Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Steyr TMP (Austria)

Caliber: 9x19mm Luger/Parabellum
Weight: 1,3 kg empty
Length: 282 mm
Rate of fire: 800-900 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 15 or 30 rounds

Steyr TMP is a modern compact SMG. It is blowback operated, locked breech design, with rotating barrel. This mean that after the shot bolt with barrel locked to it are moving backward for some 4 millimeters. Then, the barrel rotates clockwise slightly, and thus unlocks the bolt. Rotator controls via small cam on the barrel that follows the spiral groove inside the receiver.

Both upper and lower receiver are made from polymer. TMP has no stock and could be fired only from off-hand position. Safeties featured automatic off-battery safety, drop safety and the manual safety switch.
TMP is reported as a very controllable and comfortable to fire firearm.


Friday, June 25, 2010

AUSTEN submachine gun (Australia)

AUSTEN submachine gun
9x19mm Luger / Parabellum
3.98 kg
Length (stock closed/open)
552 / 732 mm
Barrel length
198 mm
Rate of fire
500 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity
30 rounds

AUSTEN submachine gun (machine carbine in contemporary terminology) was an urgent development, carried in Australia during earlier stages of World War 2 in the anticipation of possible Japanese invasion. It was based on British STEN submachine gun (the AUSTEN means Australian STEN), although some features (i.e. return spring guide, pistol grip and underfolding stock) were copied from the German MP40. About 20 thousands of AUSTEN Mk.1 submachine guns were manufactured during the WW2, but it was unable to achieve popularity of its main domestic rival, the Owen submachine gun, as the Owen was much more reliable, especially under the extreme environmental conditions of jungle warfare.

The AUSTEN submachine gun is a simple blowback weapon, firing from open bolt in semi-automatic or full automatic modes. The return spring is located inside the telescoping tubular guide, as in the German MP40. The fire mode selector is located on the right side of the trigger housing, above the trigger guard. The STEN-type box magazine is inserted horizontally from the left, ejection is to the right. AUSTEN submachine gun is equipped with two pistol grips and an underfolding metallic buttstock. The struts of the buttstock are hollow and hold inside a small screwdriver and a cleaning rod. The sights are of simple design, and not adjustable for range.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

K6-92 / Borz submachine gun (Armenia / Russia)

K6-92 / Borz submachine gun

9x18 Makarov PM
1.96 kg
Length (stock closed/open)
370 / 700 mm
Barrel length
150 mm
Rate of fire
? rounds per minute
Magazine capacity
17, 25 or 30 rounds

The K6-92 submachine gun was developed during early 1990s in the republic of Armenia, which gained its independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. At the time Armenia was engaged in the local conflict with Azerbaijan (another ex-USSR republic), and was in desperate need for small arms. The submachine gun is one of the simplest automatic arms to design and manufacture, so Armenian engineers quickly developed a straightforward weapon, which can be easily manufactured by almost any mechanical workshop.

Later on, more than few K6-92 submachine guns made its way through the borders into the Chechen republic, the most turbulent part of the Russia. During mid-1990s Chechnya was heavily infested with separatists, Islamic extremists and other kinds of bandits, which found submachine guns to be convenient weapons for urban fighting. Separatist Chechen government attempted to produce a "local" copy of the K6-92 at one of machine-building factories in the city of Groznyj, but very few were made there due to production problems and quality issues. Chechen-made copies of the K6-92 submachine gun are usually referred to as "Borz" (which means "wolf" in Chechen language). It also must be noted, however, that underground workshops, run by separatist forces, also made some "generic" crudely made submachine guns, generally known under the same name (Borz). These "homemade" submachine guns can be distinguished by tubular receiver and extremely poor fit and finish. Overall, the K6-92 submachine guns are reported as crude arms, suitable mostly for close combat. Over last two decades, plenty of these submachine guns turned up in Russia and other former USSR states during various crimes of violence and illegal arms trafficking.

The K6-92 submachine gun is a simple blowback operated weapon  that fires from open bolt. Receiver is made from steel stampings, welded together. Cocking handle is located at the top, safety / fire mode selector is located at the left side of the gun, above the trigger guard. Gun can be fired in single shots or in full automatic. It is fitted with plastic pistol grip and a top-folding metallic buttstock.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Halcon ML-63 submachine gun (Argentine)

Halcon ML-63 submachine gun

9x19mm Luger / Parabellum
3.6 kg
Length (stock closed/open)
500 / 690 mm
Barrel length
170 mm
Rate of fire
600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity
20 or 42 rounds

Halcon ML-63 submachine gun (Pistola ametralladora Halcón, Modelo Liviano 1963) was developed in 1963 by Argentinean arms-making company Fabrica de Armas Halcon. This weapon saw extensive use by Argentinean armed forces during conflict with Great Britain over Falkland islands. It was also used by Argentinean police until early 1990s.

Halcon ML-63 submachine gun is a simple blowback weapon that fires from closed bolt.It has a sliding "hammer' or striker, which is cocked when bolt closes, and is released when trigger is pressed. It has dual trigger setup, which allows to fire either single shots (front trigger) or full automatic (rear trigger). Charging handle is located on the right side and moves along with the bolt. Weapon is manufactured mostly from steel stampings, and fitted with plain barrel that has a massive muzzle compensator. Magazine housing is extended to provide comfortable forward grip for non-firing hand.  Halcon ML-63 submachine gun was usually equipped with simple telescoping buttstock, made of steel wire, although it can be replaced with detachable fixed wooden butt. Standard iron sights feature L-shaped flip-up rear sight with settings for 50 and 100 meters range.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Halcon M/943 submachine gun (Argentine)

Halcon M/943 submachine gun

4.05 kg
850 mm
Barrel length
292 mm
Rate of fire
700 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity
17 or 30 rounds

Halcon M/943 submachine gun (Pistola ametralladora Halcón, modelo 1943) was developed by Argentinean arms-making company Fabrica de Armas Halcon. It was manufactured for Argentinean army and police; lighter and more compact variant of the same weapon was manufactured as Halcon M/946 for Argentinean Air Forces (Carabina ametralladora Halcón, modelo Aeronáutica Argentina 1946). This weapon is rarely encountered outside of South America.

The Halcon M/943 submachine gun is a simple blowback weapon that fires from open bolt. Weapon can fire single shots and full automatic, thanks to the fire mode selector, located on the left side above the trigger. Charging handle is also located on the left side and does not move when gun is fired. Halcon M/943 submachine gun is fitted with heavily finned barrel and a massive muzzle compensator, and has a wooden pistol grip / buttstock of peculiar shape. The Halcon M/946 submachine gun wass similar in design except that it had a shorter barrel and a MP40-type underfolding buttstock.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

F1 submachine gun (Australia)

Caliber: 9x19mm Luger/Para
Weight: 3.26 kg unloaded
Length: 715 mm
Barrel length: 203 mm
Rate of fire: 600 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 34 rounds
Effective range: 100-200 meters

The F1 submachine gun has been designed at the Australian Lithgow Small Arms Factory by 1962. Originally known as X-3 prototype, it appeared in 1962 as possible replacement for obsolete and aging Owen submachine guns. It was adopted as F1 by mid-sixties, and served well until late eighties, when it was officially replaced by the 5.56mm F88 assault rifle, a license-made version of Steyr AUG. F1 was simple, reliable and popular weapon.

F1 submachine gun is blowback operated, selective fired weapon which fires from open bolt. It uses tubular receiver with top-mounted magazine. Cocking handle is set at the left side of weapon, and does not reciprocate when gun is fired. Its slot is covered by sliding dust cover. Weapon is made in so-called in-line layout, and the front of the buttstock slides over the rear of the receiver, and is fixed there by special catch. For disassembly, gun is unloaded, then catch is pressed and buttstock pulled off the receiver toward the rear; then, bolt and return spring are removed. Sights are of fixed type, and due to top-mounted magazine are offset to the left. Rear sight is made folding for more comfortable carry. Unlike many other submachine guns, F1 can be fitted with standard rifle bayonet, which is attached to the right of the perforated barrel jacket.



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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Owen machine carbine / submachine gun (Australia)

Owen 32ACP prototype submachine gun (1940)

Owen .45ACP prototype submachine gun (1941)

Owen Mk.1-43 submachine gun in camouflage paint

Owen Mk.1-42 submachine gun, field stripped

Caliber: 9x19mm Luger/Para
Weight: 4.22 kg unloaded
Length: 813 mm
Barrel length: 247 mm
Rate of fire: 700 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 32 rounds
Effective range: 100-200 meters

Evelyn Owen, an Australian, developed his first automatic weapon, chambered for .22LR cartridge, by 1939, and offered it to Australian army. This weapon was a strange-looking revolver-type contraption with fixed "cylinder" instead of magazine, and thumb-operated trigger. However, by 1940 Owen produced its next design, in somewhat more potent (but still relatively mild) .32ACP / 7.65x17 Browning cartridge. This was more "usual" weapon, with traditional trigger, dual pistol grips and detachable box magazine, inserted under the receiver and inclined rearward and to the left. By 1941, Owen produced several more prototypes, chambered in .45ACP, 9mm Luger and even .38 Special revolver cartridges; this work was done at Lysaghts Newcastle Works in New South Wales, Australia. 9mm prototype, made by Lysaghts, was tested against Thompson and Sten submachine guns, and found superior to both. Adopted in 1942, this gun was manufactured until 1945 in three basic versions, Mark 1-42, Mark 1-43 (or Mark 1 Wood butt), and Mark 2. About 45 000 Owen SMGs were made by Lysaghts, and these remained in service with Australian forces until 1960s, through World War 2, Korean and Vietnam wars. In general, these weapons were well liked by soldiers due to their robustness, reliability and simplicity. The only downside of Owen SMG was its somewhat heavy weight.

Owen submachine guns are blowback operated, top-fed weapons that fired from open bolt. Receiver is of tubular shape, with the bolt body separated from the cocking handle by the small bulkhead inside. This precluded the dirt to enter the receiver area through the cocking handle slot, but also required the barrel to be made removable, as the bolt and return spring were pulled forward out of receiver. Barrel was held in place by simple latch, located at the front of the receiver, ahead of the magazine housing. Muzzle was equipped with recoil compensator. Pistol grips were made from wood, detachable buttstock was made of steel wire on Mk.1-42 Owens and from wood on later models. Due to the top mounted magazine, fixed sights were offset to the left.


Friday, June 4, 2010

FMK-3 (Argentina)

Caliber: 9x19mm Luger/Para
Weight: 3.40 kg empty
Length (stock closed/open): 523 / 693 mm
Barrel length: 290 mm
Rate of fire: 650 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 25, 32 and 40 rounds
Effective range: 100 meters

The FMK-3 submachine gun was developed by Fabricaciones Militares company of Argentina circa 1974 and is being manufactured by Small Arms factory of Domingo Matheu. It is used by Army and Police of Argentina, and also, in semi-automatic version is sold to civilians under the name of FMK-5.

FMK-3 is a blowback-operated, selective fire submachine gun. It uses telescoped bolt, that sleeves around the rear part of the barrel when closed. Double stack magazine is inserted into the pistol grip. Receiver and pistol grip is made from steel stampings, safety/fire selector switch is located at the left side of the weapon above the pistol grip. There also is an automated grip safety at the rear of the pistol grip. The sights are of flip-up type with "L"-shaped rear sight blade, marked for range of 50 and 100 meters. The retractable buttstock is made from steel wire.

It is said that FMK-3 is quite comfortable to use and accurate in full-auto, putting all hits into 125 mm (5 inches) groups when firing offhand at 50 meters (short bursts, obviously).


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Submachine guns - a brief introduction

The submachine gun is an automatic or selective-fired shoulder weapon that fires pistol-caliber ammunition. The concept of submachine gun dates back to World War One; the trench warfare of this war required effective and compact weapons for short-range fighting in trenches; additionally, a lightweight and maneuverable fully automatic weapon was desirable to complement light machine guns in both defensive and offensive scenarios, to cover last 200 meters of assault on enemy positions. The first weapon which can be considered to some extent as the world's first submachine gun was the Italian Villar-Perosa, which was a twin-barreled automatic weapon that fired 9mm Glisenti pistol ammunition from top-mounted box magazines. It was compact, but its primary tactical role was of short-range machine gun; therefore it was usually fired from some sort of mount, and fitted with machine-gun type spade grips instead of more conventional rifle-type stock. 

The first true submachine gun was the Bergmann / Schmeisser MP.18,I, which saw some action during closing days of the Great war. This was a shoulder-fired weapon, that set the basic pattern for all following weapons of its class. The inter-war decades produced a significant number of submachine guns, but the tactical niche for these weapons was still unclear for many military experts. It was the Grand Chako war, the Spanish Civil war and Russo-Finnish Winter war of 1940 that proved the viability of submachine guns as general-issue weapons for fighting troops. Nevertheless, regardless of the large number of available models, by the start of World War Two in most armies submachine guns were relegated to secondary role. For example, the very technically advanced Wehrmacht (Hitler's army) issued MP-38 and MP-40 submachine guns to infantry troops in proportion of about one SMG per ten bolt action rifles. It was the Red (Soviet) army which issued PPSh-41 submachine guns as primary infantry weapons to entire companies and battalions. Despite the success of several new submachine guns, developed during the WW2, this war marked the start of decline of submachine guns as primary infantry weapons. The appearance of assault rifle, which, while being only slightly heavier than most SMGs, had much longer effective range, put an abrupt end to infantry use of submachine guns in Soviet army. On the other hand, the NATO countries still issued 9mm submachine guns to many non-infantry units and certain soldiers in infantry (i.e. scouts, machine gun and mortar crews etc) to complement relatively large and heavy semi-automatic or fully-automatic rifles firing powerful 7,62x51 NATO ammunition. The appearance (and wide distribution) of small-caliber assault rifles marked the final phase of history of submachine gun as general-issue infantry weapon.

Despite of all said above, it must be noted that submachine guns still posses several qualities that are very useful in certain military scenarios. For example, submachine guns can be easily silenced, making them very useful for various special operations forces.

The police and security use of submachine guns, on the other hand, has been greatly increased during last 30 or 40 years. Proliferation of international terrorism, drugs trafficking, gang crime and other violent crimes forced many police forces to adopt a variety of submachine guns for special police teams. Compact submachine guns, which appeared during 1960's and 1970's, such as Micro-Uzi or HK MP5k, were quickly adopted by various VIP protection teams that favored compact size combined with massive short-range firepower of such guns. Of cause, the other side of the law also saw benefits of submachine guns; for example, more than few gangsters, outlaws and terrorists used various submachine guns, starting with "Chicago typewriter" (Thompson submachine gun) and up to Czechoslovak Scorpion or Croatian Agram 2000.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

EX-41 multi-shot grenade launcher (USA)

The EX-41 grenade launcher, developed by China Lake Research Facility of US Navy

Caliber: 40x46 low velocity
Type: multi-shot, cartridge-firing, manually operated 
Overall length: n/a
Weight: ~8.1 kg unloaded
Effective range: up to 300 m
Magazine capacity: 3 rounds

The idea of a multi-shot 40mm grenade launcher came of a combat experience, gained by US troops in Vietnam. They were using single-shot M79 grenade launchers to great effect, but often found M9 to be too slow in reloading, such as in ambush / counter ambush situations. Therefore, US Navy (which was responsible for armament of various special purpose troops like Navy SEALs) set to develop such weapon. The task has been handled to the China Lake Naval Research Facility, which turned out first prototypes in around 1968. This large weapon represented a typical American-style pump-operated shotgun with tubular magazine below the barrel. Submitted for field trials in Vietnam, this weapon apparently performed quite well with HE-Frag ammunition, but often chocked on close-combat ammunition loaded with buckshot or flechettes (small arrows). This was mostly because of stubby shape of these rounds, while HE rounds had nicely curved noses which assisted reliable feeding. Furthermore, the overall weight of the loaded weapon was quite significant, to say the least. Apparently, no more than couple of dozens of such weapons, designated as EX-41, were made before US Forces were withdrawn from Vietnam. It seems that no further development has occurred on this weapon since then.

EX-41 is a manually operated, magazine fed grenade launcher. It has a tubular magazine below the barrel which holds 3 rounds, plus one round can be carried in the barrel. magazine is loaded through the port at the bottom of the receiver, empty cartridge cases are ejected to the right via ejection window. Reloading mechanism is operated by the sliding handguard, which shall be pulled to the rear and then pushed forward to complete reloading cycle. EX-41 was fitted with wooden buttstock that had a rubber recoil pad. Sights were of open type, same as on M79 grenade launcher.



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