Evolution in Action: The Parabolic Arc of the Stamped Steel Submachine Gun

By Will Dabbs, MD

The “Iron Age” is a term used to describe an archaeological era.

Depending upon whom you ask, it began between 1,200 and 600 BC. This epoch also typically corresponds with the period of time wherein writing took on more importance than just wandering around trying to stay alive. As a result, most historians use the Iron Age to demarcate the transition from prehistory to history.

Iron liquefies at 1,538 deg C so the limiting factor in our working with iron early on was the capacity to get it really, really hot. Man has actually been making stuff out of iron harvested from meteors since around 3,200 BC. However, it was not until we developed the capacity to smelt iron ore and subsequently regulate the amount of carbon in it that we really got any mileage out of this most common of metals.

Nowadays we make everything out of the stuff. Knives, tanks, cars, fingernail clippers, tall buildings and aircraft carriers all begin as elemental iron. When properly alloyed into steel it is arguably the ideal building material. Before you fret about perhaps running short, appreciate that iron is the fourth most common element in the earth’s crust. We won’t be running low any time soon.

In more recent years our capacity to mill and manipulate steel transformed warfare. In 1760, Britain saw the dawn of the Industrial Age. The steady progression in our capacity for mechanization eventually spawned World War I, the first truly global war fought on an industrial scale. The subsequent carnage was without human precedent.
Getting Out of the Trenches

This first War to End All Wars saw the introduction of the tank, the combat submarine and poison gas and massed indirect fires to a battlefield that was just beginning to resemble the sorts we squabble over today. The inability of the military leadership of the day to adapt previous era’s tactics to these modern weapons is what resulted in the bloody stalemate that so characterized that horrible time. In the case of small arms, however, the state...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N4 (May 2017)
and was posted online on March 17, 2017


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