Book Review: The Suomi M/31 by Michael Heidler

Michael Heidler’s bi-lingual (German and English) book on the Finnish Suomi m/31 submachine gun is a small but dense history of one of the best submachine guns of World War Two. It covers Aimo Lahti’s background, the development of the submachine gun, its adoption by the Finnish Defense Forces, the handful of variations made, and its training and use in the Winter War and Continuation War. Because of Finnish tactics and the densely forested environments of the combat, the Suomi became perhaps the most important Finnish weapon in their wars against Russia. Light machine guns were too heavy, and their benefits could not be properly exploited by the Finnish fast-moving and close-in style of combat, but the Suomi excelled.

The book is just under 100 pages long, with about 60 of those consisting of a wealth of excellent photos from the SA Kuva military archive. All of the text and photo captions are presented side by side in both English and German. The book may not be large, but it is well presented and an excellent reference on an otherwise rather obscure weapon. Pricing at the time of this filming is 29 Euro shipped in Germany, 34 Euro shipped to the rest of the EU, and $44 US shipped outside of the EU. Available direct from the author via PayPal. Email him at GGBuch@web.de to order a copy.

6 Comments

  1. Read his article about stens for the volkssturm, if this book is even half as good, then it is definitely wort that money.

  2. An excellent book, indeed! Well worth the cost, and it would be an easy sell at twice the price. For Finnish-focused collection of the M/31 and accessories, it’s a must-have.

  3. “book”
    Does it also covers export sales of SUOMI sub-machine gun?

    “Light machine guns were too heavy, and their benefits could not be properly exploited by the Finnish fast-moving and close-in style of combat, but the Suomi excelled.”
    Default Finnish light-machine gun of that era – Lahti-Saloranta M/26:
    http://www.jaegerplatoon.net/LMG1.htm
    was not especially slick, showing some reliability problems in actual usage, partially due to lacks in maintenance, but not only. Ergonomics was also somewhat lacking, magazine has been to loaded with special device, if you want to full capacity (20) which BTW was rather on lower end of scale for 1920s light-machine guns.

    • Continuing:
      so it is not wonder than Finnish soldier, who fought during Talvisota might have more fondly memories about sub-machine gun than light machine gun.
      Interestingly SUOMI sub-machine gun seems to follow to some degree thinking “sub-machine gun should be diminutive light machine gun”, as evidenced by bi-pod. This thinking was present in inter-war period in other countries too (see for example Czechoslovak ZK-383), but in real combat it proved to not work well.

  4. The KP/31 was probably, all things considered, the best submachine gun on the market during the inter-war period; very well-made, reliable, and user-friendly. Even the British Army, who notoriously held the opinion that submachine guns were a novelty, conceded that the Suomi was an excellent gun when they tested it in ’36, and again in ’38. It is often said that it influenced the design of the Soviet PPD, and later the PPSh.

    What it wasn’t, however, was cheap. It is perhaps ironic that the gun that inspired Soviet designers was itself replaced by a Soviet gun – the PPS, which was copied by the Finns as the M/44.

    • “KP/31 was probably, all things considered, the best submachine gun on the market during the inter-war period”
      Best is, as always, arguable, but anyway Oy Tikkakoski Ab should be praised for ability to deliver such good weapon without having prior experience with production of machine guns.

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