Walther MPL Run and Gun (Full Auto)

The Walther MPL is a gun that we have showed lots of love on TFBTV, mostly because it is in our opinions an underrated SMG. This open bolt 9mm from West Germany was introduced in the early 60s and could have been a very prolific little SMG… and then the MP5 came along. That said, how will it perform on the course?

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Transcript …

(gun firing) – A daily dose of vitamin F, for full-auto, is always a good thing.

Alright, so now that we got the mag dump out of the way let’s get on with the show here.

Today’s run and gun is going to feature the Walther MPL, a gun that I’ve actually talked quite a lot about over the past year or so.

I did a Friday field trip on it a while back, so I thought I’d show it some love on the run and gun course.

These guns are really cool they go from safe to full-auto and then to single shot, so that’s one of the strange things about the MPL.

It’s a very well constructed gun.

It’s very simple.

It is a blow back operated open bullet submachine gun, not unlike the Uzi, but it has some cool things like a nice wire folding stock that’s quite nice, they’re very simple.

Here’s it fully disassembled actually for cleaning, you can remove the barrel which is also very nice, just like an Uzi.

You know, one of the first videos we ever did for TFB TV was the MPL and I thought I would show you guys basically kind of a redux here on the run and gun courses.

Which is my favorite series actually.

It’s a little self indulgent, but I hope you guys enjoy what we do there.

So as usual, with a semi or fully automatic firearm, we’re going to load three mags with 10 rounds each to allow for two magazine changes, starting at 70 yards and advancing onto the target.

So let’s see how the MPL stacks up against other guns we’ve used for this.

Alright here we go with the Walther MPL submachine gun.

First it’s gonna be semi-auto.

(gun clicks) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gun clicking) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) Alright that actually went pretty smoothly.

Let’s go talk about it.

Alright guys so that wasn’t the best run I’ve ever done, but remember this is an open bolt submachine gun.

So, it’s 70 to 75 yards when you pull the trigger.

(gun clicks) It actually sends the gun off axis pretty good, so the fact that I was able to land as many shots as I did at that distance was okay.

It got a little tighter as I moved closer and more into what I would consider I guess room to room submachine gun fighting range.

You know this is a very well built gun.

The MP5 and your later close-able submachine guns are obviously light years ahead, but still, for it’s time this was a fantastic gun and I’m gonna argue it didn’t really fall into obsolescence until the MP5 really started catching on and gathering steam, but just to see if it really outclassed this gun, let’s see how it shines on full-auto.

Alright folks, now time to switch it to auto.

(gun clicks) Not sure about this one.

(gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gunshots firing) (gun clicks) You know that actually went a little better than I would’ve thought.

Let’s go take a look.

You know guys, it might just be that I’m getting a little bit more used to this gun and using the sights especially, but that felt pretty darn good.

I’m warming up to the MPL, I’ve always liked it, however I never really considered it a serious competitor.

to even the Uzi, maybe it’s just because I’ve shot the Uzi, I dunno, probably 25,000, 30,000 rounds or through them in total.

You know I’m really warming up to the MPL.

I’ve always liked it, like I said, but I really think with enough training I could get the hang of this gun.

On full-auto it’s very controllable.

It’s a very gentle recoil and pulse.

It doesn’t have the smoothness of an MP5.

It just kind of, just wanders a little bit, which isn’t bad, it’s something you can train around.

It’s got a few nuances I don’t like, but I’ll put the totals hits versus misses on semi right here.

So all in all, not too bad.

Let’s go back to the room and finish this one up.

So 26 hits out of 30 is not too bad, especially for an early 60’s vintage open bolt submachine gun.

Really to me, what holds it back, is in fact the crude sights.

You have a very, very small aperture and it’s kinda hard to focus on that, especially when it’s a nice sunny day.

When you have low light conditions, it’s actually not bad at all.

So I think I could do better with it, especially if I shot it a whole lot more, but until that time, I think this run and gun showed that even though this is open bolt it’s still quite capable.

I think I could improve if I shot it a lot more, like I said, I would like to have some more magazines and stuff so I don’t have to painstakingly load the very hard to find mags.

But, until next time I hope you enjoyed this run and gun.

Big thanks to you for watching and big thanks to Venturamunitions for providing the ammo for this and most of our shooting videos.

We hope to see you next time.

(gunshots firing)


Alex C.

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


  • Xeno Da Morph

    That seems like a very controllable subgun. It would be interesting to compare it to more modern offerings like the MPX and the Scorpion (all full auto of course).

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Horrible video, you didnt do any rolls or shoot out from under a burning honda civic.

  • schizuki

    Now do the Beretta Model 12.

    • Dave


  • Marc

    I’d say you’ve got a serious hog problem. Where’d all the grass go? 🙂

  • Michael Mabey

    What was the hit ratio on full?

  • Vitor Roma

    The lack of recoil in full auto is great. The whole design is very sound, I don’t see how it is any inferior tu current SMGs except for the lack of a picatinny rail.

    • Open bolt.

      • Vitor Roma

        I dont see that as much of a deal. Really, the fancy kriss 9mm didnt have any less recoil than the MPL.

        • It isnt about recoil. Open bolt smgs are primitive and inferior to superior closed bolt designs.

          • George

            Uzi and Sterling and others successfully converted their basic open bolt designs to closed with strikerswithout grave effort. The MPL configuration would let you go to a hammer fired design rather than striker, just modify the bolt to have a normal floating firing pin and put a hammer mechanism in the handgrip area.

            That would be close to the Sig in layout etc.

          • iksnilol

            Eh, kinda hard to agree there.

            I mean, open bolts have better cooling and are much simpler to make.

            No offense, but precision isn’t a subgun game. So the loss of accuracy isn’t really a big deal since you won’t really use it past 200 meters (7.62×25 now) and 100-125 meters for 9mm. And those “superior” closed bolt designs aren’t really that accurate either. I mean, have you shot your MP5 from the bench at 100 meters? I doubt you’d get better than 4 MOA from it.

            Still, even with 8 MOA precision you should be able to land all the rounds on a man size target at 200 meters.

          • “precision isn’t a subgun game”
            It absolutely is. Look at police with guns like the MP5SF who often take shots at perps from 100 meters away. Saying accuracy is not important is absolutely ridiculous.

            I have shot MP5s from a bench and you would be very surprised at how accurate they are. The truth is that these days open bolt is just not the way to go in a submachine gun. You’re not going to overheat something lobbing pistol rounds so that is a non-issue. I have literally never seen an SMG cook off in all my life, at the dozens of MG shoots I have been to.

          • Micki

            It’d be interesting to see some open and closed bolt SMGs fire some benched 5-shot groups on paper at 100m. I know it would be “a sample size of one”, in each case, but it would be illustrative of their strengths and limitations.

          • iksnilol

            Alright, what precision do you get from a run of the mill MP5 compared to say an Uzi?

          • Dave

            European police use the MP5 as a 9x19mm caliber rifle precisely because it fires from a closed bolt. In fact, the Limeys completely did away with full auto so that basically some of their armed response guys and gals have a pistol-caliber SBR subcarbine. The Uzi was used in the armed forces–heil, erm hail the wehrmacht, uh, I mean the Bundeswehr, Belgium, etc. etc. and briefly by some U.S. SWAT police and, famously, the U.S. Secret Service POTUS security detail during the Reagan era…

            The sheer ubiquity of the MP5 in LE should strongly suggest that the MP5 is mo’ better than the open bolt of any kind, Uzi included, for, *ahem* police operations.

            In military operations, well, the open bolt smg has largely been superseded by rifles. And smart bombs and guided missiles and thermobaric warheads and so on. So while getting shot with a 9mm whether fired from a pistol, MP5 or Uzi is immaterial as far as wound ballistics and trauma surgery goes, it is clear that the points raised by our run n’ gun AlexC are well taken, no?

          • iksnilol

            No, not really, I’m missing the point you’re trying to make. Since again, these people use them up close (sub 100 meters). So even with crappy precision headshots shouldn’t be a problem as long as the gun itself is comfy enough to allow it quickly enough.

            The reason the Limeys did away with full auto wasn’t because the MP5 is some precision rifle, it is just that they have disdain for full auto (especially considering the danger it presents to bystanders). They prefer semi auto for their police weapons.

            Not knocking the MP5, I like them and intend to get one one day, it’s just that I don’t see this “vast superiority” that closed bolt SMGs have over open bolt ones.

          • Dave

            Police operations where lethal force is called for very, very seldom call for shots out to 100 yards. Even LE snipers shoot at closer ranges as a general rule.

            The closed bolt is inherently more accurate than the open bolt variety. Don’t take my word for it. Simply see what was and often remains in use for, *ahem* police operations. Yes, much of the MP5s commercial success stems from marketing, advertisement, and a certain notoriety or cachĂ©… The Germans sold them something. Nonetheless, the M1 carbine, the Reising, and the MP5 with closed bolts were often considered more appropriate for PD use. Yes, liability is a very big deal indeed. Yet another reason the traditional PD shotgun is largely superseded.

            Certainly military users of SMGs, not too many these days, share your appraisal that there is NBD between either.

          • iksnilol

            I know, seldom shots past 100 yards. Which is why I am arguing that the difference in precision isn’t that big of an deal. I am not disputing that closed bolt is more precise than open bolt. That’s a given considering the much longer lock time and instability of the open bolt design. Again, I am arguing that the difference isn’t important due to the short ranges that subguns are used at.

  • DIR911911 .

    being able to play with all the “toys” you do makes you one of the few that almost make me feel envy . . . but the videos help me through it 🙂

  • BattleshipGrey

    How common are these in the US and globally? I’ve seen pictures of them but even that seems rare to me.

  • Dave C

    Admirable control of the “mag dump.”

    Make mine a Carl Gustaf m/45 kpist or Tikka m/44 thankyouverymuchdankeschöntaksåmycketkiitosmuchasgraciasmercibeaucoupobrigadograzie!

  • claymore

    Please stop with the misnomers “fully auto” or “full auto”. It is a selectfire weapon with semi and AUTO or even automatic is better than the incorrect fully auto.

    The use of auto first is popular in europe like the AK. If a situation arises where you need to immediately put the firearm into action more than likely you will be needing auto fire. when you think you are going to fire at longer ranges and need semi auto then normally you have more time to make that decision and make your selection of mode.

    The long heavy bolt travel slamming into the receiver is great at reducing muzzle climb as it naturally forces the muzzle downward

    • iksnilol

      Not quite, you got it backwards.

      Auto first on AK is because of the likelihood of slamming down the selector during an adrenaline rush. Better to put it on semi auto than full auto. From personal experience with troops (not a soldier, but know plenty of them) full auto was for covering fire and house clearing.

      That’s a part where the US and Soviet had exactly the opposite way of thinking. US troops were taught to practice flipping the selector all the way to full auto (and I paraphrase here: “because in an ambush you’ll need all the firepower you can get.”). Russian troops were taught to slam down the safety in case of an ambush. Because that is simpler than mucking around with the safety.