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The FN P90 submachine gun was developed in the late 1980s as a personal defense weapon for the troops whose primary activities does not include small arms, such as vehicle and tank crew members, artillery crews etc. Standard pistols and submachine guns chambered for pistol rounds were proved ineffective against enemy soldiers, wearing body armor; Therefore, FN designers first developed a new round with enhanced penetration, initially known as SS90.

Ammunition

To achieve necessary high penetration while keeping recoil impulse low, FN used a small-bore approach, creating a round that looked much like the scaled down 5,56 NATO round. It must be noted that similar concepts were tried in other countries, most notably in the USA, several decades before FN; for example, US Army tested M1 carbines chambered for .221 Johnson Spitfire round back in the late 1950s; later on, Colt produced its .22 SCAMP and 5,6×30 MARS ammunition for special SCAMP machine pistol and MARS “mini assault rifle” (a scaled-down M16 rifle) respectively.

FN P90 submachine gun - FN P90

It must be noted that 5,6×30 MARS round was in a sense a direct predecessor to 5,7×28 FN SS90 round, although the latter featured slightly lighter and faster bullet. By late 1980s, a concept of a small-bore, low-impulse “personal defense weapon” (PDW) with good accuracy and lethality at ranges of up to 200-250 meters was well established, although there were no weapons adopted for service yet. FN decided to follow this concept and to create its own PDW using clean sheet approach. Basic ideas used for this development, designated as “Project 9.0″, included the following: minimal size and weight of weapon; large magazine capacity; complete ambidexterity; ease of use and maintenance.

Bullpup layout

To save on size and weight, FN designers put a new weapon into the compact and lightweight stock of bullpup layout, made of impact-resistant polymer. The high-capacity magazine also was made from semi-translucent polymer and holds 50 rounds in two rows. To made the loaded weapon as compact as possible, FN designers followed the idea of American designer Hall, and placed the magazine above the barrels, with cartridges stored in a horizontal position with bullets pointing to the left. While Hall system employed a rotary feed unit, operated by the bolt, to put a new cartridge in line with the barrel, FN designers incorporated a stationary helical ramp into each magazine, which rotates cartridge for 90 degrees prior to placing it on feed lips.

Complete ambidexterity was achieved by using ambidextrous controls (including dual charging handles and dual back-up open sights), and bottom ejection. Finally, the simplicity of aiming was achieved by use of integral reflex type collimating sight and integral laser aiming module (LAM).

Resulting weapon appeared in around 1990 as FN P90 personal defense weapon, along with improved 5,7×28 SS190 ammunition, which replaced polymer-cored bullets with heavier dual-core (steel / aluminum) bullets with better penetration against body armor. Several other types of ammunition were developed for this weapon, including tracer, subsonic ball, and soft-core training ball.

Worldwide customers

First sales of P90 were made to Saudi Arabia in early 1990s; today it is believed that FN sold more than 20 000 of P90’s to a wide variety of law enforcement agencies and military special operation units worldwide, including US Secret Service, Austrian Army rangers, Dutch BBE special operations forces, Belgian Army and others. Most interesting fact about the adoption of P90 is that so far it has been adopted for the role, directly opposite to its original niche of “personal defense weapon”. In fact, most services and agencies that adopted P90 use it for offensive roles, as a specialist or even a primary weapon for various assault teams, and other “professional small-arms users”, as opposed to military personnel which primary functions do not include the use of small arms.

In around 1995 FN supplemented the P90 with a pistol, firing the same 5,7×28 ammunition, designated as FN Five-seveN. Recently, FN also introduced a civilian version of P90, designated as PS90 carbine. This is a self-loading weapon with a longer barrel (408 mm / 16″).

FN P90 personal defense weapon is blowback operated, selective-fired weapon which fires from closed bolt. The firing is controlled by a removable trigger unit with a conventional hammer. A manual safety is located directly below the trigger. Magazine lies at the top of the weapon, feeding from front-to-back, with a spiral ramp built into the “rear” part of the magazine. Spent cartridges are ejected straight down through the chute, which exits just behind the pistol grip. The standard sighting equipment includes a non-magnifying collimating sight with “ring and dot” illuminated aiming reticule.

Back-up open sights are provided on either side of the primary collimating sight. The so-called P90 USG version is provided with two additional Picatinny rails at either side of the collimating sight base; FN also offers a version with no standard sighting equipment; user has to make its own choice of day and/or night sights and additional equipment, which can be installed on three Picatinny rails – top, left and right. This version is designated as P90 TR (triple rail). The front part of the forward handgrip on P90 is shaped as hand protector, and it can contain integral laser aiming module, which sends either visible or IR laser beam to mark the intended target. For special missions, P90 can be fitted with a special silencer, which is used in conjunction with special subsonic ammunition.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS OF FN P90 SUBMACHINE GUN

Caliber: 5.7 x 28 mm SS190
Weight: 2.54 kg empty; 3 kg loaded with magazine with 50 rounds
Length: 500 mm
Barrel length: 263 mm
Rate of fire: 900 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 50 rounds
Effective range: 200 meters
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Submachine guns

Steyr TMP (Tactical Machine Pistol)

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STEYR TMP with Silencer - Steyr TMP (Tactical Machine Pistol)

The Steyr Tactical Machine Pistol or abbreviated Steyr TMP belongs in the emerging group of “Personal Defense Weapons” – short, stockless, and closer to being an enlarged pistol than a down-sized submachine gun. Indeed, a variant model which does away with the front handgrip and only fires single shots is called the “Special Purpose Pistol” (SPP) and is classed as a pistol.

The Steyr TMP is a locked-breech weapon firing the 9 mm Parabellum cartridge. There are only 41 component parts, and the frame and top cover are made from a synthetic plastic which is sufficiently strong to be able to do without steel inserts to support the bolt. The breech is locked and unlocked by rotation of the barrel, a system which Steyr pioneered in the early years of the century but which they ceased to use after 1918.

A lug beneath the barrel engages in a groove in the frame. On firing, the barrel and breech block recoil still locked together, the lug sliding down the groove. The groove then spirals, and as the cam follows this track, so the barrel is revolved until the bolt lugs are unlocked from the chamber. The barrel is then held while the bolt runs back and then forward again to chamber a fresh round. Bolt and barrel then go forward, and the cam track again revolves the barrel to lock the breech.

Single shots or automatic fire are provided by a two-stage trigger, similar to that used on the Steyr AUG rifle. The first pressure on the trigger fires single shots; pulling through against the pressure of an auxiliary spring delivers automatic fire. There is a three-position cross-bolt safety catch which has a central position giving semi-automatic fire only, so providing additional control.

Although there is no butt-stock, and no provision for fitting one, the forward handgrip permits adequate control of the weapon, and short bursts can be fired with considerable accuracy after a little practice. Single shots can be fired with one hand quite easily; it is only slightly heavier than a Colt .45 automatic pistol and somewhat lighter than most larger caliber revolvers.

Initially made in 9 mm caliber, production in .40 Smith & Wesson caliber has now begun, and there are plans for a modular system of interchangeable parts which will allow the TMP to be converted to fire 9 mm Steyr, 10 mm Auto or .41 Action Express cartridges.

Technical specifications of Steyr TMP (Tactical Machine Pistol)

Manufacturer: Steyr-Mannlicher GmbH, Steyr, Austria
Type: Recoil-operated, selective fire
Caliber: 9 mm Parabellum
Barrel: 5.12 in (130 mm)
Weight (empty): 2.86 lbs (1.3 kg)
Magazine capacity: 15 or 20 rounds
Cyclic rate of fire: 600 rounds per minute

 

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Submachine guns

AKS-74U

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AKS 74U Spetsnaz - AKS-74U

When the Soviets adopted the Kalashnikov 7.62 mm rifle, they abandoned their submachine guns, but in later years realized that they had been a little too hasty and needed a more compact weapon for occupants of vehicles.

Their first attempt was to shorten the AK47 rifle, but this proved to be almost uncontrollable at the automatic fire. At about this time they adopted 5.45 mm caliber for a new generation of Kalashnikov rifles and machine guns, and shortly afterward set about making a compact model in a new caliber. The result was the AKS-74U, which was first revealed to the West in 1982 when a specimen was captured in Afghanistan.

The AKS-74U retains the basic method of the operation of the familiar AK47 rifle, using a gas piston and a rotating bolt, but the shortening of the barrel introduced several complications. The 5.45 mm cartridge was designed to be fired in a long-barrelled rifle, and the gas system of the Kalashnikov taps its gas from a position about two-thirds of the way up the barrel. Since the AKS-74U barrel is so short, all the gas generated in the cartridge would not have time to expend its energy and there would be a prominent muzzle flame and considerable blast. Therefore, a bulbous muzzle attachment can be seen, which acts as an expansion chamber for the emerging gas and muffles the flash and blast. It also helps to balance the internal pressure so that it is possible to tap off the gas for the gas system closer to the breech than in other weapons.

A skeleton butt is fitted, which folds to the left side of the weapon, reducing the overall length to about 16.5 inches. The magazine is similar to that used with an AK47 rifle, but has strengthening ribs molded into its front edge and is made of a lamination of sheet steel and plastic material. The receiver top cover is hinged to the gas block and lifts to permit stripping the weapon; this differs from all other Kalashnikov designs, in which the top cover lifts off completely.

AKS 74U and M4 Commando 1024x576 - AKS-74U

AKS-74U and M4 Commando

The AKS-74U is an ingenious design but in many eyes somewhat over-powerful for the self-defense role for which it is intended. However, it does mean that the design and operation are already familiar to any soldier who knows the AK series of rifles – which was every Soviet soldier – and, unlike submachine guns, it does not require its own particular type of ammunition, happily firing the standard rifle cartridges.

Technical specification of AKS-74U submachine gun

Manufacturer: State Rifle Factory, Izhevsk, Russia
Type: Gas-operated, selective fire
Caliber: 5.45 mm
Barrel: 7.87 in (200 mm)
Weight: Ca. 6.5 lbs (3 kg)
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Cyclic rate of fire: 800 rounds/minute

 

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