|The Owen went into production about mid 1941,
with about 50,000 produced by 1945. Although quite large and bulky, the
Owen was a first-class gun and very popular with those who used it, for
it stood up well to the hard conditions of jungle fighting and stoppages
were remarkably rare.
Its two outstanding features were the top mounted magazine -- a feature
rarely seen on submachine-guns since the Villar Perosa -- and the provision
of a separate bolt compartment inside the receiver so that the bolt was
isolated from its retracting handle by a small bulkhead, through which
passed the small diameter bolt. This ensured that dirt and mud did not
jam the bolt and it was highly successful, although expensive in terms
Two other unusual mechanical features: the ejector is built into
the magazine rather than into the gun body, and the barrel is rapidly removable
by pulling up on a spring-loaded plunger just ahead of the magazine housing.
The latter feature is necessary since, due to the method of assembly and
construction, the gun can only be dismantled by removing the barel and
then taking out the bolt and return spring in a forward direction.
|Comments by ron
cashman; December 05, 1999
|Hello Bert, wandering through your list of British weapons and noticed
the absence of perhaps the best close combat weapon of its time, the Owen
gun. (One shown here against bunker as my platoon prepared for a patrol
on Hill 355, Little Gibraltar). Being made and used by Australians it was
not well known, the Brits would give a case of Stens
for one;and our American comrades working alongside us felt the same once
they saw its capability. It was a back-yard invention of about 1942 used
in the many Australian conflicts from WW2 through to Vietnam.
|The Owen didn't freeze up in the winter either; the
working parts were so simple and loose fitting that just cradling it in
your arms when laying up on an ambush was sufficient to keep it working.
I did hear the odd complaint that the bullets weren't powerful enough to
penetrate the thick Chinese winter clothing. All I can say about that is,
nobody I ever fired at stood up for another burst; or kept running as the
case may have been.
Re your Burp-gun story (BK: email tale unfavorably comparing the
P41 cartridge with the parabellum),
one of our lads was hit with 29 slugs from one when the Nog decided not
to worry about his health; he lived.No vital organs of course, but gee
he was heavy to carry home!
Comments by 'Snow'
Dicker; February 23, 2000
I remember the Owen and a few of its faults, like bumping the butt
on the ground or catching the bolt knob on your webbing fired the gun and
caused a few casualties in the ranks, till their little nasties were overcome.
Also we found that the fire power and shape of the round-nosed bullet,
against people wearing quilted uniforms at about 100 metres was not a good
combination. Although it caused a lot of feathers to fly around, it did
not do the job asked of it. In the jungle against people wearing wet shirts,
it was a different story. I kept my Lee Enfield with me at all times.
Comment by sherro; Monday, June 26, 19100 at 02:30:02
I was quite interested to see the writeup on the 9mm OMC (Owen Machine
Carbine). We carried them for a very short time in Vietnam as the issue
weapon for forward scouts (called point scouts in the US Army).
After seeing first hand the (lack of positive) results of two people
shooting at two VC at 20' range and one of our own accidentally shot in
the back with one (2in penetration), as a forward scout I point blank refused
to carry one under threat of charges. Worn weaponry and ammo made in 1943
was a very poor combination for combat.
I was much happier carrying an SLR (Australian FAL) with a full mag
of tracer for serious social work. In Korea I certainly would have carried
an SMLE .303 over an Owen if given the choice. Bullet placement, not volume
of fire is everything.