Book Review
The M3 Grease Gun
The M3 “Grease Gun”
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


** Influenced by the German MP 40 and the British Sten, the .45-caliber M3 "Grease Gun” served as the primary US submachine gun for almost a half-century. Designed to replace the expensive Thompson SMG, the M3 was issued to airborne troops and others during World War II thanks to its compact design with sliding wire stock. An improved variant, the M3A1, was favoured by armoured crews right up to the beginning of the 1990s, seeing service in 1991's Operation Desert Storm. In Korea and Vietnam, reconnaissance troops and special-operations forces were at times armed with the M3A1 - also available in a suppressed version - and it was the first SMG issued to the US counterterrorist unit Delta Force. Featuring full-colour artwork, first-hand accounts, and archive and close-up photographs, this is the engaging story of the M3 submachine gun. **
** Quoted from the back cover of the book.

The Book
Osprey Publications Ltd has released The M3 “Grease Gun” as Number 46 in their Weapon series. It is a softcover book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, colour photographs, colour illustrations, a cut-away view illustration, and detailed captions. It has a 2016 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-1107-3. The book details the development, use and impact of the world famous The M3 “Grease Gun” .45 calibre submachine gun throughout military history.


• Introduction
• Development
• A functional, cost-effective SMG
• Use
• Scepticism the acceptance
• Impact
• A long-lived SMG
• Conclusion
• Bibliography
• Index

The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. Author Leroy Thompson covers the M3 .45 calibre “Grease Gun” submachine gun from its development and introduction to its use by various factions throughout history. As one can guess by the title of the book the main focus is on the M3 “Grease Gun” and its use through history since its introduction. One part of the history of the M3 “Grease Gun” that I personally found interesting was that one of the individuals, George Hyde, involved with its design had also worked on the FP-45 Liberator Pistol. The FP-45 Liberator Pistol was the single shot .45 calibre sheet metal pistol dropped to resistance fighters as a weapon to be used to kill an enemy soldier and take his weapon. In addition to the development and specifications of the M3 “Grease Gun” and its use through World War II, the continuing history of the weapon is discussed documenting its use in Korea, Viet-Nam and also its use by Delta Force, the Navy SEALS and civilian law enforcement. Also discussed are the foreign copies and versions of the M3 “Grease Gun” such as Argentine PAM 1 and PAM 2. Accessories for the M3 “Grease Gun” such as web magazine pouches, flash hiders and suppressors is also discussed and shown in photographs.

Another area I found interesting was that the author discusses how the sliding wire stock could be removed and used to clean the barrel of the weapon and it was made to have cleaning accessories attached to the end of it. The sliding wire stock also had a part in the butt portion that could be used as a magazine loading tool assist to ease the job of loading the .45 calibre magazines. The upgrades and improvements to the M3 “Grease Gun” which lead to the updated M3A1 “Grease Gun” are well detailed and discussed. In addition to the history and all of the technical information provided on the M3 “Grease Gun” the author has also included personal accounts provided by individuals that used the weapon throughout the wars. Personally I appreciate the individual accounts as they provide information that isn’t exactly textbook definitions of its use and provide realistic details of its successes and faults.

As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the M3 “Grease Gun” and other firearms to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and detailed book.

There are a total of 47 black and white photographs and 25 colour photographs. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. I would say that the photographs that were chosen for this book were for the most part lesser known photographs as opposed to photographs that are featured in many other titles that deal with the same subject matter. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light. This is typical for the discussed periods of history and consideration needs to be given to the fact that some of the photographs are several years old and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. I appreciate the fact that there are several photographs of just the weapons themselves as opposed to photographs that feature the weapons in a broad generalized military photograph. In my opinion it makes it much easier to study the various weapons and their details. Author Leroy Thompson stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the firearm enthusiast due to the details they contain.

In addition to the M3 and M3A1 submachine gun, some of the other firearms shown and discussed are:
- Reising Model 56 submachine gun (US)
- Reising Model 50 submachine gun (US)
- UD M42 submachine gun (US)
- Water-cooled .30-caliber M1917 machinegun (US)
- M1 Garand (US)
- M1 Carbine (US)
- Sten Mk II submachine gun (British)
- PPS 43 submachine gun (Russian)
- PPSH-41 submachine gun (Russian)
- Cook submachine gun (US)
- MAC-11 submachine gun (US)
- MAC-10 submachine gun (US)
- Sterling submachine gun (British)
- XM177 Colt carbine (US)
- Colt 9mm submachine gun (US)
- Belgian Vigneron submachine gun (Belgian)

There are 4 color illustrations by illustrators Adam Hook and Alan Gilliland. The illustrations are of:
- The Grease Gun Exposed.
- A cut-away view showing the internal workings of a .45 caliber M3 “Grease Gun’ submachine gun.
- Operation Varsity, March 1945
- US Paratroopers of the 3rd battalion, 507th parachute Infantry regiment engaged in combat with German troops of the 84 Infanterie-Division while clearing out the Diersfordt Castle during the jump across the Rhine.
- The Battle of the Bulge
- US Tank crew members of the 3rd Armored Division dismounting from their knocked out Sherman tank and with small arms including the M3 “Grease Gun” engaging elements of the German 2. SS-Panzer Division near Marhey, Belgium.
- Laos, 1969
- A US soldier from the Military Assistance Command Vietnam/Studies and Observations Group (MACV/SOG) armed with a silenced M3A1 SMG engaging a Viet Cong fighter on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. (Please see attached scan)

The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to weapons and their variations and modifications, dates and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Leroy Thompson’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.


As with the other Osprey Publishing weapons series titles I was impressed with this volume. This is a very nice reference book that contains many close-up, detailed, subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details the M3 “Grease Gun, it’s variants and accessories, as well as other firearms, from its development and introduction to their use throughout military history. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.


The Military Book Club Encyclopaedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII
Ian V. Hogg
Saturn Books Ltd.
Classic Weapons Series
The Thompson Submachine Gun
Chris Ellis
PRC Publishing Ltd.

US Elite Forces – Vietnam
Leroy Thompson
Combat Troops Number 7
Squadron/Signal Publications

US Airborne in action
Leroy Thompson
Combat Troops Number 10
Squadron/Signal Publications
Search inside The M3 “Grease Gun” book on the Osprey web site:


Osprey Publishing also has The M3 “Grease Gun” book available as:

- eBook (ePub)
- eBook (PDF)

Look inside The M3 “Grease Gun” book on the Amazon web site:

https://www.amazon.com/M3-Grease-Gun-Weapon/dp/1472811070/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468438496&sr=8-1&keywords=The M3 “Grease Gun”

Look inside the Kindle Edition of The M3 “Grease Gun” book on the Amazon web site:

Highs: Well written text and captions. Subject specific photographs and illustrations.
Lows: Nothing to mention.
Verdict: Another excellent volume in Osprey Publishing’s Weapon series. Definitely beneficial to the WWII historian, military modeler and the small arms enthusiast.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-4728-1107-3
  Suggested Retail: US $20.00 / UK Ł12.99
  PUBLISHED: Jul 20, 2016
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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