I was just thinking of these the other day, and realized that the pistol caliber subgun is rapidly going the way of the revolver: it's something people see in old or period movies, but professionally armed youngsters have never used. I know all of one guy who still is issued an MP5 as his work long gun.
So, think of this as an oral history project. Do tell about your experience shooting or much better yet actually working with subguns, so we all have it as a learning point for the future before it is forgotten. Gun experiences, armorer tricks, reloading and pouches, ammo selections, sights lights and lasers, effective range, whatever.
Despite never shooting people for a living, I'll start with my brief experiences, of the ones I can recall at least:
- MP5 – And HK94 (semi) and HK53... all are much the same. Lovely, amazing devices as we all know or can surmise. One of the more controllable things at full auto, also. Some people hate the selector (to the point they do not even use it!), but despite a literally deformed small thumb I have figured out a grip that works great for me so it's not awful. Before the AR got rails, and RISs, The Modular Gun with the pin-on forearms and buttstocks and the nice scope clamp. Have not shot an MP5/40 or /10, would love to know how the bolt hold open works.
- Steyr TMP – Ergonomically amazing, stunningly nice small package, and then you fire it. Horrendous trigger, vastly too high an ROF, sights are too handgun-sized to be useful so must wear an RDS which makes it bigger and snaggier. I could never get it to not twist in my hand, so hard to control in a way unlike other subguns. Weird. Have not shot the B&T ones so no idea if they are better.
- Steyr MPi – Kinda like the ultimate evolution of the UZI. Slick, small, comfortable, easy to use, good trigger, decent stock that gets out of the way, darned good sights (precise but also plenty of room around to see splash and keep SA, somehow a very short lock time so the least-bad open bolt gun I have ever fired. Maybe easier to control at auto than the MP5. Minute-of-car past 250 yards with 6-8 shot bursts.
- PPS43 – Comically low rate of fire and utterly gigantic. Never actually fired a Grease Gun, but handled them: that size, and absolutely pointless seeming when you can get a Kalashnikov instead just a few years later. So much bolt travel that despite the big gun (so no recoil) and low ROF, it wobbles about oddly so is a bit hard to control still. Only used the stick mag, which was a bear to load, drums are supposedly worse.
- Sten – Surprisingly compact, and slick running despite comical ergonomics on whichever all-steel monstrosity I got to shoot. Medium-acceptable on lock time, trigger, sights, etc. but if you want to hit over 50 yards and not waste ammo, you need some practice time to get used to 2-3 round bursts and really holding the gun on target through it. Mags are in fact almost impossible to load by hand over about halfway. MUST use the loading tool which despite looking like a discarded part for a steam locomotive, works brilliantly.
I also have, FWIW:
- Owned a Calico carbine. Semi auto so not an SMG but I wish I could have fired one at auto. One of the cleverest designs I've seen in many ways. Forget the helical mag, the bolt, carrier, safety, method of disassembly etc. are lovely. If only all HK roller locks were this easy to get apart, and get into to clean.
- Shot a 16" Colt 9mm carbine quite a lot. Where we did it, indoors at close range and on steel so frangible etc. it was clearly hellaciously safer than a 5.56 gun but... that's it. I'd rather have a short 5.56, and these days a short .300 BLK. Which: I indeed both own so there you go.