Steyr’s Take on the Uzi: MPi-69 at the Range

I expected the MPi-69 to be a rather difficult gun to shoot well, with its very simple construction and wire stock, but I was pleasantly surprised on the range. The rate of fire is quite low, and it was easy to hold on target. Furthermore, the intent of the cocking handle locking piece became clear when I tried shooting from the hip, as would have been common practice when this was in service. With the sling tensioned over the shoulder, that locking piece snaps right into place to prevent the sling from interfering with the bolt. Neat! (But still a good idea to replace it with a normal charging handle on the MPi-81)


  1. Ian, you know you with open bolt sub guns, always open the bolt before inserting the mag. Shame on you. I guess next time you go to the range with rare full autos, I’ll have to tag along to help you….^v^

  2. This sling on charging handle reminds me of the same feature on the H&K G3 rifle. There is a hole in the charging handle that can be used as alternative fixation for the rifle sling. This way, racking the bolt is superfast. Or that’s what they told us as conscripts. (Loading condition on duty was empty chamber, loaded magazine).

  3. Wasn’t there some sort of tale–unconfirmed? unconfirmable?–that one of the two Arab OPEC diplomats slain by Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka “Carlos the Jackal” and his terrorist minions at Vienna in late December 1975 had obtained a Steyr MPi-69 SMG from a slain Austrian police officer, but couldn’t figure out how to cock the thing, what with the sling/charging handle arrangement?

    So I was informed, albeit, no real way to find out the veracity or falsity of this claim… Any ideas why the Bundesheer and then Landesgendarmarie (no longer around, in favor of a national police agency in Österreich) sought the MPi-81 with its rather more normal charging handle? Presumably details are scarce.

    • I heard that story, as well. No idea where, or from what source it came to my informant who was himself of somewhat ill-defined provenance. He never said it himself, but others told me he was former West German Border Guard for sure, and possibly GSG-9 during its earliest days. Dude could shoot, that’s all I knew for sure.

      It’s kind of like a carjacker that can’t drive stick, trying to steal a manual transmission car. Hysterically funny in the aftermath, tragic in the event.

      I’m trying to think of another infamous incident where something similar happened, because it’s on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t come up with it right now.

      • These sorts of tales circulated about the P-7 pistole von Kochler und Heck, if I recall… Supposedly one or another person so armed–a Panamanian during 1989? a…[insert incident here…] didn’t squeeze the squeeze cocker sufficiently to render said handgun operable? Who really knows? How would we know for sure?

        In any event, this tale at least had a specific locale–the OPEC meeting in Wien/Vienna in late December 1975–perpetrators in the form of Carlos the Jackal’s terror squad–victims–an Austrian police officer, presumably shot down before he could effectively return fire, an Iraqi guard who supposedly tried to use the slain policeman’s SMG?

      • “(…)infamous(…)”
        Potentially WYBUCH CZOŁGU PUŁAPKI (1944)
        part of quenching of Warsaw Uprising
        Germans abandoned SdKfz 301 after petrol bombs were thrown at it. Cursory examination revealed that: such model vehicle was not earlier encountered, it did not carry machine gun nor cannon, it has wireless set onboard. Captain Gustaw suspected this might be some trap and ordered his men to do not interact with it until pyrotechnic examination would be done, (probably) Major Rog insisted on quick activation of said vehicle, this lead to mutually exclusive order or soldier proceeded without consent of command centre. Anyway, vehicle was activated and then driven to Polish-controlled part of city.
        Polish flag was installed, gathered Polish civilians and soldiers cheered. It was driven through streets until container detached from vehicle. They tried to install it where it was. What they did not know was that it was container with 500 kg of explosives and detaching ignited time fuse, so soon after that explosion exploded.
        Many have perished, body parts no longer attached to their owners were found hanging from windows of third floor of nearby building. Due to mess it created it is impossible to get precise number of people who died, estimates vary but anyway there were few hundreds of dead (incl. both instant and succumbed-to-wounds). There exist 2 mutually exclusive explanations as to why this happen:
        TrojanHorse hypothesis – said vehicle was intentionally left to be captured and explosion was effected by Germans by way of wireless set
        BadLuck Hypothesis – Germans wanted used said vehicles as it was destined to be used – to convey explosive loading into barricade, retreat and then activate in order to make hole, container was detached due to jolt during traversing obstacle
        If you elect to believe in 2nd then I would say that this is good example that careless handling of capturing weapon is bad idea.
        For detailed description see

        • See also: Japanese so-called “knee mortar”.

          There are a lot of reasons you don’t use “battlefield pickup” weapons, unless you’re absolutely certain of what you’re doing with them. Even then, you risk being victim of some thoughtful person on the other side sabotaging things for you… “Project Eldest Son” ring any bells, for you?

          Not quite the same thing, Eldest Son, but the US got the idea from the Brits on the Northwest Frontier leaving sabotaged Martini-Henry ammunition behind for the Afghan tribesmen to use in their captured Martini-Henry rifles.

          All in all, there are good reasons they tend to stress sticking with issued weapons to most of the line troops. Specialists will hopefully have enough knowledge to survive putting enemy weapons to good use, but even they’ve been known to screw up a time or two. I recollect some vague rumors that some Eldest Son ammo got into the hands of guys in either Force Recon or the SEAL teams in Vietnam who were using cut-down RPD captures, and near-tragedy ensued. The rumors were unclear as to whether or not the Eldest Son ammo had been diverted unknowingly by US forces before being used in Eldest Son missions, or had been captured from North Vietnamese stocks. Per the rumor, a cut-down RPD blew up on a test or training range after it had been modified, soooo… Take that for what it’s worth.

          I’m telling you, the post-Vietnam era had more weird firearms-related stories going around than you could shake a stick at. Some of them were just bizarre, like the one that said you could fire Soviet 7.62X39 in 7.62 NATO weapons, and that the Soviets had done that deliberately, so that they could use our weapons while we couldn’t fire our ammo in theirs… It’s probably a really good thing that 7.62X39 ammo was rara avis indeed, back in the day, or there’d have been a bunch of dumbasses finding out the hard way that that was simply not true.

          It’d make an interesting study in human behavioral psychology to trace some of this stuff out and detail all the different “apocryphal tales” that were out there, in those days. Some of them were at least entertaining, like the supposed “Mattel M16” stories.

          Although, I do have to acknowledge that there were also some things that were completely inexplicable. The very first 5.45X39 brass I ever saw “in the flesh”, as it were, came out of a guy who claimed to have picked it up on a beach in Alaska sometime circa 1983-ish. Which was inexplicable because it was well before the stuff was ever openly available on the US market. When I saw it, Soldier of Fortune was still making bank being the only publication out there with real details on that ammo or the AK74, and they were still offering rewards for anything coming out of Afghanistan.

          I still don’t have a decent explanation for that one, to this day. I know what I saw, and it was very clearly Soviet 5.45X39 lacquered steel expended “brass”. Added in with where it was supposedly found…? Flippin’ weirdness, all the way ’round.

          • Yes, this weird belief that USSR 7.62x39mm M43 cartridges could be used in 7.62x51mm chambers extended to nuttery about their mortar calibers too…So the Warsaw Pact could fire “our” Nato 81mm mortar bombs from their 82mm mortars, but not vice-versa…

            There are a range of silly, but firmly held opinions that resist debunking or “myth busting” that is for sure.
            One that comes to mind is the notion that 5.56mm cartridges were merely designed like so-called “toe popper” landmines, viz. to wound severely but not to necessarily be all that lethal, so that the squad would have to call in stretcher bearers, medical evacuation, and use all sorts of medical resources to save the wounded person… Certainly there all manner of devices that appear to have been so designed–primarily landmines–but rifle cartridges? Not so much…

          • The thing that absolutely baffled me as a trainer in the military was how “sticky” and long-lived those false ideas are. I’ve sat there in training sessions, patiently enumerating exactly how it was impossible for there to have ever been Mattel-rollmarked M16s during Vietnam (or, any other period…), and within a week or two, I’d be hearing someone who’d been in that training telling the BS I’d refuted in depth and detail to others, who’d remember that stuff and forget everything else they’d been taught.

            The other thing operating here is that there are a lot of people who really do not want to recognize the fact that weapons are meant to kill, and that that is their job in the military. The idea that the M16 and 5.56mm in general were “meant to wound” is a lie they tell themselves while training, because forthright acknowledgment of what they are doing is something they simply cannot do.

            I think there is something mentally “off” with a lot of these people, and I’d wager good money that if you were able to track their behavior in actual combat, then you’d find that they were far more likely to commit actual war crimes under the pressure of combat. The guy who can’t admit to himself that his rifle is a killing tool isn’t likely to handle that tool responsibly under combat conditions… Observationally, the people who tell themselves lies about what they are actually doing are typically also the ones who go on to over-react and commit actual wrongdoing under pressure.

            It’s a funny old thing, that line of thought. We so divorced ourselves from the reality of things that it was possible for the US Army to enable what had to be the most surreal experience of my life as an NCO managing troops, which was to have the young lady who I knew to be an observant Hindu come up to me in shock one day at the range, while we were ramping up for our second tour in Iraq. I had never connected what I knew about Hindu caste and religious practice with her being in the Army, up until she walked up to me and started asking some questions that came out of left field, for me. What she wanted to know was whether or not it was really true that E-type silhouette targets we were shooting at were supposed to represent actual, y’know… People.

            This took me by such surprise that I honestly don’t remember what my response was, other than “Huh?”. It turns out that she’d gone through the entire recruiting, enlistment, training, and initial intake into an operational combat unit and never once twigged to what we were all about, which was basically killing people and breaking things. She thought, as her recruiter had told her, that she’d be helping build things like schools in Iraq. I spent the rest of that afternoon looking around for whoever was pranking me, but she was dead serious, and we had a problem to work out.

            I should also point out that she shot high expert on every weapon we trained her on up until that point. Afterwards, she couldn’t hit squat, because she’d realized she was shooting at simulated people.

            That happened. Honest to God, that happened. Another weird thing is, the way that conscientious objection laws are written, if you join voluntarily as someone with profound beliefs about not taking life, then you don’t qualify as a conscientious objector. Should you gain those beliefs after enlisting, well, that’s a different story. But, if you tell someone that you didn’t realize you were gonna have to might/maybe kill someone when you joined the Army, that’s a non-qualifier for getting out of the service as a conscientious objector. Presumably, such people would avoid enlistment or seek out jobs where they wouldn’t be in a position where they might have to pull triggers, which are vanishingly few and far between.

            But, that’s the way it is, in today’s essentially denatured military. You can go through the entire process of becoming a soldier without ever once having it put in front of your face that you might have to kill someone, and that’s just ‘effing bizarre to me.

            Guys like me who were combat arms in upbringing have a lot of difficulty fathoming the thought processes prevalent in the herbivore portions of the military. I still contemplate that whole experience with more than a little awe at the surreality of the whole thing; how on God’s green earth could you manage a military such that something like that could happen? What the hell was going on wherever she’d been recruited, and how did she ever get through her training without coming into contact with that E-silhouette reality? I mean, seriously… Up until that afternoon on the range with us getting ready to deploy for our second tour in Iraq, she’d somehow managed to maintain the mindset that the rifle and all the rest were just funny games you had to play, when you were in the Army…

            Awe-inspiring reality avoidance, enabled by mealy-mouthed and entirely delusional military training and acculturation. When I was a young man, you’d have had a hard time getting through Basic without figuring out it was all about killing people–Spirit of the Bayonet, and all that. Something changed, and not for the better. The fact that she could get to the point where we had that conversation, and she was utterly serious about it all, points to one reason our PTSD rates are what they are. Nobody ever discusses this crap clearly and frankly with the recruits and trainees, until it’s too damn late.

          • @Kirk

            The person in question is not a personal acquaintance of mine, but I just read an interview with a lady, who had entered the Finnish Army as a volunteer ten years ago, but only realized in connection with the War in Ukraine that the training she had received was all about killing people. Now I suppose that could have been because she was only 19 at the time, and teens can be incredibly naive at times, but still it makes me wonder how can you go through the whole training without realizing what the aim of soldiers in war is. She even finished her training as a Corporal, which means that she received more training than the basic conscript.

            When I read that article it made me wonder what she believed the Army was for, if not for killing the enemy when necessary. Unfortunately the article didn’t give a clear answer. Perhaps she thought that she was learning to defend her country in a very vague sort of way that didn’t necessarily include killing. Also, I suppose that when you’re 19 you can see the Army as something you just want to add to your life experience, and especially so for the women in Finland, since conscription is mandatory only for male citizens.

          • “(…)Nobody ever discusses this crap clearly and frankly with the recruits and trainees”
            Now I am wondering how would such situation be commented upon by Patton Jr. (Great War veteran), who informed his troops that No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

          • @Euroweasel,

            If you could share the link on that interview, I’d appreciate it. If only for some insight into something that’s baffled me for years, now.

            I really don’t get, at any level, how someone can avoid the point of the military while signing up for the job, undergoing training for it, and then doing it in peacetime training. But, apparently…? An awful lot of people manage the feat. Including some senior leadership types. To me, it is just utterly baffling, akin to encountering someone who applies to work at a meat-packing plant, trains as a butcher, and then demonstrates shock upon finding out that they’ve been processing real cows for meat.

            Which, believe it or not, is something that a friend of mine has had to deal with. He got in a new hire at his family butcher shop, and the first time they had to deal with “on-the-hoof” animals delivered to them for processing, his new hire simply freaked the hell out. He had somehow never once connected “cow in field” with the carcasses he’d been cutting up (for a couple of years, at that point…), and when asked to just observe the process of converting live cow to meat, well… Trauma ensued.

            About all I could do, listening to that tale of woe? Nod my head, knowingly, and relate my own.

            I think there’s an enormous capacity in the human mind for self-delusion and willful ignorance, when it comes to the unpleasantries of life. At least, for a not-insignificant fraction of our species. Those with the clarity of vision to see things as they really are may well be in the minority, for all I know. I do know for sure that when you try to bring these things up forthrightly, an awful lot of people look at you like you’re some sort of nutjob, yourself.


            Patton was considered a madman by most of his peers and subordinates. Having personally encountered his son during the early 1980s, and been around people who’d known and worked for him for years, I can’t speak to whether or not it was hereditary, but he was either a consummate actor or a raving loon, himself. Effective? For a certain value of the term, and with a certain limited subset of the population. I prefer my leadership to be like Slim, competent and undemonstrative. Dramatics are for theater, and I’m not a fan of them in my leadership. Although, I do have to acknowledge that there are a lot of people who seem to require that BS, in order to perform. Not my thing, though–Patton, Jr. left me cold, and wondering at how transparently phony it all seemed.

          • @Kirk: Well, that’s something that I think would be more typical of army or navy experience than, say, the USMC. The Marine training regimen is, as you know, almost blackly humorously grim and tough, and I think most USMC recruits can tell you that they really do emphasize the act of killing in their training far more than might even be required? I remember a high-school armed forces recruitment drive where the guy for the marines was totally blunt about the purpose of the armed forces: “to kill people, right?!”

            That said, a lot of people with no life experience, packed in cotton away from the very many rough edges of life, insulated and cocooned by “helicopter parents,” (in Sweden, the expression refers to the strange ice sport of “curling” where brooms are furiously swept across the ice so that a heavy stone can glide just a bit farther…Ha-ha!)etc. basically want to go build schools in Iraq or Afghanistan, work in a sort of elite NGO setting of do-gooders, travel, see other parts of the world, etc. etc. And so the idea that our nation is a global force for good-deedery of all kinds, Or that the role of the U.S. armed forces is to basically perform dramatic social engineering feats in benighted parts of the globe, becomes a propaganda and source of self-delusion as you described with your one soldier you described.

          • @Dave,

            Yeah, I would say it was a lot harder to make that conceptual mistake when joining the Marines, but these days? Dunno about that, any more. I was combat arms the entire time I was in, and while I ran into people there all the time who were clearly confused about what we did to justify our existence, the problem was a lot worse out in the support branches.

            I think that the way they do things these days is flatly nuts. For one thing, why are we offering guaranteed training to people off the street, when we don’t even know if they’re going to make good soldiers? Why are we drawing this line between “combat” and “support” troops, in the first place? Does that make sense, on today’s nonlinear battlefields?

            Suppose they were mad enough to put me in charge of it all, the very first thing I’d do would be to do away with the entire current enlistment paradigm, officer procurement included. Nobody gets anything guaranteed, in terms of specialist training, until they demonstrate that they can perform as basic combat arms soldiers for a couple of years. Once that’s proven, then spend the money on training them for what specialties absolutely require someone in uniform, and begin thinking about whether or not that recruit might make a good officer. You can’t lead unless you can follow, and if you don’t know what life is like at the coalface, you’ve got no business being brought in laterally to run anything. Two years or so is enough time to figure out if someone can hack soldiering, and it’s also long enough to do effective initial acculturation to the institution. Everyone in uniform should be capable of filling a basic role as rifleman, period–With zero exceptions. I’d also do away with the idea of rank/position in support jobs. You might be the ideal guy for running a motorpool, but if you’ve got zero clue when it comes to running a rifle squad or platoon, you should not be wearing the stripes of someone who does have that clue. I’ve seen too many times where the ranking guy in a support slot was put in charge of a combat action, and they screwed it up, while there was some other guy there of lower rank that knew precisely what to do. Rank for combat ought to be divorced completely from positional authority gained from professional position or skill, the same way we don’t put doctors in command under emergency conditions if they’re the ranking guy on the scene.

            You get down to it, a lot of our mindset for how we run things is still locked into this primitive state where everyone had the same basic skill set at each rank, which hasn’t been true since the mid-1930s. Too much technological change has come in, requiring too much specialization, and they need to recognize that there’s a skill dichotomy; someone who we give platoon sergeant rank to in a technical specialty, and who cannot run a rifle platoon in combat shouldn’t be wandering around wearing the same identifying rank symbols and authority of someone who can.

            Right now, if you go out and have to throw together some ad-hoc outfit for some random mission like a multi-unit convoy, you’ve got no real way of telling who can be trusted with combat leadership positions. Hell, they’ve even taken branch insignia off the officers, so you don’t know if random lieutenant “A” is Infantry, Finance, or Medical Support Corps. Which makes it really hard to quickly assess and organize people when you need to.

            Frankly, I think it’s nuts that I can’t make the assumption that someone wearing Corporal’s stripes can be trusted to run a fire team. Or, any other rank, for that matter. If I see three stripes, that ought to mean they can run a fire team or a squad effectively and professionally, period.

            The whole situation across the board is just crazy, when you stop to think about it. A drastic rethinking of the entire way we do business is needed, because we’re simply not adapting ourselves to the way modern war is going, which as we see in Ukraine, is headed towards a very non-linear and cellular battlefield that requires you to be simultaneously diffuse and adaptable while also retaining command/control structures to access equally diffuse fire support and other support assets. War is getting very entrepreneurial, such that you have to have highly trained and self-actuating types down to the lowest level, who can take advantage of fleeting opportunities to engage the enemy and destroy them. Watching what’s going on in Ukraine right now, I almost feel sorry for the Russians, because they’re locked into this very 20th-Century mode of thought with regards to structure, while the Ukrainians are merrily dancing with chaos and bringing the pain down on whatever Russians cross their sightlines. When they analyze this war in the future, they are going to have to recognize that this is an inflection point between what was, and what is being enabled by modern networking technology. Which we need to adapt to, because the static structures of the past are not going to work in the future. The Russian force structure is being nibbled to death by Ukrainian ducks, and while I remain dubious of the proposition that the Ukrainians have it all wired, I think the way they’re going about this points emphatically in the direction that war is heading, which is basically distributed open-source chaos that the old way of doing things simply cannot cope with.

            Which, of course, is way off-topic for this site, but it kinda-sorta ties in with the direction this thread has taken.

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