Cracking the Machine Pistol’s Code: Is a Useful Fully Automatic Handgun Possible?

In a previous article on TFB, we compared a Mauser 712 Schnellfeuer to a Glock 17 with an auto sear, and along the way discussed how very limited the usefulness of the modern machine pistol is. Fully automatic pistol-sized weapons have been around for over a hundred years, but they’ve only ever seen limited use in specialist roles, with their adoption and then subsequent abandonment coming seemingly in waves as departments and forces pick up the concept and then discard it upon learning how impractical the weapons are in actual use. The history of machine pistols is fascinating, and those who are interested can follow the link to a podcast I participated in on the subject to learn more.

Anyone who has fired a machine pistol, especially a fully automatic pistol like a Glock 18 or 17 with registered sear, will tell you that the weapons are extremely difficult to control. Even trained full auto shooters can have problems as the lightweight little guns try to buck themselves out of their hands. This problem is both mechanical and ergonomic in nature, and because of that it has always captured my imagination. On the mechanical side, a traditional machine pistol suffers from recoil forces that are too high when transmitted to the shooter in an unsupported one- or two-point-of-contact grip at high rates of fire (above 300 rounds/min). In addition, the movement of a heavy breechblock (such as on a MAC-10), disturbs the center of gravity and balance of a machine pistol, which can cause a “bucking” motion. On the ergonomic side, most machine pistols have bore axes as high or even much higher than standard semiautomatic pistols, which exacerbates bucking and muzzle rise in fully automatic fire. These factors, and the possibility of solutions to them, raise the question: If you can reduce the recoil and improve the human factors in a new machine pistol design, can you make the machine pistol concept more useful?

The answer seems to be “yes”, and in fact Colt appeared to have done just that by the early 1970s with the SCAMP, a prototype .22 caliber burst fire pistol design. Reportedly, the SCAMP with its tiny but powerful .22 caliber round and ingenious design was an actually controllable piece in pure pistol form. Although since probably every one who’s ever fired one is now dead, and firing one today would be close to impossible, we cannot really verify the truth of these reports.

The SCAMP can serve as a guideline and perhaps inspiration, and like Colt’s engineers in the late 1960s, we can come to the conclusion that the first thing that needs attention is the cartridge the gun is designed to fire. Traditional pistol cartridges like 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP are too large and powerful to be controllable from such small fully automatic weapons; the recoil level of .32 ACP seems to be the limit, and even that round was most successfully paired with the Czech vz. 61 machine pistol, a substantially heavier gun than the standard service handgun. The Colt .22 SCAMP round was calculated to provide the best performance with acceptable recoil in the 1960s, and it is somewhat more powerful than the FN 5.7x28mm round used in the P90 SMG and Five-seveN handgun. Even less powerful rounds like the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire should also be considered, so long as up-close performance is not compromised. When mated to a properly tamed mechanism, lower recoil ammunition can only benefit a new machine pistol design.


The Colt SCAMP.


In conjunction with this, the pistol’s ergonomics should be reconsidered. Standard handgun ergonomic design works well for semi-automatic weapons, but as with select-fire rifles, a different configuration would likely pay significant dividends in controllability of a new machine pistol design. Bringing the bore down lower in the hand is one way to achieve this, so perhaps inspiration could be taken from 25 meter Olympic rapid fire sport pistol design. One way to do this would be to use a forward-mounted receiver, which sacrifices feeding the ammunition through the grip, but that is a relatively modest trade-off if controllability can be achieved.

So where does that take us? Well, several experiments can be conducted today that could help prove this concept. I would suggest the following:

  • Convert an Armscor TCM into a fully automatic/select-fire machine pistol, and then perform tests to determine the recoil advantage of the .22 TCM round (ballistically almost identical to .22 SCAMP) over 9mm Parabellum in the same platform.
  • Convert a Glock 17 with a select-fire backplate, and a .22 TCM-9R kit, and compare to the former.
  • Convert an FN Five-seveN handgun to fully automatic/select-fire to determine the suitability of that platform to fully automatic fire with SCHV pistol ammunition.
  • Convert a Kel-Tec PMR-30 handgun to fully automatic/select-fire to determine the suitability of that platform to fully automatic fire, and compare it to the automatic Five-seveN for controllability and accuracy.
  • Convert a rapid fire sport pistol to fully automatic/select-fire to evaluate the ergonomic advantages of the low bore axes and contoured grips characteristic of those handguns. An example of a less-expensive weapon in this class that is available in the United States is the Benelli MP95, but any .22 LR pistol with a sufficiently low bore axis would be suitable.

With one or more of these conversions in hand, it would be possible not only to get a much better idea of what is necessary to make a successful machine pistol design, but also a more clear understanding of appropriate roles and tactics for the concept, as well as what limitations even an “ideal” design would suffer.


Possible machine pistol rounds, left to right: .32 ACP, low-recoil, but also low performance. SCHV rounds: .22 WMR, .22 SCAMP, 4.6×30 HK, 5.7×28 FN. The 9mm Luger on the right is a common chambering for modern machine pistols, but generates too much recoil to be really practical.


For a company looking to develop a new and different product, performing these conversions and testing them would be a very inexpensive way to trial a concept that could potentially result in a breakthrough machine pistol design, and doing so would require no development of new ammunition or weapons. In this way, a better understanding of the risks and potential rewards of such a product could be gained with minimal capital outlay.

Having said all this, some of my readers may be thinking “it might be possible to make a useful machine pistol, but what could it do that isn’t already covered with the weapons we have now?” That’s a good question, but consider this: The exact same thing could be said of the assault rifle in the 1940s and 1950s. Every role the assault rifle eventually filled was at the time covered by a mix of submachine guns, semiautomatic rifles, and other designs. However, the assault rifle eventually became a ubiquitous replacement for all of those. Now, perhaps the machine pistol doesn’t share the same destiny, but neither should we discount it just because there is no obvious unfilled niche begging for its invention!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • somethingclever

    Your final paragraph is incredibly important, I think. I’m fairly sick of the predictable “solution looking for a problem” responses from the firearms peanut-gallery every time something innovative happens. Often until you try to do something, its best applications are obscured. Creativity isn’t always reactive; if it were, we would always be a step behind the problem. Your approach here (“if one were to do it, what challenges need to be overcome”) is the genesis of many great ideas. Kudos. Keep it up.

    • DonDrapersAcidTrip

      no kidding. people who pull out that worn out phrase aren’t doing anything but demonstrating their lack of imagination and belief that they’re personal circumstances apply to every other person

    • Right, I’m not really worried about whether we can find that “perfect niche” for the machine pistol, I’m more interested in whether you can design something that is actually useful. If you do that, and determine that you can produce it profitably, the market will sort you out, just like it did the PDW.

      The problem is that most machine pistols aren’t useful at all. A Glock 18 isn’t really useful. A Mauser 712 (without stock) isn’t useful. A MAC-11 isn’t useful. So if you reduce the caliber and make ergonomic changes, how much more viable does the concept become? That’s an interesting question to me.

      • Kevin

        I’m with somethingclever on this. There are great arguments that come up with ‘new’ stuff just flung out without to much thought put into it and getting us so used to dismissing them that many people just say ‘but why?’
        without giving anything a chance. I’ve advocated for a 308/32/7.62 caliber straight wall cartridge in the power range of 9mm for a while. Mostly for higher capacity but also for caliber conversion kits for rifles. Nobody seems to listen though.

        • DrewN

          Uh, .30 Carbine?

          • ostiariusalpha

            Kevin is asking for something in between the .30 Carbine and .32 ACP.

          • Kevin

            Exactly, The French were on to something back in the 50’s but NATO standardization killed off the 7.65mm French Longue. With a modern/updated design it would be perfect for this application and stupid cheap. There are so many ways to get components to reload it. it takes less brass, lead, copper, and powder. But the cynics scoff because ‘why bother if you have 9mm?’ Why bother using a knife to peel an apple when you have an apple peeler? Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s the only option.

          • Kivaari

            Performance like a .357 magnum with more flame and recoil.

        • The 7.92 VBR round is pretty similar. However the capacity gains were only about 1-3 rounds per mag, and performance was bellow that which could be achieved with a +p+ .30 Luger.

      • CommonSense23

        Is there really a market for the PDW though. I feel PDW concept grew from the lack of foresight of how useful SBRs actually are.

        • PDW’s are still much smaller and lighter than even the smallest SBR’s. The P90 is 19″ OAL, the MP7 is 16″ OAL, and the B&T TP9 is 12″ OAL. They can be carried on the hip, or under a light jacket, or in a messenger bag. They also have much less recoil than SBR’s, making it easier to for non-shooters to use them.

          Whereas Micro SBR’s are not really that much easier to carry as opposed to carbines, and have even more recoil than a carbine.

          • CommonSense23

            I have spent time carrying the MP7. It’s not really much better off carrying than a SBR. Given the choice between carrying my 10inch or the MP7 around. Going to choose the 10inch. Don’t have much faith in the cartridge.

          • Thanks for the feedback. Was the MP7 carried holstered / collapsed, or with stock extended? Because if it was carried open, then it’s 25″ long and barely shorter than a 10″ AR. That’s why I personally think the B&T MP9 and FN P90 are better PDW’s.

            You also do bring up an important issue, which is the cartridge – and more specifically, the projectile.

            The 5.7×28 and 4.6×30 both use a fairly dated, AP/NATO centric projectile that is similar to the SS109/M855 “Green Tip.” As such, they are both vulnerable to the same “Fleet Yaw” effects that plagued the M855 and caused inconsistent reports of the rounds effectiveness. Basically depending on where in the yaw cycle the round was, it would either tumble quickly and shred the target, or tumble far too late and make a through and through no worse then a .22lr.

            Liberty, the company that solved the Fleet Yaw problem and invented the new, super nasty M855A1, also makes a similar projectile for the 4.6×30 called the “National Defense 4.6.” From the limited Gel Test photos there are available, it looks extremely promising, and would likely put to rest any concerns about the MP7 when used within 50-100 yards.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Liberty didn’t invent M855A1, the two projectiles have a tripart construction in common, but there are definite structural & component proportion differences.

          • Liberty did not invent M855A1 and they didn’t solve the fleet yaw problem, the Army Research Laboratory did.

            All Liberty did was successfully patent hound the US government with a lawsuit. None of the research pertinent to M855A1 and the other EPRs has gone into any of the Liberty projectiles.

          • Ah, TIL then. The Liberty 4.6 load does look excellent though if you check out their PDF:

             The 4.6mm is a copper/steel, 3- piece, enhanced performance, lead-free round
             Weight is 26 gr.
             The velocity is >2,550 FPS
             The ballistic coefficient is >.15
             Accuracy is 2 1/2″W x 12″ D

          • CommonSense23

            Collapsed without a suppressor. The major issue was weight not size. For what I was giving up in terms of performance and logistics it doesn’t make sense to carry it other than the cool guy pics.

        • micmac80

          Considering how many units now carry ither Mp7 or P90 plus plethora of Uzis,B&T ets PDW is more than tan viable .SBR ara not that popular as they have own contolabilty and blast issues when in full auto , pistol is actualy the most useless piece of gear for the military

        • Emperius

          Look up FAB defense. If there is a way to make these kits for the Five-Seven, then we’ll have an Americanized H&K MP7 at last.

          • CommonSense23

            I’ved used the MP7. What are you suggesting that a MP7 can do better than a 5.55 SBR.

          • Emperius

            Oh well, not suggesting anything. Just that I like the MP7. Since you used it, what American legal variant would you recommend as replacement? I just love that thing, maybe I’m jumping the gun too soon since I have not used it.

      • I think a FN Five Seven with a 3-round burst selector and 21rd magazine would be very useful at close range. 3 x 300 ft/lb cartridges hitting within 0.18 seconds (based on a 1000rpm cyclic rate) would likely be pretty decisive.

        Of course, the 5.7×28 SS190 projectile needs to be updated to counter the Fleet Yaw effect that currently plagues the design.

      • Darkpr0

        Fundamentally, this would require nailing down a definition of “minimal acceptable lethality”. In a world where people are still arguing that 45 is the true saviour and 9mm is a false god, the obtaining acceptance of cartridges with less overall power than 5.7×28 or 4.6×30 is going to be a neat trick.

        • I am actually going to talk about that in a follow on post on machine pistol ammunition design.

          • I did some math just now that you might find interesting for your ammo article.

            A 9mm Gold Dot 124gr+p has an average expansion through cloth of about 0.60″(15.24mm.)

            A 5.7×28 40gr V-Max has an average expansion of about 0.42″ (10.66mm) @1700fps / a bit more + fragmentation at 1900 fps (5.7×28 +p as loaded by Elite / handloading.)

            A G18 has a cyclic rate of 1300rpm/ 21 shots per second. I assume a FA FN Five Seven would be similar.

            That means a 3-round burst FsN would land 3 shots within 0.14 seconds at close range. Essentially instantaneously when compared to semi auto fire / the same amount of time that a average shooter could fire 1 round of 9mm.

            –> 1 shot 9mm @ 1200 ft/s / 394 ft/lbs expanding to 0.60″ = 182mm2 diameter wound channel.

            –> 3 shots 5.7×28 @ 1700 ft/s / 256 ft lbs; 0.42″ expansion = 89.25mm2 wound channel x 3 = 267mm2 wound channels total / 768 ft/lbs of energy delivered.

            @ 1900 ft/s (a propper Mil load) energy becomes 3x321ft/bs = 963 ft/lbs of energy, comparable to a .44 magnum or SBR rifle.

          • Giolli Joker

            Hi Nathaniel, do you have power to approve pending posts?
            I’ve linked a video that seems very relevant to one of your points, but it’s still in the limbo. 😉

          • KestrelBike

            Giolli, i don’t think he does (lol watch him prove me wrong).
            Just repost the video, but break the url by adding spaces around the period by the .com
            http://Www.example . com

          • Giolli Joker

            I know the trick, but compared to an embedded YouTube video it tends to get ignored, however:
            “Convert a Glock 17 with a select-fire backplate, and a .22 TCM-9R kit, and compare to the former.”
            www. youtube .com/watch?v=LqCLOJAb2EY
            MWS shows us how it handles well the small cartridge recoil.

            BTW, I remember Alex’ visit of MWS prior to SHOT2015 focused on their ION “PDW” in 22TCM.
            Since then nothing.
            Apparently they have also a cute/interesting Boberg conversion in 22TCM-9R (with youtube test as well).

          • I might on my own posts; I’ll check when I get home later this evening.

          • PK

            Any progress on this article about machine pistol ammo design? Bated breath, and all that. It’s a fascinating topic.

          • Thanks for the question!

            As is pretty obvious, I have a lot of different projects that I am juggling. I’ve done a little work on it, but no writeup yet. I might be able to get it done soon, but that depends on how things go.

          • PK

            No harm done, I was simply curious as to your thoughts. I’ll keep my eyes open for the article when you do have time to write one. It’s a good topic and I’m patient.

          • Sometimes I ask a lot from my readers with regards to patience. Just ask the folks who’ve been waiting for Light Rifle V.

        • micmac80

          Military has been killing people with what is a rabit hunting caliber for past 40+ years , debates over lethality are false ,first you have to hit something ,as people with pistols are inherently bad at hiting anthing vital

      • Wetcoaster

        Sounds like a continuum to me. What makes you classify the Skorpion, MP9/TMP mini-Uzi or MP5K or MP7 as SMGs and not machine pistols? I’m not even referring to the German use of maschinenpistole for SMGs. The TMP, MP5K, and some of the smaller Uzis often come without a stock, while the TMP, MP7, and Uzi all load the magazine from the pistol grip, and holsters of some kind exist for all three.

        The other issue with machine pistols is that you’re combining 2 already challenging shooting disciplines (combat handguns and full auto) into one

        • I think for the purpose of this discussion, “machinepistol” would be a pistol that fires bursts or full auto.

          Pistol being a handgun that can be carried IWB, and is smaller than an B&T MP9, which is 12″ OAL/ 3lbs.

          A 4″ .357 Mganum (10″ OAL/ 40oz) is the largest common handgun that was ever carried widely as a duty / CCW sidearm. So I’d shoot for that being the general upper limit in terms of size.

        • Um, well, maybe because the MP7 is six inches longer than the vz. 61?

          I seem to have gotten a lot of questions about the MP7, but I think most people do not realize how huge that gun is. It’s seriously about as big as a full size Uzi.

          Ditto the MP5K.

      • buzzman1

        The 9mm G18 is useful only if you can practice enough to do 3 rd bursts, After the 3rd round its duck hunting.

  • Heartbreaker

    Have you seen videos of the Grand Power K105? It’s a fully auto 9mm, but the rotating barrel design makes it very controllable.

    • Looks maybe slightly more controllable than a G18, but that still leaves quite a bit to be desired:

  • Giolli Joker

    I like the ideas.
    I love the SCAMP.
    I’m kinda curious about the 22TCM.
    I can giggle just at the thought of a full auto, hi-capacity (drum fed?) Benelli MP95.

    I think that the problem here is just the demand: a similar product would not be commercially viable, to justify its development it would require at least a spark of interest from armed forces… otherwise it would just result in another cool prototype.

    BTW, a full auto Strike One in 22 TCM(-9R?) sounds interesting as well.

  • Iggy

    If I might suggest a base layout for the final design…

    • Major Tom

      Needs a folding foregrip.

      • Iggy

        Eh, switch out the light mount. The important bits are the red dot, folding stock and compactness, the rest can be tinkered out.

      • Iggy

        Or this bad boy can provide some additional inspiration…

        • Giolli Joker


        • PK

          Reading the article, this system was my first thought. It’s been made, but the marketing and issues with export are really hurting potential sales.

        • Major Tom

          More or less.

        • hikerguy

          This is what I had in mind and saw your post. Rik Van Braune, the designer of this concept, should refine and develop it then sell it to a company willing to produce it. Built in foregrip and retractable stock are a plus for control in full auto. Rik has developed a 7.92 armor piercing round for it that can use a Glock 30 round pistol mag, and the TCM .22 round would work as well. A well thought out concept roughly the size of a 1911 we may never see in the wild.

        • Joe


    • Amplified Heat

      Needs a non-reciprocating slide, or needs to come with a dental plan.

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    I’m all for innovation but I can’t figure out why I’d want to shoot a F/A pistol at someone, hit them twice, and have an empty mag when I can just shoot them twice with my Browning and have 12 more in the mag when I’m done.

    • Major Tom

      Sometimes the classic double tap doesn’t work as advertised. FA is for those kinds of “Oh sh*t!” moments.

      Or if you suddenly need to hose down a half-dozen guys at really close range.

      • Klaus Von Schmitto

        I’ve shot a Glock 18. It would have to be really close or you’ll miss most of them.

        • Major Tom

          True, that’s why the article is doing a suggestion for experimentation.

          What if we could achieve a practical FA pistol? It wouldn’t be a 9mm arm, that’s for sure.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            That’s true. But if you start adding shoulder stocks and whatnot to make it controllable, then it’s a submachinegun and you can’t put it back in your pocket when you’re through with it. I’d love to have a practical F/A handgun.

          • ostiariusalpha

            All machine pistols with shoulder stocks have it as a detachable component.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            Of course they do. And after you are done using your pistol, you take it apart, put the pistol in your pocket, put the stock somewhere else, and when you need it again you politely ask the attackers to wait till you reassemble your submachinegun.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Well, that’s a different story and different complaint than your original comment. Machine pistols like the ones that Iggy has shown have stocks that deploy more than quickly enough. Even aside from that, you don’t need the stock to mag dump on an attacker if you are in a short response scenario.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            It’s actually part and parcel to my whole argument. I can’t envision any scenario where a full auto pistol helps me any more than a normal pistol suffices and if I’m in an environment where I think it would, I’ll carry a sub gun or a rifle. I don’t want to dump a whole mag on the immediate threat. Especially from a pistol which is presumably the only gun that I have. Particularly when I know I’ll miss half the time, at best. Would you really be OK with substituting an MP5 with a F/A pistol if you thought someone was going to try to kill you? My whole argument has been, if you have to carry a pistol and nothing else, have one that you can hit your targets with and eliminate their threat. I have never seen a F/A pistol that can do that, but I would love too.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Yep, you’ve completely and utterly missed the point. Nate already established in the article that a 9mm pistol, such as a Glock 18, is nearly useless on FA. We would also be much interested to see a controllable FA/burst pistol, that’s the whole reason we are discussing what would actually be required to accomplish it.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            No, I really haven’t missed the point. A 17 or 22 caliber or whatever F/A handgun that is capable of putting rounds on a target, every time, buys me nothing on a 40 , 38 super, or a 9mm that I can do that now with. If you think you can fend off or suppress more attackers with a F/A pistol than you can with a non-F/A pistol, well I don’t know other than you’ve never been in a pistol fight.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Sure you don’t, buddy. That’s why you’re wasting our time by bringing up bizarre nonsense about the Glock 18, stocks that don’t detach, somehow not being able to shoot until you have your stock deployed, carrying a SMG around for personal defense (LOL!), your lack of competence at using a fully automatic pistol (that you’ve never fired), and your lack of mental capacity to understand the point of automatic fire; everything you’ve said has been absurdly immaterial to the topic’s engineering focus.

            “…you’ve never been in a pistol fight.”
            That’s just some stupid, clueless sh*t right there.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            I never said a word about non-detachable stocks, not being ABLE to shoot until you put the stock on, and said I have shot a Glock 18 (and I have). But now you’re just getting ugly so have a good one.

  • gunsandrockets

    9mm Jatimatic, single point sling, 80 grain polycase ammo

    • Giolli Joker

      Always loved the Jatimatic.
      But I counter-propose: chamber it in 6.5×25 CBJ.

      Actually some of the concepts that Nathaniel mentions were probably already tested by the team behind the CBJ.

      Other interesting ideas could be found around the Belgian 7.92×24 VBR or the Italian 7Penna.
      Regarding the latter, its inventor, Leonardo Penna, was actually mentioning the existence of full auto guns in the hands of some guys in some military special forces teams… I can’t tell if it was just a sale pitch, but the ammunition had indeed good performance and limited recoil.

      • gunsandrockets

        6.5×25 CBJ? I had to google that up. Interesting cartridge. Though it does seem to be treading somewhat familiar ground.

        Because of the size and recoil constraints of a machine pistol, 9x19mm sized cartridges may be too much for the job. That 7.92×24 VBR is interesting. I think obsolete cartridges like the French 7.65x20mm and 8mm Roth-Styer could be promising too.

    • The Jatimatic is an interesting design, but it’s a bit big to be called a true “machine pistol” by anything other than the German definition.

      • gunsandrockets

        Too big? Perhaps. If one stays too definitionally trapped into what is or is not a “true machine pistol”, you end up with the exact thing you just advocated experimenting away from.

        The Jatimatic already includes some of the design features you suggested for improving burst control, like placement of the boreline and fitting the magazine outside the grip.

        The Jatimatic could certainly be scaled down pretty easily. Trim the barrel a couple inches, lighten the bolt, use a cartridge with a smaller base diameter to shrink the magazine length. Perhaps the 8mm Roth-Styer cartridge would be a good choice.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Except that the size is fundamentally the key point to this mental exercise: can a handgun become a functional, practically effective FA/burst weapon by using an innovatively engineered action and well designed ammo or not? If it has to be the size of a Jatimatic, then the answer is basically “no.”

          • gunsandrockets

            So where are you drawing your line, exactly? Is the SCAMP too big? Does it have to be fired with only one hand?

          • ostiariusalpha

            The SCAMP is pushing the line in size for a pistol, I don’t think you would really want go much further. The pistol should be more convenient to carry than an MP-7, otherwise that’s what you should be carrying.

          • I’d say it needs to bellow the size of the MP9; the mp7 is actually surprisingly large, 16″ OAL and 4.2 lbs.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Yep, the MP9 is the gun to beat. I just arbitrarily chose the MP-7 as a gun similar to a shortened Jatimatic.

          • I’ll go with the MP7

          • gunsandrockets

            The MP7 with stock collapsed is an inch longer than the Jatimatic even though the MP7 barrel is an inch shorter.

            The MP9 is only half a pound lighter than the Jatimatic even though the MP9 barrel is three inches shorter and the MP9 cyclic rate is 50% faster.

          • The SCAMP is dramatically smaller and lighter than a Jatimatic.

          • gunsandrockets

            You didn’t answer my question.

          • I didn’t because your question was strange. There are gradients to almost anything, that doesn’t make definitions meaningless.

            I could maybe pull a distinction out of my rear, but why would I?

          • gunsandrockets

            So apparently your definition of a machine pistol is the same standard used by the Supreme Court to define obscenity, you know it when you see it. Very convenient for you. Pretty unhelpful for anyone else.

          • You are arguing semantics, and I am not sure why. I made it very clear in the post what I am talking about, so I’m not sure what your hangup is.

          • gunsandrockets

            My hangup? Geez, this only about the third time or so I’ve tried to constructively engage and support one of your articles yet you always have this damn chip on your shoulder and jump down my throat. All is get is grief from you when trying to get a simple answer to a straight question.

          • I think maybe you are reading what I wrote in a tone I did not intend. I am not trying to be combative or aggressive here.

            I have given you an answer that I think is reasonable, although I understand that it’s not very satisfying. There are gradients to everything, and when any given thing stops being in category X and starts being in category Y is more often vague than it is clear. When does a subcompact car stop being a subcompact car and start being a compact car? Maybe someone has an strict answer to that, but I bet others also have exceptions that challenge that answer.

          • Um, OK, legitimately my mistake there. I intended to use “hangup” to mean “hitch” or “issue”, but the actual definition has a clear connotation of emotional disturbance or personal shortcoming to it, so you were within your rights to take it as more aggressive than I meant it.

            I may get paid to write, but I’m not perfect! Mea culpa!

          • The size constraint needs to be bellow the size of the B&T MP9, which is a 3lb, 12″ OAL holsterble PDW available in 9mm and 6.5 CBJ.

            The MP9 is so excellent that the only benefit a new design offers is being smaller.

            Essentially, a machine pistol that can be carried IWB and used as either a handgun or close range PDW.

          • gunsandrockets

            I think you are overselling the MP9. IWB carry? Really?

            The MP9 version that could be barely carried IWB, which means no forward pistol grip and a short 20 round magazine, would have questionable accuracy and utility firing 9mm at a 1000 rpm cyclic rate.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I don’t want to put words in Mark’s mouth, but I believe he meant that the IWB criteria not for the MP9, but for the proposed pistol designs. As small as the B&T gun is, having an alternative weapon that can be tucked easily into a waistband would be one justification for its development.

  • Dracon1201

    Sounds like the Kriss KARD needs to be updated with 5.7 or a similar .22 based cartridge and made full auto.

    Starting from the ground up with a new cartridge in .22-something would probably be the best option instead of modifying a gun based for a larger diameter cartridge. You’ll end up with a smaller gun with a lower bore axis ala PMR 30.

    How about a Strike One-type redesigned from .22TCM or 5.7? I’d think that would be ideal if we are talking current designs.

    • Amplified Heat

      That’s a good idea; the five-seven shows that an unlocked breech just barely doesn’t quite reach the power levels we want for punching vests or expanding/fragmenting projecticles reliably. I think the 1911 is a poor host for the pdw pistol concept for its weight & size, but a slimmed down Strike One with its low bore axis and excellent trigger would seem to be a good candidate. A pistol that can reach past 100yards and mag dump close in controllably would be quite formiddable

    • Giolli Joker

      “How about a Strike One-type redesigned from .22TCM or 5.7? I’d think that would be ideal if we are talking current designs.”

      Read my comment below. 😉

      5.7 would not fit, though.

      I vote for the 6.5 CBJ, however.

    • Anonymoose

      Needs moar 7.62 Tok.

      • Needs more 7.5 FK.

  • derfelcadarn

    They work great in the movies, same as sub-machine guns, as long asyou have atwo truck convoy with loaded magazines to follow you around. In the real world a complete waste of effort. Please give an instance,outside open warfare where its use would be at all practical.

    • iksnilol


      I mean, trouble comes up and stuff, you rapidly empty one mag whilst retreating.

    • PK

      Easily concealed ambush breaker. That is exceptionally useful.

    • Southpaw89

      From what I’ve heard machine pistols are often designed as a weapons for downed pilots or vehicle crews.

    • POsP-Eye

      To quote Jim Fuller immediately after he dumped a mag from a vz.61: “You could face-shoot the f**k out of somebody with that!” — The defence rests.

  • Slytiger Disgruntled Veteran C

    A US Marshall told me they used a lot of Glock 18’s. They use a lot of pistols and the Glock 18 is good in order to apprehend and still have one hand to use while the G18 is capable of a lot of rounds on target if needed

    • Amplified Heat

      Well, except for the “on target” part I’d agree, but I bet they sure are fun

      • Giolli Joker

        Better to replace “on target” with “down range”.

        • Klaus Von Schmitto

          Or even “in the general direction”

    • Nicks87

      I dont think the Marshals Service ever carried Glock 18s. They’ve carried .40 Glocks (22/23/27) for as long as I’ve been an LEO. The Special Response teams carry a variety of weapons but I dont think Glock 18s are used.

      • MikeWashburn

        About 50 years ago the Brazilian police/army had what looked like 1911s that only fired fully auto (the whole mag). To me it was like having a single shot shotgun. Much more recently the Russians had a fully select fire pistol that looked like the Glock 18, or was it 17? The Belgian airport police carried as just a normal pistol with the usual 14 rounds or so and drew them firing the first mag and quickly reloaded with one which was much larger. I saw one demonstrated a few times and all important was the stance. You leaned forward, gripping the pistol tightly with elbows locked and fired about five round groups. Bottom line was it looked like you were carrying the usual semi auto pistol but you could hose the scene down with fully auto until the infantry arrived.

  • DetroitMan

    Kudos to Colt for a workable design. It still leaves the question of “What is it good for?” Instead of turning that into a negative for the concept, it would be interesting to try to answer it. Fully automatic fire has a few uses:
    1) Suppression (but this requires a larger magazine than you can reasonably put in a handgun).
    2) Increasing hit probability.
    3) Increasing lethality by landing multiple rounds.
    4) Providing increased firepower in surprise or ambush situations.

    So 2, 3 and 4 might be possibilities. 2 and 3 could get very interesting if you could combine a rapid burst with some recoil compensation to get the rounds into a relatively small area. It could partially compensate for the two biggest drawbacks of handguns; low lethality and low hit probability (both compared to rifles). 4 is a little dubious since you’re just plain better off with a rifle in-hand if you get ambushed, but it wouldn’t be a bad capability to gain for a pistol.

  • Kovacs Jeno

    The HK MP7 is the closest thing to holster carried “machine pistol”. Barely larger/heavier than a normal pistol, but much better external ballistics.

    • iksnilol


      I beg to differ. It weighs twice as much as a regular pistol does. The B+T USW is a better example IMO.

      • The B&T MP9 is also much smaller than the MP7.

        • iksnilol

          That one as well.

  • Dickie

    Nice article. One of the best in a long. While

  • Dickie

    Agreed i hear that response so much “a solution in search of problem”. Blah blah. Sick of it.

  • iksnilol

    Electronic trigger, to adjust the rate of fire down… way down. I am talking about 180-300 rpm (3-5 shots a second).

    • Giolli Joker

      That would make Jerry Miculek promptly discard the gun as malfunctioning.

      • iksnilol

        Sure, but would make us mere mortals be able to hit something with FA fire in a sub 1 kg package without a stock.

        • guest

          Yes yes, 180rpm cap, preferrably an added kg of weight, definatelty NOT a glock-shaped grip, maybe also a reclining chair especially for you, so you won’t fall backwards from the recoil.

        • Giolli Joker

          Yes and no, the hyperburst doctrine goes in the opposite direction entirely.
          It requires a very peculiar set-up that goes well beyond the possibility of relatively traditional firearms/ammunitions, though.

          • iksnilol

            Sure, different approaches to same result.

            My approach would allow controllable FA fire. As in, you can keep the trigger squeezed and still be somewhat in control of where the rounds go. Hyperburst is almost akin to firing a shotgun. One bang, multiple projectiles in approximately the same area.

  • kdjohns

    The machine pistol should be viewed as the “pocket pistol” of the selective fire world. Where concealment is a important factor .

  • valorius

    A full auto pistol can only be useful with a snap-on shoulder stock, at which point it is really an SBR, and no longer a pistol.

    • ostiariusalpha

      The SCAMP lacked a stock, and as Nate mentions in the article, it was reputedly quite controllable.

      • valorius

        Must be why they ordered it into production? Maybe it worked great, but odds are none of us will ever get to fire one to find out.

        I had a Five Seven pistol, which had very light recoil, but even that would be pretty uncontrollable in full auto, IMO.

        • The SCAMP was/is a considerably heavier gun with a lower bore axis and a compensated muzzle.

          As for why Colt didn’t make it… We’re talking about Colt, here.

        • I think the Five Seven in 3-round burst would be controllable within 7-10 yards. Basically replace the safety with a fire selector.

  • Sianmink

    It’s easy, you just need robot arms.

    • A bearded being from beyond ti

      I see, we need to build robots and give them Glock 18s!

      • Giolli Joker

        Beretta 93Rs… that’s what Robocop had under all the mock-up.
        And it looks much more cool than the Glock 18.

        • A bearded being from beyond ti

          Yes i know what the gun is.

    • st4

      Called shot: Groin 100%

  • ozzallos .

    Metal Storm. Multiple rounds fired at once before recoil even took affect. Too bad nobody is going to replace their vast stockpiles of standard weps and ammunition to accommodate it.

    • Tom

      Best hope you hit what your aiming at because its not exactly a high capacity system or one that is easily reloaded.

      • ozzallos .

        It’s not hard to google “metal storm pistol”
        Try that first and get back to me about capacity.

      • ozzallos .

        It’s not hard to google “Metal Storm Pistol”.
        Try that first and we’ll talk more about capacity.

        • Tom

          Sure you can increase capacity with multiple barrels but that adds weight and bulk even when using micro calibre projectiles. If you make your machine pistol the size and weight of a small SMG then you might as well use a small SMG.

          Metal Storm never took off simple because the benefits it offered where offset by its obvious disadvantages when compared to conventional weapons. Maybe future tech advances will make it more workable or we will see something somewhat like it but like the Puckle Gun its just not useful on today’s battlefield.

          • ozzallos .

            Metals Storm never took off because it was in no way compatible with old technology. Can’t use your old bullets in a MS gun and can’t use the new ones in a regular gun. No military is going to pony up for that. I’ll give you barrel weight to a small degree but that was likely only a very small part of what killed it.

            One pistol design was basically two pistol caliber barrels and two shotgun caliber barrels arranged in a diamond config. Nothing ever moves passed prototype phase, however, so we can both suppose a lot of things.

          • Tom

            Metal Storm was original touted as a missile defense system (fire a wall of lead at the oncoming missile) but this is a task already handled by the Phalanx CIWS and the like so there was no real market. Of course ammo compatibility was a factor but even if it used standard ammo somehow it does not work better than existing CIWS for point defense.

            Whilst the designer tried to make the Metal Storm concept work in small arms it still had no real advantage over existing tech, it was not just the lack of ammo compatibility but slow reloads and added weight (barrels are heavy). Basically Metal Storm was noting more than a fancy 18th century volley gun and much like its predecessors it simple did not work better than existing canon.

            Specifically for the pistol looking at the renders on Google images (which may not be accurate of course) it seems to hold around 12 rounds for each barrel. Now assuming no major advances in propellant a Metal Storm round (bullet and propellant) will not be much shorter than current ammo so your limited in the amount of ammo each barrel can hold by length. Plus you need some ‘spare’ barrel before the first charge in order to achieve any sense of accuracy there is after all no point producing a controllable machine pistol if it simple burps the first few rounds out and if you make the barrel longer well you now have a stockless SMG (at least in overall length) so its fair to say that any metal storm weapon is always going to have a smaller capacity per a barrel than a conventional box magazine. Adding more barrels adds more weight and bulk even using small calibre rounds only gets you so far.

            So what you have is a weapon that is bulkier (all be it benefiting from no magazine), has less ammo, and is so slow to reload as to be essentially be impossible to do so in an actual gunfight. Which regarding my original point you better hope to hit what you are shooting at and hope they do not have any mates because your not likely to get a second chance. Then you have to look at the reliability of the system. What would happen if the computer messed up and fired the last round in the barrel rather the front one, not necessarily fatal in a large ship mounted system but in a handgun very bad for the user.

            Metal Storm failed not because of ammo but because in all practicality it does nothing better than what we currently have and does a whole load of other things much worse. Metal Storm appealed to the media with its RoF claims but no military took it seriously (apart form some rather daft and merciful short attempt by the Aussies to produce a grenade launcher) the only curious thing is how long the company lasted before finally calling it a day.

    • Cymond

      So instead of several small recoil impulses, the shooter feels a single giant kick?
      That doesn’t seem wise.

      • ozzallos .

        Or it can be programed for longer bursts at variable rates of fire. There’s plenty of youtube on it if one cares to look.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    I think having auto or burst fire linked to a deployable fore grip like a Beretta 93 or the home made pistol recently featured on Gun Lab is the way to go. The grip fits in the silhouette of the gun for easy concealment and the two hand grip helps with control. It also simplifies the control layout and manual of arms. Something with less recoil than 9mm would also be a good idea. I think .22 TCM or 5.7 would be good choices for ballistics and availability. I am wary of rimfire, and 4.6 hk and the Chinese round have availability issues.

  • jamezb

    I wonder if a straight-walled .25 “long” or .25 “magnum” cartridge would be a good compromise between the control-ability “plus” of a rimfire, and the various “minuses” of a rimmed rimfire cartridge while increasing the magazine capacity per magazine size over a .32 or .380? It’s been demonstrated by, among others, the AM-180 that strings of repeated hits in a small area favorably equate to the effective damage of single higher recoiling rounds. If you consider a Skorpion type MP, a .25 version could be made smaller, lighter, and more controlable than a .32 /.380 version, while increasing capacity without extending the magazine length. I’d also like to see such a cartridge in a hi-cap dual-stack mag in a pocket pistol.

    • The 7mm Penna was a similar concept, based on using a straight walled 5.7×28 case.

      Another option that’s appealing is the “.27 Magnum.” The new .17 Winchester Super Mag is based on a powerful .27 Nail Gun blank, which is rated for 33,000psi. Simply using that, but straight walled to .27, would be far, far more powerful than a .22 mag.

      On a random note, my buddy, who is on the more extreme end of reloading, used to load .25 ACP +p++ – he was pushing 50gr’s @1300ft/s / 188ft/lbs out of his Beretta Jetfire. The pressure was well beyond proof loads, but despite firing hundreds and hundreds of those rounds, the little gun held up fine.

      • Giolli Joker

        “The 7mm Penna was a similar concept, based on using a straight walled 5.7×28 case.”

        Nope, it may be similar but it was a completely new case, with very thick head and walls, BTW.
        Source: I have a few spent casings at home and I shot one of the early prototypes, after a chat with Mr Penna; it was a very interesting concept but unfortunately not backed by any big name.

        • Awesome, thank you for the correction. Do you happen to recall what the specs were in terms of velocity / projectile weight for the 7mm Penna were?

          I always wanted on of the NEMESIS pistols that I saw protos of a few years back.

          • Giolli Joker

            There’s still some stuff online, but most of the original website is unfortunately gone.
            I had quite some stuff but on another pc or in printed material.
            If you want to dig more, Penna’s company was (is?) called QS Progetto Meccanica.

            However with a quick Google search you could find the data, even Ammoguide still lists it (as 7x23mm Penna):
            Bullet Weight:
            47 gr
            Muzzle Velocity:
            1,550 fps
            Muzzle Energy:
            250 ft-lbs

      • Tassiebush

        Darned if I can remember what it was called but I think there used to be a maker of .25acp machine pistols in Italy back when there was a loophole. Held something like 21rounds in a normal pistol size. It’d be awesome to pair with a load like your friend’s or Jamezb’s long or mag round idea and then add some extended mags. Or even something like a quad stack.

        • I always wanted to see a Lercker test fire video.

          • Tassiebush

            Oh that would be cool!

        • jamezb

          oh, that’s a cutie. I need one for.. um…opossums..

          • Tassiebush

            Different continent, same need! I’d happily hose down the brushtail possums in my garden with one!

        • gunsandrockets

          Okay, that is all kinds of cool! I can’t believe I somehow skipped over that gem when I recently visited ForgottenWeapons to look at the machine-pistol stories.

          I just wish there was something in those photos to provide an accurate reference to measure scale. As of now I guess that pistol is about the size of a Walther PP. For all I know it could be bigger or smaller than that.

          • Tassiebush

            I wouldn’t have remembered it until .25acp was mentioned. It’s an interesting idea for sure. Seems pretty compact

      • jamezb

        very interesting info! thank you!

    • Tassiebush

      Very cool idea! A quad stack mag that fits into the grip might even be possible

  • Sermon 7.62

    You just need some kind of buttstock and suppressor, and all the aforemention problems dissappear.

    APS, or APB (suppressed)
    Designed: 1948
    In service: 1951 – present

    • I note that nothing with a buttstock has ever been able to truly replace the standard handgun. Buttstocks are too slow to deploy.

      • George

        We could usefully separate “uncontrollable without buttstock” (a compact SMG) from “controllable with just handgrips, stabilizing buttstock optional” (a useful holsterable machinepistol).

      • Surely it must be possible to design an underfolding stock that attaches at the base of the grip and springs into firing position when drawn from a holster. Even the Universal Service Weapon design– which I still think is a little too big and clunky for what it is– would be vastly improved if that stock could be made to auto-deploy instead of requiring the clumsy motion of turning the gun to unfold it with the support hand.

        • Sermon 7.62

          Such a design might not be comfortable to handle if the buttstock is unfolded. Detachable stock is good.

      • Sermon 7.62

        These guns are carried by track drivers and pilots, and the stock is carried on the right side under the shoulder. The gun can be used just like a regular pistol or as a sub-machine gun. It takes a second to attach the stock.

        Also, these guns can be carried in a briefcase. Spetsnaz has been using them since the 50’s.

        There’s an earlier model that has a hard holster and is carried on the sling or on the belt, on that model the holster is a buttstock. I posted a clip here, but it is to be unblocked. Can it be done?

        • My understanding is that the Stechkin was unsuccessful as an auxiliary weapon, and hasn’t been used as a general issue weapon of that type since the 1970s.

          Spetsnaz do use them, but primarily because they are available and more accurate than the Makarov, not because they are select fire.

          • Sermon 7.62

            Not a bad article.
            Spetsnaz uses them because of select fire. There are other, better pistols than Mak, but APS and APB is something unique, it’s perfect for some clandestine operations, as a support for a VSS sniper’s spotter if he can’t take a gun that is not compact enough, it can be put under the seat of a car, etc. And it’s not as big. Here are the lenght, barrel’s lenght and mass unloaded.

            225 mm, 140 mm, 1.02 kg

            Colt 1911
            210 mm, 127 mm, 1.10 kg

            Beretta M9
            217 mm, 125 mm, 0.95 kg

          • But again, it wasn’t successful in the PDW role.

          • Sermon 7.62

            Not sure that I understand the concept of PDW, but it lost the trials for a compact auto firearm, as you mentioned in the article, to AKS-74U, in the 1970’s. It was successful in its own role, and still is.

          • Роман Бронцевич

            You’re a little wrong to compare a pistol and a gun you can take to an actual firefight.
            AKSU was never considered as a replacement for APS.

          • Sermon 7.62

            Please, elaborate on this.

          • Роман Бронцевич

            How could it be with a 9×18 round?

          • Роман Бронцевич

            These pistols are used by SF AND regular army forces instead of Makarov for the same reason US Army uses Beretta instead of single stack 380 glock or similair
            Ukrainian SF use Glock or something more modern nowdays.
            Like Fort-14 9 mm Luger
            APS is still widespread anyway…

            >>Spetsnaz uses them because of select fire. There are other, better pistols than Mak, but APS and APB is something unique

            You`re absolutely mistaken here

          • Sermon 7.62

            Explain, please.

    • Роман Бронцевич

      And, if you tried one, you would know, that its pretty uncontrollable on FA 🙁

      • Sermon 7.62

        It looks controllable in the clip I posted.

  • Darren Hruska

    The Belgians have already created something that’s nearly a modern incarnation of Colt’s very innovative SCAMP. It’s the VBR. Granted, it may have a stock and an integrated foregrip (which some may argue denies it from being a “pistol” by ATF rulings), but it’s still perhaps just as compact as the Cold War era SCAMP.

    • The 7.92 VBR (short) is on the upper end of the suitability scale in terms of recoil. Also, we haven’t heard anything from the parent company of the VBR in years, and it looks like they only made one prototype…

      • Darren Hruska

        Well, the SCAMP is also a one-off prototype that’s also been not much more than silence for many years also. So, they have that in common! Heh! But yes, I digress. A “standard power” 8mm (about .31 caliber) cartridge is about the most you’d want in an automatic handgun. Light and fast is the key to a low-recoiling machine pistol. Something from the .20 to .25 caliber range, with a bullet that weighs somewhere from 20 to 40 grains. That sounds ideal.

  • roguetechie


    Sometimes I swear we’re on the same mental wavelength…

    I’ve been looking into this exact same issue, and more or less coming to similar conclusions.

    Rotating barrel locked breech in 7mm Penna is what I figured I’d try.

  • Thamuze Ulfrsson

    The Colt Scamp should never have been abandoned, it’s such a badass little firespitter.

  • RetroG

    I’ll bet you could virtually eliminate jump and recoil using the 22tcm and an efficient muzzle break like the 38Super comps that pushed the muzzle down. Couple that with a burst mode of 3-4 rounds and a 15-20 magazine, would make it an effective PDW.

  • Kelly Jackson

    My preferred Modern Warfare 2 side arm.

    • Kivaari

      The biggest problem with guns like your illustration is they don’t handle like a pistol.
      It’s a cool mini-SMG. It’s the kind of gun where I’d pack a pistol AND one of these. I did that in the past with a Mini-Uzi and a M92.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Russian police at least train with a target stance using the gun, but it actually has a folding stock which I imagine is probably a more useful way to deploy it.

        • Kivaari

          I’d take a PM over this thing. Unless, I could carry both. The PM handles like a pistol, not a club.

      • iksnilol

        About as long as a revolver with a 6 inch barrel. Honestly. I see no handling problems there. Sure, you can’t hide it as well as a Makarov but other than that I see no problems with it.

        • Kivaari

          It’s not just concealment, but the ability to draw if smoothly and under great control. The issue with odd shaped and balanced pistols is they don”draw” and “point” like a good fitting handgun. I’d rather have the handling and performance of a Glock 17 over a MP that handles like a Mauser 96. Make it a number two gun, and I’m all for it, since it amounts to a carbine.

          • iksnilol

            Still, I don’t think that the PP2000 has so bad balance. To me it seems just like a slightly heavier handgun.

  • After watching Broken Arrow last night with Larry Vickers commentary, I still like the beretta 93R with that funny holding flap on the trigger guard.

    • Will

      Not if you had to use it for real. That swing down handle induces a side-to-side dispersion when shot in full auto, as the gun pivots between both hands. This makes it less than optimal for any distance shooting. It also doesn’t seem to help in the recoil control situation. Ignoring that handle, and shooting it with a normal two-hand grip works much better. Frankly, it’s not comforting to have your off hand right up at the muzzle on that thing, and getting it there in a hurry really is pucker inducing.
      It won’t fit in a regular holster due to that handle and the mod made to the dust cover to mount it. If I had one, that handle and mount would be gone immediately. Well, as soon as I could find a milling machine, or a vice and file!
      Trivia: I was shooting that actual movie gun, with the real barrel installed (IIRC, the movie prop gun business {Stembridge} had two 93R’s). That was a fun class!

      I much preferred the Glock G18 (used in the “Waterworld” movie) to the 93R. I was confident I could dump 6 rounds into a head, although shorter bursts were preferred for better precision. More than 6 started to string a bit. I was 5’6″/120lbs, and loved that gun. No, I couldn’t accurately dump a 31/33 round mag, but why would you need to? You could cover more targets with shorter bursts and better hits, which is much more practical. That, and it fit into any normal Glock holster, which is a big attraction for real life use. These pistols were prior to the compensated barrel cuts model (G18C), so
      I don’t know how much that mod would effect muzzle control.

      If I knew I was going to be engaging groups of opponents, I would want an MP5 variant as primary in place of a G18, as long as it had a buttstock. Screw that -K version. Worthless, and yet with the Choate PDW stock added, a great weapon that you could maybe conceal under a loose enough coat. Here, again, the forward hand hold on the -K/(no stock) seemed to add to the inaccuracy of it. It typically took about 7k rounds to get an officer acclimated to that version (they called it a Room Broom). (that was pre- Choate days. I’m inclined to say anyone using one without the Choate folding stock is a fool. Hmm, except for Arnold, of course (T2)!

  • Dave L

    .22 tcm on a wide body RIA…Been done. Amazing results. It was created at LMO in las Vegas back in 2014 as a demo for the owners of armscor. Still… Control was difficult, so it required a forward grip…then to protect the front hand, the pistol was fitted with a long “spoon” style compensator derived from the PM-63.

  • Joseph Goins

    For plinking, and general enjoyment:
    ♫♫♫ I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now. ♫♫♫

    For any real self defense, home defense, Red Dawn, zombie apocolypse, or SHTF:
    The only one I would ever be caught dead with is the Glock 18 or Uzi.

    I wouldn’t consider an MP5 or anything similar a “machine pistol” for the purpose of this article because the magazine does not go in the grip. (Yes, I know it’s name is “machine pistol.”)

  • Cymond

    “Bringing the bore down lower in the hand is one way to achieve this, so perhaps inspiration could be taken from 25 meter Olympic rapid fire sport pistol design. One way to do this would be to use a forward-mounted receiver, which sacrifices feeding the ammunition through the grip, but that is a relatively modest trade-off if controllability can be achieved.”

    That sounds sorta familiar…

    • gunsandrockets

      Wow, that is one homely pistol. Interesting though.

      • That is the Kriss functional prototype, IIRC.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Huh. I was sure it was a Weirding Module prototype. Inyuk Chuk!

          • mechamaster

            LOL, Wierding Module !

            It’s like “FUS-RO-DAH !” Gun

          • Hurri Cane

            “Inyuk Chuk!” was Apache Chief from Super Friends! Also starred in “Chief’s Tee Pee” and “Chief’s Totem Pole” though he’s not proud of those lol

      • Cymond

        As Nathaniel said, it’s the Super V prototype. Sadly, I can’t find a firing video anymore, and all the original links are broken.

    • Benigmatica

      Put the magazine feed upside-down so it can accept P90-style magazines.

  • Alexandru Ianu

    There were 32 ACP pistols in the 30s with select fire capability (obviously steel framed), so those might qualify.

    There is also a PMR-30 select fire on YouTube and the rate of fire is around 1200 rpm. It was very controllable, but only because it had a stock and vertical grip. There didn’t seem enough space to add a rate reducer.

    As for 5.7, I think it’s a bit too strong for the role.

  • Maybe a good start would be a “fire on release” trigger (like Fostech’s latest design) for Glocks or similar plastic fantastic pistols?

    • I’d buy one for sure.

    • ostiariusalpha

      That would be even easier on a striker-fired pistol than it is on an AR-15, since all it has to do is release the sear at both positions.

    • Tassiebush

      That’d potentially mean a sizeable market for the concept to be refined in a variety of configurations.

  • Edeco

    I dont believe in bottlenecked pistol cartridges. I know they feed naturally and give high ME/recoil, and maybe are better against armor, but overall I say take all the cross section the case will allow.

    I say G17L with fluted barrel and giggle-plate in 7.62×20 Lounge-pistol.

  • Shankbone

    Kel Tec has a video or two on YouTube where they fire a PMR 30 in FA to test the magazine. I would post a link, but I bought a PMR 30 yesterday, and I want to go shoot it.

  • Kivaari

    I am a 9mm fan. MANY people think it is too weak. Yet, here it is too much. A little .22/5.7 three shot burst pistol may have a place – maybe. It just can’t be used as a substitute for a conventional pistol. unless some kind of handling can make it as ergonomic as let’s say a Glock 17. What I’ve seen with the few designs that have hit the bricks, is none of them handle well. Perhaps we just need to practice more with our conventional guns and carry a second firearm like the HK. It isn’t a pistol and nothing replaces a good pistol for packing.

  • What about a lanyard that goes around the firing shoulder to act like a stock, with a Y-shaped end that attaches both at the base of the grip and to an extended beavertail? A significant part of the difficulty in controlling a hard-recoiling pistol comes from having to simultaneously fight the rearward push of recoil and the upward jerk of muzzle flip; a Y-end lanyard would let a shooter drive the pistol away from the shoulder using the muscles of the entire arm, and use leverage between the web of the hand and both attachment points to counter the two perpendicular motions of the pistol at once. The Glock stock that attaches at the base and also has a brace that comes over the firing hand to meet the beavertail doesn’t just eliminate slide bite, it’s also much more stable than the original design that solely attaches at the base.

    Combine something like that with an auto-seared Glock 21 converted for .22 TCM (or Glock 17 in .22 TCM 9R), and I think you’d have a proper machine pistol that would be controllable enough to be practical while still being as concealable as any other pistol under a blazer or jacket; standard magazines would account for a fast response, and a brace of extended magazines on the support side for an extended engagement afterward.

  • Tim

    Much as I like the “build a better mousetrap concept…”, a machine pistol probably won’t get a path to your door.
    Guns are always about a tradeoff between stopping power and some other variable. Even if the ergonomics are resolved thru some combination of pistol geometry and cartridge selection, for close in gun fighting the “bigger is better” crowd will prevail, and that’s not a machine pistol niche.
    On the other hand, I’ve seen and built guns with such a high cyclic rate of fire that initially (for the first few shots) there is negligible muzzle rise – the mass of the pistol and hands/arms are much too great. So what I’m suggesting is a low bore axis (probably striker fired) and two or three round burst fire. I predict the groups would be small because the gun is still under control. I doubt few people could dispute the stopping power of three 9mm in a 5″ group versus even a .45ACP.

    • Re: SCAMP burst fire, I said “a prototype .22 caliber burst fire pistol design.”

      Burst fire is certainly an option, but I think the lethality discussion has more to do with how it’s presented than anything else. But I plan to talk about that later.

  • IndyToddrick

    The best use of a FA pistol has got to be in confined spaces, like a car or ship. Firing a FA pistol from such a confined space has got to be a lot easier, and faster to action, than a long gun. It’s a niche role, but if you are a spy or a Navy Seal then you might want to use one on rare occasions. And you’d probably want at least a light suppressor to mitigate recoil and protect your ears while confined spaces.

    5.7 armor piercing ammo has got to be the best way to go. I’ve never shot one, but I can’t imagine with a suppressor it would have that much recoil.

  • Hotel55

    Does anyone know if a vertical foregrip has been tried on a G18? One would fit right on the light rail and should help dissipate rise, I would think

    • I believe in one instance the grip broke the pistol frame when used on the G18. The polymer dust cover of the Glock flexes easily under pressure when a grip is installed.

      • Hotel55

        OK, thanks

        • It would work great on one of those old aluminum CCH Raceframes for the Glock.

    • gunsandrockets

      Another person linked an interesting video showing full-auto converted Glock 17 with a foregrip and shoulder stock. Seemed to work pretty well.

  • Oronzo

    – machine pistols are cool, but useless
    – this is more true, considering loss of favor for SMG
    – Even assault rifle have gone down the 3 burst road

    It make little sense to have untrained pple missing with the first shot.
    Missing with the full magazine in a short burst make even less sense.
    Spray & pray at the utmost level….

  • Kjk

    Has a machine pistol ever been useful for anything? Any examples? They are pretty cool but what’s the point, to empty a mag in a second and not hit anything?

    • The idea here would be to bring the concept to a point where you’re emptying a magazine in about 3 seconds and hitting with all your shots.

      • Klaus Von Schmitto

        Hitting what with all your shots? 3 guys? 13 guys? If it’s the latter, 3 seconds would be really good shooting if you’re still alive to discuss it. If it’s the former, I can do that and have half a magazine left over for the next 3.

        • I think you are severely underestimating the kind of magazine capacities we are talking about here.

  • Able_Dart

    Apply the LSAT design envelope (polymer case, telescoped) to the 6.5 CBJ and you’d probably get something the size of the .380 ACP. Then chamber the B&T TP380, with a redesigned locking system, for it.

    • Sign me up! I love the format of the B&T TP380, but not a big fan of the .380 (although it could be cool in .32 NAA).

  • mechamaster

    How about Strizh ( Strike-One ) Pistol with select-fire ( 2 / 3-rounds burst ) in 6,5x25mm CBJ or .22TCM9R ?

    Forget the full-auto magazine dump. It’s useles except in very short range ambush ( like the origin of MAC-10 submachinegun idea that has very high rate of fire )

    • Giolli Joker

      You come late in the game, good find, though!

      • mechamaster

        Hahaha, yes…

  • Elvis

    Y’all are arguing the finer points of PDWs, and I’m just sitting here amazed at how similar the 22 caliber SCAMP ammo and 5.7 are. What’s old, is new.

  • gusto

    Anybody ever try a upside down bullpup pistol?

    everybody tries a lower and lower bore axis today so wouldn’t having the barrel under the arm help even more?

    no iron sights obviosly but there could be a reddot or someting

    • Giolli Joker

      Beside losing any chance of instinctive shooting, instead of muzzle rise you would have a (possibly harder to control) muzzle dip.
      It’s not that the shot raises the barrel by definition, it’s just the force acting on a point offset from the fulcrum (in the hand) that creates torque, being that point usually above the fulcrum you get muzzle rise.
      Ideally you could eliminate it by placing the barrel along with the axis of the arm, like a palm pistol or the Kriss prototype posted here in a comment.
      It opens to a new series of issues though: size, weight distribution, handling, feeding…

  • The reason some full-auto rifles are controllable and some are not has to do with recoil impulse of course but equally important is how low the bore line is in relation to the buttstock. For instance, a full-auto Mini14 will experience much more muzzle climb during burst fire than will an M-16. The Mini-14’s bore is inches higher than the buttstock. The M-16, on the other hand, enjoys the advantage of having the heel of the butt exactly in line with the bore.

    This same logic could be put to work with a machine pistol. The Chiappa Rhino, even though it’s a revolver, has the bore line more in line with the shooter’s hand. This could be carried over to automatic pistols as well. It would require placing the barrel below much of the action and perhaps designing a grip that places the shooter’s hand directly in line with the bore.

    Whether these things could be done while still keeping the machine pistol as portable as a semi-auto would determine the question of usefulness.

    • I agree:

      “In conjunction with this, the pistol’s ergonomics should be reconsidered. Standard handgun ergonomic design works well for semi-automatic weapons, but as with select-fire rifles, a different configuration would likely pay significant dividends in controllability of a new machine pistol design. Bringing the bore down lower in the hand is one way to achieve this, so perhaps inspiration could be taken from 25 meter Olympic rapid fire sport pistol design. One way to do this would be to use a forward-mounted receiver, which sacrifices feeding the ammunition through the grip, but that is a relatively modest trade-off if controllability can be achieved.”

      • Another thing that might help would be to find a way to take advantage of the fact that most pistol shooters prefer a two-handed grip. Shooting any full-auto firearm one-handed is a disaster. It would be especially important with a machine pistol. A potential design feature that could make one manageable would be to design a truly helpful way for the off hand to add control.

  • KansasGunner

    The issue is not that select fire pistols are a solution in search of a problem, rather they are a sub optimal solution for every problem they have been tried to solve compared to other weapons. Fully automatic fire in a handgun platform is uncontrollable without a stock, and once you add a stock or fore grip you have defeated the size and packaging advantages of a handgun, the rise of dedicated PDWs like the P90 and the HK-7 are proof that once the shortcomings of a select fire pistol are considered a slightly larger, more controllable and higher capacity weapon is the logical choice. If something has been tried continually for a century and found to be unworkable, it is a pretty good indication that concept itself is so inherently flawed that it is likely beyond being made into a practical, real world weapons system.

    • How many full auto small caliber pistol-sized weapons have been made in the last century, though? A handful? So I would say THAT concept has not been tried to death.

      I have a suspicion that we may be in a position now that is analogous to a world where the assault rifle concept is considered impractical because the only examples that exist are conventional stocked full power guns like the M14.

  • POsP-Eye

    A couple of the weapons and cartridges referenced in this article were new to me (and very interesting, and I will definitely be reading some about them momentarily) – which probably means that I should keep my mouth shut since I’m most likely out of my depth here – BUT…
    If someone really wanted to pursue this further – or at least scare up some good fodder for future articles [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] – I remember seeing a YouTube vid some time ago of one of the Kel-Tec guys shooting a CMR-30 they made full-auto. (It had a wicked fast cyclic rate too!) Anyway, those Kel-Tec dudes seem pretty friendly in all the interviews *I’ve* read/watched. Why, I’d even bet that someone at TFB might just know how to contact someone at that company. Pitch them the idea of working the same mojo on a PMR-30 and letting you in on the results. Seems like a relatively easy starting point. And who knows? After that article or video does well, maybe some of the other products mentioned above will be made available.
    You guyses gotss the connectionses. Make it happen!
    I await the rapid fire awesomeness. 😀

  • Mike Zacher

    I am a US Marine. Fired my share of “fully auto”. its only for show. burns up the barrel too fast, got to reload to much, can not control the barrel. If I was to use fully auto. Do it as the crew serve machine guns. Get 2 and each one shoot a couple or few more at time. Stop. Let the other shooter do the same. You can fire longer. and its much more accurate

  • TheHobodemon

    Design concept to add to the list: if KelTec ever releases the PMR33, the .22 LR version of the PMR30, a version with a suppressor and 3 round burst capability could prove effective for certain applications where a soft target and fast response time are given factors, like bodyguarding or other private security concerns. And hom defense.

  • Giolli Joker

    That’s the one that I was linking and it’s been in the limbo for quite a while!

    It’s a converted Glock 17, not a Glock 18, though.

    BTW, I remember Alex’ visit to MWS prior to SHOT2015 focused on their ION “PDW” in 22TCM.
    Since then nothing.
    Apparently they have also a cute/interesting Boberg conversion in 22TCM-9R (with youtube test as well).

    • I would be all over the Boberg conversion, or ideally, a Kahr TP9 with a 9×23/.38 super 1911 magazine, so that it could shoot both .22TCM and .22TCM 9R. An ultralight, ultra thin single stack in .22TCM / 5.7×28 has always appealed to me.

    • Stan Darsh

      I think a real-life KAP 40 in 5.7 or 22TCM would make the ideal machine pistol.

  • Giolli Joker


  • Giolli Joker

    Ahahahahahahah at least three of us found it and linked it. 🙂

  • me

    Love my .22 TCM/9mm 1911. It feeds the 9r as well as standard 22tcm with out any problem. I will say that the accuracy of that cartridge leaves something to be desired. My group’s are half the size when I use the 9mm conversion barrel.

  • Роман Бронцевич

    APS with its wooden stock/holster attached takes so much space and weight that you could take an AKS-74U instead.
    with real bullets, not the 9×18 ))

    • Sermon 7.62

      That holster was in use before AKS-74U

  • Evil_Bonsai

    *Tumescence increases*

  • Vizzini

    As the article alludes, nobody’s ever found a way to make a controllable machine pistol smaller and lighter than the vz 61 scorpion. If it didn’t work out, it’s about time to hang up the concept.

  • Sermon 7.62


  • gunsandrockets

    A three round burst FN Five-Seven is certainly an interesting idea and worth trying. But I also think arbitrarily limiting consideration to machine-pistols of that size is a mistake.

    Because until the boundaries of what is possible and most practical are more fully explored, we lack the information to establish where those limits should be drawn.

    Do we really want to handicap our analysis, the same way overly conservative military establishments handicapped themselves when they tried developing semi-automatic rifles?

    • That’s a fair point, and I can certainly see the benefits of not limiting the analysis by arbitrarily defining the term of “machine pistol.”

      My stance is that the operative word in machine pistol is “pistol,” with pistol being a concealable sidearm that can be fired with one or two hands, and no stock. The “machine” aspect being the ability to fire either bursts or full auto. The G18, Beretta 93r, Stetckin being of ideal size, with the SCAMP representing the upper limit of size.

      I view the machine pistol as distinct from micro-subguns/ PDW’s such as the B&T MP9, HK MP7, PPS200, Uzi Pro, etc. These weapons work perfectly well for the PDW/CQB/Covert Operations role they were intended to fill, and we have enough data on them that it’s clear that this “subcompact subgun” system works perfectly well in full auto in either 9mm or similar calibers.

      The Machine Pistol represents one of the last frontiers of unperfected firearms tech (which I believe is the whole purpose of the article.) We have already mostly perfected the Pistol, PDW, SMG, SBR, Assault Rifle, Battle Rifle, Sniper Rifle, Shotgun, and Grenade Launcher.

      However, as of now there is no really viable Machine Pistol that offers any real benefit over either a pistol or PDW (other than perhaps the Stetchkin, which is pretty controllable.)

      This last hurdle is likely to only be overcome with the combination of burst fire, low recoil ammo (either lightweight 45-65gr 9mm projectiles or another caliber like 5.7×28, 6.5 CBJ, etc,) and a more intuitive sighting system that works better under stress (redesigned iron sights, green lasers, micro red dot, etc.) Those are the three legs that the machine pistol would need to stand on in order to offer a serious improvement over a regular pistol or PDW.

      The primary benefit of this type of system is to improve the ability of a pistol to rapidly incapacitate a threat at close range in the hands of a moderately trained shooter (training comparable to a US LEO, for example.) A 3 round burst landing within 0.15 of a second would offer terminal performance far beyond that of a single shot of 9mm, and would (if the system is designed correctly) offer a substantially higher chance of landing all 3 shots on target vs. 3 shots fired in semi auto at similar distances.

  • gunsandrockets

    With that stock and pistol grip added that PMR-30 is the same size as a CMR-30.

    Which of course leads me to wonder about a CMR-30 converted to full auto and the barrel chopped back to about 10 inches. Now that would be interesting indeed.

    • Evaris

      i’m fairly certain aside from the stock, it’s a good bit smaller than a CMR-30.

      That said, I wonder what it would be like if you could affix a CMR-style stock to the sides

  • “As for the attempts at select fire pistols there have been various Astra and Chinese select fire broomhandles, the Mauser 712, the Stechkin, Beretta’s model 93, the Glock 18, HK’s VP70M, various 1911 conversions, the MAC 11, Micro Uzi, Intratec’s KG, the Steyr TPM, CZ’s select fire CZ-75 and the Skorpion.”

    None of those are small caliber (below 0.300″).

    I think the biggest reason the SCAMP exists only as a prototype is because Colt didn’t continue development of it. Colt didn’t continue development of a lot of promising concepts, and in fact this was such a constant and baffling trend with that company that Daniel Watters and I wrote an entire podcast about it:

    Now, yeah, you can just throw out the “small arms don’t matter, that’s why they don’t receive funding” line, but that’s such a broad statement that it isn’t really helpful, especially given the nature of this blog.

    And neither did you really address my basic point, which is that if all you have are full power larger-caliber select-fire rifles, then the assault rifle concept doesn’t look very good, either. “Oh, the reason the assault rifle didn’t catch on is because they have too much recoil to be controllable in fully automatic”. I’ve gotten statements analogous to this from many commenters here, and it’s one that ignores my suggestion that manufacturers explore the design space of small-caliber machine pistols to see if, maybe, they might be useful.

  • “In addition, the movement of a heavy breechblock (such as on a MAC-10), disturbs the center of gravity and balance of a machine pistol, which can cause a “bucking” motion.”

    The only way to deal with this is to reduce the bolt thrust, so you must go smaller than 9mm.

  • I think there’s a lot to be said for an improved 8mm/.32 cartridge. I remember when the VBR PDW and it’s 7.92mm VBR were going around the web and the designed seemed to have a lot of promise. Armor-piercing capabilities in a compact cartridge with light recoil and large magazine capacities for a given length. Since another issue with machine pistols is capacity I think a weapon would benefit a lot from a cartridge like 7.92 VBR which was able to squeeze 19 rounds into a G17 magazine. You could easily get a 20 or even 25 round magazine that wouldn’t protrude nearly as much as the other rounds discussed (except .22WMR but I can’t take that seriously).

  • George

    Suddenly curious as to recoil characteristics of a 9×19 with an aluminum projectile at about 28 grains.

    Wish I reloaded, would try it…

  • Nicholas C

    Having shot a full auto 17 and a Glock 18C I can tell you that the porting makes a huge difference in control. It was much easier to get rounds on target with short bursts. Also the 18C did not push back as hard as the full auto 17.

  • Brad Ferguson

    It was done when Baby Face Nelson was part of the Dillinger gang. He had a full auto .45 or 38 Super, with a extended magazine. It also had a fore grip built onto the frame, so the machine pistol had 2 contact points. Nelson shot up the FBI, with that pistol.

  • buzzman1

    If anyone has an old Soldier of Fortune magazine stash look in the 1978-80 copies as I seem to remember a guy that had invented a 2000 rpm belt fed .22lr MG/MP.

  • Zebra Dun

    I’m thinking rate of fire is the key, slow it down and the Machine Pistol may be viable outside a gun fight in a Phone booth scenario.

  • Anon. E Maus

    I always felt the Beretta 93r hit all the key points of what a Machinepistol would need, rather than full-auto, it fired in three round burst, meaning you won’t really lose control of the gun or have it run away because you accidentally held the trigger for longer than you meant to, it also provided you with a very solid and positive forward grip for a second point of contact.

  • Doom

    Government really stomped on their own d!ck banning normal people from building guns in their garage. no one able to legally tinker in their garage and come up with innovations. instead they are expected to get ridiculously expensive and difficult FFL’s or even more difficult get picked up by a company to design things under their business. The more home designers there are honing their skills the higher chance the government has of getting its hands on cutting edge designs to keep us on top. but nah, masheen gunz r scry!!1!