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The M50 Reising was an American-made submachine gun used during World War II. It was designed by Eugene Reising in 1940 to compete with the Thompson SMG already in service with the United States Military. Reising's submachine gun was design by Harrington & Richardson (H&R) in Worchester, Massachusetts.



The Reising submachine gun was a very innovative weapon for its time featuring firepower, accuracy, excellent balance, lightweight and ease of manufacturing compared to the Thompson Model 1928 submachine gun, the leading American competitor of the time. But poor combat performance and favourable law enforcement use of the Reising forever mired the weapon in controversy.

Eugene Reising was an excellent marksman and ordnance engineer who believed engineering principals must match actual field needs. Reising practiced his creed by being an avid shooter and by serving in the early 1900s as an assistant to the firearm inventor, John M. Browning. In doing so, Reising contributed to the final design of the US .45 Model 1911 Colt Automatic Pistol, one of the most reliable pistols in history. Reising then designed a number of commercial rifles and pistols on his own, when in 1938, he turned his attention to designing a submachine gun as threats of war rapidly grew in Europe.

Two years later he submitted his completed design to the Harrington and Richardson Arms Company (H&R) in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was accepted, and in March 1941, H&R started manufacturing the Model 50 full stocked submachine gun. Months later, production began on the Model 55 (identical to the Model 50 other than having a folding wire buttstock and no compensator); and the Model 60 full stocked semiautomatic rifle that also resembled a Model 50, but had a 7.75 inch longer barrel without cooling fins or compensator.

H&R promoted the submachine guns for police and military use, and the Model 60 for security guards. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 the US was suddenly in desperate need of thousands of modern automatic weapons. Since the Reising's only competitor was the venerable .45 Thompson Model 1928A1 submachine gun, a weapon that epitomized reliability and exquisite machining, the more easily manufactured Reising was quickly adopted by the US Navy and Marines as a limited-standard weapon.

The US Army first tested the Reising in November 1941 at Fort Benning, Georgia, and found several parts failed due to poor construction. Once corrected a second test was made in 1942 at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland. In that test 3,500 rounds were fired resulting in two malfunctions: one from the ammunition, the other from an incomplete bolt locking. As a result, the Army didn't adopt the Reising, but the Navy and Marines did, faced with insufficient supply of Thompsons.

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The Navy and Marines also noticed that the Reising had certain advantages over the Thompson. It was less costly, costing $62 compared to the $200 for the Thompson. It was much lighter (about seven v. eleven pounds). And, the Model 55 was much more compact (about twenty-two v. thirty-three inches in length).

The Reising cost and weighed less because it was made mostly of stampings and had a closed-bolt design, much lighter than simple blowbacks that fired from an open-bolt position and relied on weight, rather than locking, to secure the cartridge at the time of firing. It was more balanced because the barrel-and-receiver-group rested concentrically within the stock. It had smoother lines because the stock was of conventional shape and the cocking handle (action bar) was placed inside the forearm. And it was more accurate because the closed-bolt only shifted the hammer and firing pin on firing, whereas the Thompson, slammed home a heavy bolt and actuator.[2]


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