Keen on shedding the Belgian Army of its antiquated World War II small arms arsenal, Belgian retired army officer Colonel Georges Vigneron developed the M1 submachine gun (SMG) in the early 1950s.

Upon closer inspection, the Vigneron surely must have been influenced by earlier, prolific SMG designs-the American Thompson (barrel compensator and cooling rings) and M3 (retractable wire stock), the British Sten gun (bolt design) and the much-respected German MP40 (magazine).

The Vigneron was a Belgian family affair. It was manufactured by Societe Anonyme Precision Liegoise; parts were subcontracted to the State Arsenal at Rocourt in Liege, which later made complete Vignerons. Other weapons were fabricated by Brussels' own, Ateliers de Fabrications Electriques et Metalliques (AFEM).

Convinced this was the way to go, the Belgian army adopted the M1 in 1953.

The Vigneron is a simple blowback selective fire weapon that fires from an open bolt. It is made with stamped sheet metal, a plastic grip frame and uses the 9x19mm NATO cartridge with MP40 magazines, designed by Germany's Hugo Schmeisser, creator of the MP18 submachine gun. The Vigneron is ideal for short-range conflict. But like so many of its SMG class, it lacks long-distance accuracy (328 feet effective range).

With its stock retracted, the Vigneron is slightly longer than 27 inches. With its stock extended, the Vigneron is about 34 inches long. The barrel length is slightly longer than 11 and a half inches.

The improved Vigneron M2 features a front-sight protector, a rear sight notch (the peep sight was dropped) and a new, stronger dust cover closing spring.

Loaded, the Vigneron weighs slightly more than 8 pounds. Unloaded, it weighs about six and a half pounds.

The Vigneron uses the MP40 32-round magazine and has a 620 round per minute rate of fire.

The fire selector/safety switch is located on the left side of the grip, immediately behind the trigger. Short pulls on the trigger produce single shots, long pulls, fully auto fire. The cocking handle is located on the left side of the receiver.

The Vigneron saw limited combat in the Belgian Congo.