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The Swedish Suomi M-37/39 Submachine Gun

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Ian presents Sweden’s first (or rather second) sub-machine gun in this episode of Forgotten Weapons. The very first sub-machine gun was the M37, which was a licensed copy of the Suomi M-31, but with a couple of changes made to it: the sights are different, the charging handle is a little different, the barrel is shorter, and the stock profile is also different.

When this was first adopted in 1937, Sweden did not have a military sub-machine gun, so when they went looking for one, they decided it should use the same cartridge as their standard service sidearm. The sidearm at the time was a model of the 1907 Browning Colt, scaled up. Sweden was one of the very few countries that adopted the 9×20 Browning as a military cartridge, and because it was semi-rimmed, it was rather awkward to use.

The Carl Gustav rifle factory designed a four-stack, coffin-style magazine for the sub-machine gun. It held 56 rounds because the Swedes had been issuing ammunition in 28-round boxes. In the original gun, the magazine was canted backwards because of the semi-rimmed nature of the ammo.

There were 900 of these guns; they weren’t bad. By 1939, Sweden realized that they needed a lot more guns, so they started buying guns from Germany as they were in no position to mass manufacture. They bought 1,500 Walther HPs and 1,800 Bergmann sub-machine guns, long and short versions. As a result, the Swedish military inadvertently adapted the 9mm. When they got more Suomi guns, they decided to adapt them to 9mm, as well.

The military adapted the Suomi, made some changes and it became the M-37/39. Ian runs through some of these changes, including an additional sight for 300 meters on the flip sight, the sliding hook on the charging handle, the selector lever, and a stock profile that brings the comb up a bit higher to give almost a straight line for recoil. He also demonstrates takedown, and talks about how some features are the same as the Finnish Suomi.

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