Who doesn’t adore a little creativity in their weapon’s design? Today we are looking at an odd niche of folding SMGs; well, four folding SMGs, two short-barreled rifles, and one pistol. They all fit into the category of folding firearms that are built around a pistol caliber. Most are American but the concept has gone international.
Why the folding submachine guns?
The main idea behind these weapons is fairly simple: You want compact and concealable firepower, something more potent and capable than a pistol, but a traditional carbine doesn’t fit the bill. So you go with an SMG, but too many SMGs are too big to be concealed, and when they get too small, they get unwieldy.
This sparked the idea of producing an SMG that could essentially fold in half and become a rectangular object. A rectangle doesn’t look like a gun, so even seeing it carried openly doesn’t cause alarm. Folding it in half also makes the weapon easier to carry and conceal. These folding submachine guns could be dropped into a bag, popped into a back pocket, or concealed under a jacket.
So, let’s look at some folding SMGs of the past and today.
FMG stands for folding machine gun. This weapon was built for Eugene Stoner’s company Ares Inc by Francis Warin. Ares only produced two of these weapons, which served as prototypes to gather interest. Following a series of high-profile kidnappings in South America, Warin designed the concealable weapon for people doing business abroad.
The original weapon used MP28 SMG magazines and the second prototype Uzi ones. The patent was filed in 1984, seemingly making this the first folding submachine gun. The design of the FMG resulted in a 10.6-inch long weapon, when folded, which was hardly bigger than a carton of cigarettes. Unfolded, it was 20-inches long and weighed a little over five pounds loaded. Sadly, the company never made more than the two prototypes, and Ares ceased production.
Parallel thinking must have been at play during the 1980s because a man named Utah Connor produced the UC-9, another one of the world’s folding submachine guns, around the same time as the Ares FMG. He showed the weapon at a Soldier of Fortune event and gained interest from a man named Tim Bixler, who then contacted another man named David Boatman. The three came together to improve and produce the UC-9, and they changed the name to the DEB M21.
The DEB M21 was a 9mm SMG that was painted in various colors, including red, blue, and black. It featured a carry handle that made the folded gun look a little more inconspicuous. The carry handle doubled as a set of sights. A headphone jack and antennae made the UC-9 look like a radio to some degree. The weapon was designed with the intention of undercover police work. They three men had produced less than a dozen weapons by the time the Hughes amendment made producing machine guns a bit more difficult. The company folded, but one of the guns got a starring role in Robocop 2.
In 1990, many folding submachine guns hit the Russian market including the PP-90 that chambered 9x18mm Makarov ammunition and used a straight blowback design. The weapon only fired in full auto and was armed with a folding set of sights. The weapon looks to be made of stamped steel, a favorite of Russian construction.
When folded, the PP-90 was fairly compact and very flexible. The 9mm Makarov round wasn’t as strong as standard 9mm Parabellum, and that likely allowed the gun to be smaller and lighter than previous models. The little gun was only 10.6 inches when folded, so it was fairly concealable. Of all the folding SMGs, this was the most successful.
In 2008, Magpul revealed the FMG-9 their take on the folding SMG. This particular model was made as a proof of concept and never reached mass production, regardless of what video games want you to think.
However, the FMG-9 was attractive, and in 2021 Magpul revealed the FDP-9 and FDC-9, an evolution of the system, for which Magpul had partnered up with Zev to produce.
Yet, the FDC-9 would be a short-barreled rifle and not a submachine gun. Folding submachine guns are cool, but no one is buying them, whereas the average person can purchase a short-barreled rifle.
Similarly, while SBRs can be difficult to acquire, pistols are fairly easy. The FDP-9 offers a stockless pistol version of the folding firearms. These are 9mm weapons that use Glock mags and will likely be popular enough as range toys.
The B&T BWC is something completely new and seems to be a limited-run style product. B&T still doesn’t sound sure if they will go full production with it, but if they do, it will be fascinating break from folding SMGs as it’s more or less a chassis system.
The BWC is a short-barreled rifle that promises to be a very modern choice for the folding gun connoisseur. The Swiss make excellent guns, and this chassis will likely be a great piece of gear. BWC even stands for Because We Can. Hopefully, they release the kit cause they’d have a buyer in me.
The little folding SMGs that could
Folding SMGs might be super niche weapons, but they are easily some of the coolest on the market.
If you like creative blasters, then you’ll love these little fellas. These are the perfect gun for keeping your profile low and your rate of fire high.
Feature Image: The Magpul FDP-9 submachine gun unfolded. (Magpul)