Machinepistole 40, MP 40 – Schmeisser – German Submachine Gun

Machinepistole 40 and Machinepistole 38 – MP 40 and MP 38 – photo 2023

Surprise, it is not a Schmeisser!!

The Machinepistole 40, or MP 40, was a further development of the German submachine gun Machinepistole 38 – MP 38 and the Machinepistole 36 – MP 36 and it was developed by Heinrich Vollmer. Together with the Machinepistole 38 the MP 40 soon became the standard weapon of the Wehrmacht. From the start it was only distributed to the FalschirmJaegers units and the Panzer crews but quickly spread out towards infantry and other branches. It fired  9 x 19 mm parabellum cartridges and a magazine held 32 rounds which was patented by Hugo Schmeisser, carrying his name on the magazine, hence the common name Schmeisser. The “Schmeisser” reference was widely used by allied forces.

The Machinepistole 38 and the Machinepistole 40 look a lot like each other, the MP 38 is a simplified version of the MP 36, while the MP 40 is a simplified version of the MP 38. The Machinepistole 40 used mostly stamped parts instead of machine fabricated parts. It was developed in the Erma Werke factory.

Machinepistole 40 – MP 40 – photo 2023
Machinepistole 40 – MP 40 – photo 2023


The MP 40 is an open-bolt blowback-operated submachine gun. It lacked wooden parts and was an all-metal machine gun, it weighed only 3,97 kilograms unloaded (4,2 kg for the unloaded MP 38) and could fire 500 rounds a minute with an effective firing range up to 200 meters. The MP 40 had only one firing mode, full auto fire. Each gun came with six magazines, a metal folding stock and a leather shoulder belt.

The MP 40 submachine gun was a full metal gun. A rare type of Machinepistole 40 was made with a double magazine. 62 rounds divided over two magazines could be inserted at the same time, next to each other, in the MP 40. Although pretty reliable the MP 40 could easily jam if the magazine was used as a handle and was pulled askew. The all-metal machine gun could cause burns to the hands if the barrel became too hot.

The Machinepistole 40 was built under license by factories like the Steyr-werke in Austria and C.G. Haenel in Germany. The MP 40 was made from 1940 until 1944 and was produced over 1.100.000 times and used far beyond World War Two. It was even seen on the frontlines of the Ukraine-Russian war in 2020.

Machinepistole 40 – MP 40 – photo 2023

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