Spectre M4 submachine gun appeared in 1983 and has a number of unusual features. The designer set out to develop a weapon which could be used in an instinctive and automatic manner, so that the user could open fire instantly without having to consider the safety condition or perform any action other than pulling the trigger. The intention was to provide a weapon for anti-terrorist police and other who need to carry a weapon daily but may not be called upon to use it except at rare intervals; and when that time comes, it has to be ready for use without hesitation.
The Spectre M4 looks conventional enough, with a pressed steel receiver and barrel jacket, and a butt which fold to lie along the top of the receiver. The magazine fits into a housing ahead of the trigger and is the first unusual feature; it contains four columns of cartridges instead of the usual two. This means that the 30-round magazine is no longer than a conventional 20-round, and the 50-round no longer than a normal 30-round.
The operation is also unusual. After inserting a magazine, the cocking handle is pulled back and released in the normal way. But instead of the bolt remaining back, it runs forward and chambers a cartridge. A “hammer unit” remains at the rear of the receiver; but pressing a de-cocking lever allows this unit to run forward under control and stop a short distance behind the bolt. The weapon is now perfectly safe to carry, and will not fire if dropped or mishandled. But as soon as it becomes necessary to fire, all that needs to be done is to squeeze the trigger. This will retract the hammer unit from its rest position and then release it with sufficient force to hit the firing pin in the bolt and fire the cartridge in the chamber, after which the action is automatic until the trigger is released.
Since the bolt is always closed when the gun is at rest, it might be expected that the barrel will heat up when firing and not cool very quickly; this is countered by a forced draught air system, operated by the movement of the bolt, which pumps air through and around the barrel while firing.
The basic Spectre M4 submachine gun is accompanied by three variant models; the “Spectre PCC” (Police Compact Carbine) which fires single shots only and has a longer barrel; it can also be fitted with a silencer. The Spectre Carbine is long-barreled and fires only single shots. And the Spectre Pistol is the basic Spectre but without stock or foregrip, and fires single shots only. The Police Carbine and Pistol versions are available in .40 Smith & Wesson caliber as well as in 9 mm Parabellum.
Technical specifications of Spectre M4 submachine gun
|Manufacturer:||Sites SpA, Torino, Italy|
|Type:||Blowback, selective fire, double-action|
|Caliber:||9 mm Parabellum|
|Barrel:||5.12 in (130 mm)|
|Weight:||6.4 lbs (2.9 kg)|
|Magazine capacity:||30 or 50 rounds|
|Cyclic rate of fire:||850 rounds per minute|
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|
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.
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|
|Barrel:||7.87 in (200 mm)|
|Weight:||Ca. 6.5 lbs (3 kg)|
|Magazine capacity:||30 rounds|
|Cyclic rate of fire:||800 rounds/minute|