Costs Less, Kills Nazis: The M-3 Grease Gun

Marvin Dirty DozenIf this weapon was your sibling, it would be the rude, crude, and socially unacceptable little brother who helped you curb-stomp the neighborhood bullies.

That’s the way I like to describe the M-3 .45-caliber submachine gun, known more commonly as the Grease Gun by the soldiers who used it from World War II to Desert Storm.  The M-3 is an ugly hunk of metal – words like “crafted” or “elegant” simply are not applied when discussing the looks or pedigree of the weapon. Made of stamped metal parts like a General Motors car (not surprising when you remember it was developed by GM in 1942 and produced by the same division that made metal automobile headlights) the M-3 is not a submachine gun noted for its fine tolerances and sleek design. Frankly, it looks like crap. But it is a compact, powerful gun that soldiers and Marines grew to appreciate, however grudgingly.

My article in War is Boring examines the development and use of the weapon — and it gave me an excellent excuse to provide the editor with a picture of Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen wielding an M-3 in one of the movie’s most famous scenes.

 

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