The term PDW appeared in the middle of the 80-ies, when Heckler & Koch introduced the MP5K-PDW, a version of the MP5K submachine gun with a folding butt. However, a real PDW, combining the compactness of a pistol, the rate of firing of a submachine gun and the effectiveness of an assault rifle, could not be considered: the cartridge 9х19 did not allow the creation of a weapon that meets such contradictory requirements. The first real step in this direction was made by the Belgians, who at the beginning of the 90 presented a set of Five-seveN pistols and PDW FN P90 for the new 5,7xXNNXX cartridge. Heckler & Koch found itself in a position to catch up and only a decade later broke the FN monopoly by offering its own version of the PDW caliber 28x4,6. Since then, the Belgian and German models of the PDW have been competing with each other, and NATO has not finally decided in whose favor to make a choice by allowing the members of the alliance to do it themselves.
PDW for the Bundeswehr
Today in the German army, the proportion of classic infantry, that is, soldiers who must directly fight the enemy with an assault rifle, is relatively small. The focus is on both the emphasis on peacekeeping and counter-terrorism missions, and the saturation of modern troops with heavy and high-tech weapons systems that require numerous means of logistics, support and supply. Thus, in the modern army there is a significant range of military specialties whose primary tasks are not related to direct participation in hostilities. On the other hand, military personnel of this category (drivers of combat vehicles and vehicles, sanitars, staff workers and communications workers, soldiers of engineering and repair units, etc.) are not insured against the risk of attack from the enemy and therefore need self-defense weapons. Until recently, in the Bundeswehr, its role was performed by various types of small arms: P1 and P8 pistols, MP2 Uzi submachine guns, as well as G3 and G36 assault rifles.
A pistol and a submachine gun have two significant drawbacks when used for this purpose. The first is unsatisfactory accuracy, ensuring acceptable shooting efficiency only at relatively short distances. The second disadvantage is the weak penetrating action of the pistol cartridge, which makes fire on the attacking manpower, protected by body armor, ineffective, not to mention shooting on lightly armored vehicles.
The assault rifle is free from these shortcomings and equipping the soldier for self-defense with it was one of the compromise solutions. However, experience with G3 and G36 rifles has shown that, due to its size, the rifle often becomes a hindrance when a soldier performs his basic duties. In conditions of limited space (in the cockpit of a car, airplane, or helicopter, in the combat compartment of combat vehicles), the rifle and its attachment devices take up quite a large amount that could be used more rationally.
General view of MP7A1
The study of the problem by BWB (Army Logistics Department) specialists revealed the need to develop and adopt a specialized self-defense weapon, which would satisfy three basic requirements:
- the sample should be a full-fledged weapon capable of firing single and automatic fire;
- according to its dimensions, the weapon must occupy a position between the pistol and the submachine gun;
- in terms of ballistic properties at the distance of PDW use, the new weapon should not be noticeably inferior to the weapon chambered for 5,56x45 and ensure the defeat of manpower in a bulletproof vest at a distance of up to 200 m.
In this case, German experts say that we are not talking about replacing existing types of small arms. PDW is considered by them as an addition to the existing infantry weapon system, which allows to fill the existing niche between pistols, submachine guns and assault rifles.
MP7 on the teachings of the British police
The personal PDW MP7 self-defense weapon was developed at the end of 90 in accordance with the NATO AC225 soldier modernization program from 16.04.1989 in Germany, known as Infanterist der Zukunft (IdZ), the future infantryman. Despite this, Heckler & Koch funded the creation of the PDW entirely from its own funds. The company from Oberndorf is the largest European manufacturer of infantry weapons and its most important supplier for the Bundeswehr, so its designers knew exactly what the German military needed. The 4,6x30 cartridge was designed by British ordnance manufacturer Royal Ordnance, Radway Green (part of BAE Systems) in cooperation with Dynamit Nobel.
Contrary to the fact that the new weapon is not a submachine gun, it still received the “submachine gun” designation Maschinenpistole 7 (MP7), since this type of small arms is not provided in the Bundeswehr weapons catalog. The figure "7" means that this is the seventh model, referred to this type of weapon and recommended for the supply of the German armed forces. The predecessors of the PDW MP7 in the catalog were MP1 (Thompson submachine gun M1A1), MP2 (Uzi), MP3 and MP4 (Walther MP-L and MP-K, respectively), and H & K MP5. What type of submachine gun was assigned the designation MP6, in an open press were not reported. To avoid the use of an abbreviation in English, the Bundeswehr introduced its term Nahbereichwaffe (short-range weapon) for the PDW. However, this name has not yet taken root and is very rare.
The MP7 prototype was first introduced in the 1999 year, but its tests revealed the need for a number of design changes: a flame arrester and a non-removable receiver lid were introduced, the picatinny rail was extended and made to the full length of the receiver, the fixed sight of a mechanical sight, made as part of the venting device.
These improvements were completed by the 2001 year, after which the new weapons entered the army special forces units (KSK), special operations division (DSO) and the military police. After upgrading the 2003 of the year, the PDW received the MP7A1 index and in that form was adopted by the Bundeswehr to replace the MP2A1 submachine gun with a folding metal butt. The upgrade consisted in changing the shape of the pistol grip and butt, introducing an additional side Picatinny rail and a folding mechanical sight.
In the German army, MP7A1, it is planned to arm both soldiers and officers of combat units (machine-gun crews, crews of combat vehicles) and personnel not directly involved in combat operations (medical and transport units, military police). It is believed that such retrofitting will solve two important problems. The first is to equip the servicemen with self-defense weapons, with which they could, at short distances, really withstand the attacking side armed with assault rifles. The second task is to eliminate the existing variety of self-defense weapons, so that the orderly, cook, driver and helicopter pilot use a single sample of self-defense weapons, having in addition similar device and principle of operation with the main army rifle G36. In this regard, NATO experts call the adoption of the PDW as a “3: 1 solution”, since the new weapon combines the properties of three types of small arms: a pistol, a submachine gun and an assault rifle.
In 2002, Heckler & Koch began creating the 4,6x30 caliber pistol, known by the civil designation Ultimate Combat Pistole (UCP) and the military P46 index. Together with MP7, this pistol was supposed to be part of a small arms complex chambered for 4,6x30, like its Belgian counterpart. But so far the military has not shown any interest in P46 and the further fate of the project remains in question. In the civilian market, UCP (P46) also remained unclaimed, mainly because of its narrow specialization - the fight against manpower in personal armor.
Unlike a pistol, PDW MP7 claims a wider scope. In addition to military use, this weapon aroused interest among the services of VIP-guards and bodyguards, for whom the possibility of concealed carrying is especially attractive. Another of the possible areas of use of the PDW MP7 are the special police units (according to the statements of the German officers of the order, the criminal elements in body armor are a new reality that today has to be reckoned with).
The equipment of the PDW Bundeswehr is slow and in ordinary parts it still remains exotic. The first large batch of MP7A1 (434 instance) was delivered in 2003 year, and by now the total number in the troops is about 2 000. PDW is being tested in the DSO division, as part of the IdZ program. In particular, MP7A1 received as a personal weapon rifle-gunners infantry units, armed with MG4 machine guns. Unlike the MG3, the new machine gun is serviced by one person, so there was a need to equip the shooter with a more serious weapon of self-defense than the 9-mm pistol previously used for this purpose. The Bundeswehr military police equip their bodyguards with PDW MP7A1. Of the special forces using MP7A1, we can mention the already mentioned KSK (2002 copies were supplied in 60 year), Navy special forces, GSG-9, and Hamburg police special forces. MP7A1 has become one of the means to combat the financial crisis. The purchase of a lot from 1000 PDW with a total value of 3 million euros for the Bundeswehr is part of the program adopted in 2009, aimed at reviving the German economy.
Aroused PDW interest and outside of Germany. In September 2003, the United States Marine Corps conducted a comparative test of MP7 and P90. For this purpose, Americans from the company Heckler & Koch purchased 12 units MP7, which were equipped with silencers and were intended for testing by the crews of helicopters. When testing, the pilots wore a PDW in a thigh holster, and a silencer separately - in the pocket of a life jacket. In 2003, the UK Department of Defense intended to acquire 15 000 units of such weapons, primarily for the police. British police use it in the semi-automatic version MP7SF (Single Fire). In May 2007, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense ordered the 6500 MP7A1 to replace the 9-mm submachine guns. A total of MP7 is used by 17 countries; it is also adopted by the UN forces.