While we don’t see a whole lot of them on the battlefield today, the submachine gun was instrumental in shaping the armed conflicts of the 21st century.
Introduced shortly before the First World War, the submachine gun was designed to combine automatic firing capability with the light mobility of side arms and rifles. During that time, machine guns were bulky pieces of equipment that could not be easily carried during the heat of battle. Submachine guns, however, were ideal for the trench raids that became commonplace during the Great War.
Submachine guns continued to increase in both quantity and quality during the interwar period. In the United States, the most famous example is definitely the Thompson — which saw extensive use during the Second World War by American forces. German military leaders also took a liking to the design.
From that point on, submachine gun use continued to escalate around the world — until they were promptly replaced by what are now called “assault rifles.” These new weapons also had an automatic firing capability, but they also brought more range and accuracy. So, that brings us to where we are today where submachine guns are thought of as almost obsolete.
What happened to this classic weapon design, and how did it influence the development of other firearm variants?
We’ll take a deep dive into everything about the submachine gun in the video below uploaded by Forgotten Weapons.