Talk:Submachine gun

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Definition as Carbine[edit]

I'm not a firearms expert by any means, but the carbine article defines carbines as being larger than SMG's in the intro section. Additionally, the personal defense weapon article refers to PDW's as hybrids between SMG's and carbines. Since I can't read Russian, I can't find the basis for defining an SMG as a carbine in citation 1; additionally, linguistic discrepancies may exist in the definition of a carbine. Unless somebody can bring a citation defining SMG's as carbines, I would advise removing the definition of them as such. 12:30, 30 June 2011 (UTC)Petakia — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

I agree. The lead section needs to be tidied up and redefined plus more sources are needed. Pleasetry (talk) 23:33, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

I realize a typical SMG is lighter and shorter than your average carbine, but the point of the lead is to succinctly explain the article subject. A carbine is just a shortened rifle; there's no other connotation. Thus, using the term "pistol-caliber carbine" is the easiest way to explain that an SMG is a shoulder-fired weapon that's shorter and lighter than a rifle but chambered in a pistol caliber. The British call SMGs "machine carbines", if that's corroborative at all. Vintovka Dragunova (talk) 17:20, 20 August 2014 (UTC)


"A submachine gun (SMG) is a firearm that combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol, and is usually between the two in weight and size. An assault rifle, in contrast, uses an intermediate-power cartridge with more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle." (wikipedia)

The P-90 does NOT use a pistol cartridge, it uses the arguably smallest rifle cartridge ever put into standardized use. As such, whatever it IS, it is NOT a "submachinegun" any more than the L85A1 bullpup rifle was adopted by the British Army L85A1 or the french FAMAS. (talk) 15:58, 24 August 2009 (UTC)A REDDSON

  • Given that the 5.7x28 was designed for (and is used in) a pistol I would classify it as a pistol round. Don't confuse it with the 5.56x45 which is a completely different round that only has the diameter of the round in common with the 5.7x28. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:29, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Was it not the case that the 5.7mm cartridge was designed as armour piercing first and foremost and the P-90 falls into the PDW category anyway? Pleasetry (talk) 23:22, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

The 5.7x28 is not a rifle round. It's a purpose-built PDW round, like the 4.6x30 used by the MP7, designed to produce rifle-like velocities from a pistol-sized cartridge. In power and range, it falls above most pistol calibers but well below most military rifle calibers. The firing platform however, is unequivocally an SMG in form and function. Vintovka Dragunova (talk) 17:28, 20 August 2014 (UTC)


I made an edit that was now reverted: Changing "Cartridge" to "Magazine". I got the impression that they meant the detachable magazines for reloading as opposed to a belt feed, but used the word cartridge. Now I get that it's the bullet type...but should the wording there be changed to something like "calibre" instead of cartridge? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:14, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

The "cartridge," as you correctly determined, at least in US usage, refers to an individual round of ammunition, which is, in turn, loaded individually into the weapon, in the single-shot instance, or, for a repeating weapon, into a fixed or removable magazine or belt along with other "rounds" or cartridges (commonly and mistakenly called "bullets:" the bullet being only the projectile or missile portion of the cartridge, along with the "shell" or "casing" which contains the explosive or powder). English is a very confusing language. in armament, the "magazine" is now a box/vessel for holding multiple rounds or cartridges. But a magazine was formerly, if I am not badly mistaken, the building in which the very unstable and dangerous loose black powder, both for cap-and-ball rifles and for cannon was kept, and only fetched by expendable young boys, "powder mokeys." Calibre or caliber, is not an object but a concept: the size of the projectile, or of the gunbarrel, or of the firing chamber/receptacle for the cartridge or "load." My understanding is that the diameter of a .38 and a .380 is identical, the difference being that one cartridge is designed for a semi-automatic pistol, and the other for a revolver or single-shot weapon. A .357 (magnum) has almost the same "slug" or bullet, with a larger shell-casing for a more powerful powder-charge, hence more penetration and knockdown power. That's why it's termed a magnum; designed to stop a car, if fired at the engine block. But the gun has to be chambered differently for the .357, both larger and stronger. (talk) 13:09, 13 February 2012 (UTC)Rags

Villar Perosa[edit]

I altered the Villar Perosa reference to LMG; though it used a 9mm pistol round, its tactical use indicates that was its intent, not SMG. See Military Smallarms of the 20h Century & The Encyclopedia of 20h Century Weapons & Warfare. --squadfifteen, 23/11/05

The round is close to a 9mm short (.380ACP) it is a failure of doctrine rather than the weapon, apart from aircraft weapon it was issued as a twin mounting for postal cycles. The Italian front was mountainous which I think discouraged the use of the short range weapons. - Breeze —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:11, 1 October 2010 (UTC)


I came to this page looking for information on the basic workings of submachineguns. My impression is that, like automatic pistols, they do not lock their breech and that, like automatic most anything, they are actuated by gas pressure. I could be wrong both on the pistols and on the SMGs.

A related question is the heat budget. How long can a SMG fire at auto rate with a good chance of not jamming? What is done to help (besides keeping the magazines small)? How is the exterior kept cool enough not to burn hands? Are there exceptions?

Many thanks in advance.


In general, subguns do fire form a open breech. Some, like the MP-5, do not, but they are the exception. Most larger automatic pistols (9x19mm and above) do in fact lock their breech. Additionally, almost all submachine guns are, like automatic pistols, recoil operated. A gas system would be unnecessarily complex.

As for your second question, you would find your self hard pressed to overheat any magazine fed weapon under normal circumstances. Unless one feeds mag after mag into it a SMG won't overheat enough to effect anything other than accuracy. To really overheat a gun it has to be belt fed. As for barrels, one does not usually hold onto the barrel of a gun that is being fired, because they do get hot. In the future, this is not really the place to put questions like this. A gun forum would probably be a better setting. SirBob42 13:21, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

There are in, modern SMG,when ready for action are open breach so that when the trigger is pulled the bolt slams forward picking up a round from the magazine before locking in place and firing. This pumped air through the barrel for cooling but, made them inaccurate at longer ranges. See Uzi and MAC10/11 or closed as in the MP5 series which is like a pistol or assault rifle. Overheating to cook off (heat fires round without tigger pull) was common in such guns as the Mauser M1932 in heavy combat - Breeze —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:23, 1 October 2010 (UTC) ............(I moved this comment from the "Police" to "Mechanics" section. It appears to have been misplaced somewhere along the way.)--RAF910 (talk) 20:02, 20 August 2014 (UTC)


They rose to prominence as a frontline and commando weapon during World War II, and are now widely used by police and paramilitary organizations.

Uhm could you tell me which police force uses actual submachine guns so I can avoid that country ? Or do you mean some kind of a special force and not the regular police ? Taw 20:22, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

The British police used have access to a single-shot version of the Sterling submachine gun GraemeLeggett 20:41, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
Uhm, according to the article they use a semi-automatic version, so it's not a real SMG (which according to the definition in the article needs to be fully automatic). Any other references ? Taw 01:45, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Virtually every police force in the world has submachine guns at their disposal. They are of course not used on a day to day basis but rather in heightened risk situations (like chases after armed bank robbers or whenever there's a terror alert). Those police forces that do not use submachine guns, generally use assault rifles instead. --Sus scrofa 09:50, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

What Sus scrofa said. Police and SWAT teams preferred SMGs for years over rifles because they are handier to carry and are less likely to overpenetrate. It wasn't until recently that the trend began reversing, with most police in the US adopting M4 .223 rifles. Ostensibly there's a greater need to take down soft-armored perps; ostensibly the ammo's also good enough now that it won't overpenetrate and kill the guy in the next apartment over. I'm uncertain about either of those statements, but they're the reason you don't see as many submachine guns in police hands anymore. Vintovka Dragunova (talk) 17:37, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

"Famous" submachine guns[edit]

More like "a list of my favorite SMGs". Who decides what is famous or not and what is their criterion? The Suomi?! Its article is only four paragraphs long. Pull your heads out of your asses.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:44, 2006 July 29 (UTC)

That is the problem with fame, how to quantify it. No, this list should not be a list arbitrarily created by people adding their personal favorite SMG, but it should include SMGs that are historicaly important, such as the Tommy Gun and some of the others. Should it have the Suomi or Glauberyt on it? I have no idea, I am no expert in SMG fame, but many of the recently removed SMGs probably do have a place on the list. Though, checking with the Assault Rifle article, it can be seen that no "Famous Assault Rifles" list is included, which is probably how it should be done here as well.
Asatruer 19:23, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

PK3 9mm SMG[edit]

This is starting to bug me. Searching through the images on the US Army website, I came across a picture of a US Soldier using what's apparently called a "PK3" 9mm SMG [1]. This has me interested because I've never heard of a PK3 and this gun does not look familiar to me. However, researching this thing brings me to dead ends, as Wikipedia doesn't have an article on the PK3, and Google searches just bring me back to other US Army pages that host the same picture. I can't seem to find any SMGs that would look like a PK3 when I go through the list of SMGs on the "Submachine gun" Wikipedia page either.

Think anyone would have some info, or at least give a clue to what it could be? SouthernStang93 06:35, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Oops...Cache wasn't loading some images properly, and I must have missed this last night. Someone pointed out that the PK3 is the Polish PM-98, an upgraded version of the PM-84 Glauberyt. I'll still leave this here for future internet reference. SouthernStang93 18:05, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Oompa Lumpas?[edit]

I'm hoping that oompa lumpa bit at the beginning of the intro is vandalism, rather that somone's idea of scholarly text. I tried to remove it, but it does not show up in the editable text. Perhaps someone who knows more about the inner workings of a wiki can succeed. 21:39, 11 December 2006 (UTC)Jesse S.


The MP18 was not, I repeat WAS NOT, the first true submachine gun. The Italians managed to introduce a submachine gun based on the Villar Perosa a few months before the introduction of the MP18. AllStarZ 02:31, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Oh really?

Any picture or drawing of this italian SMG in the hand of soldiers,Italian or others as captured weapons? any report? any patent? any book quoting this weapon in use? Edmond HUET (talk) 22:37, 10 February 2008 (UTC)


Added a reference to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 in Legality section. It was made illegal to own a domestically produced automatic weapon after that date. Remember the Fleming sear? Also noted the corporate transfer "loophole" Exdmd 08:04, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Short Burst?[edit]

Am I right in thinking that submachine guns fire in bursts of about 3 bullets pur trigger pull? If so this should be added. (If I am wrong then sorry & please could someone explain)—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Fully automatic weapons such as submachine guns fire for as long as the trigger is held down. Skilled shooters can fire single shots from weapons that have full automatic mode only by releasing the trigger quickly. Weapons with built in burst fire usually fire a set number of bullets, I think three is the most common number. --Sus scrofa 19:31, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

STAR Force not SWAT[edit]

Changed the reference of Australian special police units from SWAT to STAR Force, SWAT is the American special police units. —Preceding unsigned comment added by MaddMoose1989 (talkcontribs) 02:16, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


Is an smg just a machine gun in a pistol caliber or a type of firearm (rifle, shotgun, handgun, machine gun, submachine gun) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:28, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

The British term for SMG is Machine Carbine. Look up carbine and add auto fire for Machine, this should make the term easier to work through. - Breeze —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:39, 1 October 2010 (UTC)


What was the first weapon designated as a Sub Machine Gun (SMG)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:08, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

According to Thompson submachine gun, the Thompson was the first to be labeled "submachine gun", in 1919 after the war.--Sus scrofa (talk) 11:52, 15 December 2011 (UTC)


This page is a mess! Interesting threads, but many of them don't belong on an article talk page, and I've seen very few, if any pages where the comments are so mixed-up chronologically. I've separated a couple of topics which were run together by creating/inserting headers, trying not to compromise the original questions/answwrs. Maybe someone could try to cut/paste the topics and put them into the order they were posted? (talk) 11:20, 13 February 2012 (UTC)Rags

Legal ownership by civilians[edit]

I would like to remove the "Legal ownership by civilians" section as it seems rather pointless. As machineguns are highly controlled items throughout the world and we don't discuss this info. on other firearms pages. Also, the Overview of gun laws by nation page already exists. A simple "See also" link to that page should suffice --RAF910 (talk) 19:31, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. Vintovka Dragunova (talk) 17:42, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

No citation on opening[edit]

"Also, SMG's are still widely used by police SWAT teams and other militarized police, because their pistol caliber bullets are less likely to shoot through suspects and walls, causing unintentional injuries to civilians."

There is no citation for this, probably because it isn't true. Pistol cartridge is know for over penetration compared to rifle cartridge because of the shape. The long shape of a rifle round causes the round to slow down immediately when its turns to the side, whereas a more spherical pistol round will not encounter as much resistance. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:16, 16 July 2016 (UTC)