Wednesday, June 06, 2012

For Keads--The Smith and Wesson Model 76 sub-machine gun

In a recent post on his great blog Another Day, Keads posted a video in which a bad guy is firing a submachine gun before he gets killed by Steve McQueen. (I am SO stealing that video for my Saturday Man Movie bit...) Keads gets high marks for identifying the High Standard 1200 shotgun (which I never would have caught) but when I identified the sub-gun as a Smith and Wesson Model 76, he appeared unaware that Smith and Wesson had ever made such a creature.

Well he's not alone. Lots of people have never heard of the gun, and for that reason, I'm going to put up a post about what was actually a pretty decent weapon that was both brought about by and killed by politics.

Back in 1966, the US Navy SEALS were using the Carl Gustav M/45 submachine gun for certain covert operations. The Swedish government, one of our "fairweather" friends, barred further sale of such guns to the US government over their opposition to our action in Vietnam. Smith and Wesson, anticipating a need and an opportunity, rushed to produce a similar weapon, which came into being a year later as the Model 76. It was a close copy of the M/45 and even used the same magazines. The US navy bought some, but then decided that the weapon wasn't what they needed after all and cancelled further purchases after buying a few thousand of them. Smith and Wesson tried to keep on with the design for a bit, offering them to US law enforcement and civilian purchasers, but finally ceased production altogether in 1974. A light, reliable weapon, it was favored by those who owned and used them, but it still didn't sell well enough to keep S&W in the business of making and selling them.

In 1983, a small company known as MK Arms started to make clones of the gun. They also hoped to sell spare parts to the Navy for the Navy's stock of Model 76 weapons, and while they did manage some small sales, it was really not a money-maker for them and they eventually went out of the business altogether after the NFA act of 1986 killed off further production and sale of automatic weapons to civilian purchasers.

Here's my old one, one of the MK Arms MK 760 clones.

It was compact, light, and had a very high rate of fire.

The problem was that MK Arms reverse-engineered their guns from the real Model 76, so they typically didn't work as well as the real thing.

Mine was a perfect example of that. Despite being sent in for warranty repair work twice (These guns are usually under warranty, and the work is done by Tim LaFrance) It only ran well with NATO +P+ ammo, which was hard to come by at the time.

I sold it. But there are times that I miss it. If it only ran better. But the real Smith and Wesson guns? They run. Watch this guy:

I'd buy a real S&W Model 76 if I was in the market for one and found one at the right price. And if Vector Arms doesn't get my Uzi working right in the near future, I may just switch.


  1. Wow. I bow before your Firearm-Fu. Hell, I'm lucky every once in a while though!

  2. It was also Chuck Heston's weapon of choice in The Omega Man. The opening scene where he is cruising the empty streets of Los Angeles in a convertible, then suddenly screeches to a halt and fires an M76 at a passing hooded menace is classic.

  3. @ Bob. I still haven't seen that movie, nor could I find a decent clip of it with the S&W 76 for my Saturday man Movie bit. But I'll be looking more.

  4. Yep, interesting little sub-gun, and not something one would associate with S&W!

  5. The Carl Gustav M/45 was also issued to/given to/acquired for pilots flying for the CIA in Vietnam/Cambodia/etc.

    Now I'm trying to think of where I put that, the story of a pilot who got an M/45, kept it in his plane, and when he came back to the US, flying the same plane, kept it and ultimately registered it during an amnesty. Hm. It's around here somewhere.

    I suppose the M76 was made around the same time S&W was trying to provide a full range of cop products; remember the 1200 shotgun?