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|
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|
Steyr AUG 9 Para
The Steyr AUG rifle was the first “modular” design: the barrel, receiver, firing mechanism can all be changed to configure the weapon into whatever sort of rifle is wanted. By an extension of this principle, Steyr pioneered a trend which is now becoming more common, of converting what is basically a locked-breech rifle into a blowback submachine gun.
The Steyr AUG 9 Para is based on the standard AUG rifle by changing the barrel for one of 9 mm caliber; changing the bolt assembly for a simple blowback unit; and changing the magazine housing by fitting an adapter to take a narrower magazine holding the 9 mm Parabellum pistol cartridge.
The result is a submachine gun with a longer barrel than normal for this type of weapon, and one which fires from a closed bolt. Both these features improve accuracy, and the longer barrel produces a rather higher muzzle velocity than is usual in this caliber.
The “closed bolt” feature means that when the magazine is inserted and the cocking handle pulled back and released, the bolt runs forward and chambers a cartridge, leaving the hammer cocked ready to fire. On pulling the trigger in the usual type of submachine gun, the bolt runs forward, loads the chamber and then fires. There is, therefore, a sudden shift of balance due to the movement of the bolt and, as a result, a first-round hit is unlikely. With the AUG 9 Para, pulling the trigger simply releases the hammer; nothing else moves and the weapon stays steady at the aim so that first-round hits are the rule rather than the exception.
The company originally marketed a conversion kit, allowing anyone with an AUG to convert it to a submachine gun. Later, however, this was withdrawn and only brand-new weapons were sold, since it appeared that even a simple conversion was beyond the skill of some users.
A separate barrel fitted with an efficient silencer is also available; this can be exchanged for the normal barrel by simply pressing a catch and twisting the front handle sideways to unlock the interrupted lugs of the barrel from the receiver. As with the rifle, the basic model has a carrying handle with a low-power optical sight, but it is possible to change the receiver to one with a sight mount and thus fit night vision or other specialist sights.
Technical specifications of Steyr AUG 9 Para submachine gun
|Manufacturer:||Steyr-Mannlicher GmbH, Steyr, Austria|
|Type:||Blowback, selective fire|
|Caliber:||9 mm Parabellum|
|Barrel:||16.5 in (420 mm)|
|Weight (empty):||7.25 lbs (3.3 kg)|
|Magazine capacity:||25 or 32 rounds|
|Cyclic rate of fire:||650-750 rounds per minute|
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