Submachine guns through the years

Hollywood has a tendency to portray people equipped with submachine guns not necessarily by historical accuracy but by what the props department has in stock. TV Tropes has a page about this. So I was curious just what actual submachine guns soldiers, spies, criminals or police would have actually been equipped with in a particular decade. The mostly US-centric list of firearms I can think of goes like this:[ul][li]1920s: submachine guns not broadly known to general public. Either a Browning Automatic rifle, an early version of the Thompson gun, or the German MP-18.[]1930s: the famous “Tommy” gun, the B.A.R.[]1940s: The Thompson gun, the M-3 “Greasegun” and the M-2 select fire carbine. The British had the Sten gun. The Germans had the MP-38 and MP-40.[]1950s: The only major replacement I know of was the British phasing out the Sten for the Sterling smg.[]1960s: many new submachine guns were designed in this era such as the MAC-10 and the Uzi, but I don’t know how widely they were adopted until later.[]1970s: H&K MP5?[]1980s: compact submachine guns and machine pistols become widely used by drug organizaitons such as the MAC-10 and -11, the TEC-9, etc.[/ul][/li]
The Soviet Union manufactured many smg designs over the years, but I’m unaware of if they were widely available or used outside of the East bloc. French, Italian, etc. firearms I know little about. And finally this list ignores full-fledged assault rifles.

Not sure how many actual criminals use(d) SMGs, once you leave the Roaring 20’s behind. Terrorists certainly do, so you’d want to include the Skorpion Vz 61, from 1961 onwards. I believe Carlos the Jackal’s group used them during the Vienna OPEC hostage taking.

The only infantry that I know were issued SMGs in large numbers were the Israelis with the Uzi as you’ve already mentioned, and the Soviets/North Koreans/Chinese with the PPSh-41 “burp gun”.

Did you want to include cut down assault rifles like the CAR-15 or AKS-74U “Krinkov”? How about the M-1 carbine, which though not an SMG, seems to fit in close to the same niche?

Oh, and almost forgot, I guess the US is looking at the FN P90 which can be had in full-auto as well.

Seldom seen Smith & Wesson Model 76 from the 60s.

From what I remember, Hollywood mostly had MAC-10s and Uzis and M16/M4 varients in the 70s and 80s.

In the 90s, you saw a lot more H&K MP5s and Steyr AUGs.

The FN P90 has become a favorite weapon (as seen on Stargate SG1) in the past decades

THAT’S what that one is!

Lumpy, have you ever seen a movie in which someone carried a Sterling? I don’t think I have.

Was it someone running with Dillinger who packed a BAR, or was that Clyde Barrow?

Clyde Barrow. I believe he stole some from a National Guard armory.

Here’s a picture of his arsenal:

You can clearly see two BARs standing up, along with several other firearms.

Nitpick: the Uzi was first issued in 1951, although I doubt it was seen outside the country before the 1960’s.

Intrestingly, the Israeli obsession with really short guns continues unabated. Hence the IDF’s new general-issue weapon (to enter service within the next few years) - the MTAR. It’ll probably start showing up in movies by the middle of the decade.

UNIT carried and used Sterlings in Doctor Who back in the early 70’s.

The BAR was hardly a submachine gun by any accepted definition - it fired the .30-06 rifle cartridge, and it weighed about 19 pounds. Really, it was an early “battle rifle,” a predecessor to the M14 and FAL. An automatic rifle firing a full-power cartridge. I don’t think the BAR was very well liked by the men who had to carry it in the field; it was not known for its ease of handling. But Bonnie and Clyde probably liked it because it would have been effective against guys inside cars.

For Europe and South America, perhaps the Beretta Model 12?

One of the bad guys in Robocop who is robbing that convenience store has a semi-auto long-barrelled Sterling SMG.

And more famously, the Stormtrooper Blaster Rifles in the Star Wars films are all modified Sterlings as well.

The BAR was actually more popular amongst gangsters in the '20s and '30s than the Thompson because it had a longer range and could shoot through cars (it fired the .30-06 rifle cartridge). The National Firearms Act of 1934 was actually passed in response to all the gangsters with Thompsons and BARs- the $200 tax on automatic weapons was almost the same price as a Thompson SMG and made the combined price of a Tommy Gun about nearly $10,000 in today’s currency.

In the 1940s and 1950s the Russians had the PPSh-41, and in the 1950s and 1960s the French were using the MAT-49 which appears in a few movies set in that period (including The Day of The Jackal.

Aahh, the BAR! I trained with one in the Corps in the early sixties, and it was a handful. Heavy, and about four inches longer than an M-1, the Marine rifle squad of the time was built around three BARs. We were told that if a squad was reduced to three men, they should all be carrying BARs.

BARmen were also the smallest guys in the squad as the weapon would draw the most enemy counterfire, and small guys made more difficult targets.

The BAR had a magazine capacity of 20 rounds. It scarcely seems that it would be long enough to attract fire to a BAR man’s location, though, in fake life, we had a choice between Caje and Kirby.

And, to be formal, the BAR was a light MG, not a SMG.

Spent some time on boards oriented toward the works of Joss Whedon. There care must be taken differentuating “SMG” from “Sarah Michelle Gellar,” or “Buffy,” and “sub-machine gun,” the weapon of choice for the rest of us left behind to battle demons.

The Ipcress File (1965). Michael Caine and his MI5 colleagues use Sterlings in a shootout scene.

IMFDB lists a few movies with Sterling SMG’s; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dark of the Sun, The Wild Geese and three James Bond movies amonst them.

Bullpup designs (magazine behind the tigger) and good for close quarters combat because they are short but you don’t sacrifice barrel length. The disadvantage is they can be awkward to reload.

The reloading problem is one of the reasons they’re only being issued to new recruits. If you’re used to a regular rifle, operating a bullpup can be very counterintuitive; but if it’s the only rifle you’ve ever used, that’s not an issue.