Bergmann MP18-I SMGs found in Brazil

    When taking a second look at my recent post ( on the PASAM modified Mauser Schenellfeur selective-fire pistols used by PMERJ – Polícia Militar do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro State Military Police), I happened to notice something unusual in one of the photos (featured above): in the middle of a mountain of wooden holster-stock units, part of a different gun was barely visible. By enlarging said picture on the computer screen, it immediately looked like the mystery gun was a… German-made Bergmann MP18-I.

    One of the Bergmann MP18-Is found in a Rio de Janeiro Military Police warehouse.

    Phone calls to my always-helpful contacts allowed me to go back to the warehouse where I had found and photographed the Mausers in order to try to locate the crates where they were stored. And I did! There they were, in a dark corner of the building. Feeling somewhat like an Indiana Jones in search of a lost treasure, I eagerly started moving the pile of Mauser holster-stocks aside and, in fact, found something: a bunch (half-dozen or so) of rusty Bergmann MP18-I submachine guns!

    Markings on the magazine housing area of “4099”, the single example brought to daylight for pictures. Note small raindrops on gun. Rain or shine, TFB is on duty…

    Well, having figured out the guns’ basic ID, it was time to learn their origin, something almost impossible given the local caretakers’ obvious surprised look from my finding. The only markings visible were “Brevet Bergmann” on top of the magazine housing, an apparent serial number (e.g. “4099”) in the same area, and a large “S” (for Sicher, or Safe) in the cocking handle recess. Other than that, nothing.  So, I’m guessworking from now on.

    The bolt cocking handle secured in the “S” (Sichen, Safe) recess while in the open/retracted position, the gun’s sole applied safety device.

    The MP18, specifically the so-called MP18-I variant, has been known to have been used by some Brazilian police forces as early as the 1920s and, for sure, the 1930s, mainly in the 7.63 Mauser (7.63x25mm) caliber. One of its known users was the Força Pública de São Paulo (São Paulo State Public Force), the forerunner of the present Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Military Police), but I haven’t found clear references to its official employment by Rio de Janeiro’s LE agencies, either military or civil, in the past. But maybe this discovery may throw some light on the mystery.

    While the original MP18-I was fitted with a two-position (100-200m) open V-notch flip type rear sight, the examples found by TFB in Rio had more elaborate tangent open rear sights used in later MP28 models, adjustable from 100 to 1000 meters, the maximum (and highly optimistic!) range setting being shown in photo.

    Anyway, I was authorized to take one of the “lost” Bergmanns to outside the depot so that some photos could be taken. No, not a single 20- or 32-round magazine was spotted in the many boxes and crates I searched there. Enjoy!

    Another view of “4099” with the bolt forward and rear sight in the minimum (100m) setting. Surprisingly, the rusty gun’s action, when manipulated by the author, felt very, very smooth, like it had just come from the maintenance shop!

    The pioneer German “MaschinePistolen” displays its business end. The 7.63mm Mauser barrel is entirely surrounded by the perforated jacket, whose ventilation holes are also present in the muzzle cap. Note the massive blade front sight.

    Left side view showing where the magazine fits.

    The serrated button at the rear of the receiver is the disassembly catch: press it forward and swing the stock down on its hinge, away from the receiver. By pressing on the receiver cap and twisting it to the left and removing it, the return spring and bolt can be removed from the gun for basic cleaning.

    We just hope that “4099” and friends find a decent resting place on a par with their historical importance!

    Ronaldo Olive

    Ronaldo is a long-time (starting in the 1960s) Brazilian writer on aviation, military, LE, and gun subjects, with articles published in local and international (UK, Switzerland, and U.S.) periodicals. His vast experience has made him a frequent guest lecturer and instructor in Brazil’s armed and police forces.