By Lee Arten and Chuck Madurski
UNITED STATES SUBMACHINE GUNS – From The American 180 To The ZX-7
By Frank Iannamico
Moose Lake Publishing LL /C 631 N. Stephanie St. #562
Henderson, NV 89014
Reviewed by Lee Arten
A large, paperbound book, United States Submachine Guns has photos of 10 submachine guns on the cover. Inside, submachine guns are shown assembled, disassembled, being tested and demonstrated, and in combat. One photograph in Chapter V even shows a group of German paratroopers looking at a captured Thompson. A few of the older photos are dark, but most are well lit and clear.
Chapter 1 covers the development of submachine guns in Italy, the United States, Great Britain and Japan. German and Russian submachine guns are also discussed.
Chapter II takes up submachine guns tested by the U.S. between 1939-1942 including some really obscure guns than I had never even heard of before. The Atmed and the Woodhull submachine guns are two examples. Copies of the military test reports are included.
Chapter III deals with submachine gun tests held between 1942-1943. A 1911A1 pistol modified to accept a shoulder stock and a large magazine was briefly tested. The Hyde-Inland submachine gun was put through its paces, along with a British Sten MkIII. The chapter also includes photos of “dust” and “mud” boxes that were developed in an effort to standardize U.S. weapons tests.
Chapter V, “United States Production Guns 1921-1945” contained information on the various models of the Thompson. The section on the Blish lock was informative. Reading the following passage was almost painful. “By the time of the last procurement of the M1A1 Thompson, the price charged to the United States government had been reduced down to $42.94 per weapon.”
Two quotes on the Reising M50 stood out. “The total number of Reisings produced during the World War II period was 114,216 for guard, police and military use.” And, “Just a few of the foreign countries known to have purchased or used the Reising were: Great Britain, Russia, Canada, Australia, Indochina, Indonesia, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Nigeria, The Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica. The Finnish and German Armies captured and used a small number of U.S. Lend Lease Reisings from the Russians during World War II.”
The development, production and reception of the M3 (Grease Gun) is also covered. Iannamico reports GIs had a hard time adapting to the looks and the slow rate of fire of the M3 though it did find favor as a suppressed weapon for the OSS. The M3 cost the government around half of the price of the M1A1 Thompson.
U.S. submachine guns from the post war period are the focus of Chapter VI. Gordon Ingram’s Model 6 is in this chapter. “Three variations of the Model 6 were offered. First, was the “Police Model”. This weapon featured a vertical foregrip and a finned barrel. Next was the “Guard Model” which featured a horizontal foregrip and smooth barrel. A “Military Model” was offered with protected front and rear sights, sling swivels, and a provision to mount a ten inch spike bayonet.”
Iannamico reports that 15,000 Model 6s were produced in the U.S., and 8,000 in Peru. Iannamico’s text also made the tangled history of Ingram’s Model 10 clearer. Unfortunately, some text is missing between pages 277 and 278.
The Smith & Wesson M76 is also discussed. I read articles on the gun in Gun World when it was introduced in 1969. One of the articles dealt with a caseless version of the gun. Along with photos of standard versions, Iannamico includes a photo of the experimental, caseless M76.
Other production submachine guns included in the book are the American 180, the MK760, the Stemple 76/45, the Medea M3A1, Colt’s 9mm M16 submachine gun, and the Ruger MP-9.
Weapons once expected to replace the submachine gun in U.S. inventories, the M2 Carbine, M14 and M16, are discussed in Chapter VII. There are several Vietnam-era photos of the M16 in this section.
Guns in Chapter VIII were prototypes, made in limited numbers, or may have existed only as patent drawings. The Sidewinder, a 9mm submachine gun that could be held and fired with one hand, is discussed in this chapter. The trigger and guard were in front of the magazine and bolt knob, giving the Sidewinder a futuristic appearance. The cyclic rate could be changed by adding weight to the bolt.
“The cyclic rate of fire is reduced to 900 rounds a minute with one weight added and reduced to 750 RPM when both weights are added.”
A picture in the chapter shows the late Max Atchisson firing a .22 caliber Reising Model 65 he made into a submachine gun. Atchisson also converted a Thompson drum to .22 caliber for use with the Model 65.
Some of the innovative submachine guns shown in this chapter were developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Others were made just before the May 1986 ban on newly manufactured machineguns was enacted. Some of the innovators who developed them may still be working but, if so, their markets are now much smaller. Those restrictions may cost the U.S., in the long run, by discouraging engineers and inventors from designing new guns. (Many weapons used by U.S. forces were developed by civilians. John Moses Browning is a famous example.)
Chapter IX details the field stripping of several submachine guns, and an index end the book.
One of the first submachine gun books I bought was Thomas Nelson’s, The World’s Submachine Guns: Vol. I. The focus of United States Submachine Guns is narrower, but the two fit together well in my reference collection.
Weapons of the Navy SEALs
By Kevin Dockery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014
Reviewed by Chuck Madurski
Weapons of the Navy SEALs is an expansive compilation of the hardware, ammunition and other specialized tools used by the United States Navy’s elite SEALs. Among the world’s special forces, the SEALs are arguably the best trained and most capable. As such they are given a large degree of flexibility in selecting, testing and fielding their tools and tactics. The SEALs have used a dizzying array of arms during the 40 plus years of their existence. Many of the weapons that stir the imagination, such as the Stoner 63 and its variants, gained their reputation from their use by the SEALs.
Some of SAR’s readership will recall that Dockery wrote the now out of print initial reference on the SEAL’s weapons titled Special Warfare, Special Weapons a number of years ago. That was a large format book that covered individual weapons up to rifles, shotguns and hand grenades. Weapons of the Navy SEALs actually builds on the prior, covering everything in the old text with updates and added information. For example, Dockery gives info for sixteen H&K MP5 variants in the text along with an entry for the relatively rare HK54A1. Other unusual items the reader will find here are the H&K P11 underwater pistol, SEAL use of the Browning M2 water-cooled .50, and the fun Mark 25 Mod 0 7.62 Minigun on the Navy self-contained pintle mount.
Much more than a rewrite of the earlier book, Weapons is well over 50% new material. Picking up where Spec-War, Spec-Weps left off, the newly presented material covers machine guns such as the Stoner and the M60, the full family of 40mm grenade launchers, both hand held types along with the belt-fed models, and the bewildering variety of explosives and assorted nasties the SEALs have used so effectively over the years. The reader will find the most complete history available yet of the Stoner 63 machine guns here, including potentially controversial info regarding the model designations as purchased by the Navy. The 40mm guns and ammunition section is also unrivaled by any other text the reviewer is familiar with. Photos and descriptions are offered of the 3-barrel under-barrel model, the so-called “Pumper Thumper” 4 shot pump action grenade launcher and the wonderful Honeywell Mark 18 Mod 0. This last being the belt-fed hand cranked grenade launcher that fired the low-pressure rounds from the M79, et al. Among the useful and unique “infernal devices” detailed are the assorted booby traps that were used over the years, the Mk 5 Mod 0 Modular Limpet Mine Assembly that can be handled and placed by only two men, yet able to sink an aircraft carrier, the Dutch made NWM V-40 Mini Grenade which is about the size of a golf ball, and the ever popular hand-launched Mk 40 Mod 1 Depth Charge.
Weapons is arranged in a unique manner which adds to its readability. A number of the chapters are actually anecdotal descriptions in stories of SEALs in the field carrying and using the weapons that will be detailed in the subsequent pages. Following that, the subject matter is dealt with in a textbook fashion with discussion of history, development and eventual adoption (or rejection) of the subject by the SEALs. Items purchased by the SEALs as a group (like the early ArmaLite AR-15s) or individually are also well covered. At the end of these sections is the meat and potatoes if you will, the charted information by model number with nomenclature, brief descriptions and other data germane to the topic at hand. Most exciting and often missing from other similar reference works is an actual index to round things out.
Does Weapons of the Navy SEALs fall short anywhere? Yes, but this is a small complaint too. The format of the 15-chapter, 500-plus page book is a handy 6 by 9 inches. Good for easy carry and will fit most any bookshelf. But because of that, some of the photographs are smaller than would be ideal. This makes some of the detail difficult to make out at times, or when the photo is from a military text book page with built-in captions, the tiny text cannot be read. However, when compared to the wealth of indexed information contained inside, this really is picking nits.
A reference book, a text book, a story book, Weapons of the Navy SEALs is an almost outrageous bargain for the money when you consider the quantity and quality of the information provided. Thoroughly researched and documented, it is filled with new and often previously unavailable information. It is also well illustrated with photographs, many of which have never before been published. Author Dockery has written over 25 books, chief of which have been his biographies and histories of the Navy SEALs. As a result of the relationships he built in writing these books, he had unusual access to some of the most esoteric sources of data. Sometimes, he was the first person to dig through the near endless reams since archived. Dockery has crafted a highly readable and unique book that will be of interest to shooters, collectors and military historians alike. Readers will find themselves referring to its pages for years to come.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V8N4 (January 2005)|