Sub Machine Gun
PPSh41 Sub Machine Gun
Designed by the Soviets in 1940 and adopted for issue in 1941, the PPSh41 met the Red Army’s need for an easily mass-produced, rugged weapon. It became very popular with German soldiers fighting on the Eastern Front and was converted by German armorers to fire 9-mm Parabellum rounds.
The weapon had a fire-rate selector lever positioned just in front of the trigger, allowing the rate of fire to be changed rapidly without the weapon moving off the the point of aim.
The two-piece bolt handle allows the bolt to be locked in either the forward or the rear position.
The original weapon had two different magazines; a 71-round drum or a 35-round box. Most of the weapons used in Vietnam used the box magazine but this may have been a result of the Chinese connection since the PRC Type 50 differed only slightly from the PPSh41, mainly in that it only fitted the 35-round box magazine.
The most interesting variant of the weapon was the K50M, which was the Vietnamese modification of the PRC Type 50. The Vietnamese removed the wooden butt stock and replaced it with a wooden pistol grip and a French-style sliding wire butt stock similar to that on the MAT49. At the front end of the weapon they shortened the perforated barrel jacket, left off the muzzle brake, and attached the foresight to the barrel, giving the gun a shape strongly reminiscent of the MAT49. The K50M was about 500-g (1.1-lbs) lighter than the PPSh41 at 3.4-kg (7.5-lbs) as opposed to 3.9-kg (8.6-lbs).
The weapons were all blowback operated and had an effective range of about 150-m (164-yards).
MAT-49 Sub Machine Gun
Produced by the Manufacture d’Armes de Tulle (MAT) in 1946 and using the 9mm Parabellum cartridge this SMG was adopted by the French Army in 1949 (hence the designation MAT49). The weapon was widely used by French forces in Indo-China and many found their way into the hands of the Vietminh and eventually the Viet Cong.
The Vietnamese modified the weapon to fire the Soviet 7.62mm x 25P ammunition and it’s PRC equivalent by fitting a longer 7.62mm barrel. However, they did keep all the essential features of the MAT49 except for replacing the 32-round box with a 35-round magazine.
One of the remarkable features of the weapon was the sliding wire butt stock which could be pushed forward out of the way for carrying and pulled to the rear if it was to be used in firing. The magazine housing on the receiver could be rotated forward through 90-degrees (even with the magazine fitted) to lie along the barrel. These features made the MAT49 particularly suitable for troops who required compactness in carriage.
At the back part of the pistol grip was a grip safety, which was operated by the action of squeezing the pistol grip when firing a round. This released the safety catch. When the grip safety was not squeezed, it locked the bolt in the forward position, and locked the trigger when the weapon was cocked. The lock was released by the pressure of the palm of the hand. The weapon could not be accidentally discharged.
The Vietnamese modification increased the cyclic rate of fire from 600-rounds per minute to 900-rpm.