F1 submachine gun

The 9×19mm Parabellum F1 was a standard Australian submachine gun manufactured by the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. First issued to Australian troops in July 1963, it replaced the Owen machine carbine. The F1 was retired in the early 1990s and replaced by the F88C Austeyr, an Australian-built version of the Steyr AUG rifle with slight modifications. The F1 had a robust and simple design and proved useful in close-quarter fighting during the Vietnam War. Malaysia bought a small number of the F1 but this only totalled 28 in number.

F1 submachine gun
Class Manportable
Type Machine Guns
Manufacturer Lithgow Small Arms Factory
Origin Australia
Country Name Origin Year
Australia 1963
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia 1963 1991 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Lithgow Small Arms Factory 1963 25136 View

The F1 is a simple blowback design firing from an open bolt with a fixed firing pin. It shares many design features with the British Sterling submachine gun. Unlike both the Sterling and its predecessor, the Owen, the F1 has a removable wooden butt and pistol grip. A curved, detachable 34-round box magazine is inserted in a magazine housing on top of the barrel, similar to the earlier Owen gun. The top-mounted magazine is unobtrusive for carry and when lying prone. Lightning fast magazine changes can be mad;, it has the added advantage of only needing a light spring being no harder to load than a .22 magazine not requiring special mag fillers like its contemporaries and to be less likely to jam than a bottom mounted magazine. The ejection port is directly under the magazine and provides a trap for the unwary user; should the user's hand stray back to the port, the bolt moving forwards will 'bite' the web of the hand. The butt-plate and pistol-grip are identical to those on the L1A1 SLR as well as the capability of adapting SLR bayonets.

The trigger is a two-stage pull, half back semi auto, pull and hold back gives full auto requiring a safety catch only easily operated by the thumb. There is a small guard fitted forward of the ejection port to protect the forward hand. The left-mounted cocking handle has a tab that, when pressed, locks into the bolt, enabling it to be worked backwards and forwards to clear fouling. The pistol grip with internal parts came from the production line of the SLR L1A1 rifle, at the Lithgow factory. The wooden butt also was from the SLR production line, reducing the amount of tooling.

Stripping is simple: Safety on, remove magazine, cock and hold bolt open, rotate to left, inspect bolt face and chamber, release bolt under control. Then grab butt, press catch on bottom of receiver with other hand rotate butt to left 90 degree pull off, remove spring, release safety tip barrel up pull trigger bolt slides out. Assemble in reverse. Suggested ranges for use were 25 meters from the hip snap shooting 100 meters using sights.

Because of the vertical magazine the sights of the F1 were offset to the right of the weapon requiring a slight head tilt to the right, the rear sight being a roughly triangular asymmetrical metal flap with a round aperture, the front sight being a blade mounted on the right side of the weapon's magazine well.

Type Submachine gun
Place of origin  Australia
Service history
In service 1963–1991
Wars Vietnam War
Rhodesia, Operation Agila
Production history
Designed 1962
Manufacturer Lithgow Small Arms Factory
Produced July 1963
Number built 25136
Weight 3.7 kg (Empty)
4.30 kg (Loaded)
Length 714 mm
Barrel length 198 mm
Cartridge 9×19mm Parabellum
Caliber 9 mm
Action Blowback, Open bolt
Rate of fire 600–640 rounds/min
Effective firing range 150 m
Maximum firing range 100–200 m
Feed system 34-round Sterling SMG compatible box magazine
Sights Offset iron sights

End notes