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M16 – Colt and Other Manufacturers
The M16 was entered into U.S. Military service in 1963, and was adopted in 1967 as the M16A1. After suffering from early teething problems, the M16 family has been through several revisions and today enjoys a positive proven track record around the world.
There are several key variants of the M16 employed within the U.S. Military, however the platform is expandable by the end user, which has led to its popularity with both civilians and governments alike.
- M16 – Original variant
- M16A1 - Introduced a forward assist to aid with the seating of the bolt into battery, and a chrome bore
- M16A2 – Added a case deflector, adjustable rear sight, 3 round burst, round handguards, and a heavier barrel
- M16A3 - Upper receiver incorporates a Picatinny rail, with a detachable carry handle, as well as full auto operation
- M16A4 - Similar to the M16A3, it featured a 3 round burst mechanism, and full length Picatinny handguard rails by Knights Armament for the attachment of accessories
- M4/M4A1 – Based on a 14.5 inch barrel, with a Picatinny handguard, and collapsible stock. The M4 featured a 3 round burst mechanism, while the M4A1 had ability to select full auto
Within the NFA firearms community, Colt M16 variants are the most sought after as firearms that are both collectible and shootable. Secondary manufacturers, and AR15s that have been converted to fully automatic prior to the 1986 cutoff date are still very collectible, but represent a more affordable price point, while maintaining all of the functionality of a factory M16.
DIAS ( Drop in Auto Sears ) are the final option for owning a M16, which allow a current production AR15 that features the proper space within the lower receiver, to function as a machinegun. DIAS allow for newer vendors and style of receivers to be used by the end user, and have a big following for those wanting to enjoy the latest receiver technology, but in full auto.
H&K - Heckler & Koch
H&K machine guns and submachine guns represent one of the most popular categories in the NFA firearms community. Following WW II, Heckler & Koch formed in postwar Germany, where former Mauser engineers began designing a battle rifle for the German Federal Army. In 1959 H&K was awarded the contract to produce the G3 rifle as part of that contract, and thus began the H&K lineage. Since those early days, H&K have refined their design, and are known for design aspects such as their roller delayed blowback system (which means no gas system, operating rod, etc), fluted chamber (aids in the proper ejection of the spent case by encapsulating it with gas), and polygonal rifling (which provide a better gas seal to the bullet).
The most common H&K models available for purchase on the NFA market are:
- G3 – Full size battle rifle in 7.62.x51
- HK21 – Belt fed version of the G3 in 7.62x51, that served as a general purpose machine gun, which featured a heavier build, and hooked stock
- HK51 - Not offered as a factory variant, but commonly available as a NFA variant that was introduced by Bill Fleming, this firearm is a G3 scaled down to a MP5 form factor
- HK33 – A full size battle rifle, which originated as a scaled down version of the G3, and offered in 5.56mm
- HK53 – A compact version of the HK33, with a form factor similar to the MP5
- MP5 – Compact submachine gun, that is considered the Cadillac of SMGs, and was originally offered in 9mm
- MP5SD – Integrally suppressed version of the MP5
- MP5K - A machine pistol variant
NFA registered H&K firearms and sear packs are often referred by their trigger group style - SEF, Navy, 0-1-2, 0-1-3, 4 Position groups
- SEF – Safe / Semi / Full Auto
- Navy – Safe / Semi Full Auto
- 0-1-2 – Safe / Semi / Two-Round Burst
- 0-1-3 – Safe / Semi / Three-Round Burst
- 4 Position
- Safe / Semi / Two-Round Burst / Full Auto
- Safe / Semi / Three-Round Burst / Full Auto
H&K machine guns are available as registered receiver guns, or as sear guns
- Registered receiver guns were manufactured predominately via the conversion of factory H&K semi-automatic firearms, and are caliber locked to the receiver they were based on
- Registered sears are generally considered more desireable, as the sear, which lives in the trigger pack, can be moved from one H&K firearm to another, so it can be used in a full size G3 or in your registered HK94/MP5 clone
There were several manufacturers of H&K conversions and sears prior to the 1986 cutoff – S&H, Fleming, FJ Vollmer, Qualified, Terry Dyer, LaFrance, and others. The quality of the conversions and manufacturing of sears varied with some manufacturers – with that in mind, our H&K firearms are inspected and verified before being offered for sale.
Thompson Submachine Gun
Perhaps no other firearm is so universally recognizable, nor as interwoven through modern American and Allied history as the Thompson Submachine Gun, a.k.a. the “Tommy Gun.” The image of a Thompson with a 50-round drum conjures up thoughts of gangsters and the lawmen who brought them to justice during the 1920’s and 30’s. It gained notoriety when two Model of 1921 Thompsons were used by gangsters in the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, an event that, along with other criminal activity, drove decisions to legislate machine guns, creating laws that continue to govern the NFA community today. It is the classic of all classic firearms.
Most do not realize that the Thompson did not achieve initial commercial success. Auto-Ordnance was a company created in 1916 by John Thompson and a hand picked group of engineers with the financing of Fortune Ryan, who named the submachine gun that the company invented after the man who inspired it. What began as a rifle design around the Blish locking principle, ended up becoming a successful “submachine gun” chambered in the .45 ACP pistol cartridge. The design missed the target of becoming available prior to the end of World War I, but the team pressed on. The first Thompsons sold commercially were known as Model of 1919’s, of which about 40 were made, most of which had small changes to their design along the way, and were made in a shop in Cleveland, Ohio. NYPD was an early adopter of the Model of 1919.
The Model of 1921 is the classic Thompson Submachine Gun, and was subcontracted by Auto-Ordnance to be manufactured by Colt, which made 15,000 Thompsons, serial numbered from #41 to #15040. Colt Thompsons are beautiful firearms, made between 1921-22 in the same manner that Colt manufactured all of their other fine firearms of the period. The guns were fed by 20-round (XX), 50-round (L), and 100-round (C) drums. Along the way, sales of the Thompson slowed, and the original Model of 1921A (no compensator) configured Thompsons were altered into several new configurations. These included the Model of 1928, which was eventually adopted by the USPS to supply to Marines to guard the mail, followed by U.S. Marine and Army adoption, and involved the addition of a compensator, and heavier actuator, to slow the rate of fire from 900+ RPM down to about 750RPM. The Model of 1927 was a semi-automatic alteration to spur sales to law enforcement agencies who didn’t want a machine gun in the hands of their officers. The largest purchasers of Colt Thompsons were France, Sweden, and the U.S. Military entities whoadopted it on a limited scale. It took until 1940 to sell all 15,000 Thompsons, and the failing company was sold to Russell Maguire in 1939. The winds of war quickly made Maguire’s acquisition of Auto-Ordnance one of the most fortuitous deals in history, and World War II drove production of a further 1.5+ million units.
Russell Maguire’s Auto-Ordnance Corporation contracted in early 1940 with Savage Arms of Utica, NY to produce Model of 1928, and then Model of 1928A1 Thompsons while a company factory could be built in Bridgeport, CT. The new Auto-Ordnance Bridgeport factory came online in late 1941 and most initial production went to Britain, as well as the U.S. Army. No Savage Thompsons bore the Savage name, but they can easily be distinguished by the “S” prefix of their serial numbers. It is almost 100% certain that their serial numbers began with S-15041, starting off where Colt production serials ended. The Thompson was an expensive gun to produce, and during WWII, efficiencies drove the creation of the Model M1 and M1A1 Thompsons, which eliminated the Blish lock, and removed the ability to usedrum magazines, and a 30-round (XXX) magazine became available. M1/M1A1 Thompsons have a side-mounted bolt handle. The Thompson was officially replaced in 1943 by the M3 Greasegun, but production of the M1A1 Thompson occurred until 1944.
After WWII, the Thompson assets changed hands from the Auto-Ordnance Division of Maguire Industries to a consortium of investors who sold it to Kilgore Manufacturing Company in Westerville, Ohio, who planned to restart M1 Thompson production. A large industrial accident caused Kilgore to drop the project, and the assets were again sold through a consortium to Numrich Arms of Mamaroneck, NY in 1951. Numrich soon moved to West Hurley, NY, where it still operates a huge gun parts business today. George Numrich Sr. sold many remaining production Thompson units, put together from leftover parts, and are commonly known as “crate guns,” or “NAC Thompsons.” These have several iterations, and are not often encountered, but they are out there among the NFA community, and represent another small class of Thompsons. Numrich wanted to market a semi-automatic version of the Thompson, and received approval to do so in 1974. In 1975, the Model 1927-A1 Semi-Automatic Carbine came to market as a result. Numrich also produced several thousand Model of 1928 Thompson Submachine Guns under the Auto-Ordnance name, and over 600 Model M1 Thompsons prior to the ban of further manufacture on May 19, 1986. These machine guns are commonly referred to as “West Hurley Thompsons.” Numrich sold Auto-Ordnance to Kahr Arms in 1999, and the company continues to produce semi-automatic versions of the Thompson.
The Thompson is one of the most popular NFA firearms, and there are over 11,000 transferable units in the NFA registry. Colts are the most desirable and expensive, followed by WWII models, then NAC Thompsons, followed by West Hurley Thompsons.
(Courtesy David Albert – Thompson Historian)
The Uzi has been sold to more law enforcement organizations and military units than any other submachine gun ever made, and represents one of the most recognizable firearms in the world. Developed in the late 1940s by Uziel Galil, and adopted by the Israelis in 1954, the Uzi was rolled out into general use by the end of 1950s.
Designed to have a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute from an open bolt, and built primarily from stamped sheet metal, the Uzi is a prime example of functional simplicity. The Uzi features a grip safety in addition to the safety selector, which offers Safe, Semi, and Full Auto functionality. Although originally fitted with a wood stock, it was updated to a folding steel stock in the 1960s. Primarily known as a 32rd 9mm submachine gun, the Uzi has also been produced in or with conversion kits for 22 LR, 45 ACP, and 41 AE.
Variants of the original Uzi, include the following:
- Mini-Uzi - 1980 - A shorter and lighter version of the full size Uzi, with a 7.76 inch barrel instead of the full size 10.2 inch of the original Uzi, and a cyclic rate of 950 RPM.
- Micro-Uzi – 1983 – The smallest of the Uzi family, with a 4.6” barrel and a faster cyclic rate of 1200 RPM from a closed bolt.
Named after its four chief designers, the STEN Gun was a British submachine gun that was pressed into service in 1941 to fill the demand for a submachine gun that was being left unfilled by limited Thompson submachine gun deliveries from the United States to WW 2 England..
Designed to be simple to produce, with low production costs, the STEN was chambered in 9mm, fired from an open bolt, and had a very low cyclic rate of approx. 500 rounds per minute from its 32rd magazine. Taking a total of five man hours to manufacture, production was originally handled by multiple small shops producing the various fourty-seven stamped and simply machined component parts (in the case of the Mk III), which were then final assembled and welded in Enfield. There were six versions of the STEN, Mk .I – Mk. VI, that were refinements of the original design to either simplify production, or address safety issues.
- Mk. I - Had a conical flash hider, more refined finish, wood foregrip, slightly different sights, and an extended barrel shroud.
- Mk. II – Represented a simplification of the design, where the wood was eliminated, stock skeletonized, barrel shroud cut back several inches and cross drilled with holes, removable barrel was added, and the magazine housing could be rotated 90 degrees while still retaining the magazine.
- Mk. III - Was another simplification of the Mk. I, where the receiver and barrel shroud were one piece, and extended forward towards the muzzle, and a fixed magazine housing.
- Mk. IV – Was an experimental model, that was never put into production, that had a folding stock meant for paratrooper use.
- Mk. V - Introduced towards the end of the war, certain refinements were brought back into the design, that included wood furniture, and a bayonet lug.
- Mk. VI – Suppressed version of the STEN Mk. V
The STEN family served the British well into the 1960s, when it was replaced by the Sterling.
Design of the Sterling began at the end of WW II, as a replacement for the STEN Gun, but with ending of the war in 1945, adoption was slowed till 1953. When finally placed into service, it too featured a cyclic rate of around 500 Rounds Per Minute and fired from an open bolt, but had significantly more refined production methods, under folding stock, improved bolt group, and a 34 round magazine.
- L2A1 – 1953 - Referred to as the Patchett Machine Carbine Mk. 2
- L2A2 - 1955 – Referred to as the Sterling Mk. 3
- L2A3 – 1956 – Referred to as the Sterling Mk. 4
- L34A1 – Referred to as the Sterling-Patchett Mk. 5, this was the ever popular (and quiet) suppressed version
The Sterling family served until 1994
Introduced as a 9mm copy of the Swedish K, the Smith & Wesson 76 was produced from 1967 to 1974, after the Swedish government restricted export of the m/45 to the Navy Seals due to the Swedish opposition of the Vietnam War. By the time the M76 reached production, the Military’s need for the firearm diminished, so most copies ended up with police departments and civilian purchasers.
Besides S&W Produced guns several other manufacturers made copies
- MK760 - MK Arms licensed the rights from Smith & Wesson, and produced a true copy of the M76 until 1986
- M76A1 - Global Arms was an offshoot by one of the partners from MK Arms
- SW 76 - JMB Distribution produced guns from tubes that John Stemple registered in 1986. The tubing diameter of these receivers was different than that of the original S&W gun, and as such required a bolt that was specific to the gun, and sleaving of the tube
Adopted by the Swedish government in 1945, it served as the standard submachine gun for Sweden until 1965, and was fully retired from service by 2007. Chambered in 9mm, the m/45 Swedish K is a blowback design, operating from an open bolt, with a cyclic rate of approx. 600 rounds per minute.