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Book Review: The US M3/M3A1 Submachine Gun by Michael Heidler

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It is a bit surprising that there has not previously been a significant book written on the M3 “Grease Gun” submachine gun – but Michael Heidler has corrected that empty space in the firearms literature. His new book “The US M3/M3A1 Submachine Gun” is 224 pages covering all aspects of the Grease Gun’s development, manufacture service, and accessories.

The M3 was the American second-generation SMG, developed for maximum simplicity and production economy. Heidler covers more than a dozen different proposed guns that competed for adoption before the M3, and also discusses the development of the T-15 and T-20 guns that became the M3. This includes specific testing procedures and trials reports. He then explains the mechanics and disassembly of the gun, and goes into detail about its manufacture. The M3 was produced by GM’s Guide Lamp division, a company specializing in sheet metal stampings that was an excellent choice for the new design.

As the M3 saw field use a number of shortcomings came to light, resulting in the improved M3A1 variation. Production only ran for a couple years however, ending in the summer of 1945 once enough guns were in inventory to fulfill American military needs. A relatively sparse number of accessories were made, which are also covered in the book. In addition, Heidler has some discussion of experimental patterns (like the curved-barrel types, 9x19mm conversions, silenced models, and .30 Carbine experiments) and foreign production copies of the M3.

Overall, the book is an excellent source for all things Grease Gun. The text is a bit short in some places, buoyed by a lot of photographs, both period original pictures and images or guns and parts. I would have liked to see it go a bit more in-depth in some areas, but there simply might not be much more detail available. This was not a gun that had an extensive service life or a complex production history, after all. It is a classic and essential piece of US military history, though, and it is nice to finally have a book covering it.

At the time of this writing the cover price is an even $45.00 and it is available from the publisher directly:

Or from Amazon:

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