My Choice

After Sunday’s post about sub-machine guns, I guess I’d better reveal my choice:

French MAT 49

I’ve fired most of the others (especially the Uzi while in the army, and the MP40 — actually, an MP-38, but whatever) but never got a chance with the MAT-49.

However, after watching this range report, I picked it over the others.

  • slow-ish rate of fire (~600 rpm), so it’s easier to squeeze off singles or double-taps
  • solidly made and reliable
  • easily stowed without having to take the mag out
  • and it looks the bee’s knees when the mag is swung into battery:



In the hands of an untrained shooter, a slow rate of fire is preferable to that of, say, the Suomi, S&W 76 or MP-40 because it’s more easily controlled.  That’s why the French never bothered with a selector switch.  (Anyone who’s ever fired an M3 Grease Gun, which has a similarly-low rpm and no selector switch, will know what I’m talking about.)  I also like the front grip, because as any fule kno, one way to make a magazine malfunction is to hold it while shooting.

The reason I picked the 9mm cartridge over the .45 ACP et al. was that the Europellet is the most common caliber among subbies, thus yielding a wider choice.

And yes, I’d happily go to war with any of the choices I listed — so there are no wrong answers, in my book.

Seems like this was a popular “conundrum”-type post, so expect more as time goes by.


  1. I thought that you might sneak that “under the radar” MAT in on us. These days most younger shooters have never even handled an old school SMG and their experience and knowledge comes from people like the highly respected Ian at Forgotten Weapons or by watching the weapons being used (probably incorrectly) in the movies or on TV. Remember that two generations ago we all thought that Thompsons were cool because Vic Morrow carried one in “Combat”. What did Chuck Norris do for the popularity of full auto Mini Uzis? How about the A Team’s Mini 14s?

    French weapons are apparently quite good. Again just ask Ian. However they don’t get much if any screen time here in the States. When polls such as yours come up we tend to pick the things that we’re most familiar with. I was sort of surprised that the Suomi did so well but most gun guys are pretty familiar with the Winter War.

    I think that as Americans we have little respect for the weapons used by armies we regard as inept. The popular myth of the quick and shameful fall of France to the Germans in 1940 is a result of German propaganda. Many French units fought the Germans hard and were still fighting and doing a good job when the French government collapsed. Yet we believe that when the first machine gun armed Panzer 1s appeared, French soldiers threw down their weapons and ran. Our mindset says that if the French were defeated so easily their small arms must have been no good and why would we even waste out time with a French weapon that was carried – and dropped – by losers. Yeah I know that the MAT is a post war design but that attitude of French incompetence lasts to today.

    We see the same attitude about Italian arms. In their case it was British propaganda that created the myth of Italian stupidity and cowardice. The greatest problem with the Italians was that they built up their army under Mussolini too early. Today we forget how poor Italy was in the 1920s. They had enough money for one shot at military technology and spent it way too early. By 1940 the Italian army was obsolete. Not so for the navy or air force but that’s a topic for another time. Italian rifles and pistols were serviceable. Their light and heavy machine guns were nothing to brag about but those opinions come from British authors who have refined mocking the Italians to a high art. Even so they discovered like the Swedes and Japanese that a softer shooting 6.5mm cartridge was just as effective as the more powerful .30-06, 8mm Mauser, or .303 British.

    I’m sure that nobody has read this down to the end so I’ll just close out by saying that like you Kim I’d be well served by any of the SMGs listed. I like the Suomi but the 9mm on my shelves will fit any of the guns. As for the Carcano I think that you’ve got a nice rifle that you’ll enjoy.

  2. “I picked the 9mm cartridge over the .45 ACP”? You okay Kim? If you’re being kidnapped post about Louisiana being the Pelican State. I actually see your point on the round variety. The slower rate of fire also cuts down on barrel rise. The Thompson submachine gun used an open top muzzle break to help compensate. Later the design was leveraged for the M16a2 to keep dust from flying up while shooting from a prone position.

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