, while most SMG load their ammunition in the traditional rifle configuration with the mag-well in forward of the trigger assembly. This does not always apply of course…the UZI is an SMG and is loaded in the grip like a pistol. Of course, your mileage will vary with these terms. 
That bring us to the difference between the Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) and the machine pistol. The term “personal defense weapon” can refer to a specialized type of compact weapon that fires specially designed high-velocity, body-armor defeating ammunition, like the FN P90, Then the term can be used as tactical scenario where a person has to defend themselves from an incoming threat that is in the close encounter range. At times, people use shotguns or special ammunition loads to defend their homes or cars in a personal defense situation. Classically, pistols were viewed as “personal defense weapons” or even the WWII M1 carbine. 
The origin of the machine pistols was to be used in a personal defense fashion by World War One Imperial German artillery troops to defend themselves and it can be used in that manner. Some believe that the worlds of machine pistols and PDWs intersect with the H&K MP7 that has design element in a similar manner to a machine pistol, but fires a custom engineered 4.6x30mm cartridge. Some of this is similar to the abandon G11 PDW 4.73mm caseless pistol concept…more on that below.     

The History of the Machine Pistol
Just before the dawn of the 20th century, the technology of firearms was being pushed in new directions. This experimentation in the realm of firearms came to a hard reality during the hell of the First World War. As stated above, the first machine pistols were built around the time of World War One. The pathfinder technologically platform that allowed for one of the 2 machine pistols issued during the Great War was Hugo Borchardt's C93, the first self-loaded "automatic" pistol that lead to the Luger line of 9mm pistols, one being a machine pistol variant. The first two machine pistols were the Steyr M1912 9mm Repetierpistole and the Luger 08 AKA "the Artillery Luger". 
There is some debate about which is the first issued machine pistol, but it is likely the Luger 08 Artillery. The Luger 08 was developed and approved by the Imperial German leadership in 1913 and was more thought of, at the time, to be an "carbine". This machine pistol was to be used by pilots, artillery crews, and other units that could not use the bulky bolt-action K98 infantry rifle. One of the users during the hellish war was the feared Imperial German Army Stormtroopers that used the Luger 08 with the drum or "snail" extended magazine along side the first submachine gun: the MP18. The other issues machine pistol of the Great War was the Austrian Steyr Repetierpistole M1912/P16 that was fully-automatic variant of the standard issue Austrian-Hungarian Army M1912 pistol. While the pistol was developed in 1911 and issued in 1912, the machine pistol variant was created in 1916 and copies are rare.
After the First World War, there was some further development on machine pistols using existing platforms, like the iconic Masuer C96, the Browning Hi-Power 9mm, and even the Colt 1911. However, it was also during the gap between the two world wars that development of the primary rival to the machine pistol was being refined and incorporated into military/law enforcement organizations: the submachine gun. This was setting the stage for the weapons of the upcoming war. Some of the machine pistols developed during the gap years were more homebrewed for some of the most dangerous American gangsters like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson with the Texas-created Lebman 1911 .45ACP.
While the First World War saw the deployment of the machine pistol for use in the horrific trench warfare setting, the 2nd World War saw the rise of the sub-gun with the icons like the British STEN gun, the American M3 "Grease Gun", the Soviet PPSh-41, the German MP-40, and of course, the M1A1 Thompson. Few machine pistols were designed or deployed officially during the war by either side and it makes sense: SMGs are much more tactical flexible and stable than the machine pistol. It seemed that the end of the machine pistol might have come. The fate of the machine pistol would change during the Cold War along with some blurring the lines between the machine pistol and its chief rival, the submachine gun, due to new situations and threats that emerged during the 1960s. Some machine pistols were fielded for vehicle crews, dog haulers, and even special operations units. As much of the world prepared for all-out (possible nuclear) war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, there were other conflicts and tactical situations that were beyond the Berlin Wall and mostly orbited the shadow world of terrorism. This new threat caused most governments to form specialized military and law enforcement units for counter-terrorism, like the US Army DELTA Force. 
For these counter-terrorism operations, which were mostly framed in terms of close-quarters combat and hostage rescue, the tools of the trader for CTUs was the SMG and the machine pistol. From Operation Nimrod, to the successful rescue operation of Lufthansa Flight 181 by the Wester German GSG9 CTU, the SMG and machine pistol worked together to prevent and end terrorism with a hail of bullets. Smaller, more compact, rapid-fire weapons were needed for CT work and came in the form of the legendary H&K MP5 and UZI. However, some CT units reached out to manufactures to develop new machine pistols for CT operations and hostage rescue, especially those being conducted on airplanes. This where the lines blurred between the SMG and the machine pistol. Some SMGs variants were even more compact like the MP5K and the Micro-UZI. 
In addition, there were new machine pistols developed on pistol platforms like the iconic Glock 18 or completely new, like the Steyr TMP. Another rival emerged during the mid-1980's to also muddy the waters even more and cut into the mission for the machine pistol: the personal defense weapon (PDW). While the founding father of the modern interpretation of the PDW concept is the FN P90, there is a PDW that is, at times, regarded as an machine pistol: the H&K MP7. Today, there are a few machine pistol that struggle onward for their class while the PDW overtakes both the SMG and machine pistol .       
What is the Difference between the AR Pistol, Carbine, the SBR, and the Commando Carbine?
Here is another can of worms: where does the assault rifle pistol fit among carbines, short-barreled rifles, and the commando carbine? Carbines are shortened (and lighter) versions of military rifles and assault rifles through shorter barrels and more compact stocks. For example, the M16A2 military assault rifle has a 20-inch barrel and a full-sized stock that comes in at 39.5inches. While the M4 military assault carbine has a 14-inch barrel with a collapsible stock that comes in at 29.75inches with the stock retracted. Stripping down the carbine to a smaller, more compact weapon systems for parajumper, Special Operations, and specialized roles can go in different ways. Some fit the carbine-sized with folding stocks, like the FN FAL Para, the M1A1 paratrooper, AKMS, and the AKS-74. These folding stock carbine variants can be fired with the stock tucked away in a manner that is similar to an assault pistol. The even shorter, even more compact variant of the carbines is the commando carbine. Fitted with 8-11-inch barrels and even smaller stocks, these compact firearms are designed to fulfill combat and tactical situations within close quarters environments. These used to be the tactical battlespace that SMGs dominated 20 years ago and the PDW classifications are fighting to be part of. This can be seen in the AKS-74U and the Mark 18 Mod 0 CQBR. With a swappable upper receiver, the M4A1 carbine can transformed into a commando carbine. Lastly, there is the Short-Barreled Rifle, which is a US legal definition of a rifle that has a barrel less than the legal 16inch. In order, in the US, to legally own an SBR, you must go through the process and pay the money.         

What is an "Assault Pistol"?
The Assault Pistol (AKA AR Pistol) is the physical embodiment of the term “What If” applied to a firearm and how to design a firearm around getting through a loophole in US firearms law. These specialized and unique firearms are seemingly most designed and released for the US civilian firearms market. They occupy an interest niche within the firearms community and their favor with the bureau of alcohol tobacco firearms and explosives has fluctuated greatly over the years. Mostly, Assault Pistols are based off the AR-15 design with a shortened barrel that less than 16inches and without a stock while still chambering the same assault rifle cartridge the standard AK or AR-15 assault rifle. These short barrel rifles were designed in such a way to allow civilians to buy an SBR without the expensive tax stamp, but in order to do that, the stock was stripped off, causing the handling and accuracy of the weapon to be lessened than their larger brethren. In order to solve the accuracy and recoil issues, some companies have designed stock-like attachments like “arm braces” and “cheek rests”. At present, the Assault Rifle is enjoying its moment within the US civilian firearms market.       

The History of the Assault Pistol
Assault Pistols are a unique and oddball firearms that has existed in several forms since nearly the beginning of the 20th century...sort of. Let me explain. As stated above, if an assault rifle/carbine/rifle/battle rifle has a folding wire/skeleton stock, you can use like an assault pistol. The first wire/skeleton buttstocks are older than I originally believed, with the first patent being filed in 1884 by a Frederick Schwatka of Vancouver Barracks, Washington Territory (thanks Historical Firearms!). However, it would not be until the 2nd World War that folding stock weapons would be standard issue variants due to the introduction of paratrooper forces. Weapon like the British 9mm Sten submachine gun and the Assault Pistol-like M1a1 Paratrooper Carbine. 
There were also rumored attempts at applying folding stocks to assault rifles and infantry rifles at the time, like a folding-stock M1 Garand and the STG-45 (M). After the war, there was a CETME Modelo rifle designed in 1958 for paratroopers and vehicle crews that had a top folding stock that heavily reminds me of the folding stock from the MP-40 SMG. During the Cold War, many standard issue assault rifles and battle rifles had para-variants developed, like the Type 56-II and the Type 56-I, the Stoner-63, and G3. While these can be used like assault pistols, they are not specifically designed to be an assault pistol. 
The progenitor of the assault pistol is the Olympic Arms OA-93 and the Colt Arm-Pistol (see below). The OA-93 was developed in 1992 by Olympic Arms of Olympia, Washington and released in 1993. Originally, Olympic Arms was looking into developing an  folding stock variant of the AR15 platform and a SBR "pistol" version that used a loophole in the 1934 National Firearms Act. Basically, Olympic Arms developed a "pistol" variant of the AR15 without a stock and without the buffer tube that still fired the 5.56mm round. This was a difficult engineering task to the AR15 buffer tube design that normally would rule out the development of a folding-stock AR15/M16.  Just one year later, the Assault Weapons Ban of  the 1994 Crime Bill caused the OA-93 to be deemed illegal. To overcome this, Olympic Arms redeveloped the OA-93 that did not have a detachable magazine to be become the OA-96. The standard AR15 30-round magazine was wielded into the weapon to allow the OA-96 to be legally sold on the US civilian firearms market via its new "fixed magazine". The ammunition had to be hand-loaded one round at a time with the OA-96 AR pistol opened up, causing the weapon to sell poorly.     
During this time, some Hollywood productions, like 1994 Clear and Present Danger (the first movie to feature an OA-93) would include the cool-looking assault rifle pistol that are not always the OA-93. In 1998, Olympic Arms would come out with yet another variant of the OA series with the OA-98 that was diet version of the OA-93. To allow for the removable magazine, Olympic Arms had to get the weight of the AR pistol under 50oz, shaving off some 21ozs from the original AR pistol design. This made the OA-98 to have a skeleton appearance and questionable durability that proved unpopular when compared to the other models. The days of the OA series AR pistol were thought to be numbers when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004. After the ban was lifted, the need for the "loophole gun" dried up with the US civilian firearms market able to buy AR-15 assault rifles again. Sales exploded for AR-15 styled weapons various reasons that are both political and psychological to this very day. 
Thought to be dead is the key terms here for the assault pistol. At some point around 2015, the was an new interest in assault pistols, specifically those developed from the AR-15 assault rifle platform. Some were just interested in the cool factor, some where interesting adding an interesting gun to their inventory, and others were interested in assault pistol applications to self-defense scenarios. During this time, some manufactures designed "arm braces" and "cheek rests" for the assault pistols on the market. To some, including the Federal government, these were thinly veiled rifle stocks that could allow the user to skirt the ban on SBRs. The continued battle over arm braces and cheek rests is on going at the moment as well as the larger legal battle over assault pistols as can be seen with the Honey Badger pistol last year.    
The Combat Role of the Assault Pistol…the Firing Port Weapon!
The combat role of the Assault Pistol is an interesting one, because it does not really have one for the most part. As we have examined in the previous section, the origin story of the Assault Pistol was as a physical representation of a legal firearms loophole so that the American public could buy an SBR without the tax-stamp. We could classify the use of para-variant assault rifle with the shoulder stock in the folded position as a possible combat usage of an assault pistol, but that stretching it. However, there are two, basically, stock-less assault rifles tested by US Army: M231 FPW and the HK-53 MICV. During the development of the vehicle that would become the M2 Bradley IFV in the 1970’s under the Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV) Program, there were to be six firing ports along both sides of the next-gen armored fighting vehicle to allow the infantry to defend the vehicle from infantry attacks from the safety of being inside of the vehicle. The US Army put out the call for contracts for specialized assault rifles that could be used in the firing ports. Unlike the Warsaw Pact BMP-1 IFV, the United State IFV design did not have the space to allow the mechanized infantry to use their own M16 assault rifles in the firing ports. This concept of an armored mechanized transport vehicle that would allow the infantry inside the vehicle to engage and defend the vehicle was also embraced by the West German Marder IFV, but not the British Army for their Warrior IFV/APC. The West German Marder IFV will be important in a minute. 
From the limited information we have, it seems that three perspective rifles for the role as an Port Firing Weapon on the new US Army IFV were evaluated by Rock Island Arsenal: The HK-53 MICV, possibility the M3 Grease Gun SMG, and the X321. The 5.56mm HK-53 MICV was a variant within a variant within a variant. The HK-53 MICV was a specialized open-bolt, cult-down FPW variant of the HK-53, which was shortened carbine variant of the HK-33, which was an 5.56mm NATO assault rifle variant of the HK G3 7.62mm battle rifle. While the US Army went with the FPW that was developed from the M16A2, the X321, H&K attempted to get the West German Army to adopt the HK-53 MICV for their Marder IFV. Oddly, the West German Army instead used the UZI SMG (MP2) for their tanker crews and FPW. The German Army MO2 UZI was not fully replaced until the adaptation of the H&K MP7 PDW! 
Now, the M231 appears like current crop of civilian AR-5 Pistols, but originally, it was developed with a wire shoulder stock from the M3 Grease Gun. That stock was removed due to the extreme recoil generated by the 12250 RPM causing the stock to fly off. In operation, six M231 FPWs were carried by the M2 Bradleys with their magazines loaded with all M196 tracer rounds to allow the mechanized infantry to walk the rounds to the target. The weapons were stripped of the forward sight assembly and they were pretty much used for suppressive fire, not hitting tangos in the A-Box. Around 27,000 M231 FPWs were produced and they have been used in combat during the twin Gulf Wars by both mechanized infantry and the Bradley crews during urban operations. Today, the M231 FPWs still float around the Bradleys due to the the side firing ports were plugged up with armor and only the two rear firing ports still intact.

And then there is the "Arm Pistol"
One of the oddball weapons that fits within the range of this article is the rare Gwinn Firearms Company/Bushmaster “Arm Pistol”. The original concept for the arm pistol was started by Colt in the late 1960’s as the “Individual Multi-Purpose Weapon (IMP)”. Created by Dale M. Davis and Stanley D. Silsby to be a survival compact personal defense weapon for bailed out aircrews that was more powerful and effective than the typical .38 revolver used by most USAF aircrews. 
This ideal was likely in response to the situation in Vietnam. This arm pistol was originally chambered in a new unique cartridge: the Remington .221-17 and designed to use the shooter’s forearm to provide stabilization. This makes the weapon more into the “assault pistol” category rather than a machine pistol. When USAF ended the Colt IMP experiment due to issues with accuracy, it was bought by Gwinn Firearms Company to be redesigned and rechambered in the standard 5.56x45mm, making it more of an assault pistol for sure. Gwinn Firearms would product the Arm Pistol starting in 1972 through the early 1980’s. Mack Gwinn also started Bushmaster Firearms, and the Arm Pistol was also under the Bushmaster name during the early 1980’s. With no real military interest in the Arm Pistol, Bushmaster would product this unique weapon for the civilian market until 1988 when the Arm Pistol was discontinued due to poor sales and changes in Firearms law in the United States.

Examples of Real-Steel Machine-Pistols

The Glock 18 & C 9x19mm
The most popular seen on TV, in films, and in video games is the Austrian-born Glock 18 and 18C. Developed from the 9mm Glock 17 at the request Austrian CTU EKO Cobra for a select-fire machine variant of the very popular Glock sidearm in 1986. If the extended 33-round magazine is not loaded, there a only a few outside differences between the Glock 17, the 18, and the 18C. The most notable is the selector switch and the key-cutout on the top of the barrel for the compensator There are two variants of the government/LE/military sales-only pistol, the regular 18 and the 18C. The real difference is that the 18C has a keyhole opening at the top of the barrel slide from the compensator. The service life of the Glock 18 is not well known or documented and there are a very few Glock 18/18C in existence when compared to its Glock 17 parent. 
While this machine pistol Glock is often seen in movies and TV, most of the time, these production use modified Glock 17s  for bulk of TV and movie productions, much like the Beretta 93R. For us video games, we know the Glock 18/18C is a mainstay of the virtual battlefield and is a gun available in most shooters. From my own experience, I cannot tell how many times I've killed by an Glock 18 while playing a COD game or Counter-Strike. Given this fact, I've tried to use the full-auto Glock in those online matches and it never worked out well.     

The Colt SCAMP
One of the more interesting concept hand weapons that could be placed in “could have been” pile is the Colt (Small CAliber Machine Pistol) SCAMP concept. Envisioned by Colt as a next-gen personal defense weapon that would have been a replacement to the aging M1911 .45ACP pistol. One single prototype machine pistol was developed in 1971 with the new experimental .22 SCAMP (5.56x29mm) cartridge. From 1971-1974, Colt attempted to gain military interest, but there were no takers due to the military stating that they were not interested in replacing the Colt M1911 and given there was an expensive war going on at the same time. Oddly, Colt was also working on their IMP “Arm Pistol” concept at around the same time. The idea was to have a select-fire pistol that could provide both roles of an PDW and traditional pistol via a machine pistol platform. It is likely that the SCAMP would have burst-fire and not full rock-n-roll. This is very similar to the FN 5.7mm cartridge in both size and mission. The Colt SCAMP should have totally been in the original Black Ops game!

The Lebman 1911 Machine Pistol
One of the most famous and longest-serving military sidearms was/is the Colt 1911 .45ACP. and oddly, the US military did not commission Colt to make a machine pistol variant of it...but that did not stop others. During the wild 1930's in America, an Texan by the name of Hyman S. Lebman built and sold custom weapons and sometimes to some of the most criminals of the day like Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger. One of Mr. Lebman's inventions was the Lebman 1911, an machine pistol variant with a larget magazine and forward grip from off of an Tommy Gun. This machine pistol 1911 was called an "baby machine gun" by John Dillinger, one of the most famous users of the Lebman 1911.   

The MAC  M-11 & M-11/9
One of the more famous or infamous machine pistols of all time is the MAC M-11 series that was the smaller brother to the MAC M-10. The M-10 & M-11 SMG/MP were designed by Gordon Ingram and Mitchell WerBell. They formed the company Military Armament Corporation around 1970 with a group of investors. That is were the "MAC" moniker comes from and the term "MAC 10" was not used by the company. which called these small weapons the "M10" and the "M11". MAC M-11 was the smaller brother to the more typical SMG platform of M-10 .45ACP and was designed to be a concealed firearm for various units.  

The H&K VP70
One of the most futuristic polymer-framed pistols used in many productions (including ALIENS) is the H&K VP70 and it also has a machine pistol variant to it. Developed in 1970 as the first polymer-framed handgun, the "people's pistol" or Volkspistole was a unique weapon that had a unique feature for the military-only variant. A stock could be clicked into the rear of the VP70 military variant to allow the 9mm handgun to fire in a 3-round burst mode via the stock's selector switch. There is an Italian version that allows for the shoulder-stock to be mounted, but does not trigger the burst-fire mount. 

The Beretta 93R
One of the more famous and best-known machine pistol variants of a standard pistol that is NOT the Glock 18 is the Beretta 93R. This 9mm select-fire pistol was developed from the popular Beretta 92 for Italian counter-terrorism units and law enforcement personnel that need big firepower in small packages. Beretta has a history of developing machine pistol out of their standard pistols and the 93 Raffica ("burst" or "volley" in Italian came about as a modern updated pistol to the aging 951. While the date of creation is debated from the 1970s or mid-1980's, the 93R was only produced until 1993. This, like the Glock 18/18C, was a popular weapon in video games, anime, TV, and movies. The first time I saw a Beretta 93R was in the 1996 film Broken Arrow.  

The Škorpion vz. 61
This is yet another famous machine pistols that nearly blurs the line into SMG territory: the Skorpion vz. 61. This weapon is a Cold War 1959-1961 product of the Communist Czechoslovak military that was designed for staff drivers, vehicle crews, Special Operations forces and others. One of the cool features of this .32 caliber weapon was the ability for the forward magazine to fold under the barrel to allow the Skorpion to fit into a holster, much like a standard pistol. This increased the weapon's usability and is a rare feature in any machine pistol. Today, the Skorpion is popular enough to warrant rechambering in more popular calibers like 9mm and many knock-offs are made. It is also popular across media with the Skorpion making appears in many movies, video games, and TV series, notability, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica.  

Example of Real-Steel Assault Pistols

The XM29 OICW 5.56mm KE Module/XM8 Compact Carbine
Without a doubt, one of the most futuristic modern weapon systems is the XM29 that born from the US Army OICW Program. The concept was to develop a weapon platform that allowed a soldier to engage the enemy with traditional 5.56mm KE rounds and a semi-auto air-explosive micro-grenade launcher that could target and destroy the enemy from the safety of cover without the user exposing themselves to incoming enemy fire. Alliant Techsystems and H&K jointly developed the M41A1 Pulse Rifle-like weapon system in the XM29 OICW. The H&K portion of the complex future-gun was the G36 derived 5.56x45mm “Kinetic Energy module”. 
When you look at the KE module, it looks very much like an Assault Pistol, and one can envision being able to separate/strip-off that module off the bulky grenade launcher and using it during a desperate situation. When the XM29 OICW project was cancelled, the 5.56mm KE module was transformed into the attempted US Army next-generation weapon system: the H&K XM8. One of the variants of the XM8 assault rifle was indeed very similar to an Assault Pistol: the stockless 5.56mm XM8 Compact Carbine. In truth, there were two versions of the compact carbine, one with a very basic skeleton/wire stock and another with only a shoulder strap lug. It is likely if the XM8 had been officially adopted by the US Army. The compact carbine variant would have been issued to armored vehicle crews and helicopter pilots, similar to the British Army L22.              

The Two Sci-Fi Weapons We Could NOT Include :(
Sadly, there were two notable pistol-sized 9mm weapons that were common in sci-fi action movies when I was growing up that FWS could not include: the Goncz GA and the Calico M950. I decided to devote some space here discuss what these weapons are and why they were not included. I was under impression prior to the research phase of this article that both of these futuristic 9x19mm pistols were machine pistols. Sadly, they were only available in semi-automatic fire. The Goncz GA/Claridge Hi-Tec 9mm pistols were designed and developed by Lajos John Goncz of Goncz Armament of California around 1984. His company would release the pistol and carbines from 1984 to 1990. Claridge Hi-Tec would use the Goncz to construct their own pistol and pistol carbine from 1990 to 1993.
During these years, the Goncz become a darling of film, TV, anime in the 1990's. For me, the Goncz GA pistol was the favorite sidearm of Frank Castle in the original Punisher War Journal series. During the first issue of the comic in 1988. Microchip gave Frank an Goncz to test and loved it. It would be the favorite of his in the first year of the comic, when I was reading it religiously. Due to legal disputes about the rights over the design and California banning the weapon, Claridge Hi-Tec would cease production on the pistol and carbine. The three last times we saw the Goncz GA pistol was in the terrible Tim Burton Planet of the Apes,as the carbine model in Firefly, and in the hands of Sam Rockwell in Iron Man II. 
Then that brings us to the second darling of sci-fi weapon we could not include: the Calico M950 9mm pistol. These futuristic weapons we re made by Calico Light Weapons Systems from 1982 onward and the hallmark of the Calico firearms was a massive helical-feed magazine that could hold a much larger amount of 9mm than contemporary sub guns of the time. Some sources state there was a fully-automatic version of the M950 9mm pistol, the M950A, but I've had a difficult time nailing down if it was ever produced beyond some examples. Given the lack of clarity, I decided to not discuss the Calico M590 as a machine pistol. The full line of Calico helical-feed weapons will be discussed in a future installment of Weapons from the Future. For films that featured a fully rock-n-roll M590, it was often converted by the armorers. Both of these weapons were featured along side one another in 1990's Total Recall and SeaQuest DSV.   

What about Directed-Energy Machine Pistols and Assault Pistols?
It is easier to classify kinetic energy weaponry in the classifications of "machine pistols" and "assault pistols" due to the ammunition they fire and their use of current firearm platforms. However, do these classifications still label if (or when) directed-energy weaponry finally replaces KEWs as the primary platform for military small arms? What spawned this section was that  I was recently replaying HALO 2 anniversary on my Xbox One and I using the Type-25 Covenant "DE Rifle" made me think about this question: Is the Covenant Type-25 plasma rifle an assault rifle or assault pistol? 
Given the alien anatomy of the Elites, it makes sense that their weaponry does not conform to human standards, but it wasn't until HALO 2 that a more standard buttstocked rifle for the Sangheli entered into the series with the Carbine and then later in HALO 4 with the Type-55 Storm Rifle. In the way that the Elites use the Type-25 Plasma Rifle, it makes me that we could classify the Type-25 has an "Assault Pistol" given its higher output plasma bolts over the Type-25 plasma pistol, being fully-automatic, and the buttstock-less design. While real-world military-spec handheld DE weapons do not exist yet, we know that it is highly unlikely that DEWs would not have similar recoil to a chemically propelled KEWs. Which begs the question: would buttstocked assault rifle on a plasma weapon in a 40-watt range even be necessary? Does that mean that all DE assault rifles would be classified as an "assault pistol"? Despite the possible lack of recoil on DE assault rifles, it is highly likely that firearms manufactures would continue to add shoulder stocks to allow for the organic aiming pattern that we humans have been doing since the days of muskets. However, that could change based on technological changes and improvements. What if you did not need to aim down the sights like current firearms, but your helmet’s HUD was connected to your weapon, allowing you to aim it without the need to aim down the sights? This would be some akin to the way we operate virtual firearms in first-person shooters. This could, coupled with exo-skeleton frames, allow shooters to not need shoulder stocks and thus, could make more future firearms designed around the assault rifle/carbine concept as an “assault pistol”.    

The Lack of Shoulder-Stocks in Sci-Fi Weaponry
During the research for the above question caused me to realize just how many sci-fi weapons are not fitted with a shoulder-stock assembly or if they possess one, it is often not used by the actors. I find this deeply vexing. The genesis behind this lack of shoulder-stocks comes down to two elements: lack of experience and lack of need. Until recently, many creators that designed futuristic weaponry were seemingly lacking in real-world firearm handling and using experience. This cause designers to depict their future warfighters blazing away their future guns from the hip or not needing a stock to rip-and-tear. There can also be a lack of need on the part of these future warfighters, as is the case with the ├ťbermensch of the Adeptus Astartes or the Trade Federation Droids. 
Through the miracles of futuristic technology, the use of buttstocks may not be needed, especially if the shooter is a robot, cyborg, wearing powered armor, or genetically engineered. When it comes to robotic soldiers, we see the humanoid form Terminator units of Skynet are depicted not using shoulder-stocks and dual-wielding M-25s as is the Droid soldiers of the Trade Federation using their stockless E-5 Blaster Rifles. When it comes to more flesh-and-blood warfigthers, we see the Space Marines of the Darkgrim 40K universe firing .75 rocket-motor propelled rounds out of their bolters without the use of a shoulder-stock due to their armor and their genetically engineered bodies. At other times, the weaponry is mounted to an exo-skeleton, take the burden off of the shooter as we saw in exo-skeleton soldiers in Edge of Tomorrow. 
One of the most insane examples of this is the COG Lancer Mk. 2 Assault rifle from the Gears of War franchise that was stockless and likely fired a caseless round from a sixty-round box magazine. The in-universe explanation could be the very low-recoil of the Mk.2 and the forearms of the average COG soldier. Their enemy, the Locust Horde use the Hammerbburst, which is also a bulk stockless assault rifle. Oddly, during the 4th game, Marcus modified an Lancer Mk.2 with a shoulder stocks and these become the Mk.3 Lancer of the 5th Gears game.   

Science Fiction and Machine Pistol and the Assault Pistol
There is something to be said about the value of cool and being in-style with the fashion at the time. The machine pistol, and to a lesser extent, the assault pistol, have enjoyed their inclusion to the realm of sci-fi due to just that: style. In most cases, it was style over tactical practicality. Creators were influenced by action movies, Hong Kong cinema, and real-life stories of Special Operators with men in black and weapons that goes thump-thump. There is no denying the power of the image of a small unleashing a wall of lead and a mountain of brass. This can be seen in Aeon Flux, Judge Dredd, Total Recall, Ghost in the Shell
However, the connection between sci-fi and handheld weapons goes deeper. Often heroes and foes of classic stories wield powerful hand weapons, like the six-shooter or blaster or the ray-gun or the H&K USP that behave more like stronger offensive arms. We have discussed this idea before several times on FWS and the theory of the Cowboy Six-Shooter and the Han Solo Blaster I believe bares a connection to the wide use of machine pistols/assault pistols in hands of heroes and foes. When it comes to the assault pistol, the symbolism of being a badass that can wield an assault caliber pistol is continued to a nearly fatal degrees to the realism of futuristic firearms. 

Examples of Machine Pistols:

The Machine Pistols of the weird world of Aeon Flux
Aeon Flux is one of more bewildering titles out there and I've been a fan since first seeing on MTV's Liquid Television back in 1991. In the distant future where 99% of the Earth's population died, two last city-states that border one another, but have radically different sociality ideologies battle for control. Both the Monica and Bregna both use covert and direct warfare to forward their campaign against another another. In the hands of the title character, Aeon Flux, is a Monican military-issue compact machine pistol with the magazine forward of the trigger assembly (2nd layout). 
The weapon appears to fire a traditional brass cartridge in the pistol-range...there is little hard information on the weapon even seen, but the weapon has a nice look to it and seems well-designed. The weapon was likely based on the German MP40 given the extensive German roots of the series. This would make the Monican machine pistol an 9x19mm then I guess. The magazine can fold up for compact storage for our female assassin and contains a health amount of bullets for all manner of supernatural Gun-Kata/Gun-Fu moves. The counter to the Monica is the Bergna, and their military also issues machine pistols as well, but they are not the standard issue weapon and have the magazine mounted in the pistol grip, unlike Monica. 
Then that brings us to the oddball live-action 2005 film starring Charlize Theron in the title role. This terrible film had Aeon and others use modified machine pistol Glock 18s in a plastic-fantastic sci-fi shells. Like many of the weapons in the film, the Glock 18s were actually green-gas powered airsoft pistols that allowed for working slide actions. Like all of the muzzle-flashes in the fil, they were all digital effect. It is likely that these sci-fi Glock 18s were taking the place of the Monica machine pistol from the other animation series and did not success in taking the place of a better designed weapon. 
The Various Machine Pistols from Total Recall (1990)
One of the last good Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of the apex of his film career was 1990's Total Recall, directed by Paul Verhoeven. Throughout the film, the primary weapon of choice among the different sides of the conflict on Earth and on Mars are mostly machine pistols and sub-guns. It makes sense for the forces on Mars to use compact weapons in the limited pressurized space in the Federal colonies on Mars. Sci-fi dressings are fitted on MAC-11/MAC-10 in .380, Micro-UZIs, along with the semi-auto pistols of the Goncz GA and the Calico M590. Given Verhoeven bloody and kinetic style, his love for the machine pistols make sense. They deal death with much spitting brass and cinematic flair.  
The Three Machine Pistol from the Living Steel RPG (1987)
Leading Edge Games of the 1980's and the 1990's had some interesting titles that were in the military sci-fi setting. Given it was the 1980's, post-nuclear horror setting was huge along with the influence of anime/manga. Leading Edge would publish a game in 1987 set on a human settled colonial world of Rhand were cryo-sleep human warrior, Ringers, are awoken during an alien invasion. Players take control of the Ringers and attempt to fend off the aliens. We will be discussing more of Leading Edge Games very soon, but Living Steel had a few machine pistols in their inventory. The FMP6 and the improved FMP8 were both Type-1 Layout machine pistols with a look that seems based off that Desert Eagle and fires 1.5mm flechettes from a 60 round magazine. Given the limited range of flechette based ammunition, the FMP series machine pistols were designed for close quarters engagements. An heavier flechette machine pistol, the FMPX7 heavy machine pistol was in the armory to defend powered armor wearing enemies with a larger 2.8mm dart over the 1.5mm of the FMP series, but with more limited ammo in the magazine, 48 darts over 60 darts. The heavier FMPX7 appeared similar to a Desert Eagle with a wire stock. There was another machine pistol listed that was a smaller variant of an 7mm SMG. The SMP7 "Silverhand" was based off of the design and action of the SMG6 7mm SMG, but the Silverhand SMP7 fired an 1.7mm fin-stabilized darts in a variety of ammunition types for dealing with various enemies.   

The OCP Auto-9 Machine Pistol from ROBOCOP (1987)
One of the most famous sci-fi guns of all time is the Auto-9 machine pistol from 1987's RoboCop. Originally, the cybernetic police officer developed by OCP was going to wield an .357 Desert Eagle with all sci-fi trimmings. However, the Desert Eagle was deemed too small in the hands of Murphy and the Beretta-based Auto-9 was developed by Randy Moore. Some sites, including this one, believe that the modified Mark I .357 Desert Eagle used by Clarence Boddicker in the film was the pistol originally developed for Robocop. 
In the fictional universe of RoboCop, the Auto-9 select-fire weapon that was feed from a 50 round magazine and could fire 3-round burst, 7-round burst, and even full-auto. The Auto-9 was directly tied into Robocop's HUD system and allowed him to fire the machine pistol without directly looking at the target. Fruther films, TV shows, and even the cartoon added layers to the Auto-9 lore. Less-than-lethal and other specialized ammunition could be fired out of the Auto-9 to cut down on the bodycount in the TV series and cartoon.
 Randy Moore based the Auto-9 off of a 9x19mm Beretta 93R machine pistol with a 20 round magazine and special paperwork had to be filed out to bring that Italian machine pistol into the USA. With special modifications, the blank-firing Auto-9 could indeed fire in various burst modes and even full rock-n-roll. This would be the primary weapon of Robocop throughout the movies, TV shows, and cartoon until the abortion that the remake of Robocop. The Auto-9 of the TV series, which was filmed in Canada, was a lighter weapon developed due to legal issues with importing the Beretta 93R machine pistol. The name itself was never mentioned in the original film, but was used in promotional material, the comics, and video games. It is likely that the name "Auto-9" is a referrance to the caliber (9mm) and being fully automatic fire pistol.        

The Helghast IvP-18 Tropov Machine Pistol and the StA-18 Machine Pistol from the Killzone Universe
In the hands of the Helghast forces during the 2nd Extrasolar War between the ISA and the Helghan was two machine pistols: the IvP-18 and the StA-18. In the first Killzone game, the Helghast 2357 invasion of their former colonial world of Vekta, now in the possession of the ISA. The 3rd Helghast Army used the IvP-18 machine pistol that fired 9.2x20mm rounds in a burst or single-fire mode from a helical magazine. This was my favorite pistol in the first game and ammunition was much more common. In the 2nd and 3rd games of the Killzone series, the Helghast forces on their homeworld used the improved StA-18. Firing 9.2x20mm rounds from a helical magazine and it fires in burst-fire only. The inspiration for these Helghast pistols likely came from the Beretta 93R and the ammunition from the Soviet weapon in Red Heat.   

The Morpheus Glock 18C in the Matrix Reloaded

In the 2002 sequel to the original Matrix film, we Morpheus using a Glock 18C during the operation to get the key-maker and defend him from the deadly twins. During the fight in the underground garage, Morpheus fires his Glock 18C that is being feed from an nearly flush 19 magazine. That switches to a 33-round magazine when Morpheus nd crew hit the freeway with agents and the twin in pursuit. For many, these beautiful scenes introduced us to the Glock 18C machine pistol and likely one of the reasons it is popular today in video game culture.  

The Locust Gorgon Machine Pistol from the Gears of War Universe
The award for the weirdness machine pistol in terms of design and function on this list is the "Gorgon" machine pistol used by members of the Locust Horde in the Gears of War franchise. Seen in the hands of the Kantus Priesthood and the Theron Guard, this dual-machine pistol is a heavy-hitter in close encounters and the damage drops off quickly at longer ranges. It was first shown in GOW 2 as a burst fire machine pistol, then switched for the 3rd game to a full rock-n-roll. 

The 1st Cylon War Centurion the M91R Pistol from Battlestar Galactica: Razor
Many of us fans of BSG have a great deal of interest in seeing the 1st Cylon War in both the reimagined series and the 1978 original. We were finally able to see some glimpses in the 1st Cylon War with the Razor TV movie with the flashbacks and the limited Blood & Chrome series. It is here that we see the classic Cylon Centurion combat models armed with a machine pistol like weapon. During the events of Razor and Blood & Chrome, we aslo see humans wielding the Cylon machine pistol as well, speaking to its weight. The machine pistol in question is the infamous M91R machine pistol of Canada. According to an article on IMFDB.org, the M91 was a series of blank-fire machine pistols in 9mm that were construction solely to be used in TV and film productions by the gunsmith who designed it way back in 1991. This prop-only gun was available in two forms: the S and the R. It is the R that we seen in the flashbacks and could have seen in Caprica if it had continued. Sadly, the M91 series was not popular enough and the company went out of business  

The Grammaton Cleric Sidearms from Equilibrium
Around the time of the Matrix film, American filmmakers were injecting Hong Kong cinema action film elements and Kurt Wimmer was one of them. This writer and director used his personally developed "Gun Kata" Gun-Fu system that combined hand-to-hand with handguns in a stylistic ballet of bullets and chops. This Gun Kata was used to show just how badass the Clerics from his 2002 Equilibrium were. These Clerics were the elite law enforcement officers of the post-WWIII society controlled by Libria. 
One of the hallmarks of the Libria society was the purged of emotions and the Clerics were their to prevent emotions, art, music, furries, or cosplay. This made the Clerics similar to the Firefighters of Fahrenheit 451. In the hands of the Clerics to dispense emotionless justice was an heavily modified and covered up Beretta 92FS that had been converted to full-auto (the pistol in the film are not 93Rs in sci-fi drag). In addition, the magazines of these pistols were designed to with spikes for a melee attack feature. The Cleric Berettas are yet another example of the Beretta 92 series being used for a sci-fi weapon.   

The B23R Burst Auto-Pistol and the KAP-40 from COD: Black Ops: II
To me, Black Ops 2, was the apex of the COD online experience with the most solid gameplay and weapons. There was a time in my life when I was online with my mates playing COD:BO2 with a jack-and-coke my hand every Friday and Saturday night along with the B23R in my virtual hand. In Black Ops 2, there were two machine pistols: the B23R and the KAP-40. The B23R was a burst-fire machine pistol was my 2nd favorite pistol of the game (Tac-45 being my #1 lady.) and it heavily hinted by the named that the B23R is a futuristic upgrade to the Berretta 93R given that the "B" in B23R is Berretta. With this burst fire, this little terror could kick some serious virtual ass and save yours when your primary went down.
The other machine pistol was the KAP-40. Based on the semi-auto only prototype TDI Kard .45ACP byt the markers of the TDI KRISS .45 SMG, it could have been an awesome pistol. In Black Ops II, the KAP-4
 could be quite deadly if wielded by the right user and kitted out the right way. In close encounter situations, the KAP-40 could hose you down with incoming .45 slugs and kill you hard, especially in hardcore mode with one KAP in each hand. There have been many times when I had the drop on someone and they hosed me with duel KAP-40. Then at times, I could double tap-out a KAP-40 user with my #1 Lady, the Tac-45 while they sprayed and prey...the mistress of COD online play can be a harsh mistress. 

The Violet's Flatted Auto Pistols from Ultraviolent
Another film that Kurt Wimmer used his personally developed "Gun-Kata" style of combining firearms and hand-to-hand combat showmanship is 2006's Ultraviolent that starred Milla Jovoich. This film is a mess and seems like a bad rip-off Aeon Flux and the Matrix, but it does feature Jovoich character using these square nail-gun like machine pistols that are impossibly flat due to something called "flattening technology and this allows for the ability to hid these completely prop guns on her lovely person. 

The Federation "Paragun" Blaster from Blake's 7
Growing up outside of Tulsa, I watched various British TV shows on my local public TV station, OETA, and one of my favorite British TV shows was Blake's 7. Developed by Terry Nation of Classic Doctor Who fame, it was a 1970;s BBC sci-fi show with all of the greatness and cheapness, but with charm to spare. I loved watching Blake's 7 after a Tom Baker-era Dr. Who. My family hated these shows and condemned me to the spare TV in the guest bedroom with headphones! I loved Blake's 7 and still do. In the show, the Federation controls the human race and Blake was a resistance fighter that has been brainwashed and incorporated back into Dome society so that Federation can watch. After being caught with known resistance fighters, Blake is exiled to a prison world and along the way, the prison ship encounters the alien warship known as the Liberator
Blake escapes and with six other freedom fighters, Blake and the alien vessel wage a guerrilla war to bring down the Federation. One of the arms of terror that the Federation used to maintain control was the black and masked terror troopers. These menacing lokking stormtroopers used their directed energy "Paraguns". These very much look like a DE machine pistol complete with wire stock. Given the limitations of budget, the "laser effect" was a flash and flame affair which gave the Paragun a unique presence and made the weapon seem more terrifying.   

The RDF Pilot Machine Pistol from ROBOTECH: The Macross Saga
During the 1st Robotech War, the RDF standard field weapon was this little weapon: an 9mm submachine pistol. This weapon was rarely seen in the series or in the  original Macross. So, this made an Odd choice when this machine pistol was included with several of the Matchbox ROBOTECH 1980s RDF action figures, like Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes. None of the figures were able to hold the weapon effectively. As a kid, I thought the inclusion of this machine pistol with the RDF character was not a good choice and I had trouble remembering what this pistol was in the Macross series. I honestly thought it was a MAC-10/11 back then and do believe the popularity of those types of machine pistols/sub-guns was the reason for the Japanese studio to design and include this weapon int he 1982 series.   

The AB-10 "Sig-Cow" Machine Pistol from the original DOOM
When Id Software hired noted sci-fi artist Don Ivan Punchatz in 1993 to design the cover box art for the original DOOM game. Within the arresting image of the box art is a doomed space marine fighting off hellish demons with one hand being gripped by a demon and the other hand is pumping out hot lead via an machine pistol-like weapon. This weapon was not featured in any of the games and was only included when modders designed it and included it. It is not new that a cover art weapon is not included in a work and it is likely that the artist made a choice to have a weapon that was small enough to not obscure the arresting image that was designed to sell. The weapon was added back in for the 1993-1995 four book series by Pocket Books. In the novels, the machine pistol is given a name and even a nickname: the AB-10 or "Sig-Cow". This machine pistol fires 10mm rounds. However, some sources claim that the Sig-Cow was some sort of rifle that fired 10mm rounds.     

The REF/RDF Wolf 9mm Auto-Pistol from ROBOTECH: The New Generation
In the 3rd ROBOTECH series, and my favorite as a kid, we see a human machine pistol being used by one of the war heroes of the REF: Colonel Jonathan Wolfe, leader of the "Wolf Pack" Hover Tank elite unit. Given that Colonel Wolfe was a vehicle commander, he needed a small personal defense weapon, and he selected the RDF 9mm auto-pistol, which became nicknamed "the Wolf 9mm". The Wolf 9mm was used by REF units as well as resistance fighters on Earth during the Invid occupation and gangs operating on Earth at the same time. The basic design of the Wolf 9mm were also used in the M-35 "Wolverine" caseless assault rifle. 

The Judge's Lawgiver Pistol from the Judge Dredd Universe 
The Lawgiver is one of the iconic handguns in all of science fiction and deserves its own article...and it will at some point. Within the original comic, the 1995 movie and the 2012 movie interpretations of the iconic weapon of the Judge, we see that the Lawgiver pistol can fire in "rapid-fire" mode that causes the Lawgiver to move into the realm of machine pistol. This was seen a great deal in the brutal 2012 film with the Glock 17-underpinning of the Lawgiver being used in close-quarters combat in rapid-fire setting with brass spitting out. 

The SMGs from the Mass Effect Universe
The extensive weapons from the Mass Effect franchise are worthy of a much more detailed article, however, we will be focusing on the SMG classification of ME weapons. When the submachine guns class appeared in Mass Effect 2, the weapons mostly seemed like upscaled pistols with big heat-sink magazines. After reviewing the SMG classified weapons in all of the games, the vast majority of submachine guns are actually machine pistols in appear give the lack of stocks. 
Examples of Assault Pistols

The OA-93 from the 1997 live-action Spawn film
The dark Spawn comic was a refreshing take on the Super-Hero and in the 1990's Spawn was very much having its moment. With lines of toys and comics, Todd MacFarlane's creation would be given the movie treatment in 1997 with Michael Jai Black Dynamite White in the role as Spawn. In the uneven 1997 film, the dark warrior Spawn uses a OA-93 with an enlarged buffer tube. This enlargement was due to the need of the production to fire the assault pistol in full-auto. The same prop weapon would appear in Clear and Present Danger and Bad Boys. 

The Imperial Bolter and Bolter Pistol from the WH40K Universe
In the grimdark galaxy of the 41st millennium, there is only war and the Imperial humans use mainly assault pistol to defend their species for the godless horde of the forces of Chaos. The most common weapon of the largest Imperial force is the Imperial Guard is a more traditional looking laser rifle. However, the nearly holy and iconic weapon in the hands of celebrated and feared armored elites of the Imperial armed forces, the Adeptus Astartes, is the Bolter. Used since the Great Crusade, this massive KE weapon that fires an .75 2-stage rocket-propelled round of various ammunition types and abilities. The Bolt-Gun is also stockless in nearly every form and pattern. This is due to the primary users of the Bolter, the massive and genetically altered Space Marines. 
Their armor and biology allows them to counter the effects of firing the Bolters massive ammunition and it weight of the weapon when fired in various firing modes. Some normal humans can and do use modified Bolt-guns, like the Bolt-Pistol. Why did Games Workshop make the Bolter stockless? From the early days of Rogue Trader, the Bolter has appeared as a stockless, nearly submachine gun-like weapon in the hands of the Space Marines. The reason might be the timing of the emergence of the game. During the development of Rogue Trader, Sub-Guns were big and all action heroes and SAS wielded them. In the UK, the SAS use of the H&K MP5 was a nearly holy image and this was likely in the minds of the designers of the Space Marines and their Bolter in the early days. This makes the genesis of the assault pistol design of the Bolter down to the rule of cool trope. 

The Close Quarters Battle Weapon Type-O "RAISEN" Battlestar Galactica: Miniseries
It took a few seasons before the reimaged Battlestar Galactica was able to find its standard issue colonial weaponry. In the winter of 2003 mini-series on the Sci-Fi Channel, we mainly see the Blade Runner inspirited Colonial military sidearm, but when the Galactica makes to Ragnar Anchorage, they encounter the first skinjob humanoid Cylon model: Leoben. In the hands of Leoben is a interesting futuristic looking weapon: a assault pistol variant of the M16 that is linked to the fictional Seburo company from Shirow's universe. Some of the Galactica crew that go aboard the Ragnar Anchorage station to rearm the battlestar carry an airsoft copy of the MN-23 compact bullpup rifle that appears in Shirow's manga Dominion. Liking culled from the same source, the weapon in Leoben's hands is the CQB Type-0 "Raisen" made by Posidon Industries of Japan and is basically an airsoft kit to make the cutdown M16 appear more like the MN-23. Either weapon appear again in the regular series.    

The OmniCorp M2 "Battle Rifle" Assault Pistol from ROBOCOP (2014)
Okay, I don't want to talk about this movie and in fact, I don't want to remember that this dogshit reboot exists at all...but here we are. In the 2014 "film", Robocop uses an weapon described as "Modified M2 Battle Rifle - .50 caliber Beowulf ammunition at 30-round clips. Three shot bursts or full-auto. Heavy duty." Let us unpack this information. .50 Beowulf is a real very powerful cartridge that is made by Alexander Arms and was designed by Bill Alexander for use in a modified AR15 platform. 
At some point in the movie's fictional world, there is a battle rifle, the M2, developed to fire the .50 Beowulf ammunition. The M2 Assault Pistol used by Robocop is a cutdown variant of it for use only by a cyborg and likely designed by OCP armorer Mattox. This Assault Pistol is stored in the leg of Robocop in a manner very similar to the original Auto-9. It is very likely that the prop M2 Assault Pistol was never a real gun under the sci-fi coverings. The M2 Assault Pistol was developed by production designer Martin Whist, art director Dave Scott and Vitaly Bulgarov. 

The SKYNET Plasma Assault Pistol from the NOW Comics The Terminator Series 
Many long-term readers of FWS known that I am a massive fan of the War against the Machines depicted in the first two (and should be only!) Terminator films. During the lean years of the Terminator franchise between T1 & T2, NOW Comics out of Chicago would secure the license to product a line of monthly comics based on the future war, but set in 2031, not 2029. From 1988 to 1990, NOW Comics would put out three different Terminator titles that really did not deal with time travel or Sarah Conner...refreshingly. One of the primary plasma weapons seen in the hands of both the Resistance and SKYNET forces throughout the series was a stockless plasma rifle with a massive scope. First seen on issue #3 cover-art by Tony Akins and Jim Brozman, it resembled an stockless AK with a massive "starlight" like scope. No information was ever given about the weapon and it does look like the plasma weapons from the first film. It was called a plasma rifle by most in the comic series and seen stockless throughout 13 issues. In the last regular issue of the monthly series, #17, this plasma assault pistol would gain a wire-stock and both versions could be seen in terrible issue in the hands of the camp escapees and the pursuing  Terminators. This weapon would appear again in the much better Terminator: The Burning Earth limited series that is the finest Terminator comic book of all time. After that iconic title, the Terminator comic book license would be transferred to Dark Horse as NOW Comics went out of business shortly after.   

The Morita Assault Pistol/Survival Rifle from Starship Troopers 3
Before SST went to animation-based productions, the 3rd movie in the series, which is not bad, gave us an updated Morita assault rifle: Mk. 3 Morita. Firing 10mm caseless ammunitions (where have I heard that before), the Mk III Morita rifle was designed to have an integrated grenade launcher and more stable fire. One of the variants of the Mk. III was the "Survival Rifle" or assault pistol. Much like the first film, Federal personnel are forced to abandon their starship and take to the escape pods with a mix of Fleet, Staff, and Marine personnel on a desert-like world. Inside these escape pods are Morita IIIs. In the first film, they were the carbine variant, in the 3rd film, Marauder, they are an "survival rifle" that simply has the stock deleted, making it similar to an assault pistol. That's it. There is still the oversized optical system, the grenade launcher, and without the stock, it is wonder that anyone could fire it accurately and it appears odd in the hands of the actors, especially Jolene Blalock. While I enjoyed Marauder for what it was and it was certainly a damn sight better than the 2nd film, but the design of this Morita was just too bulky. 

The Jacket SCAR-H Cutdown from Edge of Tomorrow
In the western film based off the Japanese light novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, we see the exo-suits (Jackets) worn by the UDF soldiers armed with various weapon systems. One of the these was their primary forearm mounted assault rifle or assault pistol: the FN SCAR-H. At the end of the time, Tom Cruise's character strips the SCAR-H off of the powered down Jacket Exo-Suit. There has been some debate online about if the weapon was a SCAR-L or SCAR-H. In the film (I originally thought it was a Beretta ARX-160), we see several shots of the ammunition for the Jacket rifle being 5.56mm, however, the weapon is a SCAR-H and would make sense. The 7.62mm NATO round would be my choice for a mounted weapon and to deal with larger prey. 
Another way that we know that the weapon mounted on the UDF Jacket Exo-Suits was an FN SCAR-H is that one of the stunt props went on sale. According to the item description, this prop weapon was based on the 7.62mm NATO FN SCAR-H with an FN integrated grenade launcher. Made out of something called "biscuit foam" and has a strobe emitter for simulated automatic fire muzzle flash or a mark for post-production. By the way, here are the sizes for the prop SCAR-H "pistol": 23.23" x 3.15" x 9.84" (59cm x 8cm x 25cm)

Next Time on FWS...
Throughout the realm of science fiction there has been a common trope that future military organizations will cloned their best soldiers to improve their armies as we have seen in the Metal Gear universe with Big Boss and his snake twins. In the next installment of FWS, we will be dive into the confusing world of cloned soldiers, how sci-fi depicts them, what the true of cloning is, and the different between genetically engineered soldiers and the clones. 


  1. Great article, but no love for Deep Rising's Calicoe rotary barrel SMG/assault rifle weapon?

    1. I believe those handheld miniguns were already covered in the Rotary cannons & Miniguns article years ago.
      And it have a buttstock.

  2. Great read!

    I read some of the Doom novel 'Knee Deep in the Dead' when I was younger. My recollection is a little fuzzy but the 'Sig-Cow' may refer to the pistol, machine pistol and rifle that was manufactured by the same company to use the same ammunition and magazines. This was the author(s) attempt to make sense of the games zombies dropping pistol ammo while caring rifles as well as the game's box art (that naturally became the cover the novelization as well)

    I guess there is some logic to the Marines carrying low caliber weapons in a pressurize and often close quarters environment that is the research facilities on Phobos and Mars... but this is the same environment where you find a rocket launcher surrounded barrels of rocket fuel so...

  3. "During the research for the above question caused me to realize just how many sci-fi weapons are not fitted with a shoulder-stock assembly or if they possess one, it is often not used by the actors. I find this deeply vexing."

    I see so often in films and shows images of people not knowing how to unfold and use folding stocks. On weapons like the AKMS or MP-40, its just so cringe inducing to see them raise that thing so awkwardly and shoot without it. One would think to inform them of how they work.

    Of course I have seen footage and images of rebel fighters who don't so its a rather common problem. With most sci-fi writers and designers having no experience outside of Hollywood, its to be expected.

    Another fantastic article on a Hollywood favorite, even if its Law Enforcement and Martial use is limited.

    1. Based on personal experience, the MP38/40-AKM style folding buttstock gets my vote for the worst design in history. It's not very stable, it's uncomfortable and possibly damaging (I still have a memento from an AKM's stock rail on one cheek from forty-plus years ago), and it's a PITA to deploy or stow, especially with a magazine in the well.

      Most people don't know that there was a folding-stock variant of the U.S. M14 with such an "under-folding" stock. It was so unpopular in troop trials that the eventual (low-production) FS version for airborne troops had a side-folding, cast-aluminum stock similar in concept to that of the M1A1 carbine or the FAL Para.

      Side-folding or retractable shoulder stocks are probably the least worst type on serious battle rifles, or anything else. The HK type straight retractor can be good, assuming that a bit of care is taken in making sure the rails do not have an emery-board type finish on the cheeking sides.

      And note to anybody putting a side-folding stock on an AK pattern rifle; please put it on the left side, where it does not block access to the safety/selector/dust cover lever when folded. Thank you.



  4. Excellent article.

    There were a couple of semi-successful machine pistols you didn't mention.

    First was the spate of Mauser C/96 clones from Spain, such as the Astra 902/903/Model F series. The 902 had a fixed 10-round magazine like the standard C/96, but the floorplate could be swapped out for a fixed extension magazine and spring with 20-round capacity. The 903 had detachable magazines with 10, 20, and 30-round capacity. The Model F was similar to the 903.

    The 902 and 903 were made in 7.63 x 25mm, because they were intended for export to the Far East, specifically China. Due to the treaties that followed the abortive Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1900,European powers prohibited export of rifles to arm the Chinese "militaries" (the "warlord armies"). But "pistols" were allowed as they were considered "police" weapons.

    Astra thought there might be a market for selective-fire "pistols" with those warlord armies, and they were correct to the tune of some 25,000 units from 1926 to 1933. The Japanese invasion ended their ability to supply that market.

    The Model F was a late production version in 9 x 23 Largo (Bergmann-Bayard), for the Spanish Guardia Civil.

    One point about all these guns is that their selector switch is the safety, modified from "Safe-Fire" to "Safe-Single-Auto", rather like the setup of the original AR-15 rifle in U.S. service. As such, just looking at one, it's hard to tell that it's a machine pistol rather than a standard semi-auto pistol, which Astra also made as the Model 900.

    Beistegui Hermanos made the C/96 type Royal MM31 in 1932-33, also for the far East market. It was made with first a standard C/96-type fixed 10-round magazine,then a fixed 20-round, and finally detachable 10, 20, 30, and even 40-round magazines, all in 7.63 x 25mm. All versions can be distinguished by the very obvious selector switch just above and behind the trigger, acting on the sear.

    The MM31 is noteworthy as it was the first such pistol to have a rate reducer, similar to the concept of the later Vz61 Skorpion, but operating on the principle of a weighted flywheel. Like the Skorpion, it tucked the rate reducer away in the pistol grip.

    Finally, there is probably the only semi-successful machine pistol ever, the Soviet APS Stechkin, made from 1953 to 1955 and issued mostly to AFV crews. Essentially a blowback Browning-type automatic with a selector switch and a 20-shot internal butt-mounted magazine, the reason it was "semi"-successful was that it fired the Soviet 9 x 18 Makarov cartridge, midway in power between the 9 x 17 Browning and the 9 x 19 Parabellum. This gave it a low enough recoil impulse with its 1.22 kg (2.69 lb.) mass plus its detachable shoulder stock that with practice it was actually possible to hit something with it. A later (1972-73) version in 9 x 19mm for the Border Guards (i.e. KGB) wasn't so "user-friendly".

    Oh, BTW, while it certainly was "ultraviolent", the Wimmer/Jovovich movie's actual title was Ultraviolet- the lead character's name and the title of the original comic book series. Judging from my DVDs of both, it was better than Aeon Flux, but still not up to the original animated AF, let alone any version of Ghost in the Shell.



  5. Gr8 article as always!
    One little example that split the assault pistols list Rocky Mountain Arms Patriot appear the movie Soldier with Kurt Russell. Carried and used by Sgt. Todd loaded with Beta-C magazine.
    The arm pistol seems like a bad idea that simply refuse to roll over and die.
    There was that High Standard H-10B shotgun, presumably to allow police officer on motorcycle to fire it one-handed? Or open doors with left hand will wielding the gun in the right one?
    In the pistol caliber you had the SS-1 Sidewinder that allegedly designed for operation Eagle Claw to be use by Delta force operators to fire one-handed while roping down from helicopters. How on earth (or above it) did anyone thought that operator could aim and hit anything is unknown. Since that all operation is still classified there is little to support that roping hypothesis, but alas.
    As for the Colt IMP-221… that still puzzled me, the gun was intended to be extra short to be stashed in survival kit of the ejection seat, which I get it. But why the USAF rejected the Colt Model 608? When taken down to two receivers it was just as long. The claim is that the air force aimed to a self-defense firearm that a pilot could pulled loaded and ready for fire right out of the bag without the need to assemble it first.


    1. I trained with the H-10B back in the late 1970s. According to HS, the idea was a shotgun compact enough to be carried on a shoulder harness, similar to the Secret Service harness for the Uzi SMG. The theory being that it would be useful to detectives on "undercover" ops.

      Also, it was supposed to be easier to carry in a gun lock in the new "downsized" sedans being introduced as patrol cars. At the time, such midsized cars as the Ford LTD II (the successor to the Torino) and Chevrolet Monte Carlo were being brought into service to replace the older full-sized sedans like the Plymouth Fury and Dodge Coronet, and it was judged that there wasn't quite enough room in the front for a standard 12-gauge in a vertical gunlock attached to the dash. At least not and be able to get the shotgun out of the unit in a hurry when needed.

      Note that this was also when "police" shotguns, that traditionally had 20" to 22" cylinder-bore barrels, began being made with 18" Improved Cylinder tubes. The idea being a physically shorter weapon that still had about the same effective range with No.4 buckshot (i.e., about 30-35 yards).

      I remember that pretty much nobody like the H-10B. Mostly because like the Civil War era muzzle-loading M1858 pistol-carbine in .58 Minie' it resembled in size and weight, it was a hard-kicking beast that blinded and deafened the shooter with muzzle signature. As with the M1858, most officers who tried it ended up cordially detesting the darned thing.

      Probably the least welcome addition to it was the moulded Cycolac casing with not only a carry handle but a built-in flashlight atop the barrel. It sounds like a great idea (again,) until you consider that this puts the light right in front of you face- and your head. Telling an armed suspect exactly where to take a shot at you.

      So no, nobody in law enforcement much below the "bespoke suit and engraved S&W .38 Chief's Special in a shoulder holster" executive level thought much of the H-10B.

      Count me in that category as well. I said I trained with it; I didn't say I liked the little beast.



  6. Me, using the Thompson for the first time in "Medal of Honor: Allied Assault" when I was a teenager: "I don't know where I am aiming but they are dying".

    Also, in WH40K, the only shoulder-stock you need is your faith in the God-Emperor.

  7. Wow, a great piece of research, it makes for detailed and interesting reading. Thank you.

  8. A small correction in terminology. As a rule, assault weapons are illegal for civilian ownership in the USA. It is possible, though extremely time consuming (months) and ridiculously expensive, to obtain a Class III weapon license. Assault weapons are capable of fully automatic fire, whereas civilian sporting weapons and police patrol rifles/carbines are only semiautomatic. Mainstream media intentionally mislabels sporting rifles as "assault rifles" to confuse the public into thinking that sporting rifles are military weapons. Cosmetically they look virtually identical, but DO NOT function the same. Semiautomatic weapons have been around for over 125 years.

  9. The Mauser C96 and Drum fed Lugers used by Germany in the Great War were semi auto only.

    More like machine pistol precursors.

    Check C&R Arsenal on Youtube for in depth presentations on both weapons.

    Any automatic derivatives came later. Both weapons often were fitted with holster type stocks. The Artillery Luger with drum and stock was used to storm trenches towards the end of the war, but not as a machine pistol.

  10. I don't understand why anyone would ever use anything except a carbine or rifle, unless you're in a truck cab the rifle is superior in almost every way to almost every other firearm. Pistols have garage ballistic impact, garbage range, garbage sights, cost too much and look stupid. Going into battle with a pistol is like bringing a kitchen knife to Clontarf.

  11. I saw an advertisement for a 17 round magazine for the VP9 / P30... I know you were looking to add capacity, and then I saw these. It is made by "ProMag", so it is not an H&K factory mag, but it is all metal with some plastic bits just like the factory ones. But the real kicker is that they are only $16.39 if you are a member at the "Sportsman's Guide" I am thinking of getting at least one just to see how the quality is. If it is good quality, then I may have found a source of inexpensive magazines for my P30 that have 17 rounds standard... Not too shabby!


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  13. Would a metalstorm pistol be a good machine pistol?

  14. Is that Ian from Forgotten Weapons on there?