Pistola Ametralladora P.A.M.: The Argentine Grease Gun

Pistola Ametralladora P.A.M.: The Argentine Grease Gun


ABOVE: Pistola Ametralladora P.A.M.

In the Second World War Argentina was officially neutral. However, from the beginning, the government was sympathetic with the German Reich and its allies. In 1943 the conservative government tried to change their course and get on the side of Germany’s successful war opponents, but a military coup, with the participation of Juan Domingo Perón, prevented this change of direction. Only after massive pressure from the US government, Argentina declared war on the German Reich and Japan on March 27, 1945. It was the last country in the world to do so.

In June 1945 Argentina became a founding member of the United Nations (UN). A year later, Juan Perón won the presidential election. Thanks to forced industrialization, the country underwent an economic boom and a rising level of prosperity for the working class under his government. At this time the Argentine military was already pursuing ambitious plans, especially plans that provided the development of new weapons in their own country as well as the entry into nuclear technology. Like the victorious nations of World War II, Argentina tried to attract German armament experts and scientists.

During the war, the Fábrica Militar de Armas Portátiles “Domingo Matheu” (FMAP DM), founded in 1936, had begun with the licensed production of the Colt M1911A1 automatic pistol in caliber .45 ACP as the “Modelo Argentino 1927.” In October 1942 the expanding factory was moved from Buenos Aires to Rosaria, a town located about 300 km away in the province of Santa Fe. At the beginning of the 1950s, the company acquired additional rights for a licensed production of the American M3A1 submachine gun–better known as the “Grease Gun.” No details are yet known. It was probably an initiative of the weapons factory to offer the Argentine military a domestic-made submachine gun. Anyway, a demonstration of the M3A1 for a commission of military personnel and civilians took place on October 21, 1950, at the premises of FMAP DM. The guest book of the company lists numerous participants but without indicating their function and the reason for their invitation: Tte.Cnel. Pedro Alberto Merreins, Cap.Frag. José Maria Guzmán, Mayor Arnoldo Lutteral, Mayor Carlos Alberto Croce, Mayor Adolfo Ulises Senté, Capitán Jorge Granzinotti, Tte. de Navío Jorge F.D. Plater, Tte. 1° Humberto Juan Pizzi, Comandante Raúl A. Brollo, Sub.Of.May. Ricardo Gómez Costa, Of.Sub-Inspector Herminio M. Subleino, Sub.Comisario Nicolás Damis und Gabino Castalli.

There was no support or information sharing for this project from the side of the United States. Nevertheless, within a few weeks construction, drawings were completed under the direction of the Italian weapons designer Eduardo Sustercic from Cremona. The new weapon in caliber 9 x 19 mm Parabellum was named “Pistola Ametralladora P.A.M.1.” In contrast to the Chinese version, the Argentine weapon has not been designed for using 9mm Sten magazines. Instead the Grease Gun’s magazine was copied and kept slightly narrower. The weapon itself measures approximately 7/8th of the original M3A1.

After the completion of the construction drawings, progress went on very slowly. Setting up the manufacturing facility proved to be troublesome. Shortages in qualified staff and space delayed the start of series production until 1954. This was mainly caused by the factory continuing the production of the Colt 1911 copy Modelo Argentino in 1927.

Since the PAM 1 featured the same insufficient safety as its American example (blocking of the bolt by a hook-shaped nose attached to the dust-cover), it had similar accidents caused by dropping the weapon hard on the ground. The problem was solved by adding a grip safety behind the magazine well, similar to the Danish Madsen Model MP 1950. The elongated locking lever reaches into the housing, where it is connected to a spring-loaded locking catch. Only after pressing the safety lever, can the bolt be released. This improved model was named “Pistola Ametralladora P.A.M.2.”

So far the following production figures and notes have been discovered:

1954- production of 5,000 PAM 1
1955- production of 3,500 PAM 1
1956- production of 6,500 PAM 1
1957- production of 5,621 PAM 1 (preparations for serial production of the FAL assault rifle)
1958- production of 6,851 PAM 1
1959- production of 5,000 PAM 1
1960- production of 164 PAM 1
1961- production of 2,000 PAM 1
1962- no production of PAM 1 (begin of serial production of the FAL assault rifle)
1963- conversion of 3,786 PAM 1 to PAM 2 (stored weapons from the arsenals)
1964- conversion of 5,292 PAM 1 to PAM 2 (stored weapons of the Navy)
1965- conversion of 5,754 PAM 1 to PAM 2 (planned but only 4.987 weapons received and 4,504 converted)
1966- conversion of 2,840 PAM 1 to PAM 2, plus additional production of conversion-kits for 3,847 weapons
1967- no activity
1968- conversion of 66 PAM 1 to PAM 2
1969- production of 1,100 PAM 2
1970- end of production of PAM 2 and begin serial production of the new “PA 3(DM)” submachine gun
1971- no activity
1972- conversion of 56 PAM 1 to PAM 2.

Thus, the total production was at least 34,636 PAM 1, of which 16,544 weapons were subsequently converted to the model PAM 2. Only 1,100 weapons left the production line already as PAM 2.

The introduction of the submachine gun PA 3(DM) as the “FMK-3” ushered in the end of the PAM 2. This new compact weapon was developed in the late 1960s by the Fábrica Militar de Armas Portátiles “Domingo Matheu” as a possible successor. With its magazine well-integrated in the pistol-grip and the tubular housing, it resembles the Czech submachine gun SA vz. 23. Approximately 30,000 weapons were produced until 1991. However, the PAM 2 remained in active service for many years and was also used in the battle of the Falkland Islands (Guerra de las Malvinas) from April to June 1982. In the 1990s many PAMs were withdrawn from service and sold on the civilian market. Most of them converted to semi-automatic, because very few registered collectors were allowed to acquire such a weapon in full-auto.