Smith & Wesson 76: American’s Vietnam 9mm SMG

This S&W 76 is being sold by Morphys on October 30, 2018.

Early in the Vietnam War, the US Navy acquired a quantity of Swedish M/45B submachine guns (“Swedish K”) for special forces use. By 1966, however, the Swedish government would no longer authorize sales of arms to the United States because of involvement in the Vietnam War. So instead, the US turned to Smith & Wesson to design and produce a copy of the gun. In January of 1967 the first prototypes were presented of the S&W Model 76, which incorporated a number of changes form the Swedish original. The S&W gun had an ambidextrous selector lever allowing either semiauto or full auto fire, and a permanently fitted magazine well for use with a close copy of the Suomi 36 round double stack box magazine. Most interestingly, the inside of the receiver tube is cut with long rifling-like grooves to allow dirt and fouling to accumulate without impacting the gun’s reliability.

Only a relatively small number of 76s were procured by the Navy (under the designation Mk 24 Mod 0), as the availablity of AR15/M16 carbines proved more attractive option than 9mm submachine guns. The company would continue making them until 1974, with a total of 6,000 produced. This particular example is a T prefix serial, which I suspect (but cannot prove) was Navy purchase.

The reputation of the S&W 76 has been unfortunately tarnished by a succession of full auto and semiauto clones, none of which are as well made or as reliable in use as the original S&W production.

 

46 Comments

  1. The M76 became a staple of film production in Hollywood in the early 1970s, when Stembridge Gun Rentals bought a consignment that had been intended for the Navy but was cancelled due to budget cuts in the Vietnamization drawdown.

    Among others, the M76 was featured in the Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” movie Magnum Force (1973), and the Walter Matthau/Bruce Dern police procedural The Laughing Policeman (also 1973), loosely based on the Martin Beck series crime novel by Swedish mystery writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (1968).

    Incidentally, in the novel, a Sten MK II was used, which is rather appropriate, as both the M45 and the M76 are essentially modified and “product improved” descendants of same.

    cheers

    eon

    • “had been intended for the Navy but was cancelled due to budget cuts in the Vietnamization drawdown.”
      Had not U.S. forces old M3A1 Grease Guns in storage? If yes were there used or not? If not why?

      • The M3s were mainly Army and USMC property. The Navy has always preferred an independent supply chain within their own logistics train for the SEALs.

        Also the SEALs were already using not only the M45, but also the S&W M39 and MK22 Mod 1 (later known commercially as the M59), all of which were 9 x 19mm. The Navy preferred not to introduce a second pistol ammunition caliber to the SEAL supply chain.

        Incidentally, the SEALs were the first U.S. military unit to adopt he H&K MP5 series weapons, as the replacement for the M45 and M76, again initially because they were 9 x 19mm.

        cheers

        eon

    • I think probably it’s best known ’70s “starring role” is as Charlton Heston’s preferred weapon in The Omega Man

  2. I have actually played with on two occassions, first one of a small number supplied by the US as Aid to the Fijian Armed Forces; and secondly in Hollywood when I was doing a course at UCLA. I met a chap who worked as a armoured/special effects man for the film industry, supplying actual arms and manufacturing inert replica. The 76 was very popular in US crime films in the 1970’s>, and he had half a dozen in his arsenal.

    My personal impression of it being a superbly made weapon in the S&W tradition, easy to use and simple to strip. But of course like all such weapons with a long vertical magazine, would have been more effective with a side mounted horizontal magazine.

    A superior weapon in my opinion that the Swedish K/45 commonly called the Carl Gustav.

  3. I seem to recall a Martin Beck detective novel by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö where a stolen Swedish army SMG was used… Presumably a Suomi m/37-39?

    The internet firearm movie database does indeed show that the M76 became a “staple”:
    The Omega Man Charlton Heston Robert Neville 1971
    The Omega Man Rosalind Cash Lisa . 1971
    Hickey & Boggs Tom Signorelli Nick 1972
    The Getaway Jim Kannon Cannon 1972
    Prime Cut Lee Marvin Nick Devlin 1972
    Across 110th Street Paul Benjamin Jim Harris 1972
    Shaft’s Big Score! A Gangster 1972
    The Stone Killer Stuart Margolin Lawrence 1973
    The Stone Killer Hunter von Leer Graham 1973
    Cleopatra Jones Thug 1973
    The Laughing Policeman Albert Paulsen Henry Camerero 1973
    Magnum Force Kip Niven Officer Alan “Red” Astrachan 1973
    Walking Tall Kenneth Tobey Augie McCullah 1973
    Arch Johnson Buel Jaggers
    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Robert Shaw Mr. Blue 1974
    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Martin Balsam Mr. Green 1974
    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Hector Elizondo Mr. Grey 1974
    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Earl Hindman Mr. Brown 1974
    Mr. Majestyk Mobsters 1974
    Dog Day Afternoon John Cazale “Sal” With chopped barrel 1975
    Shadows in an Empty Room (Una Magnum Special per Tony Saitta) Robbers 1976
    The Gauntlet Hitmen 1977
    Black Sunday Robert Shaw Major David Kabakov 1977
    Black Sunday Fritz Weaver FBI agent Sam Corley 1977
    Power Play Terrorists 1978
    Power Play Soldiers 1978
    Exterminator 2 A thug 1984
    Invasion USA Various terrorists Some with shortened barrels 1985
    Hold-Up Montreal police 1985
    Miami Supercops Terence Hill Doug Bennet 1985
    Miami Supercops Delmann’s henchmen 1985
    Band of the Hand Al Shannon Dorcy . 1986
    Last Action Hero Mobster at funeral 1993
    Hollow Point Chinese Mafia 1996
    We Own the Night NYPD ESU officers 2007
    Street Kings Cle Shaheed Sloan Fremont 2008
    The Dark Knight Heath Ledger The Joker 2008
    Black Dynamite Henchmen 2009
    Black Dynamite Michael Jai White Black Dynamite 2009
    Elephant White in weapons cache, said to be used by Lee Marvin in Prime Cut 2010
    Sicario cartel gunman 2015
    Television
    Title Actor Character Note/Episode Date
    Miami Vice 1984-1989
    The A-Team 1984-1989
    Tour of Duty Ramon Franco Pvt. Ruiz 1989-1990
    Hawaii Five-0 Thugs “La O Na Makuahine” (S3E01), “Hookman” (S3E15) 2012-2013

    I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I’ve pretty much seen all of the 1970s films listed there, and even own a copy of Dog Day Afternoon, Shaft’s Big Score, and maybe even Across 110then Street… (“where did I put my copy?”)

    The über-súper-diadactic and pedantic 1972 Marxist urban guerrilla film of Costa-Gavras “State of Siege” was filmed in Chile during the Allende UP years, but apparently many of the weapons for close-up shots came from France. So while it takes place in Uruguay, one finds anachronisms like Mle. 1892 8mm revolvers, Ruby 7.65mm semi-autos, Sten MkIIs, MAT49s, Walther P38s, etc.
    http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/State_of_Siege_(%C3%89tat_de_Si%C3%A8ge)

    • Invasion USA is an ultra-cheesy, cheaply made and incredibly comical (at least some of it was probably intended) even for a Golan-Globus production starring Chuck Norris. Only Norris film which made it laugh more was Silent Rage (1982), a rare Norris scifi film.

    • Embarrassed? Across 110th st and most of those films are wildly entertaining. Everyone should own a copy of Dog Day Afternoon. I do.

  4. If only the clones weren’t made by cheapskate idiots who thought all you needed were good blueprints to get a good gun. What happened to quality control, process control, and proof-reading?!

  5. I had a chance to shoot one of these as a member of a small police dept. in about 1975. Great inexpensive, at least to a government agency at that time, firearm. Seems like it cost the PD. less that $100.00.

  6. The 36 round stick mag. was actually a swedish design for the m/45. When the finns realised what a superior design it was to their coffinmag they converted to it. So it is not a “Suomimag”.

    • The 50 round coffin was also originally a Swedish design for the kpist/37 with 56 round capacity. It was then modified for the kpist m/37-37 in 9mm Parabellum and nominal capacity was reduced to 50 rounds. Finnish Army adopted it in 1940, but manufacturing ended already in 1943, because the nominal capacity could not be reliably utilized (practical capacity was about 40 rounds) and it always required a loading tool. The Finnish production magazines also suffered from poor heat treatment, so the magazine was tool soft and easily deformed. Swedish examples reportedly did not have that problem.

      http://gotavapen.se/gota/artiklar/kpist/kpistar_i_sverige2.htm

      The 36 round stick mag of the kpist m/45B was actually adopted by the Finnish Army only in 1952. Between 1945 and 1952 the Finnish defense budgets allowed almost no acquisitions of weapons or equipment. It did mostly replace the 50 round coffins like you wrote. They were later scrapped and are therefore somewhat rare in private collector hands today. The 70 round drums were kept until the Suomi SMG was finally retired in the 1990s.

  7. Dear Dave, dear eon: My memory is that the murder weapon in the novel “The Laughing Policeman” was a Finnish Suomi with drum magazine, which the murderer brought back from Finland after hunting Bolsheviks as a volunteer in the Winter War. Don’t know what translation you guys have been reading. I had thought the weapon in the movie was a Madsen not an M76, but I clearly remember seeing that double-stack feed when the villain pulled the bolt back.

    • The English translation from Berkley books is the one I read, and it’s now noted for inaccuracies. I stand corrected.

      In the movie, the M76 was constantly and incorrectly referred to as a “grease gun”, meaning a U.S. M3. Considering that it left 9x19mm cases and bullets around, it’s unlikely that it would have been mistaken for one in real life.

      In the film, it could be mistaken for an M3 or even a Madsen (if you looked at it wrong and didn’t see the cylindrical rather than rectangular cross-section receiver) because the perforated barrel cooling shroud was left off, apparently to facilitate it being taken apart and concealed in a briefcase. In fact, the shroud doesn’t prevent barrel removal, you just have to remember to pull down on that leaf-spring latch ahead of the magazine well.

      That latch serves another important purpose with the M76. That little tab at its front end reminds you to keep the fingers of your off hand on the underside of the nut and the front of the magazine housing, and off the barrel shroud. The latter gets just a little warm when firing, especially near the breech end.

      cheers

      eon

    • A-ha! Kiitos/ Tack tack!

      I had thought it was a Swedish army Suomi SMG stolen from an army depot… It has been a very long time since I read the book.

      Thanks for the correction! I’ll try to consult the ouvre of the proto-Nordic Noir mysteries more closely…

      Personally, I’ve always been a bit puzzled when more than one SMG is fielded by a given military or LE agency… So, for example, we have the Navy’s preference for the 9mm (“why not the M3A1 with a barrel, bolt change…? Oh. Wait. Sten magazines!) vs. the Army and Marine Corps .45 in U.S. service… Denmark has the Madsen and the Hovea–why? That Finland had the Suomi and the peltiheikki m/44 seems a matter of different development dates and a lack of resources to wholly switch over… Why Finland had to even import Sten MkIIs!

      Outside Europe one sees the phenomenon amplified: The Revolutionary state in Cuba, for example, imported 9mm samopal Czechoslovak SMGs with folding stocks and fixed stocks, but also rather a lot of 7.62mm PPSh41 Shpagins at the same time there remained considerable stocks of Thompsons from the previous regime, and even a handful of oddities like the Ingram Model 6 made in Los Angeles.

      For a good many U.S. Police Departments, the S&W 76 was probably the first SMG since the Thompson, or maybe a Reising.

      • “Denmark has the Madsen and the Hovea–why”
        I assume under “Madsen” you means Madsen m/46 and NOT Madsen m/45, if it is otherwise abandon further reading.
        As Madsen is “m/46” and Hovea “M1949” then apparently Madsen appeared first, which suggest that when Danish Army adopted M1949 was aware of Madsen design, which in turn suggest that technical-tactical requirements were full-filled by M1949 but not Madsen, or at least M1949 made it better. According to http://www.smallarmsreview.com/display.article.cfm?idarticles=3261
        Originally, the M45 and the Husquarna M49 were made to use the 50 round soumi 9mm magazine, but only the Hovea could utilize the soumi drum in 40 and 71 round capacity.
        and combining it with fact that Denmark already deployed domestically-produced variant of SUOMI sub-machine gun, make big “plus” in favor of Hovea.

        • O-ho! My mistake! Thanks for the correction! The Danish Sindikat Madsen sold the M/46 and M/50 abroad but did not get it adopted by Denmark. Now I see… The Madsen m/45 struck me as a clever design, and I’d like to know much more about it. It was sold to a handful of places in Latin America, like El Salvador and a few Mexican states. Maybe Bolivia? Not many.

          The m/46 sold reasonably well in a world awash in WWII SMGs. Brazil used it as the basis for the INA .45 caliber SMG, which was once lauded by no less an authority than the Marxist-Leninist Carlos Marighela of Acão Libertadora Nacional and the urban guerrilla mini-manual author as a practically perfect urban guerrilla arm. Of course, he died violently in 1969 and so did not live to see future developments. Ultimately Brazil re-did some of its INA Madsen copies as 9mm conversions!

          The article you helpfully provided shows that the UK had considered adoption. My understanding of that is that it was essentially seen as playing something of the role of the M1 carbine in U.S. service while the regular line infantry would have had the No.9 bullpup rifle/ EM-2 as a rifle and SMG, and the “TADEN” as the squad automatic rifle. Curious. When the FN-FAL won out in 7.62x51mm as the UK in Nato standard, the Patchett became the Sterling SMG and the EM-2 was dropped, even as a SMG, as was the Madsen m/46.

          Incidentally, the initial folding stock of the Husqvarna Hovea prototype was a single tube that swung 180 degrees and locked in place, although it did resemble the Sten Mk.II “T-stock.” The Danish version, as the article noted, has the same [__ shape as that of the Carl Gustav m/45.

      • Actually the Stens imported to Finland were mostly Mk IIIs, although a minority was Mk IIs. Mk III was the most reliable of the “cheap Stens” thanks to the fixed magazine housing. The British Army still held onto the Mk. Vs at the time (mid-1950s), so they were not yet available.

        The Stens were received from Interarmco in exchange for rifles chambered in non-standard calibers, including most notably pretty much all the remaining M.38 Carcanos in 7.35mm. So Finland got Stens and Ian, somewhere down the line, got his 7.35mm Carcano.

        The Stens made it possible to increase the number of SMGs in a first line infantry squad from 2 or 3 to five. Second line infantry still had to make do with only one or two SMGs in a squad, so the Finnish Army could have used even more SMGs. Unfortunately, restarting the production of the m/44 was no longer possible, and to be fair the original production run examples left a lot to be desired quality-wise. The guns for example did not have 100% exchangeable parts. There was also no money to buy more SMGs from abroad, so the Sten deal with Interarmco was lucky in a sense.

  8. Regardless of the quality, for having been ordered in 1966 this thing is primitive. There wasn’t the need to have the magazine that far from the grip (and so the barrel that short in respect to the lengt of the SMG) any more.

    • The Navy wanted a gun that used M45 magazines, and was as close to the manual of arms of the M45 as possible. As a result, they ended up with a design that was basically equivalent to a Sten Gun, which was where the M45 design more-or-less got started.

      It may have been designed in 1966, and built with late 1960s production methods, but the basic design concept was pure 1941.

      cheers

      eon

      • Also, that long receiver allows a long recoil stroke for the bolt, which can translate into a softer recoil impulse and slower rate of fire. Maybe even softer and slower enough to make it pleasantly boring to shoot?

        • That was the advancement brought by second generation SMGs, that this one missed. The weight of the bolt being placed over (“L” shaped bolts, like in the Franchi LF57) or around the barrel (Beretta PM12s) eliminated the need to have a so long receiver for the same stroke and reduced the felt weight transfer at the same time. Also the ROF of the S&W 76 was not slow at all. 720 RPM, compared to 600 RPM of the MAT-49 (that was still a first gen. SMG) or 500 of a Franchi LF57.

          • “That was the advancement brought by second generation SMGs, that this one missed.”
            Maybe they choose working solution in short time instead of waiting during development of better solution? After all as old engineering adage goes if it’s not broke, don’t fix it

          • They surely wanted a design that resembled what they were used to work on, but second gen. SMGs had been around since 1943 (Armaguerra OG43 being the first one). At the end of the ’40s this thing would have been a little backward (the MAT-49 was already miles ahead). In the second half of the ’60s it seems they ignored what went on in the last 20 years and issued a brand new museum piece. I’m sure, in respect to other designs, despite seeming crudely made, that was not even that cheap to produce (TIG welding when spot welding was already common, broaching the entire receiver tube internally instead having the grooves stamped in the receiver or in the bolt…). For a comparison, for the same barrel lenght, a Franchi LF57 was slightly lighter (7 vs 7.25 lbs) way shorter (pretty important when carrying the gun, especially in special operations or as a veichle weapon, 16.5 vs 22.5 in, stock folded), it had a lower ROF (the weight spared on the receiver came in the bolt), was probably cheaper to produce, and had been around for almost ten years.

  9. A fun, not so commonly recognized fact is that during the days of Swedish Premier Olof Palme, the Swedes ( read Palme ) did officially denounce the US because of the war in Vietnam, but at the same time when Premier Palme did denounce the US during various public meetings, he did ensure that Swedish military officiers were embedded at different US headquarters and those officiers were taking active part in planning the very campaigns that Palme did denounce back at home in Sweden ! Talk about being double faced …

  10. The 36 round stick magazine was developed for the M/45B, so it was not strictly speaking a Suomi magazine, although it was compatible and was later adopted also by the Finnish Army.

  11. Regarding this video, would you consider doing a video on the “Swedish K”? As I’m someone from Sweden who as used it a lot it would be great to watch you pick it apart and talk about it. I can even get you in touch with someone who has a few of them as well as many other WW2 and cold war weapons. So get drop me a message if you want a collector contact. Last but not least, thanks for a GREAT show and channel, I love it.

  12. I remember reading that suppressed Ks sometimes had felt glued to the back of their bolts so that, when running suppressed, it quieted the bolt slapping noise. It seems like the M76 would be equally easy to mount a suppressor to, and I wonder if the same technique was ever used (or if it was something that really happened to Ks).

    • There were a number of suppressed Egyptian Port Said SMG’s produced. Some ended up in Iraq and were sterile. They had no markings. The suppressors were only slightly shorter than the action body of the Port Said and they were chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum. The suppressors were most likely an afterthought as the finish of the metalwork was different than the Port Said. A number of these guns were captured by the Allies in Iraq and came back as war trophies for examination etc., Upon examination, it was found that the Swedish K magazines were interchangeable with the Port Said.

    • The SEALs used both suppressed M45Bs and suppressed M76s. The suppressor design was essentially the same as that of the suppressed Sterling Mk 5/ L34 SMG used by the SAS at the time.

      cheers

      eon

  13. Any not particularly wealthy national military, or non-government paramilitary organization, is in the same position as any second-tier actor or actress: you don’t get to pick your roles, you take any work (or arms) you can get. Simplified logistics then fall to the wayside. Bought some ex-Chauchats cheap? We’ll find French ammunition. Ex-USA Garands arrived as foreign aid? Fine, we’ll make a supply line for 7.62 x 62, aka .30-06, and convert our Mauser bolt-actions as well. Even Britain, even before World War II, when the BESA turned out to be such a superlative tank co-ax gun but not convertible to .303 rimmed rounds, set up a separate supply line for 7.92 x 57. The story of the Sten in 9mm is too well-known to repeat here. Simplified logistics is an ideal goal, but it helps to be a large or wealthy, or both, entity.

    • When it comes to armored vehicles, they usually need a separate supply line for ammunition in any case. For example in the British Army, while the 2-pounder, 6-pounder and 17-pounder were used by AT artillery as well, the .50 caliber Vickers and 15mm BESA heavy machine guns were only used in armored vehicles and the same applied to the later 75mm and 77mm tank guns. Furthermore, the 2-pounder was used as an armored car main gun years after the towed AT guns had been retired.

      In any case, the point is that when you’re going to supply main gun ammunition to the AFVs regardless, it is fairly easy to piggyback some non-standard rifle caliber ammunition with it.

    • “Any not particularly wealthy national military, or non-government paramilitary organization, is in the same position as any second-tier actor or actress: you don’t get to pick your roles, you take any work (or arms) you can get.”
      I would say it bit differently: if demand is higher than supplying capabilities, then it is time to welcome alternative design, or in U.S. forces parlance SUBSTITUTE STANDARD,
      TM9-2800 from 1943 gives following definition:
      Substitute Standard Vehicles are those which do not have as satisfactory military characteristics as standard vehicles but are usable substitutes for standard vehicles. They are not normally in use or available for issue to meet supply demands but would, when necessary, be procured to supplement the supply of standard vehicles
      As TM9-2800 deals with STANDARD MILITARY MOTOR VEHICLES it define Substitute Standard Vehicles, but after replacing all occurrences of vehicle with weapon, feasible definition would be obtained.
      This might affect both small and big ones, as exemplified by Lend-Lease aid from U.S.A to USSR during WWII.

  14. Ian, you are a lot braver than I am in shooting the this SMG. As someone who used a Sterling SMG during my time in the British Army the crude construction of the SW76 really stands out. Blobby looking welds and gaps between the various parts would give me pause for thought.

    Still you know more about these things than me so I suppose it will be safe enough.

    • “Still you know more about these things than me so I suppose it will be safe enough.”
      After all this sub-machine gun was produced by factory having experience in area of fire-arms and I assume it was proofed, unlike various hand-made improvised sub-machine guns.

  15. Never saw one of these during my time with MACV; we did have several M-3’s and M-3A1’s and one of the Navy Advisers carried a Thompson. The lone Embassy House Field Officer who dropped by once a month to pay the CIDG carried a Sten.

  16. I owned U502x back in the 1980’s and I remember the welds to be beautifully done, unlike this one. I almost thought this was a home build or some sort of rewat. Ian says it might be a Navy gun which could be true but I’d want some evidence. In his shooting video Iam calls it a tool room gun which makes more sense. It was a nice shooting SMG. I also had a M3A1 with a 9mm kit and considered that a bit clunky.

  17. A friend of mine’s father got smart and bought two of these (consecutive sn’s no less) new in the 70’s for a piddly few hundred bucks apiece. One to shoot, the other to save. One wound up seeing some range use… not a great amount, probably less than 1000 rounds, and the other remains pristine new in the box. They both reside in the same floor safe they have called home for almost 50 years… wonder what those bad puppies are worth today?

  18. Oh, for heaven’s sake. Carrying a Swedish K in Nam from 1950-something until the helicopters took off from the roof of the embassy was a CIA ID card. This has been fairly well documented in everything from declassified documents to Charles McCarry novels, not that there is any difference. There might have been a few snake eaters up on the border or with Operation Phoenix who had Swedish 9s but only because they were on the blurred line between military and intelligence. After the Swedes blocked further sales I think there was a limited run out of San DIego (Navy Chief Machinist’s Mates can make anything, if you give them mills and lathes) according to a novel by Steve Hunter who usually does his research. The Smith 76 came out a bit later (after the Americans accepted that sometimes you have to let Saigons be bygones) for law enforcemeessnt sales in the late 70s after the South Asian Unpleasentness. The CIA was big on the M/45 and deniable clones in Nam but I’m pretty sure the Smith 76 was afterwards.

    Incidentally, Smith did a caseless-cartidge 9mm version of the 76 that fizzeled like bacon on the stove because the plugs of propelleant under the bullet melted at what we call room temperature (in August) in Texas.

  19. The constitutionally neutral Republic of Ireland’s army was issued with the M45 prior to its replacement with the Steyr AUG

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. SayUncle » Gun Porn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*