Submachine guns are the favorite of the spray-and-pray nomenclature. With the ability to fire off entire magazines or drums in seconds, the weapon has earned a form of respect for the massive burst of power regardless of the limited accuracy. Originally designed for use in trench warfare behind enemy lines during World War I, the real aim was to provide as much firepower in as little space as possible without allowing an enemy to have time to react or return fire.
After World War I, submachine guns found their way into the hands of gangsters and different fractions of the mafia. Police could barely fight back with issued revolvers. With the onset of WWII, the submachine gun saw a shift in attention for use in close-quarters combat.
While the muzzle velocity is a fraction of their high-powered rifle counterparts, the rapid rate of fire ensured their place as a commanding presence on the battlefield, especially in urban environments. And they are still the favorite for many small armies and special forces operatives today.
Some have evolved from original designs and others are spawning new forms of submachine guns with greater velocities, accuracy, and rate of fire. With that lets get into our user voted best Submachine guns:
The Heckler and Koch MP5 has more than 100 variants and has been in production since the mid 1960s. It uses a G3 design with a selective fire delayed blowback system and fires up to 900 rounds a minute using propellant gasses to recharge the next round. Muzzle velocity can reach up to 1,394 feet per second depending on the variation. The effective range is limited to a maximum of 200 yards, which isn’t bad considering it is intended for close-quarters combat. The barrel has a rear peep sight and runs a 1:10 – inch twist, varying in length from 31.1-13.7 inches depending on the model. The subsonic rounds and short barrel length improve performance and reliability. Traditionally, the MP5 fires the 9x19 Parabellum, .40 S&W, and 10MM auto, but can be modified to chamber the rimfire .22 with up to 40 rounds. It’s currently produced in 12 countries and used in more than 100 countries.
The signature of submarine guns is the original “Tommy Gun.” It is desired among many not only for the historical significance, but also the proven power. Designed in 1917 to answer the call of trench warfare, it missed its opportunity to see combat initially. However, it was adopted as supreme firepower for organized crime and was revisited in WWII with more than 1.7 million produced for the war effort. The M1A1 has seen action nearly every war worldwide to some degree and is still in use today – with some modifications. It fires up to 1,500 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 935 feet per second and an effective range of 150 meters. The standard ammunition is .45 or 10MM Auto with up to 100-round drums, and some variants were developed for larger rounds.
For as small as the Uzi is, it has had one of the biggest impacts on the submachine gun world. With more than 10 million produced and used in more than 90 countries, it has been a staple of close combat assault scenarios since 1950. This machine pistol has a 10-inch barrel intended for use in extremely tight spaces like inside tanks or bunkers. Because of the compact size and general efficiency, the weapon was incorporated into most major conflicts and narcotics operations around the world. It uses a blowback open-bolt action that is capable of firing 600 9MM rounds per minute at 1,300 feet per second with an effective range of 200 yards. It can also be chambered in .22 LR, .45 ACP, .41 AE, and 9X21MM.
The Škorpion is a small but mighty contender weighing in at only 2.8 pounds. Developed as a sidearm for security forces and special forces in Czechoslovakia, it has gained steady popularity among small armies around the world. About 200,000 were made since 1961 and it has seen action in Vietnam and a few wars in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It fires up to 900 rounds per minute with a velocity of up to 1,050 feet per second and has a firing range of up to 164 yards. It has a straight blowback action with a closed bolt that wraps around the barrel to allow for a shorter weapon overall. It fires the .32 ACP, .380 ACP, 9X18, and 9X19 among its variants in up to 30-round magazines.
The PP-19 is a product of the next generation of the Kalashnikov family. It was designed in 1993 and deployed in 1996. It has a cylindrical magazine design similar to the Calico M960 but is instead mounted below the barrel, which gives off a profile similar to a grenade launcher, and holds 64 rounds. The firearm is lighter at 4.63 pounds and has variations equipped with significantly shorter barrels between 9.1 inches down to 7.7 inches. The rate of fire is about 700 rounds per minute with an effective range of up to 218 yards. Variations are chambered in 9X18MM, 9X19MM, .380, and 7.62X25MM.
If compact speed of fire is your thing, the MAC-10 is at the top of the list. It has a rate of fire more than double its submachine gun counterparts of up to 1,380 rounds per minute. Common calibers include the 9mm Luger, .45 ACP, and .380 ACP. There is a bit of limitation on accuracy, however, with an effective range of only up to 70 meters. It has an open bolt with a feed ramp that is part of the trigger guard and a barrel length of 4.49 inches. The short barrel greatly reduces the accuracy, but the inherent power delivered by the speed of delivery was enough to get the MAC-10 banned from the United States as part of the 1994 assault weapons ban. It was designed in the 1960s, is still in production today, and has seen limited service during wars and drug campaigns around the world.