Schmeisser MP-40 SMG

The Schmeisser MP-40 machine pistol (Maschinen Pistole or MP) was widely used by unit leaders in the German army in World War II. The MP-40 was based on the pre-war MP-38, made more suitable for mass production at reduced cost by use of stamped sheet metal parts instead of machined parts.

Soldier of the Légion des Volontaires Français with Schmeisser MP-40 9mm Submachine Gun, during WW II
Soldier of the Légion des Volontaires Français with Schmeisser MP-40 9mm Submachine Gun, during WW II. Thanks to "tokoto" for correct ID of the soldier's uniform.

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Schmeisser MP-40 Submachine Gun

The MP-40 Submachine Gun was admired by the Allied soldiers in World War II, the same soldiers who feared the sound of its easily recognizable bursts of fire. They referred to it as the 'Schmeisser', even though the company of weapons designer Hugo Schmeisser, famous for the Bergmann MP-18 submachine gun from WW I, had nothing to do with the MP38 or the MP40.

The MP-40 submachine gun manufacturing strategy (use of stamped sheet metal parts instead of machined parts) was later used by the U.S. in moving from the Thompson Submachine gun to the M-3 "Grease Gun" and by the British in the design of the Sten gun.

Schmeisser MP-40 9mm Submachine Gun with stock extended
Schmeisser MP-40 9mm Submachine Gun (stock extended).

The MP-40 was a blowback operated, full auto submachine gun that fires open bolt. The charging handle on the left side of the receiver is also used as a safety, locking the bolt in its forward or rearward position when placed into slots in the receiver. The rate of fire was controlled to 400-500 rounds per minute of the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, a good rate for control by the operator. The metal "bump" on the underside, near the end of the barrel was designed to help steady the weapon when firing from the port of an armored vehicle.

More than a million MP-40s were produced by Germany during the war. Its folding metal stock made it compact and easy to carry. (The MP-38 had wodden stocks.) The foregrip was made of high-pressure molded phenolin resin, reinforced with paper pulp. This innovative material also insulated the operator from the heat of the barrel and other metal parts. The 25 or 32 round single column magazine was considered troublesome, a weakness of the design.

MP-40 Schmeisser Specifications

Characteristic Data
Caliber 9x19mm Parabellum
Mode of operation Full auto
Rate of fire 500 cpm
Weight 8.7 lbs (3.97 kg)
Overall length 32.75 in (833 mm) with stock extended
Magazine capacity 25 or 32 rounds
Effective range 330 ft (100m)
Muzzle Velicity 1250 ft./sec

The book, The MP40 Submachine Gun , has a complete history of the MP-40 with many illustrations and operating diagrams.

At the YouTube Channel, the video Automatic Weapons: American vs. German (1943) compares the MP-40 to the M3 Submachine Gun and other weapons.

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