All About Guns


Have you ever pondered the miraculous design of the human digits? They are, in general, stubby, crude sorts of things. Anyone who has ever tried to remove a splinter without the aid of tools can appreciate their innate limitations. Human fingers are the archetypal blunt instruments to be sure. However, slave these stubby rascals to the human brain, the most refined computer in the known universe, and you have capabilities most remarkable.

Your brain weighs three pounds and is mostly fat. It consumes one-fifth of your body’s total energy output and contains about 100 billion neurons. With the world as its playground, the human brain has contrived some of the most wondrous machines.

German MP34 SMG profile view
The meticulously executed MP34 was a throwback to an era when gun makers took their time.

World War I was the species’ rude introduction to warfare on an industrial scale. This unprecedented hemoclysm brought us such rarefied stuff as poison gas, the combat submarine, tactical aircraft, and belt-fed machineguns aplenty. It also saw the introduction of the German MP18, the world’s first viable handheld man-portable submachinegun.

MP34 submachine gun
The Germans spared no effort manufacturing this refined pre-war buzzgun.

Sixteen million corpses later, the First World War ground to a bloody halt, but not before fundamentally altering the way men killed each other. Absorbing the tactical and strategic lessons learned, all the combatant nations went home to lick their wounds and plan for the next Great War. For the defeated Germans desperate to acquire the refined implements of modern combat, this required some creativity.

Convoluted Origins

The Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI restricted German pistol-caliber firearms to no more than eight rounds onboard and barrels of four inches or less, the specific vital statistics of the infantry version of the P08 Parabellum Luger pistol. As a result, the German weapons manufacturing behemoth Rheinmetall simply meandered over to Switzerland and purchased the Swiss Waffenfabrik Solothurn Company in 1929.

Stripper clip loading of MP34
There is a complex stripper clip loading device built into the left-sided magwell.

Working in secret, German and Swiss engineers produced the prototype S1-100 submachine gun. As Solothurn was a design outfit without an expansive production base, Rheinmetall then purchased a controlling interest in the Austrian Waffenfabrik Steyr company. The resulting Steyr-Solothurn Waffen AG conglomerate produced the redesignated MP34 for both military and commercial markets.

Technical Details

The MP34 is a blowback-operated open bolt selective-fire submachine gun that weighs 9.9 lbs. fully loaded. The gun was chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum, 9x23mm Steyr, 9x25mm Mauser, 7.63x25mm, 7.65x21mm, and even .45 ACP cartridges. Most of the guns remaining today fire Georg Luger’s Parabellum round.

MP34 rear sight
The rear sight of the MP34 is rather optimistically graduated out to 500 meters.

The MP34 fed from the left side via 20- or 32-round magazines canted slightly forward for optimal feed geometry. A sliding switch on the left aspect of the receiver selects between semi and fully automatic modes of operation. The heavy steel barrel shroud is an absolutely beautiful thing liberally perforated and sporting a bayonet lug.

MP34 cover pivot
The top cover of the gun pivots up for maintenance, while the recoil system is built into the buttstock.

The magazine housing incorporated a curious device wherein an empty magazine could be locked in place from the bottom. Ammunition could then be quickly loaded via eight-round stripper clips charged from above. Absolutely everything about the gun is executed to a ludicrously refined standard of fit and finish.

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