SuomiEditThe 'Suomi KP/-31' (Suomi-konepistooli or "submachine gun Finland") was a submachine gun (SMG) of Finnish design that was in service during World War II. It was a descendant of the M-22 prototype and the KP/-26 production model, which was revealed to the public in 1925. The Suomi-konepistooli KP/-31 is often abbreviated to Suomi KP.
The Suomi KP/-31 is regarded by many as one of the most successful submachine guns of World War II and it was so successful that many of its features (including the soon developed 71-round drum magazine) were later copied and adopted by the Soviets for their PPD-40 and PPSh-41 submachine guns. The accuracy compared to the mass-produced PPSh-41 was superior however, thanks in part to a noticeably longer barrel, with the same rate of fire and the equally large magazine capacity. The major disadvantage of the Suomi-KP was its high production costs.
Inovations and ImprovementsEdit
The Suomi KP/-31 also incorporated a few new design features, including an arrangement whereby the spring was mounted inside the bolt in order to make the gun shorter. Its 50-round quad-column "Casket" box magazine was more reliable than the early 50-round "bullets loaded nose down" drum magazine, and similar applications were used on the Argentine C-4 submachine gun and present-day 60-round 5.45x39mm AK-74 compatible magazines.
The Suomi KP/-31 went into serial production in 1931 by Tikkakoski Oy and most of these weapons were bought by the Finnish Defence Forces. The Finnish Defence Forces were equipped with about 4000 Suomi KP/-31 submachine guns when the Winter War started. During the course of the war, the design was altered with the addition of a muzzle brake, which increased the submachine gun's overall length by 55 mm. The revised version was designated KP/-31 SJR (suujarru, or "muzzle brake"). Aimo Lahti was displeased with this revision, believing that it reduced the weapon's reliability. Ultimately, roughly half of the KP/-31s in Finnish service were of the SJR version. Initially the KP/-31 was issued as a substitute for a light machine gun, and proved inadequate in this role. Instead, soldiers learned by trial and error how to use submachine guns to the best effect. By the time of the Continuation War, Finnish doctrine had been altered to include both a KP/-31 and a light machine gun (usually a captured Degtyaryov DP) in every infantry squad, and by 1943 this had been expanded to two KP/-31s per squad. KP/-31 production continued with the intention of adding a third submachine gun to each squad, but this plan was shelved in 1944 when the Continuation War ended.
Variants and other BuildersEditA specialized bunker version was also produced in very small numbers (a total of 500 built) in 1941, with a thinner barrel shroud to allow firing through the narrow ports of defensive bunkers. This version lacked a shoulder stock and was equipped with a pistol grip. An even rarer version was produced for use as a secondary gun in the firing ports of Vickers Alt B Type E 6-Ton tanks, but only a few dozen were built before production was canceled due to the outbreak of the Winter War. Production never resumed, as captured Degtyaryov DP machine guns proved far superior in this role. Like the bunker version, the tank version had a pistol grip and no buttstock, and it could be quickly removed from the tank and fitted with a standard barrel shroud for infantry use if needed. The tank version remained in the Finnish Army's inventory through the 1980s, despite the tank it was designed for being retired in 1959, possibly because the Army forgot that they existed.
It is still in limited service in Scandinavia to this day and this longevity can be explained by two simple factors. One is that the m/1931 is so well made that it just will not wear out. The same sound manufacture also explain the reliability, for the m/1931 is one of those weapons that will work under any conditions without ever seeming to go wrong.
The Suomi KP was also manufactured under licence in Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland, where it was known as the Hispano-Suiza MP43/44. Tank and pillbox variants were also developed and produced in Finland.
In 2009, a semi-automatic version of the Suomi KP was produced for civilian sale in the United States, replacing the receiver and lengthening barrel to meet the standards of the National Firearms Act.
Type Submachine gun
Place of origin Finland
In service 1931–1998 (in active service 1980's)
Wars Winter War, World War II (or the Continuation War), Lapland War
Designer Aimo Lahti
Number built Approx. 80,000
Variants Kpist m/37, Kpist m/37-39, Kpist m/37-39F, Lettet-Forsøgs, Madsen-Suomi, Hispano Suiza MP43/44
Weight 4.6 kg (10.14 lb)
Length 870 mm (34.3 in) 925 mm (36.4 in) (SJR) 740 mm (29.1 in) (bunker version)
Barrel length 314 mm (12.4 in)
Cartridge 9x19mm Parabellum
Action Straight Blowback
Rate of fire 750–900 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 396 m/s (1,299 ft/s)
Maximum range ~200 m
Feed system 20, 36, 40, 50 box or 71-round drum. Also modified German MP 38 u. 40 32 round box magazine
Sights Front blade, rear notch