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Schmeisser's MP-18,I - The First True Submachine Gun



When Germany began looking in late 1915 for a new weapon ideally suited for the “last 200 meters” of a combat advance, Hugo Schmeisser’s blowback submachine gun would prove to be the weapon that would set the standard for virtually all submachine guns to come. It was a fully automatic only weapon with a simple blowback action and a rather slow 400 rpm rate of fire. Although relatively heavy, the only real shortcoming of the MP18,I was its use of 32 round Luger snail drum magazines, which was dictated by the German military. These magazines were unreliable and difficult to load, but they were already in production and were a reasonable logistical answer in a time when material and production shortages were an endemic problem in Germany.

The MP18,I managed to see frontline combat only in the closing few months of World War One (50,000 were initially ordered, 17,677 were produced before the Armistice, and only an estimated 3,000 actually saw frontline combat use). During that time, however, it made a significant impression, easily convincing anyone with an open mind that this new type of weapon would play a major role in future wars.

After the end of the war, the Germany Army was prohibited from using submachine guns, so most of the existing ones (including the example in today’s video) were transferred to police organizations instead.

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