Bergmann MP18

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Bergmann MP18/I with 32-round TM 08 snail drum accepting mag-well, as issued in WWI - 9x19mm
Bergmann MP18/IV with 20-round box magazine accepting straight mag-well, what the MP18 was originally designed with, and retrofitted with post-WWI - 9x19mm

The Bergmann MP18 is a German submachine gun, one of the first mass-produced submachine guns to ever see combat. The weapon was designed by Hugo Schmeisser between 1915 and 1917 at the Bergmann Waffenfabrik factory. It was designed to fulfill the requirements established by the German Rifle Testing Commission. The original MP18 was fed by box magazines, however the Commission wanted the weapon to utilize the existing high-capacity 32-round "snail" drum magazine used in the P08 Artillery Luger. Very little is known about the early development period of the MP18, probably due to the fact that work was kept secret due to the war. Most sources agree that the design was completed by the end of 1917, and went into production in early 1918. When the weapon was completed, it was designated the Maschinenpistole 18/I or MP18/I. The weapons were finished and the parts all fitted by hand, at near commercial-grade quality.

An unknown quantity of MP18s were produced and issued in the final months of World War I; various sources refer to numbers from 3,000 to 10,000 (there is an opinion that allegedly 17,677 were issued before the end of hostilities on the basis of an acceptance stamp (crowned C), but strictly speaking, all known MP18s have this stamp, and this sample [1] with this serial number is also equipped with a post-war Schmeisser receiver for box magazines. In total, about 35,000 (at least based on known serial numbers) MP18/Is were made, and most of them were obviously produced after the end of the war, before the Treaty of Versailles put an end to this (and according to several opinions, also secretly produced for some time even after the ban).

The automatic weapons was severely limited for use by the German military by the Treaty of Versailles, but small quantities of SMGs were issued to the Weimar Republic for police use, and also in Freikorps. The Weimar-era weapons were converted from 1920 with straight mag-wells to use 20-round box magazines, instead of the 32-round Luger drum magazine, which is obvious was decided to the much more convenient and reliable. According to some reports, these conversions were designated as "MP18/Iv" (not "IV" or "II", as "v" for verbessert/"improved"); these designations were only in the documentation and were not applied to the weapon itself. It should be noted that not all samples were converted, as there are examples of weapons marked "1920", which retain the original design, as the "1920" stamp was used to prove that marked weapons were not kept in secret, but in the official possession of the police. The rest of the weapons were apparently either disposed of or sold abroad (it is known that police forces in Canada and Bulgaria had a small number of them at the very least; these should not be confused with the later commercial models from SIG and Haenel). The original factory production of the MP18 was accordingly discontinued after about a year after it started, because, due to new restrictions, Germany simply could not mass produce weapons of the "assault" type, and the design was sold to Swiss company SIG, which started producing it with a number of changes as their Model 1920. The design was again improved upon and manufactured in Belgium for export as the Schmeisser MP28/II.

The "I" index is most likely a design difference. MP18/II and MP18/III remained prototypes, never serial-produced (although the first of them eventually evolved into MP28/II).

N.B. The MP18's deployment as the first submachine gun used in combat led to Allied forces during World War II nicknaming the Wehrmacht's MP40 submachine gun "the Schmeisser", an appellation that has endured in several novels, films, and television series. In fact, Hugo Schmeisser had no involvement in the MP40's design or manufacture.



(1918 - 1919)

  • Type: Submachine Gun
  • Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
  • Weight: 9.2 lbs (4.2 kg)
  • Length: 32.8 in (83.3 cm)
  • Barrel length: 7.9 in (20.1 cm)
  • Capacity: 32 rounds (TM 08 drum magazine), 20 or 32 rounds (post-WWI box magazine). ~60 rounds on Vollmer's experimental mag.
  • Fire Modes: Fully Automatic (450 RPM)

The Bergmann MP18 appears in the following movies, TV shows, and video games:


Title Actor Character Note Date
The Land That Time Forgot Declan Mulholland Olson 1975
Richard III Richard's soldiers 1995
Michael Collins An IRA assassin 1996
The Water Diviner Greek soldier 2014
The King's Man German soldier 2021 =


Film Title Character Note Date
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade A member of the "Sect" . 1998
Sakura Taisen: École de Paris Erica Double barrel, double magazine 2003
Sakura Taisen: Le Nouveau Paris Erica Double barrel, double magazine 2004-05
Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa German soldier 2005

Video Games

Game Title Mods Notations Release Date
NecroVisioN 2009
NecroVisioN: Lost Company 2010
The Great War 1918 2013
Battle of Empires : 1914-1918 "MP18" 2014
Verdun "Maschinenpistole 18/I" 2015
Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades 2016
Battlefield 1 MP18 2016
Screaming Steel: 1914-1918 MP18/I 2018
Enlisted Bergmann MP18/I 2021

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