Assault Pistols and PDWs

Assault Pistols, also known as PDWs: Assault pistols, known as Personal Defensive Weapons (PDWs) in military circles, are usually patterned after very small submachine guns like the Micro UZI or the MP5K. There are also a small number of purpose built PDWs on the world market (Russian Bizon and FN P90). The HK PDW is a very compact 9mm submachine gun that is intended as an emergency weapon for use by combat aircrews in case they find themselves shot down in hostile territory. These weapons tend to offer maximum firepower in very compact packages.  Semi automatic only versions are available on the open market and are usually regulated as handguns. 

PDWs are less concealable than regular handguns.  Fully automatic PDWs are a hot black market item among outlaw circles due to compact size, high firepower, and high profit per cargo volume ratio for smugglers. PDWs serve as status symbols in many criminal social circles.   These weapons are also favored by CIA contractors because of easy portability, low cost and ease of smuggling into hostile countries.   Fairly decent PDWs of simple design can also be made with machine tools that are too small for constructing larger weapons.   The picture to the right is an example of a PDW that was submitted by an anonymous contributor to an Internet discussion group about home made guns.  

One attribute of these weapons is that they are not intended for use as the primary equipment of the user. This means that they are essentially large backup weapons for "non-combative" personnel and large weapon crews that require more than regular handguns for self defense but are, for reasons of necessity or comfort, precluded from using larger personal firearms.  Vehicle operators of all kinds can benefit from the PDWs that are quickly deployable (due to compact size) from within the confines of a vehicle. Scouts in particular can benefit from using PDWs because PDWs are lighter in weight and less encumbering than rifles and shotguns but offer more firepower than pistols.   The fairly compact size, ease of use, low cost and moderate power of assault pistols made them particularly popular among North American street gangs in the late 1980s and early 1990s.   Legal restrictions throughout the mid to late 1990s reduced the popularity of the weapons in the US while the trends favoring their use did not emigrate to "copycat" gangs in other countries where genuine military hardware is more easily obtainable.   

One fairly common assault pistol found in Eastern Europe and exported around the Globe is the Czech Scorpion.   It was essentially the PDW of the Warsaw pact and was issued to special security personnel, terrorists, police and VIPs in the Communist party.  Designed as a full automatic weapon that required a minimum of training, the scorpion was deadly even in the hands of a complete amateur although the person should not be a total idiot.   An accident with such a weapon can be quite catastrophic.    The Scorpion is  one of the smallest PDWs and easily adaptable for use with a silencer.  It is most commonly found in weaker calibers like .32 ACP and .380.  Again, the rather weak ammunition used in this gun almost makes full auto fire necessary to make it an effective weapon.  Newer models are available in 9mm Makarov and 9mm parabellum (the most uncommon).  Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, limited numbers of semi-automatic Scorpions have been produced for export.  Still others have been sold in 'parts kit' form without the critical lower receiver or with the lower receiver cut in several pieces with a blowtorch.  

Assault pistols are semi-concealable and can be overlooked at roadblock searches - an attribute that can be valuable in urban environments (partly attributing to their popularity among criminals). Assault pistols usually share some parts interchangeability with larger guns, especially submachine guns, thus making logistics a little easier for those who use a systems approach to their arsenal. Nearly all assault pistols have a rifle-style positive safety selector, a feature that is frequently absent from handguns (especially those intended for police).  These guns also tend to be more durable than regular handguns; being able to withstand the rigors of hard use with little maintenance.  Assault pistols typically lend themselves to easy custom modification with sound suppressors, folding stocks, and brass catchers.

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