Steyr MPi 69

This submachine gun resembles the Uzi in some respects, but it is a totally different and rather simpler design. It is currently in use by a number of armies and police forces throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

The receiver is formed from bent and welded sheet steel and is carried in the frame unit - steel with a molded nylon covering. The magazine feeds in through the pistol grip, a convenient system in the dark, and the bolt is of the 'wrap-around' or 'telescoped' type in which the actual bolt face is well back within the bolt and much of the bolt mass is in front of the breech at the moment of firing. This system allows the maximum mass for the minimum bolt stroke and assists in producing a compact weapon. Cocking is performed by pulling on the carry sling, which is attached at the forward end to the cocking knob. This, at first sight, is open to abuse, but a bracket welded in to the top of the receiver ensures that the cocking action can only be performed when the sling is held at right angles to the receiver, on the left-hand side. The normal pull from the top of the weapon, as when slinging it over the shoulder, cannot move the cocking piece.

There is a safety catch in the form of a cross-bolt above the trigger which locks the trigger when set to safe; it is a three-position bolt; when pushed across to the right so that a white 'S' protrudes, it is safe; when pushed across to the left so that a red 'F' protrudes, it is set for automatic fire. There is also a half-way position in which single shots are possible. This safety catch is a weak piece of design in my view since, except by memorizing, it is impossible to know what the state is in darkness; it would be better to have one end ribbed or knurled.

The third position is, in any case, superfluous; with the selector set to automatic fire, a light squeeze on the trigger fires a single shot, and this can be repeated as often as wanted. To fire bursts, a heavier squeeze is required. There is no need to reset the selector lever at all, and I can only assume that the central position has been put there as a safety feature during initial training, so that an over-enthusiastic squeeze will not produce a runaway gun. This two-stage trigger is also to be found on the Steyr AUG rifle and takes some getting used to; I have found it a hindrance to accurate shooting in the automatic mode.

The MPi 69 is easy to strip and reassemble, taking no more than 15 seconds in either direction for a trained soldier. Strictures on the safety and trigger apart, it is a well-designed, simple and robust weapon - and, provided soldiers are trained to its peculiarities, a highly effective one.

first authored and published by Ian Hogg in his book entitled Modern Small Arms