M50 Reising submachine gun

M50 Reising submachine gun

Infobox Weapon|is_ranged=yes

name=Reising M50
type=Submachine gun
origin=flagcountry|United States
era= World War II
design_date= 1940
production_date= 1941–1945
service= 1941–1950
used_by= See Users
wars= World War II
spec_type= Selective fire submachine gun
part_length= 279 mm (M50)
cartridge=.45 ACP, .22 Long Rifle (M65)
feed= 12 or 20-round detachable box
action= Delayed blowback, closed bolt
rate= 550 round/min (M50); 500 round/min (M55)
velocity= 280 m/s (820 ft/s)
weight= 3.1 kg (M50); 2.8 kg (M55)
length= 959 mm (M50); 787 mm (M55)
variants= M50, M55, M60, M65

The Reising was an American submachine gun patented in 1940 and manufactured by Harrington & Richardson. It was designed by Eugene Reising in 1940. The two versions of the weapon produced during World War II were the M50 and the simplified folding-stock M55. Over 100,000 guns were ordered, and were initially used by the United States Navy and Marine Corps, though some went to Canadian, Soviet, and other armies.


Though described as a submachine gun, the Reising was actually designed as a compact lightweight semi-automatic carbine that was also capable of fully-automatic fire. There were four versions of the Reising: two automatics (the M50 and M55), and two semi-automatic-only: the M60 and the M65, this last one chambered for the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge for training purposes.

The M50 was a selective fire weapon, capable of a full auto fire rating at 450–600 rounds per minute or semi auto fire. It was reported that the true full auto rate was nearer to 750–850 rounds per minute. Unlike most submachine guns, the Reising fires from a closed bolt. There were several differences between the M50 and the M55. The most obvious one was the use of a rather flimsy, folding wire buttstock in the M55. The latter also eliminated the compensator and was simplified internally, making it lighter and shorter, with a reduced rate of fire. The M55 was originally issued to Marine parachute troops and armored vehicle crews. The M60 was designed primarily for police use as a semi-automatic carbine.


The Reising entered military service primarily because of uncertainty of supply of sufficient quantities of the Thompson submachine gun. In the testing stage, it won out over some other candidates. It was very light and quite accurate in aimed fire, attributed to its better stock fit and intricate closed bolt design, though its firepower was more limited due to the 20-round capacity of its largest magazine. [George, John (Lt.Col.)"Shots Fired in Anger", Samworth Press, 1948] [Dunlap, Roy F., "Ordnance Went Up Front", Samworth Press, 1948]

During WWII, quantities of the M50 Reising gun were issued to U.S. Marine Corps personnel deploying to the Pacific theatre, and were used in the Solomons campaign, including the battle for Guadalcanal. Most Reisings were originally issued to Marine officers and NCOs in lieu of a compact and light carbine, since the M1 Carbine was not yet being issued to the Marines. Although the Thompson submachine gun was available, this weapon frequently proved too heavy and bulky for jungle patrols, and initially it too was in short supply. [George, John (Lt.Col.)"Shots Fired in Anger", Samworth Press, 1948]

The Paramarines were known to have been issued quantities of the folding-stock M55, but the weapon's poorly-designed wire-framed stock (which tended to collapse upon firing) soon earned the M55 a poor reputation. [Nelson, Thomas B., "The World's Submachine Guns", TBN Enterprises, 1963]

Unfortunately, the Reising was not suited to the stresses of harsh battle conditions encountered in the Solomon Islands — namely, the difficulty in keeping the weapon clean enough to function properly. While more accurate than the Thompson, particularly in semi-auto fire, the Reising had a tendency to jam. [George, John (Lt.Col.)"Shots Fired in Anger", Samworth Press, 1948] This was in part due to its overly complex locked-breech design. This design used a system of levers within the breech block, to release the firing pin, that rusted easily in jungle climate. This problem was exacerbated by a recess in the receiver that could accumulate dirt, preventing the bolt from seating properly. In addition, the magazines created other problems; the magazine was a staggered-column, single-cartridge feed design, and slight damage to the feed lips would ruin the magazine. The Reising soon earned a dismal reputation for reliability under combat conditions. [ [http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292308-1762643.php Army News, benefits, careers, entertainment, photos, promotions - Army Times HOME ] ] Reportedly, many Marines would throw the weapon away upon finding just about anything else, and one NCO reportedly 'decommissioned' his Reising by breaking the stock over the head of a particularly insolent 'brig rat'. [Leckie, Robert "Helmet For My Pillow", Random House, 1957] Lt. Col. Merritt Edson, commanding officer of a Marine Raider battalion, ordered all Reising submachine guns issued to his unit to be dumped unceremoniously into a river, so that his men might draw better weapons. [ [http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292308-1762643.php Army News, benefits, careers, entertainment, photos, promotions - Army Times HOME ] ]

After the Marines proved reluctant to accept more Reisings, and with the increased issue of the .30 M1 Carbine, the U.S. government passed some Reising submachine guns to the OSS and to various foreign governments (as Lend-Lease aid). Others were given to various anti-Axis resistance forces operating around the world. Many Reising guns (particularly the M60 variant) were also released to U.S. law enforcement and the National Guard for guarding war plants, bridges, and other strategic resources, and in this role the weapon proved more successful.


Harrington & Richardson also made a long-barreled, semi-automatic version, known as the M60 carbine. However, few of these were sold. The Marines used M60s for training, guard duty and other non-combat roles. Some M60s were believed to have been issued to Marine officers at Guadalcanal. The remaining guns were passed on to the National Guard and civilian law enforcement agencies.A trainer version in .22 Long Rifle, the Reising M65 semi-automatic carbine, was also manufactured in scarce numbers.


*flag|Soviet Union|1923
*flag|United States|1912


Books and References

*Dunlap, Roy F., "Ordnance Went Up Front", Samworth Press, 1948
*George, John (Lt.Col.), "Shots Fired in Anger", Samworth Press, 1948
*Jones, Charles, "Lore of the Corps: Reisings Found to be Unreliable in Combat, ArmyTimes.com article
*Leckie, Robert, "Helmet For My Pillow", Random House, 1957.
*Nelson, Thomas B., "The World's Submachine Guns", TBN Enterprises, 1963
*Hogg, Ian V. and Weeks, John, "Military Small Arms of the 20th Century", DBI Books, 1985
*Iannamico, Frank. "The Reising Submachine Gun Story", Moose Lake Publishing, 1999
*Iannamico, Frank. "United States Submachine Guns". Moose Lake Publishing, 2004

External links

* [http://www.securityarms.com/20010315/galleryfiles/0200/258.htm Security Arms]
* [http://www.olive-drab.com/od_other_firearms_smg_reising.php History of the Reising Model 50 Submachinegun]
* [http://www.machinegunbooks.com]

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