The Maschinenpistole Erma (or MPE) was designed in the early 1930s by Heinrich Vollmer for the Erfurter Maschinenfabrik company, hence the weapon’s name.

The Erma was a development of a Vollmer design of the mid-1920s, which featured a main spring enclosed in a telescopic tube to keep out dirt and other matter that might otherwise have jammed the action: this system became standard in subsequent German submachine guns such as the MP 38 and MP 40. Other features of the MPE were the extensive use of steel tube to reduce manufacturing time and cost, and the vertical wooden fore grip, although some of the weapons had a horizontal fore grip.

The MPE appeared in time to be adopted for the German Army at the time of its initial expansion after the rise to power of the Nazi party in 1933, and remained a first-line German weapon until 1942, when surviving MPE submachine guns were relegated to second-line use. Modest numbers of MPE submachine guns were delivered to France for service with the official designation Pistolet Mitrailleur Vollmer Erma, and Yugoslavia also took the type in a variant with a lengthened barrel. The MPE was also manufactured in Spain and saw use in the Spanish Civil War.

A subvariant manufactured in small quantities was a silenced model for the security police of the Vichy French regime operating under German supervision.


submachine gun
9mm (0.354in) Parabellum
0.90m (35.5in)
Length of Barrel
0.25m (9.9in)
4.15kg (9.2lb)
Muzzle Velocity
380m (1247ft) per second
20- or 32-round detachable box magazine (500rpm)