Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

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Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 14:08

This is a question that has been bugging me a bit as of late.

Submachine guns have long been a favorite weapon of counter terrorism units, and in many respects they are well suited to the type of operations the GSGs conduct. However, on several occassions, the GSGs have had to face off with enemies who are equipped with body armour. This has made me question if weapons like the MP5 are still appropriate tools for GSG characters. Admitedely, there are armour piercing loads available for 9mm submachine guns (the Swedes have a type of bullet which has an unusually hard and thick jacket which can penetrate soft armour, and the Russians have ones that will shed their jackets to allow a subcalibre penetrator to pass through if they encounter armour -their's can apparently penetrate some metal inserts) however these bullets don't do the same level of damage as hollowpoint ammunition. And of course, if you carry more then one type of ammo, you have to worry about which type you have loaded at any particular time.

Now, in the case of a really tiny weapon like a micro-uzi or something, you can probably still make a case for the submachine gun. However, is there really much point in equipping a character with a full sized submachine gun like a MP5 when they can have something like a HK53 or SiG SG-552 instead?

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 14:16

I think any weapon type has it's uses. Maybe not in every instance, but I'd be hard pressed to say "No, this SMG isn't useful anymore." Plus, submachine guns will most of the time have less recoil.

The biggest problem I see with using high power assault rifles all the time is over-penetration. They're going to be firing full auto in an urban landscape. Tons of opportunity for those armor piercing bullets to go punching through (in the absence of a target not wearing armor) and nail something behind it.

The only advantage an assault rifle would have over an SMG in close quarters battles would be if the target was wearing body armor. I realize assault rifles tend to be more accurate, but if you're fighting inside, door-to-door, I doubt you'll need that 300+ meter range. Otherwise, an SMG firing .45 or 9mm should be more than sufficient. Especially if fired in bursts/full auto. Again keeping mind that in the instance of a miss, your AP bullets could go through walls behind them, or worst case, exiting the building altogether and hitting someone outside.

This brings up PDWs, which fire smaller rounds with rifle round properties, but you even pointed out yourself in other posts how PDW rounds have a habit of not having enough stopping power against an unarmored opponent. That's where bigger, yet lower velocity bullets like 9mm or .45 come into play.

So yes, I think there are many reasons to keep SMGs in the inventory.


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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 14:25

I think that is why the girls use SMGs like the FN P90 (Henrietta) and H&K MP7 (Triela) which use newer generation bullets specifically designed to defeat soft body armor.

As expert marksmen as the girls are, SMGs allow more firepower at close ranges for things like clearing safehouses. Henrietta's mission in Chapter One is a perfect example where an SMG was the proper choice.

Kara doesn't use an SMG as her XM8's PDW mode is small enough to meet the need. But my RPG OC has an FN P90 and I intend to have her carrying it with her on the RPG attack mission now underway.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 14:29

@Kiskaloo wrote:I think that is why the girls use SMGs like the FN P90 (Henrietta) and H&K MP7 (Triela) which use newer generation bullets specifically designed to defeat soft body armor.
That also brings up another point I forgot to make. There's never one gun that is suited for every situation. That's why every Army in the world has always had more than one gun.

For instance, what if the girls wanted to go water fowl hunting? Sure, they could like that duck up with their Assault Rifles and probably hit it, depending on the amount of firepower they let loose. Or more realistically, Triela would just show them how it's really done, and load birdshot shells in her shotgun. Razz

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:08

Actually, 5.56mm is generally considered a somewhat poor round for shooting at targets behind barriers. It can penetrate interior walls, but so will rounds from something like a MP5.

The main issue I can think of with really short barreled 5.56mm weapons like the HK53 is whether they generate enough velocity for reliable fragmentation (as an author, I generally treat them as being able to do so in CQB when equipped with heavy weight OTM bullets, which tend to have a lower fragmentation threshold) and whether they can do significant harm to targets behind cover.

I can kind of understand the whole switching weapons thing, but some situations are fluid and don't allow you the luxury of switching between different tools, while others may put you far away from the nearest armoury. Plus the more different stuff you tend to use the more different stuff you need to famliarise yourself with in training.

Part of the reason I brought this up is really that I was considering equipping one of my OCs with a MP5 and then found myself wondering if it was really an appropriate tool for her.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:14

5.56 will completely f*ck a person up, don't mistake that. Razz This picture is NSFW, and pretty gory, but this is what a simple 5.56mm NATO can do to soft tissue.
Spoiler:
I dunno about you, but that looks pretty grievous. Of course you mentioned targets behind cover, so I don't have any pictures of that. sweat

For people like the GsG girls, where combat is part of their reison detre, you'd think they have all the time they need to train with as many guns as they need, wouldn't they? Wink Heck, US Special forces are trained to use almost any gun they might pick up, I'd find it hard to believe that a GsG girl wouldn't have training like that either.

I say have your GsG use what you want her/him to use. It's not like we'll rise up in mobs and grill you for deciding that a certain gun isn't good enough for the job (at least no self-respecting adult would be so anal about such a thing in FANfiction). As the author, it's your right to make what you want to work, fit.


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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:21

I've witnessed first-hand the effects of M855 ball round 5.56x45mm on human targets and it's not pretty, either.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:26

@Piero wrote:I can kind of understand the whole switching weapons thing, but some situations are fluid and don't allow you the luxury of switching between different tools, while others may put you far away from the nearest armoury. Plus the more different stuff you tend to use the more different stuff you need to famliarise yourself with in training.

A Gunslinger Girl cyborg is not an infantryman. She does not just walk the streets on patrol, responding to situations as they appear. She is not a "generalist" who needs a "general" weapon that can do many things, even if it doesn't do them all particularly well.

A Gunslinger Girl cyborg is a "specialist". She is assigned a specific mission and she prepares for that mission with the tools most appropriate to complete that mission. If she is to snipe someone, she carries a sniper rifle. If she is to clear a house, she carries a shotgun or an SMG. If she is a bodyguard, she carries a pistol.

Kara's XM8 can perform most any "general" role - SMG, assault rifle, sniper rifle, light machine gun for enemy suppression. But that's far more a matter of convenience and not a statement that Michele believes one weapon can perform any role. If Kara was tasked to snipe someone from a long-distance, he'd issue her the H&K PSG1. If her role was to provide cover fire during an assault of a location over open ground, he'd issue her a heavy machine gun. He matches the tool to the mission, changing it as necessary.

I don't think a Gunslinger Girl cyborg would "standardize" on a single rifle and a single pistol. And we have certainly not seen it in the manga nor the anime. The girls have their "preferred" weapons, but they adapt their firearm to the situation.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:29

Rusty -5.56mm performance is primarily dependent on bullet design and impact velocity. A 5.56mm bullet that fragments shortly after impact will tend to be very effective, while one that fragments late or not at all will tend to be far less so (unless it's an expanding 5.56mm round, those work a bit differently, though they're still velocity dependent).

The issue with a really short barreled 5.56mm like the HK53 is whether it generates enough velocity to produce reliable fragmentation. My general tendency when I write it to treat it as being able to do so at short ranges when equipped with proper ammunition. I'm not really sure what sort of results they'd get in real life though, as a HK53's barrel is only a little over eight inchs long.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:35

Another picture of the same wound. This time an X-Ray, showing the bullet fragments. This is from an issue M-16 btw, not expanding 5.56.
Spoiler:
The distance stated was just across the street. So yes, it's from a longer barrel, but across the street could be as short as ~20 yards.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:38

I tend to doubt, Piero, that people who read our (and other author's) GSG fiction do so to learn about real-life weapon dynamics. Especially since real-life weapon dynamics are not so static that they always respond the exact same way every single time.

If you want the HK53 to not be effective as a plot point, then make it so. If you want it to be effective as a plot point, then make it so.

Yu Aida didn't care that an NTM-20 probably can't tear a cyborg apart at 2000m. He also didn't care that the Italian's don't operate the Blackhawk nor the Dauphin helicopter.

He was telling a story.

You should do the same.


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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 15:41

@Kiskaloo wrote:If you want it to be effective as a plot point, then make it so.
It's like the movie Chronicles of Riddick.
Riddick wrote:I'll kill you with my teacup.
And he does. That tea cup was a very effective weapon, lol.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 16:00

To be honest, my original intent with this thread was not so much discussing specific weapons as the employment of certain classes of weaponry. As I said, I've been finding myself questioning the place of submachine guns in the girl's arsenals due to the fact that they've encountered enemies who wear body armour. To me, that seems like a serious issue for any operative thinking of using a SMG.

But I can let the issue drop if people want.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 16:06

Well do you want a discussion, or just confirmations of your opening position?

I've already stated why I believe the FN P90 and the H&K MP7 can be effectively employed against targets wearing soft armor meeting the CEN prEN ISO 14876 Level 3 standard.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 16:13

I stand by my first response. Again, there are times where the SMG might be the perfect weapon (and again, times they might not be). So I find no need to take them out of the arsenal, because "It's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it."

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 16:37

I was thinking of a discussion. But I'm not sure if there's a lot of point any more. I'd wanted to keep from getting too isoteric, but it seems like any serious in depth discussion of this topic would kind of have to get isoteric...

I do have to admit, the original question was rooted a bit in an issue relating to one of my OCs.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 16:46

Well the next step of body armor beyond Level 3 is Level 4, which is designed to defend against 5.56x45mm NATO (M855 ball). So at that point, an assault rifle would be equally useless.

I've worn Level 4. It's very bulky. Even the latest is bulky because of the thick layers of soft material and the thick ceramic or steel plates necessary to stop a high-powered rifle round. You're not going to be walking around in public in it because you can't conceal it.

So that means the only real time the girls would face it is against an opponent who was expecting them. And the girls don't generally operate that way because they don't respond well when the element of surprise is working against them as opposed to for them.

In one of my stories, the girls attacked a warehouse defended by military troops ready for them and wearing Level 4 body armor. The girls persevered, but it was touch and go and they took non-lethal casualties because they had to expose themselves longer in order to defeat their targets.

Almost all of the opponents the girls have faced in the manga and anime appear to not be wearing body armor. If they are, it's likely Level 2 soft armor that can be more easily concealed (with reduced effectiveness). It would stop a pistol round, but the girls tend to favor head-shots. Heck, they tend to favor head-shots no matter what gun they are using (Beatrice, for example, drilled her terrorists in the tower in the head firing an Uzi while swinging from a rope).

So really, their opponents could be wearing Level 7 (7.62x54mm AP) or even Level S (deer-slug / sabot from a shotgun) and it would be useless since the girls would be putting "warheads" on their foreheads.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Nachtsider on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 18:02

You could ask the same question of any counter-terrorist unit, to be honest. And for all their flaws, CT squads around the world are still using MP5 buzzguns to clear rooms.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by MikhailN on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 18:16

So another topic popped up while i was gone.

Submachine guns will always be here to stay. If stopping power of the bullet is your main concern, ask yourself why do bullets with relatively low stopping power still exist? The .50 BMG still hasn't phased out the 7.62mm and 5.56mm NATO and the .45ACP hasn't replaced the 9mm. There are other considerations like bullet weight and size (imagine loading magazines with 3 .50BMG rounds instead of 30 5.56mm NATO. Personally I'm going for the 5.56mm NATO)

If body armour is your main concern, then it shouldn't be. What body armour does is to slow down the bullet until it cannot penetrate the vest, so there is a bit of damage done when the bullet hits the vest and changes the molecular structure of the fabric. Yes it may stop one or two bullets but if you think you're invincible, think again.

Another thing that favours the SMG over the rifle is this thing called "pointability" (not sure if there's a technical term). Ever tried to swing an assault rifle up and point it at a target? How about a pistol? No it's not the weight but rather the weight distribution across the weapon. Due to differences in design, some weapons are easier to handle in close quarters fighting where you may/will have to swing it left or right and shoot faster than the other guy. I've never tried an SMG but I can assure you sniper rifles like the AI AW series or even the DSR1 are really not good in the "pointability" department.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 21:18

So would something like a MP-5 be able to counter soft body armour through burst fire then? That would narrow the gaps somewhat, seeing as how the short barreled 5.56mm weapons have some issues of their own, like firing signature (without a suppressor, they're loud as hell). Although I wouldn't actually think handling would make that big a difference. Isn't handling for a HK53 supposed to be pretty similar to that of a MP-5? (Using that one because it's the most direct comparison to the MP-5, but I'm under the impression the SiG SG-552 also handles quite well.)

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 21:26

Well according to Wiki the 9mm NATO FMJ round appears to be an "overpressure round" so it hits harder.

The muzzle velocities listed for the 9mm versions of the MP5 are right around the reference velocity Level 3 armor is intended to absorb, so combined with an overpressure NATO round, it might be able to either defeat it or impart enough impact energy to still knock someone in armor down - especially with multiple hits in the same general area.

The .40S&W MP5's might do better.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 21:34

@Kiskaloo wrote:impart enough impact energy to still knock someone in armor down - especially with multiple hits in the same general area.

The .40S&W MP5's might do better.
Agreed. I dunno about you, but I highly doubt anyone getting nailed by multiple rounds, even with body armor, is gonna be solid as a rock and just take the hits like a steel plate. They're gonna jerk/jump/move/flail/cringe long enough to plant one a non-armored area.

Also agree with a larger pistol caliber like .40SW.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by ElfenMagix on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 21:46

...ugh. Another Piero Gun Posting.

Oh for the love of.. All guns have their spot in they use of service. Handguns fit into one niche, shotguns another, rifles in its own place and sniper rifles hold their own. Unless you can make a universal gun that can handle a 20 - 50 round capacity, fit in the palm of the hand and be able to blow away doors and walls while being able to hit the door knob on the broad side of a barn at 600 yards at 700 rounds a minute, you are going to need separate guns for different reasons. Period.

Nothing clears a room like 50 rounds being shot into it and the people inside, though not hit, are now going to need a change of underwear. Nothing puts fear into the group in the room as hearing a loud "BOOM!" and seeing their only entrance become splinters. Nothing makes a grown man get to the verge of tears as having the mid-sized barrel of something being shoved up his nose while the bloody remains of his friends who tried to defend the place be dragged away to be piled up elsewhere.

Submachine guns have their place. Understand that and respect it. The days of trench war fare, where you have to aim 50 - 100 yds to hit your target is over. Going to room to room, and fight in spaces less than 5 square yards/meters is here. Closet warfare is here to stay as long as there are closets to fight in. In these cases, only 2 types of guns could make it- the hand gun and the sub machine gun. The Hand gun can run into the situation of running out of ammo in no time in this situation. The submachine wont. The hand gun is a back up in this situation, while being a primary one in personal situations.

In order to win a war fare situation, you must be at least equal in gun power to your opponent. Changes are he's going to have a submachine gun, so you should to. But machine guns makes for sloppy and messy results. Only a few can take few a handgun and outfight an opponent with a submachine gun. This is speed and skill. Since most are equal in this respect, you need to up the ante and pump up the fear factor.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by MikhailN on Thu 13 Aug 2009 - 23:14

I can't argue with that. SMGs have their own role to play in a battle. That's why the gun nuts at places like Heckler and Koch still churn out new designs for SMGs

Anyway just to make the topic more relevant, what about bullpup rifles? Granted the reloading's a pain but still, it's something to think about

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 0:18

Just as a point of note, I wasn't comparing really comparing submachine guns and standard sized assault rifles. I was comparing submachine guns and a very compact breed of assault rifles that are designed to excel in close quarters fighting (G36C, HK53, short barreled versions of the AR-15, etc.). These particular rifles are very similar in size and weight to submachine guns and in fact a few of them are referred to as such by their manufacturers, despite the fact that they fire intermediate power rifle rounds rather then pistol rounds (but when you get right down to it there doesn't seem to be complete agreement on what precisely defines assault rifles and submachine guns).

So basically, unlike regular assault rifles, these compact assault rifles are directly comparable to submachine guns in terms of the tactical niche that they fill.

The question I'd been debating with myself was whether it made sense for one of the girls to keep a submachine gun in her arsenal rather then a weapon like this, given the fact that these weapons can penetrate kevlar vests, something submachine guns require specialty ammunition to do.

Or, put in simple terms... if I'm writing a scene with one of the girls preparing for the possibility of storming a well guarded building. Does it make more sense for her to carry a MP-5 in 9mm or a similarly sized weapon in 5.56mm NATO?

Although to some degree I've been wishing I never made this topic in the first place...

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 0:21

I suppose carbines would work for such a mission.

I mean ammunition weight doesn't bother to a cyborg.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Piero on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 0:48

To be honest, what prompted this question was a scenario in the RPG. I've got Gina on perimeter duty but prepared to move in to assist the assaulters if things go completely to hell (and I mean completely, because it would be really bad form for her to leave the perimeter).

Gina's arsenal, after her and Adelina kind of swapped, includes a spectrum of HK roller locked guns. MP5 for CQB/suppressor work, HK33K as a general purpose carbine (little larger then the really short barreled rifles mentioned earlier, but still compact by rifle standards), and PSG-1 for sharpshooter work. However, in this scenario it seemed that there was a decent likelihood of encountering armoured foes, so despite the weapon being for CQB I got to thinking that maybe the HK33K was the proper choice. Which then got me to wondering "okay, if she's going to end up using that thing for CQB a fair bit of the time anyway, is there a point in keeping the MP-5 as a major component of her arsenal?"

Maybe if I swapped in a MP5SD the issue would become irrelevant, as the distinction between appropriate roles would become clear. MP5SD for ops requiring a high degree of stealth, HK33K otherwise.

Anyhow, that specific scenario was what prompted the more general question about the relevancy of smgs when there's a reasonable likelihood of encountering body armour equipped foes. I'll leave it up to the rest of you as to whether you want to discuss it further or let it drop at this point. I suppose the whole matter boils down to some degree to whether the risk of encountering body armour equipped foes is high enough to make it worth making weapons with AP capability standard issue among the girls. (And of course whether submachine guns with specialty ammo or submachine gun sized rifles are the best choice for achieving that goal, but I'm not sure if I want to get into anything that isoteric again right now.)

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 10:05

Well as the author, you are the one who will decide whether or not their opponents have body armor.

Yu Aida's policy is that they don't, since I cannot recall any of the girl's opponents being equipped with visible body armor until Volume 11 and Dante's team in Venice. And even then, the girls just shoot them in the head.

I mean really, if your OC is a Generation 1, she's invincible. She's so fast, even at point blank range a human can't track them to place an accurate shot. And even if they could, well it's not going to do much other than piss them off. And unlike their human opponents, they can place a shot anywhere they want. They don't need to worry about "center of mass" - they can pick the dimple on your face they want to put a bullet through.

Chapter 64 has shown that the Generation 2 cyborgs also have "lightning reflexes" so chances are they are as difficult to hit. And they're still armored up the yin-yang, as well.

So really, you might as well just give her a very short-barreled assault rifle with a 30 round clip. She'll never miss with a head shot if she has at least one second of targeting time and if she has less, then she can just send a few rounds downrange to put her target off-balance long enough to give her that second and follow up with the "called shot".

That would make for an amusing fic - the girls calling their shots like a pool player: Rico - "Five ball in the right socket" (fires a round into the right eye socket of a guy 100m away with her SVD).

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by rusty-spring on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 12:23

If you want to read up on how different bullets perform against body armor (ok, technically combat helmets) then I'll direct you to this.

Kevlar Helmet Performance Test


It's pretty exhaustive, and I can't see why anyone would need more info than this when it comes to talking about penetration when it pertains to head protection.

It's done in a very no-nonsense, down-to-earth way, and is an interesting read. Many pictures are also used to help illustrate.

BTW, those silly Russkies win the "contest" with the 7.62x25 Tokarev. Razz

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 12:26

The Discovery Channel show Time Warp also did a "gun episode" where they fired 9mm FMJ at both WW2 steel and modern kevlar helmets. In the case of the steel helmet, the round bounced off. With the kevlar helmet, the round disintegrated, which was quite impressive when viewed at a 1000+ frames per second. They have also filmed bullet-proof vests at high speed.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Nachtsider on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 12:40

@MikhailN wrote:Anyway just to make the topic more relevant, what about bullpup rifles? Granted the reloading's a pain but still, it's something to think about
The only assault rifle I've ever fired was a bullpup. Reloading I didn't find particularly problematic, but I might possibly change my mind once I've handled a conventional-layout weapon....

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 12:53

I like how bullpups look, but I have not used one in a combat situation so I cannot comment on how it compares to a "traditional" assault rifle.

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Re: Are Submachine Guns really useful to a GSG?

Post by ElfenMagix on Fri 14 Aug 2009 - 15:31

@Kiskaloo wrote:Well as the author, you are the one who will decide...
Thats basically it. Its OK to be a fan of the genre, but of one says they are going to o something, then do it! Reminds me of my lifeguarding days at the Pit (a pool with a gravity fed filtration system), and a 3m diving tower. Any fool who went up the tower MUST dive into the pit, or get thrown into it by the tower guard... I was at the other end at 'Station 2' to recover the bodies that were thrown in by the tower guard... Laughing

Seriously, all this researching must come to an end before all your fan service funding sources dry up. Write the story, post it and continue on with life. Make sure it has some conflict. Without conflict- there is no story.

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