Top 10 Best Submachine Guns of All Time

At its core, an SMG is a fully automatic or select-fire firearm that's designed to fire pistol-caliber rounds. This makes them highly effective in tight spaces where their compact size and lighter ammunition come in handy, allowing for quick maneuvering and sustained fire without the hefty recoil associated with larger rifle rounds.

Each submachine gun brings something unique to the table, be it historical significance, innovative design, reliability under pressure, or sheer firepower. And here's where you come into play. It's your turn to weigh in and vote for the choices you believe should clinch the top spots on this list.

This isn't just about picking the most popular or the most iconic SMGs. It's about recognizing excellence across a spectrum of criteria. From the workhorses of World War II to modern marvels that represent the pinnacle of small arms technology, your preferences help highlight the models that not only perform exceptionally but also capture the imagination of firearms aficionados everywhere.
The Top Ten
1 Uzi The Uzi is a compact, Israeli-designed submachine gun known for its use by military and special forces around the world.

Safe, simple, rugged, reliable, time-tested, and very popular. The 9mm ammunition is admittedly weak, but it is readily available, and the slow rate of fire means that you don't use up bullets too fast.

While it may not be the most accurate SMG, I feel that the "people's weapon" aspects outweigh this.

Fast rate of fire. I'd spec it with 22mm conversion kits, which are readily available, a suppressor, laser sighting, and a 50-bullet magazine. Then it's properly overpowered.

If it's Israeli, there's no doubt about it. Like other Israeli SMGs such as the Galil AR and Tavor, and Israeli handguns such as the Desert Eagle, the quality and usefulness match up to German-made weaponry.

2 Heckler & Koch MP5 Heckler & Koch MP5, developed in the 1960s by German manufacturer Heckler & Koch, is renowned for its accuracy and versatility across various law enforcement, military, and security forces.

This gun was used by the Navy SEALs and is still used by the British Special Air Service today, despite being designed in the 60s and 70s. It is very versatile, accurate, and reliable. With its decent rate of fire, it overcomes the fact that it has a small round and is the most recognized 9mm weapon in the world.

Heckler and Koch showcase "German Engineering" at its finest quality with their superb weaponry.

This gun has been around for decades, and for some reason, it's still dominant in many law enforcement groups. This beauty shoots the 9mm Parabellum, which isn't large but has an extremely high bullet velocity. This gun is used by militaries worldwide, including the SAS.

The SD variant of this gun is basically silent, so it's a very good gun for covert operations. Its rate of fire is scary, and it will beat the M4 CQC version in all CQC environments.

3 PPSH-41 PPSH-41, a Soviet submachine gun, was a mainstay of Soviet armed forces during World War II, known for its high rate of fire and large drum magazine.

Some Waffen SS troops even admitted it was better than their own MP40 and used them in combat. We're talking about people who were drilled into believing everything German was simply superior.

The PPSH-41 probably played an important part in winning the war for the USSR, as they used conscripted farm boys and others who never had any professional military training to use millions of them.

What is this epic submachine gun doing so far down on the list? The fire rate is amazingly fast, and it will do more damage than any other submachine gun if you're accurate. The PPSH-41 is probably my all-time favorite gun!

4 Heckler & Koch MP7 The Heckler & Koch MP7 is a personal defense weapon that bridges the gap between a submachine gun and an assault rifle, using the 4.6x30mm cartridge for enhanced armor penetration.

Compact, low recoil, small but fast round, and can be used with one hand. Ammo may be difficult to purchase. This is an excellent weapon with excellent range, even when suppressed.

Newer version of the MP5, and also lighter. It looks cooler, is faster to reload, has lots of power, and has a higher fire rate. This should be at the top of the list.

Innovative SMG - small, low recoil, easy to maneuver in urban areas, which is crucial for special units. It has a 40-bullet cartridge. Best choice for police and SWAT. However, it might not be useful for the military.

5 SIG MPX SIG MPX, introduced by SIG Sauer, is a modern submachine gun that utilizes a gas-operated, short-stroke piston system and is chambered for the 9mm cartridge.

Amazing weapon! I love that the controls are similar to the M4 carbine. It makes for an easy transition between the two weapons.

Reliable and extremely accurate. I like 9mm +P better than 5.7 x 28. It's the new MP5 replacement!

The MPX just threw the MP5 back to the Stone Age bin. It has AR-style controls, is modular with a shorter or longer barrel, and can switch ammo to 9mm or .45 ACP. It is literally an AR carbine with 9mm ammo. How cool is that? And it looks cool too!

6 Pistolet Pulemyot-19 Bizon Pistolet Pulemyot-19 Bizon, developed in Russia, is unique for its helical magazine mounted beneath the barrel, designed primarily for use by special forces and law enforcement.

This has more than twice the amount of bullets than an assault rifle. It may not have long bullets, but that is not what SMGs are made for.

Probably the highest magazine ever.

7 FN P90 FN P90, a Belgian-made submachine gun, features a unique design with a top-mounted magazine and is chambered in the proprietary 5.7x28mm cartridge.

Armor-piercing ammo, high velocity, compact, ergonomic, accurate, little recoil, lightweight, high-capacity magazines, and a very advanced action design - there's a lot to love about this little PDW. The main reason for its accuracy is the many contact points where the gun will touch your body, helping it stay stable.

The only problem is the price, since only two guns shoot 5.7x28mm, and both are made by FNH. My second choice would be the MP5, and third would be the TDI Kriss Vector. And no, I don't base my gun knowledge on video games - I am highly knowledgeable about guns.

8 KRISS Vector KRISS Vector uses a unique recoil mitigation system that redirects recoil energy downward, reducing felt recoil and muzzle climb, and is available in various calibers including 9mm and .45 ACP.

Its Recoil Mitigation technology is absolutely unparalleled. It's what makes a Vector a Vector. The .45 ACP ammunition coming out of this thing is much more powerful than the MP5's 9x19mm Parabellum.

With its 1200-1600 RPM, .45 ACP, and extreme accuracy, this versatile and very compact submachine gun completely beats out the MP5 under all categories.

This is the best submachine gun, period. With its .45 ACP feed system, Recoil Mitigation technology patented by Kriss themselves, and 1200-1600 RPM and extreme accuracy, along with it being one of the most compact submachine guns out there, this baby completely beats out the aging MP5 under all categories.

9 CZ Scorpion Evo 3 CZ Scorpion Evo 3, a Czech-made submachine gun, is noted for its polymer construction, ambidextrous controls, and use by law enforcement and military units worldwide.

I bought one and rank it 2-3 of the top 10. I have a TP9 that has served me quite well for nearly a decade, but I like the fit and finish of this one better.

Simple, well-placed controls. Simple construction. Very reliable.

Not only is it sexy as hell, but it's also wonderfully balanced.

10 Saab Bofors Dynamics CBJ-MS Saab Bofors Dynamics CBJ-MS, a Swedish submachine gun, stands out for its versatility in ammunition, capable of firing both 6.5x25 CBJ and 9mm cartridges.
The Contenders
11 Glock 18 Glock 18 is a select-fire variant of the Glock 17, capable of semi-automatic or fully automatic fire, and is distinguished by its high rate of fire in the automatic mode.

Glock 18 full auto is my favorite. Light and reliable, it suits my personality.

It definitely hurts. Trust me, I kill with it and they're all dead now.

Glock makes the best pistols, so their submachine gun is perfect.

12 Universal Machine Pistol UNIVERSAL Machine Pistol, a less commonly known firearm, offers a compact design and is often highlighted for its fully automatic capability.

The kick-to-power ratio is the highest in the submachine gun class. This produces the highest rate of rounds to damage on target. The rise is very manageable for a 200-pound man with an experienced grip. People often cite the AKS-74U, but that is inaccurate. The 74U was developed as a carbine, not an SMG.

The UMP .45 is the best in its class. When pitted against the 74U, I would recommend the HK 416, as it has much greater range, accuracy, and rate of fire. Kalashnikov weapons had their day during the Soviet-Afghan conflict, but they are less effective than many carbine/assault rifles developed since the US/Iraq Gulf War circa 1990.

13 Thompson Thompson, famously known as the "Tommy Gun," is an American submachine gun that gained notoriety during the Prohibition era and was widely used in World War II.

Dad had one from D-Day to the Berlin suburbs. It helped stop the Bulge. I have used it on many operations myself, and to this day, my son has chosen to use it on a couple dozen operations throughout the world. It works, gets dirty, and is kicked around, but it's picked up, wiped off, and continues to do its job - killing evildoers. I wish only evildoers... Frank.

It has 100rd drum and 50rd drum, and 30rd and 20rd stick magazines. It's the most badass, coolest-looking gun. I just wish WE THE PEOPLE would demand immediate change to allow all guns to be purchased without a tax stamp and background check.

14 M3 M3, often called the "Grease Gun," is an American submachine gun that was designed for simplicity and cost-effectiveness, seeing action in World War II and the Korean War.

It's slow but accurate, cheap, and could be manufactured by a car company in the 1900s. It can be changed from .45 ACP to 9mm rounds. Not to mention, a .45 ACP suppressed M3 is silent - really silent.

On the other hand, I would really like to see a new, modern, and even lighter variant. One with the same heavy bolt, since that was the exact reason why it exists. The Philippines remodeled their M3s, adding some camo paint, a sight, and a suppressor - perfect for infiltration.

15 Sterling Submachine Gun Sterling Submachine Gun, a British firearm that saw extensive use by the Commonwealth forces, is recognized for its reliable performance and distinctive side-mounted magazine.

Most reliable magazine in any SMG to date, in strong contrast to its brother, the STEN.

16 Model 10 (MAC-10) Model 10 (MAC-10) is a compact American submachine gun known for its use by military and civilian markets, characterized by its high rate of fire and suppressor compatibility.

Forgetting its low range, rate of fire, and low ammo because of its RPM, it's the best SMG ever, to me.

High rate of fire and good stopping power with .45 ACP should get it in the top 10. That it is below World War II guns like the PPSh, M3, and MP40 is insulting.

Should be number one. It sprays 30 rounds of .45 in a few seconds and is concealable.

17 Owen Gun Owen Gun, an Australian-designed submachine gun notable for its distinctive top-mounted magazine and reliable performance in harsh conditions, was used during World War II.

Never fired one but held one. A bit crude and not at all pretty, but as others would testify, if you positively and absolutely need rounds downrange, the Owen was unstoppable.

Probably the most reliable SMG produced during World War II. An old mate of mine used it in New Guinea, and another mate in Malaya. Water, mud, sand - nothing will stop this little darling.

Reliable and fulfills the ideological and doctrinal needs of a submachine gun to a T. Nothing better.

18 Modern Sub Machine Carbine (MSMC) Modern Sub Machine Carbine (MSMC), an Indian-made compact automatic weapon designed for close-quarter combat, is chambered in 5.56mm caliber.

Most efficient long-range firing weapon in its class.

Best look ever, with great penetration against body armor. It is a carbine.

19 Suomi KP/-31 Suomi KP/-31, a Finnish submachine gun known for its high-capacity drum magazines and exceptional accuracy, played a significant role in the Winter War against the Soviet Union.

Said to be one of the most successful submachine guns of World War II and even of all time. It helped the Finns give the Russians a hard time in the Winter War and later on. It also inspired the Russians to start mass-producing SMGs for the Red Army and even changed their tactics forever.

Highly effective in close combat and the perfect tool in forest battles.

That is true. It had a decisive role in saving the independence of Finland during World War II, especially in the Winter War, and it changed the tactics of the Red Army.

An effective weapon that was noticed by both the Russians and Germans. We can say it was one of the main reasons that forced Stalin to improve the Red Army in 1940.

20 Type 100 Type 100, a Japanese submachine gun used during World War II, is notable for its reliability and was one of the few SMGs produced by Japan, featuring a distinctive curved magazine.
21 Sten Mk. II Sten Mk. II, a British submachine gun, was widely used by Commonwealth forces during World War II, known for its simple design and ease of manufacture.

Once, when I was in my four-year apprenticeship to become a fine mechanic, a mate bought a Sten. It was made unusable (the firing pin was ground off and a steel pin was soldered straight across the tube). But these details were no real problem to solve for a future mechanic, were they? And the best part was, this gun worked with ordinary 9mm pistol ammunition. A big wow!

Meanwhile, it's been 30 years, which means I'm getting older. Thomy (Thomas, not this submachine gun!).

Although not the safest or most reliable submachine gun, the Sten excelled in providing a logistically perfect weapon. It was a cheap and easy-to-make weapon for both commandos and freedom fighters.

22 Carl Gustav m/45 Carl Gustav m/45, often referred to as the Swedish K, is a Swedish submachine gun praised for its accuracy and reliability, featuring a simple blowback design and chambered in 9mm.

Cheap to make. Extremely reliable. Good magazine with 36 rounds that never fails.

23 Zastava M92 Zastava M92, originating from Serbia, is a compact version of the AK rifle series, chambered in 7.62x39mm, and known for its robustness and firepower in a compact form.
24 M11/9 M11/9, a variant of the MAC family, is a small, lightweight submachine gun developed in the United States, known for its high rate of fire and often associated with civilian and law enforcement use.

The Mac 11/9 has a really great rate of fire that tops the Uzi any day.

25 MP5k MP5k is a shortened version of the Heckler & Koch MP5, designed for close quarters battle with its compact size and chambered in 9mm, offering exceptional control and reliability.

Originally designed from the Heckler and Koch MP5, this is a shorter variant. Because of its shorter nature, it is a lot more compact and can be fired with one hand. This fits the criteria for a submachine gun quite easily. Its rate of fire is also vastly increased. Even variants of this firearm have stocks, allowing better control of the gun, alongside the grip.

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