Are Submachine Guns Obsolete? The Readers Have Spoken!

My last article entitled “Are Submachine Guns Obsolete?” asked the readers of the blog to comment on what they thought about the SMG’s place in the modern world, and you responded! After about 100 comments I have selected a few highlights that I felt were excellent points:

Kyle said:
“They’re cheaper for police departments to feed. Instead of PDW’s with boutique rounds like 4.6x30mm or 5.7×28, you have 9mm, .40, and .45 which are easily bought off the shelves.”

Deviant Saint said:
“The SMG just has been re-visioned as the PDW.”

Phil W., our own Senior Writer even weighed in:
“I was issued the MP5 SD for use on our SRU team. I had a lot of faith in the MP5 for entry work, It’s just an excellent weapon even now. We did switch to the P90 several years ago. I liked it but no more so than the MP5.”

SvenOrtmann argued:
“The HK MP5 concept of an accurate SMG for use by police/LE is still as viable as ever.
Its great advantage is that you do not get very strong overpenetration if you choose the ammunition accordingly. You won’t get a good .223 bullet that doesn’t overpenetrate.”

n0truscotsman made me laugh with his comment:
“Leave subguns where they belong: on class III ranges.”

Ben Branam said:
“The SMG isn’t dead just becoming more and more specialized. The fad is towards 5.56 but that could change.”

Nathaniel had this to say:
“SMGs don’t really have a role. This may change if pistol ammunition gets a shot in the arm (think calibers like 5.7×28), but right now, almost all submachine guns are simply worse than short barrel carbines.”

Doug, a police officer in a rural area had a great perspective:
“I personally feel that in a LE role, the SMG is not dead, or at least shouldn’t be. When they utilize the same ammunition that their sidearms use, they’re trustworthy by default because officers trust that their primary gun, the pistol, is already trusted to save their lives. The SMG merely offers more velocity through a much more stable platform.”


So there you have it, looking back at all the comments you have people declaring that sub-guns are as relevant and needed as ever, and the contrary saying that they are fossils kept around as nothing but a novelty or curio. People in the middle laid out a few scenarios where a submachine gun may still reign supreme, but one thing kept popping up; Over-penetration seemed to be the main point of contention with both sides proclaiming that a short-barreled rifle either will penetrate more or less than a round fired from an SMG (a +p+ 9mm round for example). There was also some debate as to whether or not firearms like the FN P90 or H&K MP7 are truly SMGs as they may well fall into a new category, the PDW (personal defense weapon). The PDW concept is not lost on me, but is interesting to see these firearms gradually replacing submachine guns in roles where they had previously dominated, like protection of the US President:


So if you commented in the previous article thank you for sharing your opinion. While there was no clear consensus (as there usually isn’t when it comes to most things pertaining to this great hobby of ours), I know that I learned a lot and enjoyed reading your comments!

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Devon

    Did I read “curio”? If classifying these SMGs as obsolete now relegates them to “curio” status, then I say go for it! I’ll get my curio license and buy these up cheap! 🙂

    • Alex C.

      There are plenty of SMGs that are classified as C&R eligible by the US Government 🙂

      • 1911a145acp

        Must be pre 86 registered and still Class III. I have never seen otherwise.

  • lachlan

    i asked some 2nd com guys this they told me subsonic 9mm is more lethal then subsonic 5.56 which makes sense to me

    • bbmg

      It’s fairly obvious is that if they are both limited to the same velocity, the bigger bullet is going to win out – this is why subsonics tend to be bigger, heavier bullets.

    • FourString

      Personally, if SMG’s were legal where I live, I would want a semi 9mm subgun (Tavor 9 milly? :D). It’d be cheap to run and complement a 9 mill pistol to boot. For practical HD and even shooting targets, the subgun is anything but obsolete :3

    • 1911a145acp

      Subsonic 9x19mm is anemic 38 special ballistics which would be only slightly less pathetic than subsonic 5.56 which would be akin to 22 lr.
      220 grn OTM 300 BLK at 1080 fps obsolesces both these rounds.

  • floppyscience

    “You won’t get a good .223 bullet that doesn’t overpenetrate.”

    lolwat? There’s a whole wide selection of defensive .223 ammo made for personal defense that fragments on impact and doesn’t overpenetrate. It actually penetrates hard barriers less than pistol and shotgun ammunition.

    • What’s funny is they all penetrate about the same, more or less. On one hand, you have the high velocity, lightweight round that will lose inertia quickly when encountering barriers. Then you have the slow moving, albeit significantly heavier round that loses less inertia, but doesn’t have a whole lot of range to begin with. Until start breaking into expanding and frangible ammunition types, they’re just inverses of the same spectrum.

    • orly?

      I believe he means over-penetration through people…

      I would not like the possibility of hitting a civvie directly behind a perp.

      • bbmg

        I don’t buy this argument, it would only hold if all shots struck their target.

        You are much, much more likely to miss the “perp” completely and hit a civvie that strike the latter after the bullet has gone through the intended victim.

        • orly?

          In all honesty, I wish someone from SWAT would help clarify this…

          • Which part exactly do you want clarified? Weapon, ammunition type, uses?
            You asked for SRU so fire away:-)

          • Mazryonh

            I’m not the original asker, but I’d like to know anyway. What kind of 5.56mm bullet types are used by modern-day SWAT using (ultra)compact 5.56mm carbines, if 9mm SMGs have been discarded? I doubt all of them use the new Mk 262 round–does anyone use JSP/JHP 5.56mm rounds for their (ultra)compact carbines in that line of duty?

          • We started out with FMJ 55grn. After noting one incident when over penetration was found a selection of rounds were tested. The round selected was the TAP with an alternate of frangible depending on circumstances. I would say that a large number use HP rounds as well as some I’ve heard of with the red tip plastic insert.
            At first there was no concern given to over penetration until it happened.

            One other thing the guys with the AR’s were not first in. The guys like me with the MP5 went in first with shotgun guys second followed by officers with other weapons if the circumstances of the forced entry dictated it.

          • Mazryonh

            Hmm, any chance I could correspond with you privately via e-mail? I have more questions that I’d like to ask you, but they’re not the most relevant to this blog.

          • I can say we never used FMJ in our MP5’s or anything else. The standard load was a 147 grn subsonic.

          • Mazryonh

            If the standard SWAT load was subsonic, then why did was the MP5SD designed to fire supersonic 9mm rounds at subsonic velocities by bleeding off propellant gas? Wouldn’t supersonic 9mm rounds lose a lot of effective range and punch by being slowed to subsonic velocities?

          • The SD suppressor was designed to work with sub sonic ammo. Our’s was subsonic. A friend of mine worked at Olin in Illinois and worked with the Navy Seals on designing the subsonic round for the MP 5SD they used at the time. They settled on a 147 grn. bullet. He actually gave me 50 rounds that were still in the test phase.

          • Mazryonh

            I see, then maybe the wikipedia page for the MP5SD model needs to be updated. It claims that the “[The MP5SD] was designed to be used with standard supersonic ammunition with the [integral] suppressor on at all times.”

          • 1911a145acp

            Originally, the MP5SD with it’s integral suppressor and nearly fully ported barrel length WAS designed to bring standard high velocity 9x19mm down to subsonic speed by bleeding off gun powder gas the the ports in the barrel.

          • 1911a145acp

            My understanding was the original OLIN 147 grain OTM “Match” Subsonic round was designed for NAVY SF ( SEAL types ) for use in Smith and Wesson 9mm handguns- ie; M-39s and M-59s that used the “Hush Puppy” sound suppressor. The weapons in use at the early stages of the Vietnam conflict -suppressed WW II era High Standard 22 lr pistols and Korean era suppressed, open bolt M-3 “Grease” submachineguns were neither reliable enough or accurate enough to eliminate VC sentries and guard dogs. The 147 grain Match bullet was hollow point to make it accurate. No expansion wound characteristics were ever expected.

          • orly?

            Suppressed rounds. Of course.

            Thank you very much for the clarification.

          • Sure anytime at all. If I don’t know I’ll sure find out.

      • I always assumed over penetration referred to misses, going through walls, etc. & hitting innocents, hence the preference in LE for lower velocity rounds, compared to battlefield weapons.

    • redfoot

      And they have been around for decades. I have a very old box of 50g exposed led tip, from what I could find the rounds were developed to be used in confined spaces were ricochets and cooking off equipment was a potential hazard.

    • Joel

      Good point. In addition, how many sub guns fired 9MM FMJ, a known over penetrator?

      • The SAS do because of the stupid international rules on what they call dumb dumb bullets.

        • bbmg

          The Hague convention of 1899 specifically bans expanding ammunition for use in warfare, however I would think that most SAS operations happen outside what would be conventionally described as warfare between two nations.

          • Yes but they are still a military unit which means they are still constrained by those rules. If the SAS act it’s a military action regardless. It’s still stupid but what they have to live with. That includes the Sig P226 they carry.

          • bbmg

            The actual text is as follows:

            “The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets
            which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a
            hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced
            with incisions.

            The present Declaration is only binding for the Contracting Powers in the case of a war between two or more of them.

            It shall cease to be binding from the time when, in a war between the
            Contracting Parties, one of the belligerents is joined by a
            non-Contracting Power.”

            I doubt the Taliban was one of the “Contracting Parties”…

        • 1911a145acp

          I overheard a former SAS member asked what kind of 9mm ammo they used on hostage rescue. He said “I don’t know, what ever they give us.” When pressed as to whether they used hollow point or not he said ” The last time…. I think it was 124 (grn) Hirtenberger ball” “We tried the hollow points, the flat points and the ones with the little blue caps on end.” “But you see mate, it doesn’t matter because we shoot every body twice in the head anyway”

    • 1911a145acp

      Agreed. 5 minutes on the range with several commonly encountered barriers will prove this. Pretty much ANY 5.56x45mm load will penetrate FAR LESS in commonly encountered walls, furniture, appliances, automobiles. light foliage cover etc. Than most pistol loads. Seems counter intuitive I know- doubters try it yourself…….

  • SMG’s aren’t obsolete, it’s the PDW that tried to fix a problem that was never there. What’s the point of an overpenetrating .22 magnum, when the sub gun utilizes a round meant for cqb and is given an optimal barrel length?

    • Ripley

      CQB is offense, not defense as the D in PDW suggests. If I was ambushed in my vehicle as a driver and had to fight my way to safety I’d rather have a 50-round armor piercing p90 on my chest than a 15-round mp5k at the same size. But also in CQB you’d like a gun/caliber that doesn’t get stopped by a CRISAT.

      • Mazryonh

        Isn’t CRISAT out of date? If a military-grade trauma plate (rated NIJ Level 3 or higher) can stop military-grade 5.56mm NATO, then it’ll stop PDW rounds like 5.7x28mm. Most first-world armies issue NIJ Level 3 body armour now.

    • 2wheels

      The point was to beat body armor, which was becoming increasingly common around the time that modern PDWs were designed.

      Not to mention other advantages that modern PDWs like the P90 has over traditional SMGs, like mag capacity and longer effective range.

      • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

        All these in a lightweight package. An MP7 and 200 rds will be lighter than any 9mm SMG and 200 rds.

    • n0truscotsman

      that is a myth.

      5.7 is far moer powerful than 22 magnum.

  • alf

    SvenOrtmann does not know what he is talking about.

    However it is also worth mentioning that the SAS still train with the MP5 to this day for CQB.

    • Alex C.

      Various PDs, militaries, and all sorts of organizations train with submachine guns. When you have an armory filled to the brim with hundreds if not thousands of units, you might as well use them. Hell, tankers in the Gulf War used M3A1 “Grease Guns”, haha.

  • gunslinger

    would you submit that the PDW is a sub-category of the SMG?

    • In most cases no. The PDW is generally larger and still fires an intermediate to full size rifle round.

      • erwos

        Maybe you should define what you think is an intermediate round and what’s a full size round. Because, to me, you just said PDWs shoot 5.56×45 and 7.62×51. That’s not what I’ve seen from manufacturer-described PDWs.

        • bbmg

          While “exotic” calibres are common, there are plenty of short ARs being described as PDWs chambered for 5.56

          • The main issue is the very term Personnel Defense Weapon is very vague and hard to explain. It’s a label you can apply to almost anything, mainly because while a lot of weapons are defined by how you use them, they’re more designed by what they are. IE: An assault rifle is a select-fire weapon firing an intermediate cartridge, a battle rifle is a magazine-fed, often select fire, full-size rifle round weapon, a submachine is a pistol-caliber automatic weapon, etc, etc… whereas a PDW is more defined by what you DO with it: it’s a compact weapon designed for mobility.

        • By full size I meant a 5.56

          • Mazryonh

            I would think that 5.56mm NATO is an intermediate cartridge, while .30-06 or 7.62mm NATO would be a full-size rifle cartridge.

            I would much rather compact assault rifles like Magpul’s PDR or the MK18 Mod 0 (aka the CQBR) be called “ultracompact carbines” rather than PDWs, though.

  • Jon

    An issue here is the precise use of terminology. I would like someone to clearly define “PDW” and “SMG.” There is a lot of overlap in the way people use these terms. Often people define PDW by its intended use when frequently the weapon is the same as a SMG. That’s a slippery slope.

    I’d submit a SMG is a shoulder fired weapon that can fire full auto. SMG ususally use pistol ammo but not always.

    A PDW is a SMG designed to be compact SMG that generally fires a rifle cartridge but not always.


    • HSR47

      “I’d submit a SMG is a shoulder fired weapon that can fire full auto. SMG ususally use pistol ammo but not always.”

      I’ve seen videos of people shooting M1919s from the shoulder, and I’ve personally fired a Browning Automatic Rifle from the shoulder. Both are full auto, and both were fired from the shoulder, but I doubt anyone would argue that either was an SMG.

      SMG is synonymous with pistol calibers. An SMG *can* be a PDW, but a PDW isn’t always a true SMG.

      • kyle

        I always took the SUB in Submachine gun to mean “Sub rifle caliber.” as in, below a caliber utilised in a traditional rifle or machine gun.

        • Mazryonh

          I would think the Sub in Submachine gun comes from its size. Look at the monstrously large heavy machine guns used in the First World War and compare them to the SMGs that were later introduced. The SMGs are positively tiny.

          And as for “below a caliber,” pistol rounds like the 9mm Parabellum and .45 ACP are wider but shorter than traditional battle rifle rounds, which have tended to be between 7 and 8 mm in diameter.

        • Size of the weapon and the round fired.

    • Mazryonh

      Heh heh, I’d like to see how you would clear up the fuzziness between a compact submachine gun and a machine pistol.

      To me, an SMG is a select-fire (or otherwise capable of fully-automatic fire) weapon that fires pistol cartridges. A PDW is a compact weapon, also select-fire or capable of fully-automatic fire, that attempts to duplicate rifle-style armour penetration in a smaller caliber than most intermediate cartridges. I would prefer to call them “sub-rifles” or “micro-rifles” rather than PDWs, frankly.

  • Let’s not forget the recent introduction of the Kriss .45 SBR – an incredible system in it’s own right. Re. Caliber – another consideration is in training, no need to worry about destroying kill-houses during practice with pistol rounds.
    …I’d say they are still in demand, for sure.

    • I’ve shot the KRISS extensively and it’s a fine weapon. A sub gun in 45 acp seems like one of the better choices in a suppressed weapon.

      • bbmg

        In terms of performance I would disagree, the 45 acp bullet is of poor aerodynamic shape and loses velocity quickly, therefore limiting it to very short range. Something like the 300 blackout on the other hand takes the same weight of bullet but in a slimmer and more aerodynamic package that allows for a flatter trajectory making longer shots possible. It will also penetrate deeper making it a viable round for punching through body armour, something for which the 45 is inadequate.

        • Hedd Wyn

          Trouble with .45acp is that it’s an out of date low pressure round. .45 super is dimensionally the same but more powerful and has greater range and would make an ideal SMG round, 10mm fits the bill too. .300blk is a nice round but is a really a rifle cartridge.

          • HSR47

            From what I’ve seen, .300 blk doesn’t really gain that much in terms of velocity from barrel lengths much over 9-12 inches. From where I sit, that puts it firmly in the PDW camp.

            Other AR rechamberings like 6.5 grendel and 6.8 SPC can take full advantage of barrel lengths up to and beyond 16″.

        • An SMG would most likely be used for CQB, where the heavier round transfers way more energy and holds it’s mass post penetration. If we are talking 100 m or more I’d be using something other than a SMG. You’d be hard pressed to find a caliber… WRT a Kriss: that’s more controllable. Remember if you can’t control or get consecutive, on target shots off you might as well be using a baseball bat.

  • snmp

    Concept of the PDW Cloud be an Pistol, an SMG, an pistol Carbine or an Assault Rifle

    – At the bengining
    * Mauser C96 Durinng WWI for trucker, Officer, ect… by german army
    * French MAS 38 was personel defence weapon for Trucker, radio, Officer … and at this same time France use the Volmer EMP model 1935 (in fact spanish variant of the ERMA EMP35) as Assault SMG in 9 luger
    * USM1 & USM2 Carbine who are more near Assault Rifle (like the STG44) in terme performance

    – After the WWII
    * Soviet Stechkin automatic pistol APS
    * Czechoslovakia Vz 61 SMG
    * Soviet AKSU or AKS-74U by Tulla in 5.45×39

    – After the Cold War
    * FN P90 with amunition for an SMG/Rifle & for Pistol (Like the Mauser 96 and the MAS 38)
    * HK MP7 launche as compétotor to the FN P90 and in fact replace in many police & military organization UZI (Germany) or SMG/Pistol carbine (France, UK …..).

    In other hand, many moderne PDW are more offencive weapon than defencive weapon.

    • snmp

      PDW in Moderne Russia :
      * SR-3 Vikhr /SR-3M Vikhr in 9x39mm
      * 9A-91 in 9x39mm
      * AK9 in 9x39mm
      * SR-2 Veresk in 9x21mm Gyurza
      * PP-2000 in 9mm Luger

  • 1) Take 9mm SMG
    2) Modify it to chamber 6.5×25 CBJ
    3) ???

    Lol, joking. But… would it be really that bad as idea?

    • bbmg

      I don’t think it even needs to go so far. Make a 9mm sabot round in the same vein as the CBJ’s tungsten penetrator and you will have P90/MP7 level penetration of body armor while still giving you the possibility of firing full bore expanding ammunition that will still be devastating on softer targets, or heavier subsonic fullbore rounds when stealth is required.

      It doesn’t even need to be expensive tungsten, a simple steel subprojectile say 6mm in diameter should still punch through modern armor with little effort – and all this without having to change anything about the existing gun.

      • Karina

        Russia already does that with their 7N1 9mm +P+ rounds, as used in their PP2000 and 9mm PP-19 variants. If I remember correctly, their Grach pistol is also rated to tolerate this ammunition.

    • Komrad

      That’s essentially what the CBJ-MS is, just an Uzi rechambered with some other features added. You can even drop a 9mm barrel in. But nobody really knows that much about them since they aren’t widespread at all.

      I like bbmg’s idea. I know sabots are available for .308″ to .224″. I never got why there was never .45″ to .308″ or .355″/.357″.
      The closest you could get with currently available stuff would be 7.62x25mm Tok and .224″ sabots (if they would even work). Even then, there aren’t exactly a lot of modern guns chambered for 7.62 Tok.

      • HSR47

        It seems to me that pistol-caliber sabots wouldn’t really work: The problem is that the overall length requirements of existing pistol calibers precludes the use of projectiles long enough to be aerodynamically stable.

        • bbmg

          I don’t think this would be an issue, a synthetic sabot identical in external shape to a standard FMJ projectile would be able to house a 6mm diameter subprojectile.

          It would look something like this: with the front of the sabot “petals” shorter and more rounded off in order to ensure reliable feeding.

    • n0truscotsman

      the cbj seems legit. If it is, youre talking about changing the dynamic of small arms forever.

    • snmp

      More simple Armor percing 9mm Luger in solide SMG like HK MP5F or some Russian SMG like PP2000 (close bolt)

    • Mazryonh

      If you want to read about the CBJ’s 6.5x25mm round, you can do so here:×25%20CBJ%20Ball&niva=1

      Personally, I’m not convinced; sure, a 4mm tungsten penetrator may be able to penetrate very well, but how on earth is a 4mm hole that doesn’t critically damage someone’s CNS going to produce enough tissue damage to induce rapid incapacitation?

      • bbmg

        I dont imagine that someone shot in the arm with a supersonic 4mm projectile would continue to fire his rifle, but would have dropped it if hit in the same place with a 5.56 or 7.62 bullet.

        Also, looking at the wider picture, compared to rifle rounds the CBJ allows many more rounds to be carried for a given weight, and also fires a low recoil round that has a high supersonic velocity and a projectile with high sectional density. All these factors greatly increases the chance of a hit to the CNS.

  • Jason Sullivan

    The most successful pdw was the m1 carbine. Semi-auto, but the role was the same. The p90 and mp7 wake up every day wishing they could be as successful.

    • DougE

      If by “successful” you mean “as widely used”, then sure, M1 Carbine had great usage and in great numbers. However, there was a thread on in which one of the members documented very well the effectiveness of the P90 through actual events.

    • bbmg

      A P90 has a greater magazine capacity and fires a projectiles that is easier to control, as well as being more compact and handy. Were it to have come into existence before the M1 carbine, I’m not sure the latter would have been widely adopted.

      • noob

        hmm. the p90 always reminded me of the PPsh-41 but the allies never seemed to get on that bandwagon like the russians did for some reason.

    • HSR47

      Let’s not kid ourselves about the alleged market “success” of the M1 carbine; Post WWII, their popularity was largely derived from being free. The U.S. government gave them away (including ammo) to just about everyone from domestic police departments to the mujaheddin. Thus, their post WWII popularity was largely a case of “why buy the cow when the milk is free?”

  • B.

    I’d like to see someone do a civvie version of a SMG/PDW chambered in the .22TCM. Even better would be do to something like RIA and have a .22TCM/9mm barrel for it. Something under 26″ overall, with a 10-12″ barrel, kinda like a Keltec PLR-16.
    I think that would be spiffy.

    • 1911a145acp

      Agreed! I am dreaming of a really short COLT Commando w/ a 50 rnd or 100 round BETA mag in 9mm w/ a quick barrel conversion to 22 TCM. The RIA TACTICAL high cap version could hold 22 rounds easily w/ a 120mm length magazine. An STI poly frame monolithic rail gun w/ comp ,red dot sight and light rail and a 3 lbs trigger would be nice to have in 22 TCM. This round has MUCH potential and practicality with it’s easy swap back to 9x19mm. 40 grain JHPs at 2030 fps in nothing to sneeze at. I assume LE/ Mil types could create a 30 grn AP rounds at over 2100 fps.

  • Jeff

    I think SMGs have simply become more specialized. I think the specialization have been driven by the general use of carbines. SMGs fill that niche were a rifle is too much and a handgun too little. As others have pointed out the PDWs are that specialization.

  • John184

    A bigger bullet in a smaller package isn’t always the answer. The 5.56 isn’t made for short barrels, and isn’t as efficient in that manner. I would go with a P90 or an MP5 instead of say, an AR-15 SBR. The muzzle flash and noise is a bit much, and when you put on a can, you’re just making the rifle more unwieldy.

    Plus, the P90 is a wonder of gun engineering. That thing is just too cool.

    • Mazryonh

      I posted an article on the disadvantages of using the 5.56mm NATO in short barrels in the previous thread, but if you want to see it yourself, here’s the link:

      And “the P90 is a wonder of gun engineering”? Might you be a fan of the Stargate sci-fi TV series? Anyway, the P90 is a good example of design meeting intent, but to achieve its design goals, it had to give up a few things:

      -There is no way to get a magazine bigger than 50 rounds into the P90 without modifying the firearm (specifically raising the sight mount to accommodate the convenient and timely (un)loading of a thicker, perhaps triple- or quad-stack, magazine), unlike, for instance, an AR-15 which can accept a magazine of any capacity, without modification, so as long as the magazine in question fits the magwell and the magazine catch can hold it securely. I wonder if you could make a pan-type magazine like the old Lewis LMGs and the old DP-28s to feed into a P90 though . . .

      -The P90’s buttstock is fixed, unlike the MP7’s–I’m sure some users would like a shorter length of pull than what the P90 has to offer.

      -The foregrip is quite rudimentary on the P90, with no ability to mount a more substantial one.

      -And so on. All designs have to make compromises somewhere.

      • John184

        I can’t really think of a situation where you would want/need more than 50 rounds in a CQB situation. It could add too much bulk.

        Looking at the P90’s buttstock, I think it would be physically add a extending wire buttstock or something similar to the extending buttstock in the M110.

        I imagine that the foregrip in the P90 is meant to be used kind of like the Magpul AFG, but valid point. A rail in place of that foregrip could potentially be more useful.

        Either way, you have to admit that the P90 is a very neat package. Compact, ergonomic and the ejection system seems like magic.

      • These days I’d take an MP7

        • bbmg

          Even though it’s the size of small principality in Europe?

          The P90 by comparison much more compact, not as many protruding parts, shorter than the MP7 with the stock extended, has a 50 round magazine which doesn’t stick out, and fires an arguably more effective cartridge.

          Why would you prefer the HK product?

          • John184

            The P90 is more compact, but I’d imagine the MP7 is very comfortable to use, with a very standard magazine placement.

      • 1911a145acp

        I just spent the weekend w/ a P-90, shooting, handling, deploying in and around vehicles and buildings. It is short and handy- that’s about it. Odd handling compared to ” conventional ” carbines, hands are just jammed too close together to really exert proper control, left fingers seem too close to muzzle, poor safety position, difficult to manipulate w/ gloved finger, no stock adjustment, horrible iron sights, RD sight- WAAAY above the bore line makes CQB shots hard to calculate.Mag changes not really and issue as they only come after 50 ROUNDS expended and get easier with a little practice. Cartridge does not impress- rather have my 300 BLK.

        • Mazryonh

          Those are the results of the P90 being made to “one size fits all,” sadly. I wonder if a P90A1 would include more “user-friendly/adjustable” features, such as space for a custom foregrip.

          • 1911a145acp

            Agreed. It should, but so far it hasn’t…..

          • Mazryonh

            Of course, even that wouldn’t solve the problems with stopping power that this round has. You can read about it here:


          • 1911a145acp

            Mirrors my experience over the last 30 years. You can’t change simple physics- it takes MORE smaller projectiles to do the same job as fewer, larger, heavier projectiles. We very often run CQB surprise scenarios and run the course w/ choice of Pistol, full auto sub-gun, Semi auto pistol caliber carbine, or shotgun. Sub guns RARELY turned in the best score. Semi auto pistol carbines w/ good triggers worked well out 60 -70 yards, Shotguns ruled inside 20 yards, high cap pistols w/ good sights and triggers did same job as sub-guns w/ less ammo expended.

          • Mazryonh

            SMGs getting less scores than semi-auto PCCs? If it was indeed the case, then it’s likely the reason Kriss Vector was made (to bring burst fire back into line with semi-auto). Did you try the burst setting, assuming the SMGs available had it?

            I’m strongly of the opinion that 10mm SMGs be given another chance. Expansion of pistol caliber ammo is more reliable than fragmentation of 5.56mm NATO (especially across a variety of barrel lengths), and even if it doesn’t expand, you still have a wider hole than would be inflicted if the 5.56mm NATO round didn’t expand. Did you have any opportunity to work with SMGs in that caliber?

          • 1911a145acp

            All SMGs were fired full auto. A mix of realistic paper targets and steel knock down tgts, were calibrated to fall for MAJOR power factor (Pepper Poppers, falling plates,etc.) Ranges from 5 ft to 60 yards. I will concede some of the performance attributed to operator skill and training. A good shooter w/ a Marlin camp carbine in 45 acp Humbled MANY SMGs. AR platforms in 45 acp and 9mm SEMI-AUTO with GOOD TRIGGERS, performed well, HK 94 in 9mm performed well. 45 acp starts bigger than 10mm/40 cal., recoils less, cost less, penetrates nearly as well, and is available in logistically well supported platforms. IT DOES NOT shoot as flat as 10mm or 9mm. IMHO .300 BLK obsolesces all pistol caliber SMGs

          • Mazryonh

            Then, the fact that the SMGs were fired full-auto is likely the reason why they were less accurate. Set them to semiauto next time and they should do at least as well as the semiauto PCCs, assuming equally-good sights/optics. Besides, burst and full-auto is really only useful for suppression and CQB ranges.

            I think you underestimate the availability of 10mm. If it became the new “military/LEO standard” round, there are two factors that could help to increase the availability. First, look at the prevalence of .40 S&W among LEO firearms. Next, remember how 10mm was the “parent cartridge” for .40 S&W and how the bullets for both are freely interchangeable between the two calibers. Changing the machines that make .40 S&W casings to add the 3mm (.40 S&W is 10x22mm in metric designations, while 10mm Auto is 10x25mm) back in shouldn’t be overly difficult either.

            As for obsolescence, pistol-caliber SMGs have a number of advantages you may not be accounting for.

            First, the .300 BLK is normally shot out of an M4 Carbine. That platform requires a buffer tube, disallowing folding or fully-telescoping stocks, unlike the MP5’s (for instance), which hurts the extent to which it can be made compact.

            Next, .300 BLK at a case length of 35mm is a bit too long to be fit into a weapon that loads from the pistol grip (like most handguns, or the venerable Uzi SMG, or the more modern Beretta Mx4 Storm SMG). You might think this is of no consequence. In actuality, a weapon that loads from the pistol grip gets a better ratio of barrel length to overall length (it can be made more compact without sacrificing barrel length) without running into the problems of bullpup firearms. If properly configured, magazines from a weapon that loads from the pistol grip can also be used in a companion handgun.

  • Mr_Langford

    SMGs are totally fine for anything at or under 70 yards. They’re not obsolete, they’re just a specialized close-in weapon.

    • Mazryonh

      An effective range of 70 yards isn’t true for all pistol calibers loaded into SMGs, though. It all depends on the kind being used.

  • Alex C.

    Wow, thanks again for the responses gentlemen! I had no idea that the “PDW Revolution” was such a hotly debated topic among the gun community. I do believe that a test is in order to see how these new low grain, high speed rounds compare against 5.56 and various pistol rounds 🙂

    • bbmg

      What criteria are you going to use in order to compare the various rounds?

      I would not only compare ballistic aspects like penetration depth but also accuracy in a simulated combat situation at various ranges.

      • Alex C.

        Oh I am sure I would use a smattering of criteria and weapons. Ballistics gel, penetrating body armor, weight, accuracy, and barrel length. For example I would use a Five seveN pistol, ps90 SBR, and a regular P90 to see how much of a difference it makes.

    • Frank James

      Be sure and include cost as a factor in these comparisons; otherwise it won’t be ‘real’ world.

    • 1911a145acp

      Should have been written on a bloody sweatshirt….

  • Is the 5.7×28 round also referred to as a 6mm round?

    • Mazryonh

      No, it’s considered part of the 5mm caliber “family.” Calibers are rounded down, not up, when considering what “family” they belong to.

  • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

    In a vid linked below, Ripley shows a Five-seveN shooting an SS198 through level 3 + 20 layers of kevlar. Pretty impressive. One can wonder how the P90 can make…

    OTOH, the PDW, as I see it, should be a wep light/compact enough as the users will ‘wear’ it all the time, so it will be available when needed. A ‘crap’ wep in your hand is much better than a .50 HMG 100 yards away – or at least will help you to fire through these 100 yards and get your hands on the HMG! If the wep is too bulky/heavy, the user will, more often than not, leave it nearby or even completely forget about it and let it in his/her locker.

    It seems police/bodyguards like these over SMG due to the very high speed of the projo, which makes expanding bullets more effective. Calibre is small, but so is the M4. You can have a wep with deeper mag and lower weight, all in a more compact wep.

    Concerns about overpenetration apply only to state vs. state, where stupid AND outdated laws bar expansive bullets, which would be far more humane and effective than FMJ.

    About subsonic ammo effectiveness: .45Auto, .40SW and 9×19 all have both larger calibre AND heavier rounds than subsonic 5.x weps. Subsonic means MV at or very close to 1000fps. So, the rifle/PDW gives up the only edge they do have over hangun calibres, external ballistics. As the distances mentioned are CQB, the MV difference is of no concern – the projo will cover the gap faster than a heartbeat. The wider projos cause bigger wounds, thus being more effective.

  • Nicholas Chen

    As a proponent fir the KRISS Vector, I would say that a Vectir SMG has a very useful role. Even the Civilian version. I have yet to build up my pistol handling skills to match the speed at which I can run my KRISS Vector during a match.