Top 5 Submachine Guns

The submachine gun is falling quickly into obsolescence, but they still fill a few important roles and are incredibly fun to shoot. In this episode of TFBTV, we look at the top 5 best sub-guns factoring in historical significance and effectiveness. We also had to have some honorable mentions as it would be sinful to leave them out.

Featured firearms:

  • MP40
  • Thompson
  • Walther MPL
  • UZI
  • HK MP5
  • M10 (“Mac 10”)
  • Swedish K or M/45 (MK760)
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Thanks to our Sponsors Ventura Munitions & Grizzly Targets.

This video is subtitled in Russian and Japanese. Thanks Val and Osamu. The english transcription follows …

– Hey guys this is Alex and Patrick at you with another TFBTV top five.

Today’s top five is top five best SMGs.

SMGs are probably my favorite guns to shoot because they have low recoil, ammunition’s cheap, easy to keep on target. – Relatively cheap.

– Yeah, relatively cheap.

And they’re just overall barrels of fun.

– They are, they are.

– So, what we have are actually more than five because we included some honorable mentions.

More than five SMGs that are close to our hearts.

– Yes, we just couldn’t shun the last two.

– We couldn’t, we almost wanted to factor the last two in and pay them some lip service because of how important they are and how fun they are. – Yes.

– So without any further ado how about we kick it off with the Thompson, and we’ll just do the Thompson and the MP40 together.

Let you take the old MP40 there.

– Gladly. – Okay.

And I guess I’m stuck with the Thompson.

I say that kind of humorously but I do prefer the MP40 to the Thompson from a purely fun factory point of view.

But, the Thompson is obviously more of an iconic firearm, I think.

– It is.

I don’t know.

I don’t know, I think this might be more iconic.

In America, that’d be more iconic.

– True.

– But, I think this would be more iconic worldwide.

– That’s very possible, I don’t know though, the Thompson is iconic in its own right, they’re both iconic guns.

When I think of a machine gun, though, my mind immediately jumps to the image of a, the silhouette of a Thompson.

They’re both very important, the Thompson one of the first SMGs, along with the Bergmann MP18.

This employs some of the elements of the Bergmann, including the telescoping firing pin that makes the gun just a joy to shoot.

Like I said it’s a much more fun gun to shoot, this has a higher rate of fire though, so if I came around a corner and saw a bunch of bad guys, you know, trying to take… – Yes, but, keepin’ that one on target isn’t as easy as keeping this one on target.

– Well, I mean, you have to be somewhat manly to control the 45ACP cartridge, and…

– You can’t do either, shut up.

– And it does have a steeper learning curve, the gun is, the stock is lower, and it is…

– It does wanna rise.

– It does wanna rise a lot more than the MP40.

That’s in part because the grade and the cartridge, of course.

But… – Yes.

– Also this gun’s much heavier.

Probably about two pounds heavier.

– At least. – Yeah.

Also fold the stock on that and show ’em that the…

– This is something that I think that the MP40 has advantage.

– Yeah, now some of the earlier Thompsons, not the M1s, not the military service ones, typically had a detachable stock.

But, a folding stock that retains the stock is always better than a stock that simply detaches.

So, you do have an advantage there, and in weight, and in maximum amount of cartridges you can carry, just because the…

– Right, now this is something else that, you know what I mean, it’s just not as good looking of a gun but, you know.

– You’re talking the MP40’s not as good looking? – No.

– No, it’s definitely not an attractive firearm but that doesn’t matter, you know? – As long as it works – Yeah.

– As long as it works.

– Aesthetics comes second to mostly everything in military applications of firearms.

– Yeah.

– But these are both fantastic guns and rightfully, they were placed in the top five.

– Yes.

– It’s great we have one European design and one American design, so…

– And I mean, honestly, kinda going through them, you know, just in terms of importance, these are kind of one and two.

– Yeah.

– I’ll say a draw for first.

– Yeah, you know, it’s kinda crazy, here I am holding my American Thompson submachine gun in America, wearing a shirt with like, an M1 garand clip but I’m also saying I prefer to shoot the MP40s, so, you know, take that as you will.

But, they’re both fun, they’re both awesome, they’re both good guns, and they both rightfully earned a place in the top five SMGs.

– Yes.

– So, let’s move on.

Patrick, I believe this next one’s actually one of your favorites.

– It is, I’ll hand you the MP40 back real quick.

– Sure.

– It is.

It’s kind of an obscure gun though, unfortunately.

– Unfortunately it never really took off.

It was adopted in service by the Mexican marines, I believe.

Also by some units in Turkey and whatnot.

From what some viewers have actually emailed me.

We have done a video on this gun and the MP40. – We did.

– You can click the link that’s popped up on the screen if you wanna watch the MPL video.

Which was actually, I think, our first shooting video.

– It was the, no, it was our first video that we shot for TFBTV period, I think.

– Yeah, as a joint, yeah, as a team, yeah.

For sure.

It’s a really cool gun, guys.

Just the handling characteristics are not, show ’em how the stock doesn’t have any wobble.

For being a… – Well, I mean.

For a wire stock, it’s…

– It’s pretty bullet proof.

– Super, super tight.

– You can also use the front as a fore grip.

I don’t know if they intended to do that.

– I don’t think that that was intended.

– It can be done.

– It can be, it wouldn’t be my choice.

– No.

And you’d think that the fore grip, or sorry, the front end of the gun would get very hot, but actually, it doesn’t at all. – No, it doesn’t.

And I think that has a lot to do with it being a nine millimeter.

– Yeah, and it’s got what I would call a forward assist, and you think, well, why does an open bolt submachine gun have a forward assist? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s really a forward assist.

I think it’s in case a cartridge doesn’t extract or gets stuck in the chamber.

That way, you can force the bolt closed and then pull the cartridge out.

– And to engage that, you kinda, you bring it back and you push it in, and…

– Yeah.

– So, but all in all, this is a great gun.

I mean, it’s light, it’s handy.

I really think it should have got a lot more, it should have a lot more doctrines than it did.

But, I mean, even shouldering it, you know, the sight range, where you’ve got a gutter right up at the top, and a peep sight below really is pretty outstanding.

– It was one of the last, it was kind of the death rattle of the open bolt SMG.

It was one of the last open bolt SMGs that gave it that concept of huzzah, you know? – Right.

– ‘Cause the MP5 took off and just killed that whole deal.

There’s not many out there today that, nobody starts and says, you know what, I’m gonna design an open bolt submachine gun from the ground up these days. – No, no.

It’s kind of a dead concept at this point.

But, I mean, really, it is kind of a treat.

I think it’s, you know, kind of a forgotten gun that really should have been a little more prevalent than it was.

– Yeah.

Yup, you know, had that gun come out about five years earlier, which, I believe it came out in ’63.

– Something like that.

– Somewhere around there.

And if it would have come out much farther before the MP5, it might have been more successful, but it was too close to the MP5, so, so it wasn’t.

But, movin’ on down the line, we’ve got one that everyone will recognize.

That’s gonna be the Uzi – Go ahead and reach over there.

– It’s gonna be the Uzi nine millimeter.

Of course, the Uzi was offered in other calibers, as well, like 41, and there’s caliber conversions for all sorts of crazy things.

But, you know, the Uzi’s a fantastic submachine gun that fires from the open bolt.

– And I think everything up to this point, well, everything up to this point…

– Yeah, everything is fired from the open bolt up to this point.

That was really one of the definitive moments of the SMG evolution, was going from open to closed bolt.

While there were closed bolt submachine guns early on, they never caught on until a really nice one was made. – Right.

– Not the rising.

– No, that thing’s kind of poop.

– Yeah, so anyways, the Uzi’s very iconic, it’s very controllable, for years and years, this was the benchmark of what an SMG should be.

Even the United States secret service used them to protect the president. – They did.

– Ronald Regan was…

– There’s that famous, you know, photo of the secret service agent extending the stock from under his jacket. – Right.

When Ronald Reagan was shot, the agent opened a Samsonite briefcase and pulled out one of these.

And then of course, you’ve got your folding stock that deploys very easily and very quickly.

But, you can also fire it one handed and very controllably.

Now, the Uzi also made use of a check innovation called a telescoping bolt, and to demonstrate that, can you hold up the MP40, Patrick? – I surely can.

– The MP40 does not have a telescoping bolt.

Now, a telescoping bolt means that a certain portion of the bolt overlaps with the barrel.

And if you wanna show ’em the size difference, this is the difference between a telescoping bolt and not having a telescoping bolt.

You’re really puttin’ a lot of length on the table by having a bolt that doesn’t wrap around at least a portion of the barrel, so.

– Right.

– This is when SMGs started getting really, really compact is when the advent of the telescoping bolt came with the CZ submachine guns in the late ’40s, early ’50s.

– But, even this.

– Yeah, that gun’s kind of an enigma.

– It really is. – It doesn’t really have a true telescoping bolt ’cause it doesn’t wrap, but it does have a large portion of the bolt that kind of goes on top of the, you know. – Well, it’s kind of a…

– Yeah.

But the size difference between this and an MP40 or a Thompson is great.

Very noticeable and this is easy to keep on target ’cause the cyclic rate’s is very low, and it’s a joy to shoot.

– It is, and I believe that the Israelis start new shooters out on the Uzis. – That’s what I’ve always heard, as well, yeah.

– I’ve heard that, I don’t know if that, that to be accurate.

– Still true or not.

It’s also got a bunch of different safety features, for example, you didn’t rack the bolt all the way, so it got caught in the ratcheting top cover.

It’s also got a grip safety like a 1911.

And a regular manual safety, so it’s a very safe firearm.

– Yeah, you can hear that ratcheting right there.

– You can hear the ratcheting mechanism there, which is cool.

You know, we’d do a video review on the Uzi if you guys asked, but there’s so much video of this gun that it’s…

– Yeah. – We wouldn’t.

– I mean, if you guys wanna see it, I’ll gladly go out and shoot it.

– We’ll call…

– Call our friends over at Ventura Munitions and ask ’em for some nine.

– Hey, we need some Uzi ammo, and I’m sure Ventura would send us all kinds of Uzi ammo, so.

– Oh, yeah.

You know, check them out if you’re in need of ammo.

– Yeah, they would definitely hook us up as they have been doing, so.

That’s cool, anyways, that’s enough lip service to the Uzi, great gun.

– Sure.

– Common rental gun in ranges in the United States.

– Yeah, it’s just tough to kill ’em.

– Yeah.

They run, parts are cheap, too.

So, if you’re in the market for a sub gun, parts are very available, parts kits are cheap, you can build a semi auto for very inexpensively.

Or you can buy a semi auto for about eight, $900, so.

– I’m gonna leave that extended.

– Extended.

Next one is what many, myself included, consider the king of SMGs.

Now, that is the AK MP5.

The MP5 was truly revolutionary.

It was the product of a development project known as project 64, making last year the 50th anniversary of the MP5.

It sacrificed some length to have a non-telescoping closed bolt that functions via roller glide bowl back, which means incredible accuracy.

And if there’s one gun that’s generally synonymous with the good guys these days in law enforcement and some, you know, military.

– It’s this gun right here.

– Yeah.

The protection details, that’s the MP5.

– And I think it’s going away in terms, you know, more in favor of a Caribbean arrangement.

But, you know, up until about maybe five, six years ago, this was the good guy gun, period.

– Yeah, even today, people say things like, well, I’d rather have an SBR, and I say, yeah, I would generally rather have an SBR, but the thing is a suppressed two two three SBR.

I mean… – It’s louder than this is.

– It’s loud, it’s very loud, and…

– We’ve shot this side by side with a suppressed 22 and it’s been roughly the same…

– It’s about the same.

– You know. – But, with this, you can throw a 158 grains subsonic.

Now, subsonic two two three, first of all, won’t cycle your AR 15, generally.

– No.

– And it’s also gonna be very, very low bullet weight.

– It’s essentially, you know, a 22 long rifle kinda thing.

– It is a 22 long rifle with a better, you know, slightly better ballistics, but. – Right.

– With a suppressed SMG, which is where they still kind of have some relevance, a lot of people say they’re obsolete, I partially agree, but suppressed, especially a 45 SMG, they really shine.

Now let’s get on to the honorable mentions because they’re two really cool guns.

This is actually an MK760, which is a copy of the Smith and Wesson 76, which is a copy of the Swedish K slash also known as the M45.

The Swedes did a really good job designing the Swedish K submachine gun, aka the M45 Gustav, and we bought a bunch of them for Vietnam.

Now, when the Swedes said, we don’t like you doing what you’re doing in Vietnam, we’re not gonna sell any to you, we said, okay.

So, Smith and Wesson designed the 76.

Now, they were popular because when you come out of the water, since they are open bolt and they’re very well ventilated, water drains out of ’em in, I mean, I wanna say about a second or so.

– It’s not even, yeah, it’s very, very quick.

– I know that, I even had a reader contact me who worked for something like the coast guard in New York, and he said they still use these around New York city harbor and stuff.

– Really? – Because they’re not susceptible to water, yeah.

Or, not as susceptible to water.

Which is very cool, they’re very good guns, they’re stout and well made, especially the Swedish variants.

The MK760 sometimes run into a few issues.

Smith and Wesson 76 is made a little better, but still.

Very cool guns.

– Yeah, still a little bit rattly, but you know, I mean…

Kinda is what it is.

– Yeah, they slipped a bunch of these in before the 86 cut off, that’s why you see so many MK760s.

Irvine MK760s.

So, very cool gun.

Last one, the gun that made the ’80s roar.

That’s gonna be the MAC 10.

Now, this MAC 10’s been heavily modified.

This has got a lage slow fire upper and an a sidefolder on it.

But, in stock configuration, they’re just a barrel of fun because they fire so quickly that you can almost empty an entire magazine before the first shell casing hits the ground.

– Yeah, I mean, it’s almost comically fast.

– Yeah, and an M11 A1, a 380 version, is a very small gun that you can fit, you can almost concealed carry, not that I would.

Well actually, for our concealed carry video, most guys said, if you don’t carry a full size, full capacity magazine gun, you’re not very well protected.

Well, I’d say if you don’t carry a MAC 10 or a MAC 11, I mean, how protected can you say you are? – I don’t know. – Yeah.

– I think one of our viewers commented that he would like to carry the USS Nimitz, but…

– Yeah.

– It was a little less manageable.

– Of course, I’m kidding, and I think that’s great.

But the MACs are great.

There’s also a really cool book about these called The MacMan about Gordon Ingram designing these and whatnot, and they’re just a lot of fun to shoot.

They’re hard to control and they take a learning curve to master.

– Yes, they do.

Well, the slow fire operates fairly, you know, easy, it’s easier to shoot.

– This was Davy’s first submachine gun here, so I did everything I could to make it competitive, and, like sub gun matches and things like that.

And being an open bolt gun is still hard to compete with the MP5, guys, but I’ve seen guys do it.

Richard Lage, who owns the company that manufactures this upper, basically kicks everyone’s ass with one.

– Yeah. – So.

Keep on keepin’ on what you’re doin’.

– No kiddin’.

– And…

– And then one really cool thing about that is there are caliber conversions for them, there are replacement uppers.

Then you can go so far as to make it a, well, I guess it would be an assault rifle, then.

– Yeah, they’re also the cheapest.

Yeah, there is a two two three upper.

They’re also the cheapest SMG on the market, which is cool so if you’re interested in a first SMG or a first machine gun, maybe look at a MAC 10 or 11.

– Yes. – It’s easy to say like, oh well, it’s a MAC 10, that’s kind of a garbage gangster gun, but…

– No, I mean, I think that they’re good guns for, you know, the price point that they’re at on the marketplace.

I think they’re, you know, five to $6,000 at this point.

– All those ’80s drug runners couldn’t have been wrong.

Except legally, of course.

But, anyways, guys, this is a whole table full of fun here.

We really enjoy these guns.

All of them are military weapons.

But, they are civilian legal, which is cool, so.

On that, I think we’ll lead out of the video.

We’d like to thank, again, Ventura Munitions for providing ammo for our upcoming videos on this stuff.

Also, Grizzly Targets, sending us some AR 500 to shoot, so we’ll be able to kinda show the knock and the pings.

– It’ll be kinda nice to go ahead and shoot something other than dirt clods.

– Yeah, and you know, whatever we throw out there.

But, anyways guys, we appreciate you watching TFBTV.

Also, if you’d hit that subscribe button, it would really help us out.

I know it’d make Patrick happy.

– Yeah, always.

– Yeah, anyways, thanks again.

– If you don’t subscribe, I’m gonna bill ya five dollars.

– Yeah, I don’t know about that.

But, anyways, thanks guys, and we hope to see you next time.

Alex C.

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


  • TheNotoriousIUD

    John McClane knows best.

    • Uniform223

      Yippie Ki-yay!!



  • Darkpr0

    I feel like SMGs would have somewhat of a recurrence if pistol-calibre rounds were allowed to undergo some sort of development. The P90’s 5.7mm had a good shot at it, but the politics surrounded it sort of put the kibosh on the attempt. There has been some experimentation with stuff like the Magpul PDR in everyone’s favourite 5.56 calibre, but I feel like even bullpup PDW/SMGs have barrel lengths resulting in a ton of blast and not being terribly user-friendly. I think if pistol calibres ever get some designs that are younger than 100 years we may see a resurgence in pistol-calibre SMGs.

    Also, the PPSh-41 is a hilariously fun SMG that fires a firehawk of a round. If you can find one, shoot it and then call your doctor for a smile-ectomy.

    Edit: I am bad at words.

    • One thing I’ve been wondering for a while, is why on Earth sabots haven’t become popular for pistol calibers?

      All the major technical difficulties of sabots don’t really apply to the handgun platform and its ammunition, leaving only minor stuff like twist rate, etc.

      Seems to me that a sabot “full caliber” pistol round could achieve the same thing rounds like 5.7×28 aim to achieve, with much less flash and blast and greater efficiency. A total win/win for pistols.

      • Tom

        My understanding (okay something I once read and I can not recall where) is that sabots do not play well with suppressors which means you would loose one of the advantages of SMGs. Of course (assuming this is the case and I am not sure I believe it) you would still have a very short weapons with less muzzle blast than a SBR.

        • I think that’s surmountable, looking at some of the AAI flechette firing prototypes with sophisticated muzzle devices.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The .223 Timbs wildcat was pointed out to me by iksnilol, helpful fellow that he is, it uses the 7.62 Tok case to fire saboted .224 bullets. It’s quite compact also.

          • iksnilol

            You could just have rods in the suppressor that prevent the sabot from opening too early. Like the Salvo 12 shotgun suppressor.

        • Darkpr0

          If you want a suppressor and you are using a saboted 9mm round, you would probably just stick an actual 9mm bullet in it. A subsonic saboted round would be crazy long to chamber in a pistol.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I think the point of the suppressor would be to dampen the noise of supersonic sabot rounds. Otherwise, it would be easier to just use standard pistol bullets, as you describe.

          • Tom

            A very good point. But of course we should use 10mm auto or .30 Mauser loaded insanely hot:)

          • Darkpr0

            More power, Scotty!

          • Southpaw89

            The Russians loaded a hot .30 Mauser and called it the 7.62×25

      • Darkpr0

        I have also wondered about the sabot question. I’ve always been interested rifle sabots, but the question of pistol sabots is just as good. I have heard legends of people taking CZ52s and saboting 22 calibre bullets into the cases for insane velocity, but nobody has produced much first-hand evidence for me to find. I’d love to try it, but I can’t reload x25. Yet…

        • Adam

          Apart from Mr Reed…. you can find him and his website pretty easy…

      • Tassiebush

        It’d be very interesting to see an ammo improvement like that developed or perhaps a hotly loaded lighter bullet with penetrator core?
        It could spur development of new but relatively conventional subgun models building on established features like constant recoil, telescoping bolts and economy/simplicity features like fixed firing pins (lighter too). I’m sure it could carve out a niche in PDW roles based on price.

      • gunsandrockets

        Same thing applies to the old ‘cookie-cutter’ bullet like PMC once made.

        Why not popular? The military isn’t interested in pistol cartridges and in the civilian market in the U.S. was killed by the moral panic over so-called “cop killer bullets”.

      • n0truscotsman

        Everytime somebody brings up “sabots” in small arms, I immediately think of the CBJ 6.5

        More data is definitely needed. I’ve been dying of curiosity for more information about that round for about a decade now.

      • noob

        I am interested to know, what are the technical difficulties that are showstoppers for rifle caliber sabots? Is it the danger area around the muzzle where the sabot petals can lethally impact things that are off to the side of the target? High gas pressure blowing by the sabot? Barrel wear from incorrect sabot material choice?

        I recall that some muzzle loaders who do low pressure black powder load .45 sabots (with subcaliber bullets, not fin stabilized). Do they do okay? Can we use those sabots to make 5.56mm projectiles fit into 10mm auto cases? I’ve seen some threads on glocktalk about .224 in 10mm using home made delrin sabots but no commercial loadings.

        • Darkpr0

          Saboted rounds often have difficulty stabilizing properly because their mass placement is totally different than a full calibre round. The petals will frequently cause problems with muzzle devices and suppressors because without the barrel keeping pressure on them it’ll open prematurely. I wouldn’t expect them to be lethal, they’d be more like shotgun wads than anything. I would expect very little barrel wear as most sabots are polymer which really won’t put any wear onto steel. It’s possible that a different sabot material may be used to give the rifling better grip on it to spin it up. It may also not need it since there is much less resistance from spinning up a thin bullet than a wide one. They’ll also usually have more blast. Imagine 9mm Dillon, and then add some to that for 224-10mm.

          One of the biggest challenges of sabots is just making them. The ones that people usually think of like Rem Accelerators are injection-molded polymer. They can be made cheaply and quickly. The problem is that polymer does not like to keep consistent dimensions, and frequently warps. And it doesn’t take much warpage to get something as sensitive as a bullet to do stuff you don’t want it to do. If one side contracts a little more than the other in the mold, your bullet isn’t centered in your bore. That’s gotta be good for accuracy. If the front cooled a little more, now it’s off kilter inside the bore. The bullet’s position has to be very carefully controlled, and that’s something doesn’t bode well. The commercial market demands affordability, and this is something that’s tough to do right at an affordable price.

    • CommonSense23

      Two things have pretty much put a the final nails in the coffin for SMGs for anything but really low vis ops.. Intergrated communication and ear pro, and the .300BLK. The .300BLK is pretty much going to retire the MP5SD in SOCOM the next couple years. And with headsets like peltors the blast of a SBR in a small room isn’t a issue it was in the past.

      • hikerguy

        I do think the supressed .300 round is the future, but I believe the 9mm will still hang on for a while longer in certain applications. If the Magpul PDR had been developed past vaporware it would have been a devil with this round.

      • Darkpr0

        300BLK is not a great option for forces which do not have a lot of 5.56 rifles in service. Police forces in particular have a certain love for supercompact firearms. Canadian SWAT teams might as well be branded H&K with the amount of MP5s in service.

        • CommonSense23

          Look at the FBI HRT, they moved from their MP5/10s to the SBR for a variety of reasons. Yeah a lot of forces still use the MP5, and it works well but you don’t see many these days buying the platform new. As for overall size. My MK18 wasn’t that much bigger than my MP5 and it had a lot more versatility.

    • KestrelBike

      Maybe pdws in a less peppy caliber like 300blk?

  • No Jati-Matic?


    • Hokum

      I would also add Spectre M4 and Vz.61 if you decided to went all old school )

      at least you could throw some P90 or Steyr TMP…

      No KRISS Super V?


      • Sianmink

        P90 isn’t a SMG though.

        • Collin Edmond

          How is a P90 not a submachine gun?

          • Doom

            Id call it a sub machine gun, But people call it a PDW since it has a specially designed round made for it instead of just shooting a normal pistol round like 9, .40, or .45acp

          • iksnilol

            I consider it s submachine gun. Then again I consider stuff like short barreled AKs and ARs SMGs aswell.

            Simply put, it is a small machinegun (sub).

          • Sianmink

            Basically what doom said. 5.7 wasn’t designed as a pistol round.

          • Collin Edmond

            But the Five-SeveN was built in conjunction with the P90, so is that not a pistol? In that regard the MP7 would not be an SMG since it fires a similar rifle shaped (albeit small) cartridge. I feel it’s pretty common to classify a P90 as an SMG. PDW is a cross-genre term; it applies as well.

          • Sianmink

            The Five-SeveN was brought in 8 years after the P90. the 5.7×28 round was designed and optimized for a 10″ barrel. PDW is as you say a cross-genre term, but SMG is not. for the same reasons, I wouldn’t consider the MP7 or the HoneyBadger to be a SMG, despite them having the same role and utility as one.

    • Vitsaus

      I am in full agreement regarding the Jati-Matic

    • “Hey, maybe we should include a shoulder stock?”

      What a strange element of the design. I have seen some prototype stocks for them, but I have no idea why they were not standard in the box as a detachable option (at the very least).

      • Tassiebush

        Gosh I didn’t realize they didn’t include a stock! What a massive oversight!

        • iksnilol

          “Do you think they’ll notice? – nah, it’s just the stock, not like it is getting used or anything”

          -exchange that must have happened, and miraculously nobody got fired.

    • Red Dawn 1985—The Russian Spetsnaz commander carried one on his hip!

  • Wolfgar

    Do you know of any source for original MAC -10 9mm bolts and magazines? They are fun bullet hoses but finding quality replacement bolts and magazines for the original 9mm MAC’s has been difficult. I have also heard the Finish Suomi is a great SMG incorporating constant recoil but I have never shot one to compare to the modern SMG’s. Another great video!

  • David

    No Sterling?

    • Tom

      The cynic in me thinks the title might be more accurate if it were the five best X that we have access to. As enviable as we might all be of Alex’s collection I am sure he can not get hold of every thing he might want to.

      If nothing else the Sterling’s service with the Galactic Empire means it deserves a spot 🙂

      • PaulG

        My like had something to do with your SW linkage.

    • I have fired Sterlings and they are fine guns, but I would not place them in my top 5.

      • I love the Sterling, honestly.

        • Mazryonh

          Are you a Star Wars fan, by any chance? Given the live-fire conversions of guns made to resemble the M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens, surely someone has already made a live-fire conversion of a Sterling SMG to become an “E-11 Blaster Rifle.” It shouldn’t take much more than a 10-round Sterling magazine, a scope on the top, and some “cooling tubes” mounted on the barrel shroud.

    • Adam Jones

      For the magazine I would say so, ask the curators at the small arms collection in Warminster.

  • Llewellyn Franks

    The future of “true” SMGs lies in rounds like 9×21 Gyurza and the russian overpressure rounds. Exhibiting reasonable AP characteristics while having terminal effects like much larger and hotter rounds. When are we going to cut the crap and recognize the P90/MP7 as advanced SMGs instead of their own catagory?

    • hikerguy

      As with anything else these days, I would have to say “PDW” was a marketing ploy. It was the “Latest New Weapon” and probably not have garnered as much attention (which they still didn’t) if it was just promoted as the latest SMG. Their cost, often as much if not more than most service carbines and rifles, defeated the concept of a low cost compact armor piercing weapon for non-combatants and special forces.
      There are many arsenals with submachine guns that with 9mm high pressure/armor piercing cartridges would still make them relevant weapons for non-combatants.

  • Joe

    Top 5

    1. MP7
    2. MP7
    3. MP7
    4. MP7
    5. MP7

    Man that was a hard decision.

    • SP mclaughlin

      If you have an MP7, feel free to show us.

      • Joe

        Sadly, I don’t own an MP7 or any subguns for that matter, Im more of a 5.56 MG fan and .308 MG fan, eventually I’ll send some photos in of my M60 to the TFB. I did get to see a guy shoot an MP7 in person once, from my perspective the gun had basically no recoil and damn can they shoot quick.

        • MartinWoodhead

          The sterling was the sten built properly hilariously over engineered for a 9mm smg.
          Giving remfs assualt rifles or sbrs removed the reason to issue smgs they were never getting pdws anyway.

    • iksnilol

      MP7? You mean that glorified varmint pistol? I’d rather have an MP5 than an MP7. Sure, it is controllable but the ammo is underpowered and rarer than hens teeth (and trust me, I have seen both hens teeth and the MP7).

  • So boys, I’ve been looking around in the comment section, and I see that some people are commenting that SMG’s are “A thing of the past”. I think know an idea or two that will bring new live into SMG’s.

    1.) Make them spew acid.
    2.) Make then spew fire
    3.) Make them spew electricity

    What more could you ask for?

    • Southpaw89

      Someone’s been playing Borderlands

      • You know it! Love that game!

        But seriously, there must be a few things that would keep SMG’s from becoming obsolete. I don’t know what they would be, but I’m sure there’s something.

        • Southpaw89

          While I don’t expect SMGs to be breathing fire anytime soon, I don’t expect them to become completely obsolete, the PDW concept seem to have some merit, and I have no doubt that due to their simple design they will continue to be the improvised weapon of choice for resistance/insurgent/cartel organizations for years to come. Their small size and ease of fabrication should maintain their popularity with groups who operate under the radar without the support of a dedicated industry to provide them with weaponry. And yes, I’ve spent a few too many hours playing borderlands myself.

          • Are PDW’s really a gun type in in of themselves? Like, is it:Pistol, Rifle, SMG, PDW? Because they just seem to be really beefed-up SMG’s.

            And I also agree that SMG’s have a likelihood of staying around for a while. Sometimes you just need to send a lot of lead out, immediately.

            P.S. You wouldn’t have happened to beat the quest “Demon Hunter” yet, would ya?

          • Southpaw89

            A while back I read something suggesting that the PDW was more of a concept for a firearm than a type, it was one that could be carried like a handgun but could penetrate light body armor, and had full auto or burst fire capabilities, not really a firearm type but it seems to fit somewhere between SMG and machine pistols in description. As for Demon Hunter, had to look it up to remember what it was, I remember jumping to avoid the shockwaves, a lot of running, and shoot at the open mouth, it’s been a while since Borderlands, been playing more Sniper Elite and Bad Company lately.

          • iksnilol

            I always considered it the other way around. The PDW is a beefed down SMG using lightweight AP ammo to penetrate armor and offer flatter trajectory.

    • iksnilol

      I was thinking a short barreled rifle underslung. Something like an AR pistol without buffer tube slung under the barrel on a MP5SD would be perfect. You have your quiet cheap option, and you have your loud cheap option.

      It could work.

      • Budogunner

        That was supposed to be the point of .300 BLK. Super quiet subsonic loads to full power loads in one weapon with just a magazine change.

        • iksnilol

          Yeah, but my idea has way more compatibility. No new ammo needed. Though you can already do that with 7.62×39. Just get an adjustable gas block and tune it to work with subs and supersonics.


          I hope you realize I am joking with the underslung AR idea. I even made a mockup of how silly it would be.

          • Budogunner

            The reverse has been done. There are under barrel pistol mounts for Glocks, for example. You could run a suppressor on that and have your standard AR at the ready.

            From what I recall, no amount of marketing could make the user not look like a tool so it kind of flopped in the LEO world. Civilians could buy the adapter only if they registered their pistol as an SBR, which didn’t go over well either.

          • iksnilol

            I have heard of those, though I wanted to be a bit ridicilous (and PimpMyGun doesn’t have pistols).

    • Budogunner

      SMGs aren’t Pokémon.

      • A good thing to remember about me, is that 85% of my comments are either bad jokes or references. The other 15% are usually questions. Also, you have to admit, an acidic gun sounds pretty friggin’ dope, at least, in my humble opinion it does.

        • noob

          I had an idea when I was a preteen for a paintball gun that shot glass balls full of white phosphorus. Then I played with a real paintball gun and saw the paint on my hands from balls that had been chopped by the bolt due to incomplete loading (sort of like a double feed malfunction). If the paint had been something dangerous, I would have been dead.

          Years after that I saw the FN303 which uses a rotary carousel magazine which indexes each round with the precision of a revolver’s cylinder, eliminating the bolt chop issues. I hear their pepper balls have been used successfully in riot control as a long range tear agent dispenser, until somebody shot a girl in the eye and killed her.

          Her name was Victoria Snelgrove.

  • KestrelBike

    Submachine guns would be hot s*** if not for NFA and the fat cat collectors keeping it in place (that last part is a joke… Or is it!!)

  • Micki

    Where do you stand on the Beretta PM12 and the CZs?

    • I have a CZ26 and it is wildly mediocre. The M12s are not as nice as the MPL in my opinion.

  • It’s also fun to shoot. High rate of fire for sure. I had the opportunity to shoot one back in the mid 80’s.

    • Tassiebush

      Must have been very enjoyable!

  • nobody

    Probably because they can’t trust a grunt not to lose the small piston.

    • They trust them with firing pin retaining pins, extractor pins, and so on.

      • CommonSense23

        But they don’t trust them to change out their own gas rings.

    • Tom

      If a grunt can not be trusted to maintain his own weapon he has no business being issued it in the first place.

  • knightofbob

    No vz. 61?

  • John

    What, no P90?

  • DW

    I would like to know why PPsh41/sumoi/PPS43 were not on the list.

  • Pete Sheppard

    GREASE GUN!!! You had to draw the line somewhere, though. The PPsH could also be a ‘Top 10’ gun

  • Esh325

    While it’s certainly true smg’s don’t have the role they once did, but honestly I’ve heard people saying for years that submachine guns becoming obsolete, yet I still see new smg’s being designed and being issued to military and police forces all around the world.

  • CommonSense23

    It will go longer than 500 rounds before stopping.

    • I’m sure. However just like your car can go 6,000 miles without changing the oil when the manufacturer says change it at 3,000 you probably should maintain your weapon properly… by taking it to an armorer unfortunately.

      • CommonSense23

        It definitely doesn’t require a armorer to clean the piston. I will be shooting one in a couple days, will see how many rounds I can get before it starts malfunctioning.

  • gunsandrockets

    Ah, memories of Charlton Heston in The Omega Man make me fond of the S&W Model 76 subgun. But when I had a chance to fire one it was disappointing. Maybe it was a poor sample?

    Given a chance I would take the MP40 or Walther.

    • Budogunner

      The S&W model 76 was my first sub gun experience. I was shocked how smooth the recoil experience was. I’d love to have one of those beauties.

  • Uniform223

    I’m surprised the M3 “Grease gun” wasn’t mentioned here.

  • MrEllis

    Fun stuff, thanks.

  • Adam aka eddie d.

    Speaking of German submachine guns (although East-German) :
    Alex, Patrick, do you know anything about the WG-66?

  • M

    The hardest part of building a semi-Uzi is finding the semi auto parts for a decent price

  • Stephen Beat

    I’ll get in before any other Brits do (and I am a Brit) – and say, the STEN does NOT deserve to be on this list! I know some may feel national pride is at stake, but this would be the wrong gun to chose to make a stand on. I say this because of what my father would have said. He had to use the STEN from the hideous MK. I – during his time in the 8th Army in North Africa in WW2. He hated this piece of cheap ‘plumbing’ (as he called it). Yes, it served a purpose, and could even be called important – but no one could say it was a ‘top 5 design’. As a matter of fact, my father loved the 1928 Thompson SMG he was eventually issued.

  • MartinWoodhead

    No love for the sten and sterling classic British designs that served in the Commonwealth and George Luca’s imperial force’s 🙂

  • jcitizen

    I’ve always liked the SM11/9 subgun. It was a hoot to shoot, and you could write you name on the target, it was so controllable( with suppressor). The suppressor did a pretty good job on knocking the noise down on full velocity loads too, in fact that is all I shot in them when I went to the range. Weight is a big factor in my selection, I don’t care what anybody says. This is why I never owned an MP5; just do damn heavy. UZIs have the same problem, but now the mini-UZI is great! Too bad they are post ’86 though – that sucks! I’ll stick with the SM11/9 if I can ever get around to buying one for myself. I’ve been borrowing them long enough.

  • Mookieman

    Where can I get a T-shirt with the garand clip?

  • Adam

    NONE of them compare too an Owen for a scrub/field gun..

  • Richard Lutz

    Bullshit list. Where is the Soviet PPsh-45 and the Australian Owen? The evolution of the SMG effectively ended with the MP5 (Ludwig Vorgrimler’s brainchild). The standard MP5 is supremely versatile, while if you need something smaller just get an MP5K-PDW.

  • DaveB

    Left out the Sterling, which I think is a real shame. I loved the Sterling (or rather the Canadian C1A1 version of it) and I really miss them.

  • Kivaari

    I’ve used the Uzi, Mini-Uzi and MP5. The MP5 handles better than the Uzi’s. But both are the best SMGs made. The Kriss is a joke. I liked the Sterling, but only had a few magazines to play with. My #1 choice is the MP5A2, It was my duty gun for 14 years.

  • Adam

    $3000 in the Philippines on license , and worth every cent…

  • Tony K.

    Sterling SMG’s are pretty awesome, too.