In the tumult of World War I was born the idea of a “trench sweeper”—a pistol-caliber automatic arm designed for close-range urban and trench fighting. The submachine gun at first only interested criminals, but from 1931 until it was dislodged by the “assault rifles” of the 1950s, it was a staple of military firepower.

See if you can correctly answer the following questions about the submachine gun. (The answers follow at the end of this quiz. Try not to cheat!)

1. This heavy submachine gun was first and always associated with American gangsters of the inter-war years.

A. Thompson

B. Furrer

C. Lahti

D. Degterarev DP



2. This iconic Soviet design was issued in vast numbers, especially to tank-riding regiments, encouraging troops to get in close.

A. MP-40

B. CG-45

C. PPSh-41

D. Sten Gun


3. Which of these was considered the first practical submachine gun?

A. m/31 Suomi

B. MP18 Bergmann

C. Nambu

D. Reising Gun-


4. The Israeli Uzi was a close copy of the—

A. Dror

B. Beretta M1938

C. 8mm Nambu

D. Czech ZK 476


5. The Erma-built MP 38/40 was frequently misnamed the—

A. Dragunov

B. Garand

C. Schmeisser

D. Stoner


6. This budget SMG was derisively labeled the “Woolworth Gun,” because it was made for fewer than five British pounds.

A. Sten Gun

B. Sterling

C. Beretta

D. MAT-49


7. Some people question the HK MP-5 to be a true military submachine gun, because it—

A. Uses an intermediate power cartridge.

B. Fires from a closed bolt.

C. Doesn’t fire fully automatic.

D. Requires a college engineering degree to operate.


8. England chambered the Sten Gun in 9mm Luger because of—

A. U.S. isolationism before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

B. Huge stocks of 9mm captured by British forces in Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia.

C. British forces, which were just then adopting 9mm FN “High Power” P-35s.

D. The head of British Ordnance, who wanted to insult the French 7.65 Longue cartridge.


9. During World War II, the largest submachine gun magazine was the 100-round drum available for the—

A. Suomi m/31

B. Thompson

C. MP-40

D. PPSh-41


10. German-born George Hyde designed this successful, long-serving SMG:

A. Suomi m/31

B. PPS-43

C. Uzi

D. M-3 “Grease Gun”






1. A: Thompson. The others were all full-power light machine guns. Furrer (Swiss), Lahti (Finnish) and Degterarev (Soviet).


2. C: The generation-one Soviet PPSh41 was a wood-and-steel gun. German MP-40s and British Stens were gen-two guns of steel only, and Sweden’s Carl Gustav 1945 was a favorite of the Cold War.


3. B: The Bergmann was designed by Hugo Schmeisser, who went on to immortality as the designer of the StG44—the first successful “assault rifle.” The m/31 Suomi went on to heroic success fighting Stalin’s hordes; the Nambu was Japan’s silly excuse for a submachine gun; and the Reising was a rear-area success and a front-line failure due to grotesque design flaws. Most ended up discarded in the rivers of, and off shore of, Guadalcanal.


4. D: ­Czech ZK 476. The failed Israeli Dror was a full-power copy of the 1941 Johnson; the 1938 Beretta was a gen-one SMG; and the egregious Nambu 8mm … is most charitably ignored.


5. C: Schmeisser. After Hugo Schmeisser, who designed the Bergmann and later, the StG44. Dragunov, Garand and Stoner all designed rifles.


6. A: Sten Gun. England’s Sten Gun was rushed into production early in World War II. The British Sterling, Italian Beretta and French MAT-49 were all carefully designed and manufactured weapons.


7. B: Fires from a closed bolt. A military weapon has to be capable of cooling the chamber to prevent cook-offs. Military SMGs stop firing with an open bolt to allow air to circulate. The MP-5 is designed for greater accuracy in police work. As a result, it uses a closed bolt, maintaining a chambered round.


8. B: Huge stocks were captured from the Italians. Brilliant lightning campaigns in East Africa netted millions of rounds of warehoused 9x19mm.


9. B: Thompson. The optional Thompson 100-round drum was seldom used but was available on the commercial market. Finland’s Suomi and the Soviet PPSh-41 both had 71-round drums, but the German MP-40 used a 32-round stick.


10. D: M-3 “Grease Gun.” Born George Heide, he immigrated to the United States and designed the M-3, which served from mid-war until after Desert Storm as a truck and tank-crew weapon. Finland’s m/31, the Soviet PPS-43 and Israeli Uzi all had long, successful careers.


Suggest a topic for a future Gun Quiz: E-mail Richard Venola at: [email protected]


Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the December 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.