When Did Sub-Carbine Become Interchangeable With Carbine?
A sub-caliber round can refer to a round smaller than the barrel diameter (such as flachetes), but sub is most commonly in reference to a pistol caliber cartridge. Something lower than a standard rifle. The inventor of the Thompson coined the name “submachine gun”. The name “sub carbine” was and is often granted to weapons with stocks that fire pistol calibers. Including semi-auto variants of the Uzi, 9mm AR15’s, and even non semi-automatic weapons. Lately I’ve seen more and more intermediate cartridge rifles with “sub-carbine” in the name of the rifle (eg Ares Defense). I see this as much folly to call a short barreled M16, AKSU-74 or HK53 a “submachine gun” as to call semi-auto variants of any of those weapons a “sub carbine”.
Personally I break it down this way, I know the lines are gray on some of these, and someone somewhere will disagree vehemently with sources to back it up, but I can do the same on all counts. this is my opinion and the ay I do it, do what works for you. I will try to use the most common examples to keep it clear.
Machine Pistol (MP): Either a true select-fire pistol without a stock (Glock G18) or an SMG with the stock removed (H&K MP5K).
SubMachine Gun (SMG): A select-fire firearm utilizing pistol caliber cartridges, this includes machine pistols (above) and weapons with stocks (IMI Uzi).
Personal Defense Weapon (PDW): A compact weapon firing a cartridge capable of penetrating body armor (at a minimum). This class of weapon used to refer to compact SMG’s (H&K MP5K-PDW) but is more often used now for compact intermediate cartridge rifles (H&K G36C) or weapons designed to use a specific caliber meant for this purpose (FN P90). I believe a true PDW should be capable of select-fire mode as well as being able to accept a sound suppressor.
Close Quarter Combat (CQC) Carbine: Technically a CQC is the circumstance of a situation not a specific type of hardware. However, I use it to reference ideal hardware for said situations. Technically a standard 16″ could certainly work fine but I use it to specify a short barreled semi or full auto weapon. For those wanting more of an explanation – A short barreled rifle (SBR) meant for close range firefights, these can be select-fire (H&K G36C), semi-auto (Colt 6933, a factory SBR) and in an intermediate cartridge (Colt 6933) or a higher power cartridge (Robinson XCR-M Mini). Most often this is a weapon with a barrel of 14.5″ or less. Synonymous with Close Quarter Battle (CQB).
Short Barreled Rifle (SBR): This is a USA legal term for a rifle with a barrel under 16″ or a rifle with a barrel under 16″ that does not meet the overall 26″ requirement. However, the way I am using it above I am including select-fire weapons which legally would be registered as Machine Guns (MG).
Assault Rifle: A select fire carbine firing an intermediate cartridge (larger than a “sub” and smaller than a “high power”) from a detachable box magazine (Soviet AK-47).
Assault Weapon: A Brady Campaign, Clinton-era term used to ban firearms that are cosmetically similar to assault rifles and various other weapons used for self-defense or by the military and law enforcement.
Battle Rifle: A semi-auto or machine gun firing from a detachable box magazine that fires a high-power rifle cartridge. there is no line that decides where intermediate ends and high-power begins but most often 7.62x51mm (H&K G3) and .308 (Springfield M1A) is used as the low-end of the high-power lot.
Two-Handed Pistol: For semi-auto variants of submachine guns, if there is no stock, I refer to them as “two-handed pistols” (Steyr SPP) but I also call pistol versions of AK’s (Romanian Draco) and AR-15’s by the same name. I simply use this to differentiate them from conventional semi-auto pistols. Keep in mind a two-handed pistol with a vertical grip would need to be registered wit ATF as an Any Other Weapon (AOW) with a registration process similar to machine gun and short barreled rifle ownership.
Sub-Carbine: A semi-auto pistol-caliber weapon with a buttstock (Beretta CX4 Storm). If the barrel reached out to an excessive length I might just call it a sub-rifle, but I’ve yet to personally see one.
So where does a standard AR15 fit in to all of this? Its just a semi-auto rifle, or a carbine, but it sure isn’t a sub-carbine.