Top 5 Submachine Guns

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

    Featured firearms:

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

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

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

    Today’s top five is top five best SMGs.

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

    – Yeah, relatively cheap.

    And they’re just overall barrels of fun.

    – They are, they are.

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

    More than five SMGs that are close to our hearts.

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

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

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

    Let you take the old MP40 there.

    – Gladly. – Okay.

    And I guess I’m stuck with the Thompson.

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

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

    – It is.

    I don’t know.

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

    In America, that’d be more iconic.

    – True.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – You can’t do either, shut up.

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

    – It does wanna rise.

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

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

    But… – Yes.

    – Also this gun’s much heavier.

    Probably about two pounds heavier.

    – At least. – Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – As long as it works.

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

    – Yeah.

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

    – Yes.

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

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

    – Yeah.

    – I’ll say a draw for first.

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

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

    – Yes.

    – So, let’s move on.

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

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

    – Sure.

    – It is.

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

    – Unfortunately it never really took off.

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

    Also by some units in Turkey and whatnot.

    From what some viewers have actually emailed me.

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

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

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

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

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

    For sure.

    It’s a really cool gun, guys.

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

    For being a… – Well, I mean.

    For a wire stock, it’s…

    – It’s pretty bullet proof.

    – Super, super tight.

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

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

    – I don’t think that that was intended.

    – It can be done.

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

    – No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – Yeah.

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

    I mean, it’s light, it’s handy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – Yeah.

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

    – Something like that.

    – Somewhere around there.

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

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

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

    – It’s gonna be the Uzi nine millimeter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – Not the rising.

    – No, that thing’s kind of poop.

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

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

    – Ronald Regan was…

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

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

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

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

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

    – The MP40 does not have a telescoping bolt.

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

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

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

    – Right.

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

    – But, even this.

    – Yeah, that gun’s kind of an enigma.

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

    – Yeah.

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

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

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

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

    – Still true or not.

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

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

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

    – Yeah, you can hear that ratcheting right there.

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

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

    – Yeah. – We wouldn’t.

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

    – We’ll call…

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

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

    – Oh, yeah.

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

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

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

    – Sure.

    – Common rental gun in ranges in the United States.

    – Yeah, it’s just tough to kill ’em.

    – Yeah.

    They run, parts are cheap, too.

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

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

    – I’m gonna leave that extended.

    – Extended.

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

    Now, that is the AK MP5.

    The MP5 was truly revolutionary.

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

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

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

    – It’s this gun right here.

    – Yeah.

    The protection details, that’s the MP5.

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

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

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

    I mean… – It’s louder than this is.

    – It’s loud, it’s very loud, and…

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

    – It’s about the same.

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

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

    – No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So, Smith and Wesson designed the 76.

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

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

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

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

    Or, not as susceptible to water.

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

    The MK760 sometimes run into a few issues.

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

    Very cool guns.

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

    Kinda is what it is.

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

    Irvine MK760s.

    So, very cool gun.

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

    That’s gonna be the MAC 10.

    Now, this MAC 10’s been heavily modified.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – Yeah.

    – It was a little less manageable.

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

    But the MACs are great.

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

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

    – Yes, they do.

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

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

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

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

    – Yeah. – So.

    Keep on keepin’ on what you’re doin’.

    – No kiddin’.

    – And…

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

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

    – Yeah, they’re also the cheapest.

    Yeah, there is a two two three upper.

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

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

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

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

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

    Except legally, of course.

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

    We really enjoy these guns.

    All of them are military weapons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But, anyways guys, we appreciate you watching TFBTV.

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

    I know it’d make Patrick happy.

    – Yeah, always.

    – Yeah, anyways, thanks again.

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

    – Yeah, I don’t know about that.

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

    Alex C.

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