Not since the Second World War had the US Army, or “Big Army,” as it is called in some circles, sought a new submachinegun (SMG).
Up until now, the M3 “Grease Gun” had been doing a pretty good job.
The Grease Gun actually saw service for decades after the war, becoming the standard-issue weapon for crews manning the M-48 through M-60 battle tanks. It was the longest-serving SMG, from 1942 to 1992.
It was also made famous in war movies, such as The Dirty Dozen, with Lee Marvin.
Its main competitor was the Thompson submachine gun, but the Thompson had problems of its own. It was heavy and expensive to build.
According to a report by Travis Pike at Sandboxx, seemingly out of nowhere the US Army put out a request for samples for modern submachine guns with rather strict requirements — it had to be very compact, high quality, thoroughly reliable and modular.
In other words, it had to pack more punch than a pistol and be more compact than a rifle.
It wanted a very small SMG, and their newest effort to field one would be called the Sub Compact Weapon system.
The Army’s requirement necessitated a short 5.5-inch barrel and a telescopically collapsible stock. It had to weigh less than 7 pounds, fire 9mm rounds, and be 15 inches or shorter with the stock collapsed, the report said.
It also had an ambidextrous requirement, as well as an external safety, 20 and 30 round magazines, and semi and full-auto modes.
The US saw submissions from HK, SIG Sauer, CZ, PTR, and many more; all of which were considered, but ultimately eliminated.
Leaving just one winner — Swiss firm B&T’s APC9K.
The Army would purchase only 350 APC9K SMGs initially, with an option to purchase 1,000 more if they saw fit. The fact that the US has about half a million active-duty soldiers, tells you that the new SMG was not intended as a general issue weapon, the report said.
In 2020, the US Air Force followed suit and purchased a small number of APC9K submachine guns to replace their own aging MP5s.
So what’s so great about the APC9K?
Well, experts say Bruger and Thormet make fantastic firearms. Real premium grade, well-reputed stuff.
The company actually started out making suppressors/silencers, but then expanded to specialize in weapons and accessories.
For starters, the APC9K sports a 4.3-inch barrel with a suppressor adapter, a collapsing stock, weighs 6.7 pounds, and comes in around 14 inches, the report said.
It fits or beats all the required specs on top of being a well-made firearm. “K” is a German designation meaning Kurz, which translates to short.
The APC9K utilizes a very simple blowback system. It’s nothing fancy and is the same system used in early SMGs like the M3 Grease Gun.
This closed-bolt blowback system does create more recoil than necessary for a 9mm cartridge, however, and necessitates a combination of heavy bolts or springs, the report said.
APC9K magazines tend to be easier to load, slightly more compact, and more reliable for full-auto fire. B&T magazines are famously translucent and made from a polymer material.
One major benefit to the APC9K package is its modularity.
Much like the M4 platform, the APC9K can be fitted with a wide variety of accessories, stocks, muzzle devices, and even a multitude of lower receivers. The different lowers allow the gun to use Glock or SIG P320 magazines, the report said.
Shooters can attach a multitude of optics, suppressors, lights, lasers, and vertical grips.
Altogether, it’s a very modern choice for the modern soldier, as modularity matters on the modern battlefield.
Who will be getting these SMGs?
Submachine guns have become niche weapons, like shotguns, in which their role is very limited. They fire a pistol caliber round that lacks the range and penetration of a rifle round.
That’s why the APC9K isn’t a general issue weapon. The Army’s goal is to arm Personal Security Details, or PSD teams, with APC9K submachine guns, the report said.
Situationally, this makes sense. If you are in an urban environment protecting a VIP, a submachine gun isn’t a bad option.
The APC9K provides a light and handy weapon system for those who may need to escort a principal through doors, into cars, and through tight quarters.
It also offers the user a very compact weapon that’s more potent than a pistol, even if not quite as capable as a rifle. Soldiers assigned to PSD details do not have the primary goal of winning a gunfight as infantry units might.
Their goal is to protect the principal and get them out of danger.
A submachine gun can be handled with a single hand better than a rifle, can be used easily inside a vehicle, and can lay down suppressive fire with ease.
Sources: Sandboxx, We Are The Mighty, Guns & Ammo