Skip to main content Skip to main content

MP38 MP40 - 'Gun Stories'

Americans who faced its fury in World War II called it the "Schmeisser," nicknamed after a man who had nothing to do with its design. But the machine pistols, designated MP38 an MP40, perfectly matched Germany's philosophy of all-out war, and soon proved themselves on battlefields across Europe. A terrifying weapon in the hands of an apparently unstoppable military machine.

With war drums clearly sounding, a newly re-militarized Germany sent out a call to Erfurter Maschinenfabrik, known as ERMA, for a reliable machine pistol for their paratroops and motorized infantry, the cutting edges of the new German war machine. ERMA quickly retooled their MP36 prototypes, and the new machine pistol was adopted as the MP38 in August of that year.

The MP38’s rate of fire was approximately 500 rounds per minute, much slower than some other machine pistol designs, and more easily controllable. An unfortunate oversight was the lack of a safety; if dropped or mishandled, the MP38 could, and did, fire. ERMA provided a field replacement fix, but not before many injuries.

The 9mm MP38 solved a long list of problems that had bedeviled machine pistols. The 32-round magazine, for example, inserted from the bottom and the magazine housing was flared out to make insertion easier. Flared magazine well also doubles as a second-hand grip, which kept the operator from pulling on the magazine and possibly inducing a jam.


Introduced two years later, the MP40 had many common parts, but it was built primarily of cheap carbon steel stampings and plastic rather than finely tooled steel. In many ways the cheap, easily-produced MP40 was the harbinger of modern firearms manufacturing. A machine pistol revolutionized the battlefield, especially in the close confines of urban warfare. Its simplicity and ease of production made the MP40 the model for future weapons of war, and its pure lethality guaranteed its legacy.


Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Natural Selection: The Walther PDP 9mm rises to the top.Walther PDP 9mm Pistol: Full Review
Handguns

Walther PDP 9mm Pistol: Full Review

Natural Selection: The Walther PDP 9mm rises to the top.

Eric R. Poole

Popular Videos

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Jeremy Stafford traveled to Gunsite Academy to compare the speed of stock sights against express, three-dot, suppressor-height and red dot sights.

Air Rifle and Pistol Reviews: Full-Auto Fun

Air Rifle and Pistol Reviews: Full-Auto Fun

Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range with both .177-caliber airguns to test their aim and demonstrate why the full-auto selector is often called the "giggle switch."

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

At the heart of the rifle is the Model 2020 action which wish designed and built with very tight tolerances thanks to Springfield's technology-driven manufacturing capabilities The stainless steel action features an integral recoil lug, and pairs with a fluted bolt employing dual cocking cams and an enhanced extractor for high pressure loads. The blueprinted and precisely machined action allows Springfield to offer the Model 2020 with .75" MOA accuracy guarantee. Despite being a production rifle, the Model 2020 should rival more expensive custom builds.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now