Suppressing The Model 50 Reising

By Frank Iannamico

Rejected by the Military, the Reising Found Success with Police Departments

Sound suppressors, known to the government and the movies as “silencers,” have been around a long time but have recently become very popular. Simply the growth in the number of manufacturers from a relatively small number just a decade ago is evidence of the suppressor’s popularity.

Suppressors from back in the day were usually designed and threaded for use on one particular firearm. This has changed with most modern designs, which feature interchangeable end caps available in a variety of thread sizes. The only restriction is the caliber. Nonetheless, a suppressor designed for .45 caliber can be used on a smaller, pistol-caliber weapon. As a result, suppressors and adapters are available for just about any firearm ever made, except the Reising submachine gun.

On several levels, the Reising would make an excellent suppressor host. It fires from a closed bolt, which eliminates the rather loud sound made by the bolt cycling in open-bolt subguns. The closed bolt design also enables accurate semiautomatic shots. The Reising is .45 caliber, which in its common 230-grain, full metal jacket configuration is inherently subsonic, at approximately 920 feet per second when fired through the Reising’s 11-inch barrel. Furthermore, the Reising’s barrel is factory threaded.

A Brief Reising History

Eugene G. Reising, a gun designer of some note, began designing his submachine gun in the late 1930s, as the threat of war loomed in Europe. Reising’s design was unlike most submachine guns of the day, which utilized the simple but efficient open bolt method of operation. Reising’s weapon used a delayed blowback principle, much like that of semi-automatic pistols. The design allowed his weapon to be lighter in weight and more accurate in single shot mode than any existing submachine gun of the period.

After his design was refined, Eugene Reising entered into an agreement with Harrington & Richardson Arms Inc. in 1939. It was agreed that H&R Inc. would manufacture and market Reising’s submachine gun. Reising was to receive a $2.00 royalty fee for each of his submachine guns that were sold. The market targeted was military and police sales. Early H&R literature describing the Reising often compared it to a heavier and much more expensive submachine gun that was available. Although the Reising brochures never mention the “other” submachine gun by name, they were referring to the Thompson submachine gun. The low price of the Reising attracted the attention of many police departments. After World War II began, the Auto Ordnance Company committed all of their Thompson production to the military, and the Reising became the only option for any police department that wished to add a submachine gun to their arsenal. Federal Laboratories of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was the main distributor of the Reising submachine gun and its accessories for police sales.

While the Thompson was the submachine gun of choice for the U.S. military, there were problems. The first problem was that the Thompson was expensive to manufacture. The second and more serious problem was that they could not be manufactured in the numbers required for the United States and her allies. During World War II, the U.S. Marines were often low on the priority list for new weapons and often relied on obsolete WW I small arms to get the job done. The Marines had discovered—in prior, minor actions—the value of rapid-fire submachine guns and desperately wanted to procure them for their troops. As a result, the Marines adopted the Reising Model 50 as a supplementary submachine gun early in 1942. The weapon proved to be unreliable in the harsh jungle environments in which the Marines fought, and incidents of jamming and severe rusting of the arms were reported from the field. Shortly thereafter, the Reising was relegated to rear echelon and guard duty but did continue in service. Eugene Reising, when asked in a post-war interview regarding the reported failure of his weapon, stated that no formal complaints were ever filed by the Marines or the Navy Department, though he knew of some problems. Mr. Reising felt that the troops issued the Reising were not given adequate training with the weapon, although he did confess that parts interchangeability between weapons was a problem contributing to their poor performance. He also stated that there was great emphasis placed on getting the weapons into the field, and there was no time to re-engineer the design or production process to allow for complete interchangeability of parts between the weapons.

The Reising was sold to police departments in large numbers both during and after World War II. In the police role, the Reising was a very capable weapon. Unfortunately, the Reising’s long and successful police career is often overshadowed by its marginal performance during its brief military service. The Reising submachine gun was manufactured in the following configurations and models by Harrington & Richardson Arms Inc. of Worcester, Massachusetts: the Model 50, Model 55 and the semiautomatic-only Model 60. The Reisings were made in two different configurations, often distinguished by the descriptions of Police and Military Model, which is not correct. A more accurate description for them would be early and late manufacture, as both models were used by the military and police.

Mounting a Sound Suppressor

One reason for not suppressing a Reising Model 50 largely centers on its semi-permanently attached muzzle compensator. The compensator on the Reising is threaded onto the barrel. There is a blind hole drilled into the bottom of the barrel, and the compensators are “staked” in place into the hole. The compensators can be removed, but because of the staked “dimple” on the bottom of the comp, they will damage the threads when you try to remove them. One way is to drill out the staked indentation on the bottom of the comp while it is attached and over the blind hole. They will then usually unscrew with little effort. The original Reising compensators are quite thin, having a wall thickness of only .062 inch. After a while, the baffles at the top of the compensators will break, or the body will crack where the barrel threads end, so removing them often is not a concern. An aftermarket replacement compensator is available that is made with a more durable .130-inch-thick wall.

Although there are many .45 caliber suppressors on the market suitable for the Reising, at the time of writing, no one makes a suppressor or adapter to fit onto the Reising Model 50’s unique 7/8-24 muzzle threads. The primary reason is that many Reising barrel threads are often not concentric to the bore. Mounting a suppressor on such a barrel could result in a suppressor baffle strike, or worse.

CAUTION: Before attempting to mount a suppressor on a Reising, have a qualified gunsmith check the barrel to ensure the threads are concentric to the bore.

The Reising Model 50 used for mounting a suppressor in this article had a damaged compensator, so drilling out the staking dimple was not an issue. The .45 caliber suppressor on hand for adapting to the Reising was a SilencerCo Octane 45. The company makes a lot of fixed mounts for the Octane, but no 7/8-24 versions to fit the Reising muzzle. However, they do make a mount designed for the new Scorpion EVO pistol, which has a fairly large 18 x 1mm thread and enough material to have it milled out and rethreaded to 7/8-24. The barrel threads on the subject Reising proved to be acceptably concentric to the bore, so no problem with baffle strikes was anticipated.

An aftermarket muzzle compensator, described earlier, was procured to replace the original damaged one when the suppressor isn’t mounted.

Thread Adapter Machining

Thanks to Tony Veronesi and Jake (C-II mfg Veronesi Gun Works, New Bethlehem, PA)

Replacement Reising Muzzle Compensators


Recommended Reading

The Reising Submachine Gun Story
Available from Chipotle Publishing, LLC

After World War II ended, Reising submachine gun production resumed in 1950 and continued up to 1957. The year of manufacture can be identified by a serial number letter prefix.

Reising Dates of Production

1941 Serial Numbers 101–8500
1942 Serial Numbers 8501–73600
1943 Serial Numbers 73601–114317
1950 Serial Numbers K101 to K973
1951 Serial Numbers L101 to L3589
1952 No production
1953 Serial Numbers N111 to N327
1954–1956 No production
1957 Serial Numbers S4700 to S5607*

*Note: It has often been held that the S prefix serial numbers were assembled by Numrich Arms. Although Numrich bought a number of Reisings and parts after H&R went out of business, there have been a number of complete S-prefix-numbered Reising Model 50 submachine guns documented that were sold at H&Rs asset reduction sale in 1985.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N5 (May 2018)
and was posted online on March 23, 2018


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