The first submachine gun since the Granddaddy of
Them All, the twin-barreled, Italian Villar-Perosa, the Bergmann/Schmeisser MP.18.1 was
designed by Germany's Hugo Schmeisser in 1916 and produced by Bergmann Waffenfabrik.
Setting the mold for submachine production into the
20th century, the MP18 saw limited action in the waning months of
World War I and later, in limited urban and guerilla conflict. Although the full extent of wartime
production is unknown, guesstimates have been made in the single-digit
thousands with a total production in the (low) tens of thousands. If you have
an original production MP18, hang onto it.
As a result of its withering firepower, production
of the MP18 was banned after World War I in the Treaty of Versailles. The
Germans continued to clandestinely produce it into the 1920s, and the MP18 saw
limited action again during World War II.
When the MP18 machinepistole
was first unveiled by German assault troops in the trenches of Europe, this
baby made a substantial impression on Allied forces, capable of unleashing a
fusillade of 9x19mm Parabellum rounds at an impressive rate of 500 rounds per
This weapon uses either a 20-round detachable box
magazine or a 32-round detachable drum magazine. The MP18 is heavy, tipping the
scales at more than 9 pounds, yet infinitely lighter and transportable than
crew-served machine guns. It is 32.8 inches long, sports a 7.9-inch barrel and
features an open bolt, blowback action.
Theodor Bergmann, the weapon's producer was key in revolutionizing 20th century warfare with
the production of the MP18. With it, Axis troops were afforded firepower and maneuverability never before seen in war. Since World War I, the MP18 design
has been used, legitimately or illegitimately by a host of admirers to include the Swiss, the Chinese, the British and the Japanese.
The original design was full auto. The ammo drum was slow to load and the weapon lacked an external safety. It was prone to
accidental discharge, but the MP18 was a first-class weapon ahead of its time, ideally suited for urban combat and trench warfare.