SMG OR PDW? THE FUTURE OF AIRSOFT “9MM”...

Airsoft Action|July 2020

SMG OR PDW? THE FUTURE OF AIRSOFT “9MM”...
AEGS WITH A SHORT OVERALL LENGTH ARE IDEAL FOR THE NUMEROUS CQB/CQC SITES THAT HAVE STARTED UP IN RECENT YEARS AND THIS MONTH BILL DELVES INTO A QUESTION THAT’S AS VALID IN THE “BB WORLD” AS IT IS IN THE REAL ONE, BY LOOKING AT TWO OF THE LATEST RELEASES FROM INDUSTRY VETERAN ICS THAT SHOW CHANGING DIRECTIONS AND NEW INNOVATIONS.

The SMG is dead, long live the PDW! That is probably a contentious way to start a review of two new AEGs but when I received the latest models from ICS to get on the range and put through their paces, it got me to thinking… Just how valid is a traditional pistol-calibre sub-machine gun these days when you can have a PDW (Personal Defence Weapon) or SBR (short-barrelled rifle) not only in the same calibre, but in a carbine/rifle calibre too!

To get the ball rolling, let me first look at the two excellent models that I was sent to test and evaluate; namely, the new CES-P MP-5 model and the CXP-MARS PDW9, both of which were due to launch at IWA earlier this year. Of course, IWA 2020 never happened, so many of the models we were due to see for the first time there have come onto the market with little fanfare, which is a great shame.

However, now they are beginning to feed into the market I spoke to my old mate Frank at Fire Support and, in direct collaboration with ICS themselves, I was soon able to acquire one of each of the new models to have a look at and run through their paces on the range. I’ve used ICS AEGs pretty much from the time the company came into being and, largely, my experience with them has been extremely positive, so my expectations of what they produce these days is very high indeed.

“FIRST OFF THOUGH, BEFORE I GET INTO THE NEW AEGS THEMSELVES, LET ME LOOK BACK AT MY ORIGINAL QUESTION AND PUT IT IN EVEN CLEARER TERMS… WITH THE RISE OF THE PDW AND SBR IS THE TIME OF THE SMG DONE AND OVER?”

ICS have always produced great-looking AEGs, both historical models that offer great accuracy in their replication but, more lately, some super rifles and carbines of their own design that have added some real flair to the product line overall. If you want a specific model for MilSim or “historic airsoft” then ICS can probably provide that for you, but if you fancy something thoroughly modern then they can definitely do that! Add to this that ICS AEGs have always been insanely easy to work on thanks to that original split-gearbox design and you have the ingredients for success right there!

And with the two models under the spotlight here this is shown in spades, with a classic SMG originating in the 1960s and a completely modern PDW that could have been posted on an AR manufacturer’s website yesterday!

First off though, before I get into the new AEGs themselves, let me look back at my original question and put it in even clearer terms… With the rise of the PDW and SBR is the time of the SMG done and over?

THE CHANGING FACE OF 9MM PLATFORMS

I would argue that the very first of what we would refer to as the “modern military SMG” was the MP 18 manufactured by Theodor Bergmann Abteilung Waffenbau, which was brought into service in 1918 by the German Army during World War I as the primary weapon of the “Sturmtruppen”, the specialised German WWI trench assault groups. Up until then, infantry combat was traditionally “ranged” and the bolt-action rifle was the king of the battlefield but the bloody and gruesome, often hand to hand combat seen within the close-confines of trench systems, called for something smaller and with a higher rate of fire… the term “trench broom” which referred to shotguns, fully-automatic carbines and eventually the Bergmann SMG was coined for a reason!

WWII saw most armies still largely armed with those bolt-action rifles and the .303 SMLE did sterling service against the venerable 7.92×57mm Kar98k but the with the “Blitzkrieg” came a new, fast-moving type of land warfare fought from the backs of vehicles that required more easily carried, fast-firing sub-machine guns with effective riflemen and LMG gunners in support. Far from the days of the “Sturmtruppen” being over when trench warfare ceased to be the norm, the soldiers of a new war were confronted with fighting in towns and cities and the “weapons mix” was chosen accordingly.

WWII was surely the “War of the SMG” and whilst the Germans were again at the forefront with the excellent MP38/MP40, the Allied forces soon followed with the likes of the Thompson, the STEN, the Owen Gun and PPSh-41 and, of course, the M3A1 “Grease Gun”.

Even during the Cold War years the “battle rifle” still ruled the roost with the likes of the FN FAL, L1A1 SLR, G3, M14 and of course the AK47/AKM and the submachine gun largely fulfilled the role of “Individual Defence Weapon”, or IDW, for the likes of signallers, engineers, drivers and support personnel. Whilst, for instance, the British had the Sterling and the M3 was still seen in the hands of some American rear echelon personnel, once again the Germans went their own way with the MP5.

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July 2020