Personal defense weapon
Overview
 
A personal defense weapon (PDW) is a compact semi-automatic or fully automatic firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

 similar in most respects to a submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

, but firing an (often proprietary) armor-piercing rifle round, giving a PDW better range, accuracy and armor-penetrating capability than submachine guns, which fire pistol-caliber cartridges. The class of weapon as it exists today evolved as a hybrid between a submachine gun and a carbine
Carbine
A carbine , from French carabine, is a longarm similar to but shorter than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full rifles, firing the same ammunition at a lower velocity due to a shorter barrel length....

, retaining the compact size and ammunition capacity of the former while adding the ammunition power, accuracy and penetration of the latter.
The modern PDW stems from weapons that were a combination of guns and knives
Knife
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...

, as they were specifically designed to be concealable weapons for the purpose of individual defense rather than a combat
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 weapon.
Encyclopedia
A personal defense weapon (PDW) is a compact semi-automatic or fully automatic firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

 similar in most respects to a submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

, but firing an (often proprietary) armor-piercing rifle round, giving a PDW better range, accuracy and armor-penetrating capability than submachine guns, which fire pistol-caliber cartridges. The class of weapon as it exists today evolved as a hybrid between a submachine gun and a carbine
Carbine
A carbine , from French carabine, is a longarm similar to but shorter than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full rifles, firing the same ammunition at a lower velocity due to a shorter barrel length....

, retaining the compact size and ammunition capacity of the former while adding the ammunition power, accuracy and penetration of the latter.

Origins

The modern PDW stems from weapons that were a combination of guns and knives
Knife
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...

, as they were specifically designed to be concealable weapons for the purpose of individual defense rather than a combat
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 weapon. An early ancestor is the "dagger-pistol
Pistol sword
A pistol sword is a sword with a pistol or revolver attached, usually alongside the blade. It differs from a rifle with a bayonet in that the weapon is designed primarily for use as a sword, and the firearm component is typically considered a secondary weapon designed to be an addition to the...

". Many soldiers would benefit from lighter, more compact arms than the line infantry arm. In the 1800s and early 1900s, shorter versions of the infantry rifle were issued as 'carbines' for cavalry troops and gun crews, then dropped as infantry rifle designs were shortened such as in the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield
Lee-Enfield
The Lee-Enfield bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle was the main firearm used by the military forces of the British Empire and Commonwealth during the first half of the 20th century...

 rifle.

During the interwar period, the Argentine firm Hispano Argentina de Automotives SA (HAFDASA) introduced the C-2 machine pistol issued to armoured vehicle personnel. This weapon was basically a short variant of the C-4
Hafdasa C-4
The HAFDASA C-4 is a submachine gun of Argentine origin and is chambered in 9mm and .45 calibres. It has an aluminium lower receiver and is fed from a wide box magazine . Its magazine insert has a dust cover that folds open forward to form a grip shrouding the front of the magazines...

 submachine gun, fed from a 40/50 round casket box magazine depending on which calibre the weapon is chambered. Although the C-2 was an effective weapon, it did not see much service outside Argentina but predates designs such as the Škorpion vz. 61 and Ingram MAC-10.

Pistol
Pistol
When distinguished as a subset of handguns, a pistol is a handgun with a chamber that is integral with the barrel, as opposed to a revolver, wherein the chamber is separate from the barrel as a revolving cylinder. Typically, pistols have an effective range of about 100 feet.-History:The pistol...

s generally were considered too limited in effectiveness for the role. In the First World War, the Mauser C96
Mauser C96
The Mauser C96 is a semi-automatic pistol that was originally produced by German arms manufacturer Mauser from 1896 to 1937...

 and artillery versions of the Luger pistol
Luger pistol
The Pistole Parabellum 1908 or Parabellum-Pistole , popularly known as the Luger, is a toggle-locked recoil-operated semi-automatic pistol. The design was patented by Georg J...

 were issued with attachable shoulder stock holsters and could partially meet this requirement. The World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 era M1 carbine
M1 Carbine
The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S...

 can be considered a forerunner of modern personal defense weapons. It filled a similar role; it was not primarily intended for front line
Front line
A front line is the farthest-most forward position of an armed force's personnel and equipment - generally in respect of maritime or land forces. Forward Line of Own Troops , or Forward Edge of Battle Area are technical terms used by all branches of the armed services...

 troops, but for support personnel such as drivers, engineers
Combat engineering
A combat engineer, also called pioneer or sapper in many armies, is a soldier who performs a variety of construction and demolition tasks under combat conditions...

 and medics
Combat medic
Combat medics are trained military personnel who are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injury...

 to defend themselves in an emergency. Pistol-caliber submachine guns could fill the role, but were historically considered automatic weapons
Automatic firearm
An automatic firearm is a firearm that loads another round mechanically after the first round has been fired.The term can be used to refer to semi-automatic firearms, which fire one shot per single pull of the trigger , or fully automatic firearms, which will continue to load and fire ammunition...

 for front-line uses.

In 1986, United States Army Infantry School
United States Army Infantry School
The United States Army Infantry School is located in Fort Benning, Georgia. It is made up of the following components:*192d Infantry Brigade...

 based at Fort Benning
Fort Benning
Fort Benning is a United States Army post located southeast of the city of Columbus in Muscogee and Chattahoochee counties in Georgia and Russell County, Alabama...

 issued the reference document Smalls Arms Strategy 2000, which defines the APDW (Advanced Personal Defense Weapon). The earliest weapons marketed as PDWs were the Heckler & Koch MP5K-PDW and the GG-95 PDW
JaTiMatic
The Jatimatic is a Finnish 9 mm submachine gun developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Jali Timari. The submachine gun made its debut in 1983. The Jatimatic was manufactured in very limited numbers initially by Tampereen Asepaja Oy of Tampere and later—Oy Golden Gun Ltd...

.

PDWs were developed during the late 1980s for non-combatant troops as compact automatic weapons that could defeat enemy body armor. Standard pistols and submachine guns chambered for pistol rounds had proven ineffective against armored soldiers and compact lightweight weapons capable of penetrating body armor were needed. In this role, they were supposed to be a more convenient alternative to the standard assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

, as their smaller size and lighter weight would be less of an encumbrance to a person whose primary function on the battlefield was not frontline fighting.

Ammunition

Typical PDWs use small-caliber, high-velocity pistol bullets similar to miniaturized rifle rounds, which are capable of penetrating soft body armor up to Level IIIa. PDWs are otherwise similar to submachine guns in most respects, and are often classified as such. Both types of guns tend to have a very high rate of fire
Rate of fire
Rate of fire is the frequency at which a specific weapon can fire or launch its projectiles. It is usually measured in rounds per minute , or per second .-Overview:...

 which, when combined with the lower recoil of the smaller pistol-sized cartridges, increases the probability of multiple hits.

Applications

The PDW concept has not been widely successful, partly because PDWs are not significantly cheaper to manufacture than full size assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

s. PDWs also usually use a special cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

, such as the 5.7x28mm cartridge of the FN P90
FN P90
The FN P90 is a selective fire personal defense weapon designed and manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. The P90's name is taken from 1990, the year it was introduced...

 or 4.6x30mm of the Heckler & Koch MP7
Heckler & Koch MP7
The MP7 is a German submachine gun manufactured by Heckler & Koch and chambered for the 4.6×30mm cartridge. It was designed with the new cartridge to meet NATO requirements published in 1989, as these requirements call for a personal defense weapon class firearm, with a greater ability to defeat...

, neither of which are compatible with existing pistols and rifles. A different take on the PDW concept is the Russian made PP-2000
PP-2000
The PP-2000 is a submachine gun made by the KBP Instrument Design Bureau. It was first publicly displayed at the Interpolytech-2004 exhibition in Moscow even though its patent was filed in 2001 and issued in 2003.- Overview :...

, which can fire the common 9x19mm Parabellum round or a special armor-piercing version to give it the same capabilities as other PDWs.

Though they have not become very popular for their intended application, personal defense weapons have been acquired by many special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 and law enforcement
Law enforcement
Law enforcement broadly refers to any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to promote adherence to the law by discovering and punishing persons who violate the rules and norms governing that society...

 groups as direct replacements for submachine guns. FN's P90
FN P90
The FN P90 is a selective fire personal defense weapon designed and manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. The P90's name is taken from 1990, the year it was introduced...

 personal defense weapon and PDW-caliber Five-seven pistol are used by military and police forces in over 40 countries throughout the world, such as Canada, Cyprus, France, Greece, India, Peru, Poland, Spain, and the United States. The Heckler & Koch MP7
Heckler & Koch MP7
The MP7 is a German submachine gun manufactured by Heckler & Koch and chambered for the 4.6×30mm cartridge. It was designed with the new cartridge to meet NATO requirements published in 1989, as these requirements call for a personal defense weapon class firearm, with a greater ability to defeat...

 personal defense weapon is also used in a number of countries, including Austria, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.

Like submachine guns, PDWs are small and light weapons, and their low recoil enables higher accuracy. Like assault rifles and carbines, PDWs can also penetrate body armor, while traditional pistol caliber submachine guns cannot. Assault rifles and carbines, by comparison, are generally heavier than either PDWs or submachine guns, have more severe muzzle blast and recoil, and are more likely to cause collateral damage due to overpenetration.

Modern personal defense weapons

  • ČZW-438
    ČZW-438
    The ČZW-438 is a personal defence weapon of Czech origin, chambered in the .17 Libra PDW round. Another variant of the ČZW-438 is the ČZW-438 M9 chambered in the 9x19mm Parabellum round....

     – 4.38x30mm Libra
  • Colt MARS
    Colt MARS
    The MARS was an experimental, scaled-down variant of the M16 rifle tested by Colt as a personal defense weapon in the 1990s. It was chambered for the experimental 5.56x30mm MARS cartridge. The 5.56x30mm cartridge fired a 55 grain projectile at . The rifle was patented in 1998 .-External links:*...

     – 5.56x30mm MARS
  • FN P90
    FN P90
    The FN P90 is a selective fire personal defense weapon designed and manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. The P90's name is taken from 1990, the year it was introduced...

     – 5.7x28mm
  • Heckler & Koch MP7
    Heckler & Koch MP7
    The MP7 is a German submachine gun manufactured by Heckler & Koch and chambered for the 4.6×30mm cartridge. It was designed with the new cartridge to meet NATO requirements published in 1989, as these requirements call for a personal defense weapon class firearm, with a greater ability to defeat...

     – 4.6x30mm
  • Knight's Armament Company PDW
    Knight's Armament Company PDW
    The Knight's Armament Company 6x35mm PDW is an experimental personal defense weapon designed by KAC, firing a new 6mm cartridge optimized for short barrel weapons....

     – 6x35mm KAC
  • Magpul PDR
    Magpul PDR
    The Magpul PDR is a compact bullpup-style 5.56x45mm carbine being developed by Magpul Industries. Although still in development, it has garnered some attention, largely due to its "futuristic" appearance...

     – 5.56x45mm NATO
    5.56x45mm NATO
    5.56×45mm NATO is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States and originally chambered in the M16 rifle. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries. It is derived from, but not identical to, the .223 Remington cartridge...

  • PP-2000
    PP-2000
    The PP-2000 is a submachine gun made by the KBP Instrument Design Bureau. It was first publicly displayed at the Interpolytech-2004 exhibition in Moscow even though its patent was filed in 2001 and issued in 2003.- Overview :...

     – 9x19mm 7N21 +P+, 9x19mm 7N31 +P+
  • QCW-05
    QCW-05
    The QCW-05 is a suppressed submachine gun...

     – 5.8x21mm
    5.8x21mm
    The 5.8×21mm cartridge is a Chinese armor-piercing firearm cartridge.The cartridge was designed for replacements of 7.62×25mm Tokarev–chambered small arms for the People's Liberation Army that would offer a wound as large as a standard 9×19mm Parabellum round. This round is offered in both a...

  • Saab Bofors Dynamics CBJ-MS
    Saab Bofors Dynamics CBJ-MS
    The Saab Bofors Dynamics CBJ-MS is a Personal defense weapon/Submachine gun manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics for Sweden. It is chambered for both 6.5×25 CBJ-MS and 9×19mm Luger/Parabellum cartridges.-Development:...

     – 6.5x25 CBJ-MS
  • ST Kinetics CPW
    ST Kinetics CPW
    The CPW is a multi-caliber submachine gun developed by ST Kinetics of Singapore as a PDW-class firearm. The prototype is chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum but the manufacturer assures that the weapon's modular design allows for a simple caliber conversion to either 5.7x28mm or 4.6x30mm.-Design...

     – 4.6x30mm, 5.7x28mm, 9x19mm
  • VBR-Belgium PDW
    VBR-Belgium PDW
    The VBR-PDW is a personal defense weapon chambered in the 7.92x24mm round and is designed by Rik Van Bruaene. It uses the double action firing mechanism from a Beretta M92F Pistol and magazines from Glock pistols. As of 2010, it is still at prototype stage. It has a retractable buttstock to...

     – 7.92x24mm
    7.92x24mm
    The 7.92×24 mm cartridge is a pistol cartridge designed in Belgium by Rik Van Bruaene of VBR-Belgium.The design objective was the development of a cartridge for use in Personal Defence Weapons , and for use in pistols, submachine guns and carbines...

  • Modern Sub Machine Carbine
    Modern Sub Machine Carbine
    The Modern Sub Machine Carbine is the latest combined venture of Armament Research and Development Establishment & Ordnance Factories Organisation, developed for the Indian Army on a platform of experiences from the INSAS rifle. The gun is very lightweight and compact in comparison with other...

     – 5.56x30mm MINSAS
    5.56x30mm MINSAS
    The 5.56×30mm MINSAS is an ammunition intended for close quarter battle use. The round is somewhat a derivative of the experimental Colt MARS, using a bottlenecked case 30mm long, loaded with a light pointed bullet with steel penetrator core...


PDW-caliber pistols

  • FN Five-seven – 5.7x28mm
  • Heckler & Koch UCP
    Heckler & Koch UCP
    The Heckler & Koch Universal Combat Pistol , a double action, semi-automatic handgun also known as the HK P46, was developed under commission for the German Bundeswehr....

     – 4.6x30mm
  • MP-443 Grach
    MP-443 Grach
    Yarygin PYa, MP-443 Grach |rook]]) is the latest Russian standard military-issue side arm. It was developed in response to Russian military trials, which began in 1993. In 2003, it was adopted as a standard sidearm for all branches of Russian military and law enforcement, alongside GSh-18 and SPS...

     — 9x19mm 7N21
  • QSZ-92
    QSZ-92
    The QSZ-92 Services Pistol is a semi-automatic pistol designed by Norinco and it is in limited service in the People's Liberation Army since the late 1990s.-Development:...

     / QSW-06
    QSW-06
    The QSW-06 is a suppressed semi-automatic pistol in limited use with the People's Liberation Army and various Chinese police departments...

     – 5.8x21mm
  • VBR-Belgium CQBW
    VBR-Belgium CQBW
    The CQBW is a semi automatic pistol manufactured by VBR-Belgium. It is chambered for the 7.92x24mm round but can also be converted to fire 4.6x30mm or 5.7x28mm rounds.-References:* * -See also:* 7.92x24mm* FN Five-seven* Heckler & Koch UCP* QSZ-92...

    – 4.6x30mm, 5.7x28mm, 7.92x24mm
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