Poland’s Problematic First SMG: The wz.39 Mors

Designed by Piotr Wilniewczyca and Jan Skrzypinski starting in 1936, the Mors was Poland’s first domestic SMG. Polish police forces had purchased Thompsons and Suomi in the 1920s and 1930s, but the military still had no such guns by the 1930s. One of the main inspirations for the More was the Erma EMP, which was purchased in large quantity by Poland to supply to the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War.

At any rate, the gun was developed by the State Rifle Factory in Warsaw and ready for testing in 1938. The first iteration was really disliked, with problems from accuracy to rate of fire to handling. The design would undergo several major iterations until a version was finally approved for testing in early 1939. A batch of 36 was made for those trials, plus the three prototypes made initially, giving a total production of just 39 of the guns. The German invasion in September 1939 ended the trials program, and no further examples were made.

For more details on the Mors, I suggest the article I published previously pin the subject written by Polish small arms expert Leszek Erenfeicht:

wz.39 Mors

Many thanks to the Polish Army Museum for giving me access to film this exceptionally rare item for you!


  1. As someone of partial Polish descent (maternal grandparents), I hope some were “trialed” on the Germs. “Poland has not yet perished, So long as we still live. What the foreign force has taken from us, We shall with sabre retrieve.”

  2. The Polish never sold EMP submachine guns to Spain, or if they did it was not a significant amount. It is commonly claimed that Poland was the source of the some 3,000 EMP submachine guns that were used during the Spanish Civil War, but this appears to have simply been a presumption by authors like Howson.

    In fact, the vast majority of EMP submachine guns used during the Spanish Civil War were not imports from Poland or Germany, but were actually made in Spain by the Republican government. These were produced from about 1937 – 1939 at the Subsecretaria de Armamento Fábrica nº 13 in Valencia. They are almost identical to the original German model but are distinct in several ways:

    * Adjustable rear tangent sight instead of a flip-up notch sight.
    * Solid oval cocking handle instead of a round, hollowed-out knob seen on the original Erma gun.
    * No Erma-Werke factory markings; only a crudely-stamped serial number on the magazine well.
    * No “police-type” safety latch mounted on the forward receiver, which was typically installed on the German-made guns.
    * “T-A” for “Tiro-a-Tiro” and “Automática” marked on the fire selector, instead of “E-D” for “Einzelfeuer” and “Dauerfeuer”.

    When the Nationalists won in 1939 and the remnants of the Republican army fled to France, the border authorities confiscated some 3,250 EMP submachine guns from them. This probably represents the near-total output of Republican-made EMPs. During WWII the French pressed these guns into emergency service as the “Pistolet-Mitrailleur Erma-Vollmer” and it can clearly be seen on the French manual that they were using Spanish Republican-made guns with “T-A” marked on their fire selectors. Any time you see a photo of a French soldier or Gendarme using an EMP, it is almost certainly a Spanish gun.

    Meanwhile back in Spain, the factory tooling in Valencia was captured by the Nationalists and Franco’s new regime had it transported to Coruña Arsenal where they used it to manufacture the Coruña M41/44 submachine gun. This was identical to the Republican EMP, except for the addition of a plunger-type safety on the underside of the receiver. They added this feature because the Republican EMP lacked the police safety that was installed on the German-made guns, and therefore the Spanish had to develop their own safety from scratch.

    In short, the Spanish never purchased or licensed EMPs from any other country, they simply manufactured their own unlicensed copies as they did with the MP 28 (“Naranjero”). You can read more here: http://firearms.96.lt/pages/ErmaEMP.html

      • I don’t believe they made a habit of doing that. Generally the practice was to sell old and obsolete WWI-era equipment to Spain for extortionate prices. The Republicans could hardly haggle over the prices since they were in dire need of arms at short notice. The Polish government had no interest in seeing the Republicans win and were selling equipment to them purely for monetary gain.

        If Poland had any large quantity of EMP submachine guns prior to WWII, it seems highly unlikely that they would have sold them off to Spain, since these were new and expensive guns.

  3. See what the God of Tanks has to say about the TKS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNLxDP0omKs as he crawls all over and in one. There’s plenty of hatches, although none specifically called a firing port. I would think the commander-gunner and driver had enough to do without taking pot shots over their shoulder. You can also see how the WZ.39 was a complete no go as a tanker weapon due to its size. Maybe as an externally stowed bailout weapon that you could grab as you ran for cover. (The role of the M1 and M3 on US vehicle, although they were stowed internally. The M3 was standard as late as the First Gulf War (two per tank – officially the property of the driver and loader) and I qualified on it many times, but with the passing of the M1911A1 and .45 ACP ammunition in favor of 9mm, it no longer offered the advantage of common ammunition with the pistols all the crewmen carried and was retired. It was replaced by the 5.56mm M4 Carbine)

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