Reising Submachine Gun: Good Initiative, Bad Design

The Reising is an example of a firearm design that worked perfectly in the rear but performed horribly in actual combat conditions. It was a Second World War era submachine gun that had much potential but ultimately failed the big test down range in use by frontline infantry units. Suffering from poor quality control, awkward controls, and a low magazine capacity, the Reising was readily discarded by Marines in the Pacific in favor of literally any other small arm than the submachine gun. However, this didn’t completely doom the 120,000 Reisings made during the Second World War as a large number were picked up by police departments across the United States and abroad. These law enforcement officials found the Reising to be ideal for their purposes, being much cheaper than most equivalent submachine guns. It wasn’t being utilized in the jungles of Guadalcanal, thus it proved to be much more reliable on in urban environments where it could be easily kept clean and maintained.

There were three variants of the Reising, the full length, short barrel, select fire M50. The wire folding stock, select fire M55 in use/designed for Marine Paratroops (not used as used in WW2). And finally the full-length barrel, semi-automatic only M60 that is non-NFA legal to this day. A number of law enforcement departments were interested in the M60 because of the ease of purchase.

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Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • codfilet

    Why is the M60 not legal? Too easily converted to FA? I have a couple of the H & R reising semi-auto .22 rifles, and they are indeed odd, with the finger hole in the stock for cycling the action.

    • Tom

      “And finally the full-length barrel, semi-automatic only M60 that is non-NFA legal to this day” Not sure if its been changed but certainly implies its a non NFA item to me.

      • UnrepentantLib

        I think that was just an awkward way of saying the M60 didn’t fall under the NFA, since it was semi-auto only.

        • codfilet

          Hmmm…I wonder why I’ve never seen one.

          • Anonymoose

            Cops probably melted them down when they replaced them and/or the company didn’t sell to non-governmental agencies?

      • codfilet

        I guess I just saw “non” and “legal” and put them together.. In many years of collecting, I’ve never seen one.

        • UnrepentantLib

          I saw one at a gun show quite a few years ago. They don’t seem to be very common.

        • Tom

          I think that is a reasonable to take. I think it would be better to have described it simple as a non NFA or legal rather than putting the two togeather.

  • Dan

    So…Was it 25% of the cost of a Thompson or was cost 25% less than a Thompson, BIG difference.

  • Oregon213

    Not to jump on the grammar/syntax police bandwagon here… but…

    “M55 in use/designed for Marine Paratroops (not used as used in WW2)”

    What does this mean? The gun wasn’t used as it was used in WW2, the Marines weren’t used as used? I’m confused.

    Marine Paratroopers made jumps, some of the raiders jumped early enough that they likely had Reislings. Maybe not?

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Hey man, I didn’t write it. Talk to Miles, I am sure he can clear it up.

    • Drew Remington

      Lol. It got me too. Paramarines never conducted any combat jumps. Raiders, aside from previous Paramarines that filled the ranks, were not jump qualified.

      • Oregon213

        Yep, I’m in the wrong with that. No jumps made. I was getting confused with Army jumps in New Guinea and the Philippines.

        I guess the paratrooper model Reisling was never jumped with into combat then?

  • Hoplopfheil

    Whoa that’s a lot of saturation boost!

    Unless you’re a natural orange. 🙂

  • clampdown

    The M50 model with the wood stock and short barrel is a beautiful firearm, all other concerns aside.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Just watched ‘Our Man Flint’ and ‘In Like Flint’. Both heavily feature US security forces using Reising rifles. Looks like Hollywood got some of them.
    I was wondering what those weird looking rifles were then this article came out. Very good timing.