Submachine Gun

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Related to Submachine Gun: Thompson submachine gun

submachine gun

[¦səb·mə′shēn ‚gən]
A type of machine gun; a short-barreled shoulder firearm using pistol-type ammunition and capable of full automatic fire.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Submachine Gun


an individual automatic firearm. The submachine gun is designed to destroy enemy personnel in close battle, usually at distances of less than 200 m.

The first submachine guns, such as the Italian 1915 Revelli submachine gun and the German 1918 Bergmann, appeared during World War I and were more like standard machine guns. Submachine guns became widespread in World War II (1939–45) and were also called machine pistols. Submachine guns used in the Red Army were the PPD-40 designed by V. A. Degtiarev, the PPSh-41 of G. S. Shpagin, and the PPS-43 of A. I. Sudaev. The fascist German Army used 1938 and 1940 models (MR-38–40), the Americans used the M3, the British had the Sten, and the Finns had the Suomi. After the war, the old submachine-gun systems were replaced by new ones in the armed forces of the United States, Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany, and other countries. After the war, the Soviet armed forces adopted the M. G. Kalashnikov submachine guns, which have more powerful shells and a sighting range of up to 1,000 m.

Basic parts and mechanisms of submachine guns include barrel, receiver, breechblock, trigger mechanism, recoil spring, sights, butt, safety catch, and magazine. Some submachine guns have muzzle brakes, or replenishers, to decrease recoil and stabilize the gun during firing. To reduce the length and make them easier to carry, most submachine guns have folding-type metal stocks. The design of submachine guns makes possible automatic fire and, in some models, single-shot fire. In most submachine guns the automatic feature is based on the principle of a blow-back bolt. Ammunition is fed by box or drum-type magazines. Submachine guns ordinarily fire in short bursts of three to five shots each.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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