What was each Nations main hand held sub-machine gun and which one was the best?

Great work everyone!



USA: M1 Thompson, M3 Grease Gun to a lesser degree.

British Empire: Sten, decent supplies of Thompsons.

Australia: Owen Gun

Germany: MP40, surplus MP28’s and 38’s.

USSR: PPSH-41/42

Japan: Type-100 technically but very few were made.

Italy: Beretta 38, one of the best SMGs of the war if you can believe it.

France: MAS-38, very few made by the time France fell. Ironically more were produced and made Germany.


Finland: Suomi m/31


The M1 45 cal Thompson indeed is an excellent gun, especially with the stick Magazine which is a LOT easier that the big round drum version which takes for effort to put it in the right place. I guess it was relatively pricey to produce so for the Soviets the PPSH-41/42 was the better option as it sprays bullets as well and is supercheap but effective at its job. This weapon makes it obvious how the Soviets won by building ginormous numbers of these!

I guess the best can be better translated as “Best gun to meet the needs of the Army using it”


I agree the Thompson is great. For military purposes the M1 and M1A1 is better. The British thought the “gangster” version was too heavy and rattled too much. Also the Aussies invented the Owen as they thought the Thompson was unsuited for jungle warfare. But it is still an amazing gun.


Here is a YouTube Channel I’ve found most useful on this subject… and many others-Enjoy.



I thought Ian was going to be doing some work with the Timeghost team, but perhaps that didn’t work out as originally planned. The Forgotten Weapons channel is an amazing resource for military and (some) civilian firearms from tiny little pocket pistols up to light artillery and mortars.


Ian does a really informative 3 part story on the Thompson. To my recollection, they made 15,000 in 1918, but missed the war. They only sold to police forces and a few others and still had 10K+ ready for sale when WW2 came along. I believe those surplus went to the UK.

He also does a fascinating story on the development of the M-1 carbine at Winchester.