The submachine gun is a fascinating firearm. Introduced to the world by Hugo Schmeisser in 1918 as the MP18 and chambered in 9MM, the submachine gun was built as a close to medium-range firearm able to put a good number of pistol-caliber rounds on target and fast. The “sub” in submachine gun refers to that pistol caliber chambering, and of course, the full-auto nature of the firearm labels as “machine gun.”
In the last 103 years, the submachine gun has seen all sorts of technological advances. But the reality for the American gun owner? Acquiring a full-auto version of this firearm will be damned expensive. For most of us, prohibitively expensive.
Another option for those who like the look and feel of the submachine gun is a semi-automatic version, like the 109T 9mm Subgun produced by Turkish gun manufacturer Sarsilmaz (SAR) and imported into this country by SAR USA.
The 109T Subgun is SAR’s semi-auto version of their full-auto gun used by police in various foreign nations. Yes, it looks like an AR Pistol—complete with AR-style controls, a rail atop the receiver, and an AR-looking handguard–and one might assume it is gas-operated.
But the 109T’s design is an original submachine gun, which means standard blowback operation. The 109T’s bolt is not locked at the time of cartridge ignition, and the resulting pressure or recoil of the escaping gasses pushes back the bolt and flings out the spent brass. Then, the recoil spring forces the bolt forward, stripping a new round from the magazine and chambering it.
Out of the box, my test 109T 9mm was a thing of beauty, with a barrel just shy of nine inches long, pop up sights front and rear, and that AR-pistol look. The 109T also came with two 30-round stick magazines and a foregrip that fit to the bottom of the handguard.
As soon as I could, I grabbed a few boxes of 9MM ammunition and headed to my range. And as soon as I started shooting, I discovered a problem. I couldn’t hit much with the 109T 9mm.
When I anchored the 109T 9mm to a shooting table, the 109T 9mm grouped well enough. But offhand and held at eye level? Forget about it. I couldn’t get steady holding it with two hands and trying to line up those high sights. I did somewhat better holding the 109T at my waist, but only when the target was within five yards or so. Beyond that and it was shoot and hope.
So, I got to work and tricked out the 109T 9mm. Just a bit.
First, I mounted a Trijicon MRO Reflex Sight onto the 109T. The 1-25 optic features a 2 MOA green dot, 8 illumination settings, and a ½ MOA elevation and windage adjustments.
Then, I added an SB Tactical SBM4 Pistol Stabilizing Brace, sliding it over the 109T’s buffer tube.
Note: The SAR 109T Subgun is not sold with the MRO and pistol brace!
Back at my range, the 109T 9mm was now scary accurate. I shot the rig offhand at 10 yards and from a rest at 15 and 20 yards, using three brands of 9MM ammunition: Aguila Ammunition, firing a 147-grain FMJ bullet; Hornady Critical Defense loaded with 115-grain FTX bullet; and Remington UMC and its 115-grain FMJ projectile.
For a standard range ammunition, the Remington UMC’s performance in the SAR 109T was amazing. Shooing at ten yards offhand, I pegged a five-shot, 1.40-inch group with four of those rounds scoring a .73-inch cluster. At 15 yards and firing from a rest, the UMC placed five shots into a very impressive .62-inch group.
My one self-defense round, the Hornady Critical Defense, registered five-shot groups of .90- and 1.06-inches at 20 yards from a rest, with four of the shots actually touching each other in the later grouping.
The Aguila did fine, too, with groups one-half to a full inch larger than the other two rounds and well within the target “hit” zones.
My 109T came with two Colt-style 9MM stick magazines holding 30 rounds apiece. They worked fine for FMJ range ammo, but I had some jam ups using the Hornady Critical Defense rounds. I contacted SAR-USA’s marketing person, Joel Harris, who explained that SAR-USA was working on upgrading these OEM magazines as the specs weren’t as tight as SAR-USA had hoped. Future 109T’s will have the upgraded magazines, he assured me.
Meantime, Harris sent me the AR-Stoner AR-15 9mm Luger 32-round magazine. It worked great without a single ammunition malfunction.
The 109T’s trigger pull, as measured by my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, averaged at 4-pounds 7-ounces. The trigger isn’t great. It lacked crispness. That said, and given the above-cited accuracy, the trigger was more than functional.
The compact SAR 109T is a fine choice for home defense, with its high ammunition capacity and fine accuracy. Compared to a 9MM pistol, the 109T’s longer barrel also provides additional velocity for better, more powerful ballistics.
I shot and chronographed the same three 9MM ammunition brands in both the 109T 9MM and the SAR9 semi-automatic pistol with a 4.4-inch barrel. The difference in muzzle velocity between the two firearms was significant, as measured by my RCBS Ammo Master Chronograph, from an additional 100 feet per second (fps) with the Aguila 9MM to 165 fps in the UMC and a whopping plus 197 fps with the Hornady Critical Defense.
Plug the numbers into a ballistics app and the difference is significant.
The Hornady Critical Defense in the SAR pistol left the barrel at an average of 1,142 fps; the 115-grain bullet generated 333 foot-pounds (ft-lbs.) of energy at the muzzle and 304 ft-lbs. at ten yards.
In the 109T, that same load produced 1,339 fps and a whopping 457 ft-lbs. of energy at the muzzle. At 20 yards, the Critical Defense was moving at 1,261 fps with 406 ft.-lbs. of 9MM energy.
More power than a handgun and a higher ammunition capacity to better defend one’s self, family, and home. And it looks cool as hell. That’s the winning package known as the SAR 109T Subgun.
SPECS: SAR 109T Subgun
Caliber: 9mm x 19
Overall Length: 27.8 inches
Operating System: Blowback
Barrel Length: 8.7 inches
Ammunition Feed: Magazine, 10/20/30 rounds
Width: 2.2 inches
Case Discharge: Right side
Height: 10.9 inches (30-round mag)
Shooting Modes: Single/Semi-Automatic
Weight (empty): 4.9 pounds
For more information go to SAR USA