The Germans have turned out some awesome small arms, as evidenced by the line of automatic weapons produced there from World War I to the present. And as Mikhail Kalashnikov is to Russian small arms design, Hugo Schmeisser and Emil Bergmann are to West German small arms design.

In 1916, Herrs Schmeisser and Bergmann teamed up to make the MP18.1 SMG, the first submachinegun to see the light of day since Italy's famed, double-barreled Villar-Perosa. The MP18.1 set the bar for modern guns, although it saw only limited action in the waning days of World War I. Yet its lethality was underscored when it was banned at war's end in the Treaty of Versailles, and despite the ban, Germany continued to make this submachinegun under International radar into the 1920s.

When the MP18 machinepistole was first unveiled by German assault troops in European trench warfare, it made quite an impression on the Allies, as it was capable of unleashing a hail of 9x19mm Parabellum at a withering rate of 400 rounds per minute. Good thing for us it arrived on the scene late.

The Bergmann/Schmeisser MP18 represented a paradigm shift in modern warfare-this SMG was capable of significant firepower and maneuverability and was light, unlike anything seen before World War I. It used a 20-round detachable box or a 32-round detachable drum magazine and it weighed 9 pounds, far lighter and transportable than crew-served machine guns that came before it.

The 9x19mm MP18 paved the way for another German submachinegun-the Bergmann MP28, an improvement over the MP18, also chambered in 7.65mm, 9mm Bergmann, and .45 ACP.

What the MP18 lacked, the MP28 made up for in spades-it had a selector switch for semi- and full-automatic fire and a safety (the MP18 lacked an external safety and was prone to accidental discharge). Its rate of fire was enhanced 100 or more rounds per minute, and it was lighter.

Like its predecessor, the MP28 had a vented barrel shroud and a side-mounted magazine housing that accommodated 20-, 30- and 50-round magazines. But whereas the MP18 was manufactured in Germany at Bergmann Waffenfabrik, the MP28 was made in Belgium by Pieper.

Despite its enhancements, the MP28 was a weapon developed between wars that was never officially adopted by the German Army. Rather, it was relegated to German police and select SS units.

On the heels of the MP18.1 and MP28 submachineguns, Germany developed its Bergmann MP 32, 34, and 35-the latter Bergmann version being produced in time to be used during World War II.

The MP35 was widely used by elite German combat troops, produced from 1935 to 1945.

Unlike the MP18 and MP28 submachineguns, the MP32, 34, and 35 fed from the right.