M3 Grease Gun

Last weeks NRA Curator’s Corner featured the M3 Grease Gun. NRA Blog says

With a 30 round magazine and a muzzle velocity of 920 ft/s, the M3 was manufactured from 1943 to 1945. During that time, roughly 700,000 were produced. Soon after it was created, the M3 was tweaked with hopes to improve reliability and decrease weight. The result was a gun that saw service all the way from World War II to Desert Storm — the M3A1.

Lars Dalseide, of NRABlog, was kind enough to share these photos of the M3 …

I have never fired a M3. It has always been high on my list of guns to shoot (full auto, of course!).

[ Many thanks to Lars Dalseide, of NRA Blog, for sending me the photos. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Jimbo

    What poor sod was issued a M3 in Desert Storm? D8

  • Lance

    A number of M-3A1s still are in some SOCOM units.

  • scurvy

    I’ve shot one in Las Vegas (full auto) and it was a hoot. My mind kept wandering off and imagining that I was shooting Nazis rather than paper. It’s rate of fire was way lower than some of the other SMG’s I shot that day — especially the MAC-10. It was like a pup-pup-pup-pup as opposed to the bra-a-a-t “It’s done?” of the MAC-10. Fun gun the grease gun!

  • gunslinger

    I had the fortunate pleasure of firing an M3 full auto. the local indoor range i frequent has the required paperwork to do full auto. They didn’t have any firearms at the time, so they featured locals who did and offered to rent them out. The second time they did this is when i picked the grease gun (first time was a tommy gun. yeah. had to go all gangster)

    and let me tell you, the M3 is amazing to shoot. because of the lower rate of fire, the gun didn’t lift as much as the tommy. i was basically able to “write my name” in the target. I actually did better than the guy next to me. He actually was issued one when he served. i think he mentioned that tank leaders (unsure of their military designation) were issued those as their firearm.

    anyway, it was fun, and i hope you can come across one someday.

  • Big Daddy

    Great little gun, I read they(USA soldiers) loved them in WWII in the Italian mountains. Close combat, low rate of fire and a round that just devastated.

    I carried one for a while and liked it too, as a driver in M113s, M557s and ITVs. The M-16A1 was a pain to have in the drivers compartment, and impossible to shoot if I ever had to from it. I never did though.

  • Jimbo: Supposedly, the M3A1 SMG were issued to tank crews until the M4 carbine was adopted.

  • Pete

    these were (maybe still are) in the inventory of some Reserve Component units to be issued to mechanics with a “H8” ASI that drive recovery vehicles. We had a couple in my guard unit when I was full time and one AT I actually said F it and carried one as my primary weapon. I was the admin/readiness guy so most of my “fighting” was done at the TOC so I figured it would be no big deal. Carried the bolt and mags to. Got a major ass ripping from the Ops Sergeant for my Battalion for doing it but oh well, kept imagining I was Steve McQueen in “hell is For Heroes” even went as far as to take a piece of army 100mph tape and put “Reese” on it and affix it to the front of my helmet and carried around a map case that I told people was full of TNT and that I was looking for a bunker to roll into….only the old guys got it…

  • H.L.

    I checked The Gun Store in Las Vegas (http://www.thegunstorelasvegas.com/gunrental.html) and you can rent one there for $50.00 (+ ammo).

  • Jim

    What does SOCOM want with such an old gun?

  • Philip Compher

    I was look at info on M3A1 Grease Gun awhile back and came across this:

    The following additional information is courtesy of Bob Caulkins

    “I carried a grease gun in Vietnam while I served with the First Marine Division (66-68). There are a several of neat things about the gun that don’t appear in the description and I’d like to tell you about them. The gun had a built-in oiler in the base of the grip. After turning the gun over, the knob seen in the illustration is unscrewed revealing an oil reservoir and an oil applicator. The wire stock was a masterpiece of American ingenuity. It was a wrench for removing the barrel, the barrel had two grooves machined into it into which the wire stock was placed and then turned to loosen the barrel. One of the stock rods was threaded at the forward end to take a bore brush and drilled out to take a cleaning patch, and finally, there was a small “L” shaped piece of steel welded to the butt of the stock, as seen in the illustration, that functioned as a magazine loader. Trying to thumb load 30 rounds into the mag was a chore. This twenty-eight dollar, or so, piece of stamped, welded and machined metal was a beauty, on the several occasions when I needed it, it never failed me. ” Among the different types of submachine guns used by the Chinese Communist forces during the first year of the Korea War was their .45 cal Type 36 copy of the M3A1 The M3A1 is still in use in our armed forces today. Not a bad record for a gun that hasn’t been manufactured for over 40 years!

    • Philip, that is neat! I never knew about those nifty features.

  • John C.

    I have always wanted to shoot one of these, too. My list of full auto guns I have shot is M4 Carbine, G36k and Smith and wesson M76.

  • Woodroez

    I’ve always been a little surprised that this little gun hasn’t had a civilian variety. Just don’t install the stock or make the barrel of sufficient length, just as Masterpiece Arms is doing with the MAC pistol.

  • Al T.

    In Desert Storm, your vehicle recovery (M88) crewmen had M3s. I suspect few actually saw daylight, but the M3 was authorized.

  • Kristopher


    Tankers. They still need an SMG that will fit easily through a tank hatch.

  • Aurelien

    The M3s were used as PDWs for armored vehicule crews until the early 1990s.

  • greasyjohn

    Anyone in a tank, Jimbo.

  • Greetings from Texas,
    Woodroez, there was a short lived simi version of the M3A1, both long barrel with stock and short barrel without. Saddly, before I was able to save my nickles and dimes up it was off the market. I keep hoping someone else will pick it up.

    I never had the pleasure of firing a Grease Gun myself. My stepdad, William Crawford, carried one in Korea. He pretty much said the same things the note of the Viet Nam vet said.

    Our only firearms disagrement was over Thompsons. He carried one on one patrol and got rid of it. He said it was too heavy for what it did. In his words the M3A1 did the same job and was not nearly as heavy. As much as I would love an M3A1, I don’t care how much the Thompson weighs. The only solution is to add both to the collection – in my dreams.

  • Bubblehead Les

    Woodroez, Valkyrie Arms out of Washington State made up about 750 of them in semi-auto a few years back. Nice gun,but it still had to be BATFE approved with the long barrel and closed-bolt firing system.

  • William C.

    I know tankers had the M3A1 throughout the Cold War and possibly into Desert Storm and the 1990s until the M4 carbine started being issued.

    As good of a SMG you could make for the least cost I would imagine.

  • Sabre22

    I fires one in sept of 1976. Pulled it out of the wrapper and go to fire a Magazine it was great

  • Bryan S

    Its sad that as civilians, we can only gawk at interesting firearms like this because the elites have put them out of price range and out of production of us commoners.

    Just think of the interesting inexpensive guns that could come out of the US, if only we were allowed to design and build, without the paperwork?

  • charlie

    I was at rotc summercamp at Ft. Lewis, WA. in 1978. We were given a grease gun for familirization. It was fun to shoot,much different than an m-16. slowerbut you could feel thepower of the heavy round going down range.
    I would rather have one of these for close range work.

  • Ken Kerr

    How and where available and what are price ranges.What are federal regs about purchasing one?

  • Ken Ker

    First fired one on basic training in 1948 and fell in love with it.
    Second time to fire was in the Philippines ,still loved it

  • Lance

    Same federal regs as any SMG or MG But they are cheaper than a overpriced Thompson.

  • This M3A-1 was my weapon as a M48 tank gunner from 1959 to 1961. It was a lot of fun to fire. Can’t believe this gun is still in use. Talk about reliable.

  • Lance

    @ Vince

    What unit where you in and where you ever in Germany or Berlin between 58-62 and 64-65?

  • cliff collings

    I carried an M3 in Viet Nam and I’m looking to purchase one but can not seem to find the right web site to purchase one. I have a FFL dealer and I’m ready to buy based on the quality of the weapon.
    Thanks Cliff

  • Cahal Mcgirr

    Still to be found in the DR Congo in the hands of some police units.

  • adan malakas

    i have one! for sale for only 3000 dollars…