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Swiss MP-41/44: Adolph Furrer and His Toggle Lock Fascination

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The Swiss military discovered an urgent need for submachine guns in the early years of World War II, and sent out a very short-notice request for SMG designs. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for the SIG concern, which had been development a very good line of submachine guns through the 1930s. Their only serious competition was the WF Bern factory, which did not have anything of the sort in production. However, the director of the Bern plant (Adolph Furrer) was politically connected and make an energetic effort to promote a gun of his own design. Furrer had been tinkering with toggle locked designs for several decades, and had designed the Swiss LMG-25 machine gun. He claimed that his own submachine gun would be lighter, simpler, cheaper, and just all around better than SIG’s…despite the fact that he didn’t actually have it in production yet.

Unfortunately for the Swiss, Furrer’s arguments worked, and Bern ended up with a contract for what would be designated the MP41. It was a short-recoil, toggle-locked gun using a side-mounted 40 round single-feed magazine and firing at a rate of 850-900 rounds/minute. Predictably, production delays meant that the threat of German invasion was completely gone by the time a substantial number of the guns were actually delivered. The Swiss military would honor his contract, but lost patience in 1943 and obtained a production license for the Suomi SMG from Finland, and would produce more MP43/44 Suomi guns than Furrer guns. The MP41 was slightly updated in 1944, and would remain in Swiss service until the mid 1970s, when they were removed from inventory and almost all scrapped (because no other country was interested in buying them).

Thanks to Kessler Auktionen AG for letting me film some of their guns!

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