How Not to Design a Machine Gun
In May 1915, Canadian designers Alphonse Huot and Joseph Prefontaine applied for a patent for their new machine gun design. The aim of the Huot-Prefontaine Machine Gun, the designers claimed, was to “provide a compact, durable and efficient machine gun which can be operated either mechanically or manually and can... Read more
British Commandos Killed Quietly With Their Suppressed Sten Guns
The Royal Small Arms Factory built the first suppressed Sten submachine gun following a request from the Special Operations Executive — Britain’s World War II commando headquarters — for a weapon for clandestine missions demanding lots of firepower. Early experiments with suppressing the Thompson submachine gun — the weapon... Read more
Heckler & Koch’s Suppressed MP5 Is Only as Loud as a Shout
In the early 1970s, Heckler & Koch began work on an integrally-suppressed variant of its extremely popular roller-delayed blowback submachine gun, the MP5. The company designated the new suppressed weapon the MP5SD, “SD” meaning Schalldämpfer or “sound suppressor.” While all MP5s could be fitted with an external suppressor using... Read more
Smith & Wesson’s Suppressed Model 39 Was for Shooting Guard Dogs
Smith & Wesson developed its Model 39 handgun in the early 1950s in response to requests from the U.S. Army for a new, lighter service pistol chambered in nine-by-19 millimeter. When the initial interest from the Army evaporated, Smith & Wesson was left with a modern semi-automatic handgun —... Read more
The Side-Loading M1 Garand Was Not Meant to Be
In 1951 and ’52, the U.S. military’s official Springfield Armory began experimenting with re-chambering the M1 Garand with the new T65E3 light rifle cartridge. As part of these experiments, the armory tested several alternate feed and magazine systems. In order to re-chamber a standard M1 in the new cartridge,... Read more
This Gun Was Colt’s Attempt to Replace the Iconic M1911
In 1971 Colt unveiled a new modern service pistol, one that the company believed was the natural successor to the venerable Colt M1911/A1. At first glance, the Model 1971 looks very similar to the 1911. However, the new pistol incorporates some major changes. Developed by the Research and Development... Read more
The ‘Type Universal’ Was a Tiny, Tiny Submachine Gun
The odd-looking Hotchkiss Type Universal represented an extraordinary attempt at creating an extremely compact submachine gun. The need was obvious. In World War II, soldiers found themselves getting in and out of vehicles, jumping from planes and fighting in close quarters. They needed a weapon that wouldn’t get in... Read more
The MAC 47/1 Submachine Gun Had One Chance to Shine
The Pistolet Mitrailleur des Manufactures d’Armes de Châtellerault Modele 47/1 was one of a number of French compact submachine gun designs that various arsenals and private companies developed during the late 1940s. It was a product of the government arsenal Manufactures d’Armes de Châtellerault, an institution best known for its FM M24/29... Read more
Hiram Maxim’s Self-Loading Rifle Came Right Before His Famous Machine Gun
In 1883 Hiram Maxim designed a unique system that harnessed the recoil of a rifle. Maxim filed a patent for this system which, when the U.S. government granted it in April 1884, became his first firearm design patent — a year before his now-famous machine-gun concept patent. To prove his... Read more
The Hill H15 Submachine Gun Was Ahead Of Its Time
Developed by engineer and inventor John Hill, the Hill H15 submachine gun was decades ahead of its time. The H15 inspired the successful FN P90 but the Hill gun itself faded into obscurity. Hill began developing the idea for his futuristic-looking gun in the late 1940s, but it wasn’t... Read more
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