The Very Rare Commercial Suomi SMG with VFG and Bipod

The kp/31, aka M31 “Suomi” submachine gun was adopted by the Finnish Army in 1931. It was produced by the Tikkakoski company (more commonly known today as Tikka), and in addition to Finnish military contracts they were eager for international sales, either commercial or military. To that end, they offered a number of different options and variations. Two of those were a vertical front pistol grip and a folding bipod, which could be included together or independently. The Finnish police actually bought a small number of each type, and something like 50 to 100 guns were produced and sold with both features together – like this example.

Interestingly, this one ended up in Israel, used by the Haganah during Israel’s war of independence. They were surplussed off in 1970, and this one (along with two others) were reimported into Finland by a collector. As part of their use in Israel, the original Tikkakoski markings were ground off, and an Israeli property stamp added.


  1. The bipod illustrates the confusion that existed as to the role of SMG at the time. Was it a personal weapon or was it a species of light machine gun? (Hello Signor Villar-Perosa). What’s surprising to me is that it still has its bipod – combat troops are quite ruthless about eliminating excess weight (see the fate of most bipods on the M1918A2 BAR, which had a better excuse for having one)

    • What’s up with the wood? Is this some grade 4 burled walnut, but not well finished? Or do the “tiger stripes” come from ageing?

      • Finns used arctic birch for rifle stocks on account of it being highly available, it tends to have more of a tiger-stripe pattern to it than walnut or oak.

    • “Hello Signor Villar-Perosa”
      Weapon known under this name was designed by Bethel Abiel Revelli, this commonly used name is derived from manufacturer which itself derive its’ name from location
      I am not sure if it is legal in Italiano to apply Signor to location, hope some Italiano-able reader will explain this for us.

    • There were a bunch of weird experiments with SMGs as portable light machine guns, some of which I think were actually interesting and worth another look in this era of urban warfare. The French had the STA/MAS M1922 (much like the Suomi, fairly boring 9×19), the Swiss Furrer (another 9×19, but made to exquisite standards with a modified Maxim toggle-lock action), the Czechs the Zk-383. Getting a bit more interesting there’s the Bulgarian Spasov M1944 “Trigun”, which is in fact three Spasov submachine guns mated to a single fire control group for a suitably obscene rate of fire, fitted with a front vertical grip and bipod for obvious reasons (certain single-barrel versions also had a bipod).

      The one I’d like to see another look at, though, is the M1923 Thompson. Intended as a light machine gun, it had a bipod and extended heavy barrel with cooling fins, the interesting part is that it wasn’t chambered for .45ACP like most other versions. The M1923 used a unique cartridge called the .45 Remington-Thompson that performed much closer to a .45 Winchester Mag, firing a 250-grain bullet at 1400fps. Would fill an interesting niche for close-range power without the general weirdness of the .50 Beowulf or .458 SOCOM, and adding an actual locking action instead of the Blish nonsense would probably bring the weight down considerably.

  2. I never understood the reason for the frontgrip to be so close to the triggerguard? Same for the erma emp. To me, this would make the gun far more unstable to shoot compared to holding the magazine or barrel shroud. Could someone enlighten me?

    • I agree. I see a missed opportunity at a third version of that quick detachable barrel shroud. Plain,bi-pod or forgrip.

    • Makes no sense to me either. Btw, the Brazilian police imported a small batch in the late 30s, complete with bipod, if I remember correctly, but without that frontgrip.

    • “(…)Could someone enlighten me?”
      According to Export deals of Suomi submachine guns before World War 2: chapter in serious rework was ignited by potential Persian contract, this includingeg bi-pod, added grip and magazine sticking upwards. If ejection was downward and grip would be more forward, there would be risk of ejecting spent cases in shooter’s forearm. This contract never materialized, but apparently Tikkakoski elected to use already developed grip in later guns with default (for SUOMI sub-machine gun) magazine sticking direction.

    • It had to be mounted to the wood stock for stability. So putting it there was more of a Hobson’s choice than anything else.

      putting it on the cooling jacket ahead of the magazine has three problems.

      1. You have to reach around the magazine to grab it. Remember, the Suomi introduced the 71-round drum later adapted to the Soviet PPD and PPSh SMGs. Reaching around that to grasp a vertical foregrip would be like reaching around the C drum on an M1921 Thompson, just even more awkward.

      2. That cooling jacket could bend if too much force was applied to hold the muzzle down. That does nothing for accuracy.

      3. The steel frame of that grip could do a very good job of transferring heat from the barrel and jacket down to your hand. Ouch.

      No, that foregrip is exactly where it needs to be.



      • To me, having a foregrip before the center point of mass doesn’t seem like a good idea. Of course, we have to take in account that back in the 30s submachine gun development was still in early stages. So trying different things was not uncommon.

        To my knowledge, taking the annihilator as an example. Did have a barrel shroud with a foregrip attatched. If the Finnish knew about this is another question. Still, i try to understand what the rationale was about this choice.

  3. In theory, holding the magazine in a smg is not the best practice. Recoil creates wear on the magazine, magazine well, and magazine catch. Best practice is to place your support hand on the barrel shroud, front grip, or magazine well. If your smg does not have a magazine well, as the Suomi does not, holding it by a forward / vertical grip or handguard is the best way to support it.

  4. The Finns sometimes used M31s as squad automatics for lack of anything else. They even employed them in fortifications to lay down fire where you’d expect a heavy MG.

  5. Apparently this is one of the “Persian Contract”.
    Some of them were transferred to Islamic extremists in Palestine. Then there was a “transfer” to the IDF. Until about the 1970s, it was common practice in Israel to accept captured weapons for supply.

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