Fitted with an original leather sling and one original 20-round C.G. Haenel magazine, this fully functional MP-18.1 is a great addition to any collection. All the serial numbers match except for the rear sight tension spring and detent latch.
The MP18.1, manufactured by Theodor Bergmann, was the first practical submachine gun ever used in combat. In 1915, the German Rifle Testing Commission determined to develop a new firearm for trench warfare, and a team was assembled for this task. Hugo Schmeisser, under the employ of Bergmann Waffenfabrik, along with Theodor Bergmann and a few other technicians, designed the Maschinepistole 18/1 in 1916. The MP18 was designed as an open bolt, blowback operated submachine gun, chambered in 9×19 Parabellum, with a rate of fire of approximately 500 rounds per minute, and a muzzle velocity of 1,247 feet/second. It was originally equipped with a 20-round box magazine, but the Testing Commission insisted it be adapted for the 32-round TM08 Luger “snail” drum magazine.
It first entered full scale production in early 1918 and entered service in 1918, in the hands of the German Army during World War I, and was the primary firearm of the Stosstruppen, assault groups specialized in trench combat. It is believed that between 5,000 and 10,000 MP18.1’s were built and used during WWI.
This new weapon class had such an impact on the Allies during World War I, that the Treaty of Versailles specifically prohibited further study and manufacture of such light automatic weapons by Germany, but production continued secretly into the 1920’s, with a total production of about 35,000 (based on serial numbers). The treaty also banned the use and production of magazines that could hold more than 8 rounds, and all TM08 magazines were destroyed.
The treaty did allow the Weimar Republic to keep a small amount of submachine guns for police use, and so a few MP18.1’s were modified to accept the original 20-round magazine design. This modification, carried out by Haenel Waffenfabrik, involved replacing the existing magazine well.
In the German revolutionary period of 1919, the MP18.1 was used successfully in house to house fights for the purpose of regaining control of Berlin and Munich. It was also used by German police forces and by the Freikorps Von Epp against the Spartacus League in Bavaria, as well as in urban combat.
The Bergmann MP18.1 marks a milestone in armament technology and warfare tactics, and cleared the way for an entire new class of firearms, leading the way for lighter automatic firearms. Even though production of the MP18 ended in the 1920’s, its design was the foundation for most submachine guns that were designed between 1920 and 1960.