The Automatic, Systematic, Hydromatic M3 “Grease Gun”

The M3 Grease Gun. Photo courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum. Go there. Really.

The M3 Grease Gun. Photo courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum. Go there. Really.

This week, rather than talk about “This Goofy Gun” we’re going to change things up a little and take a look at “This Greasy Gun.”

Most folks think that the M3 “Grease Gun” submachine gun of World War II fame was created in response to the success of the German MP38, MP40 and British Sten machine guns. While partly true, that’s not the whole story. Here’s the rest of the storied, and musical, history of the M3 Grease Gun.

Many people know that the M3 was produced by General Motors’ Guide Lamp Division. What they don’t know is that the design was envisioned much, much earlier, or so I hear. By 1940, GM was getting a little worried about competitive pressure from AMC’s Gremlin impacting sales of their Cadillac LaSalle. That Gremlin was a beast of a car wasn’t it? Anyway, to add some kick to the planned 1941 model, GM hired long lost brother of the infamous Edward Hyde of Dr. Jekyll fame, George Hyde, to design some killa’ glovebox accessories for ’41 model sales incentives. Having the same family wild hair as crazy man Mr. Hyde, George took to designing prototypes of the M3. “Heck, I just wanted to amp up the “Boom!” factor for our customers. Most companies were putting a flashlight mount in the glovebox, but I figured a .45 ACP submachine gun would be way more spiffy,” commented GM Engineer George Hyde.

Alas, GM discontinued the Cadillac LaSalle in 1941 and the M3 Glovebox Submachine Gun was never marketed. But the story did not end there. In 1941, the Ordnance Department asked the Army to submit requirements for a new submachine gun. In addition to specification of .45 ACP caliber, inexpensive stamped-metal construction and  automatic fire control, the new gun must have a really catchy theme song.

Seeing opportunity to resurrect Hyde’s previous project, and do a little contract work with a very young John Travolta, GM’s Guide Lamp Division started stamping out prototypes of the M2 and finally M3. As for the theme song? That was Travolta’s job. And now you know the real story behind that catchy jingle from the movie GreaseYou’re the One That I Want. Not having been born yet, Olivia Newton John was not available for promotional campaigns. Besides, those skin-tight pants were way too risque for pre-war America.

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The Marquis Belt Buckle Gun – Shake Your Groove Thing!

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” – John F. Kennedy

Fortunately for us, some ideas do not live on. For example, the Marquis Nazi Belt Buckle Pistol invented during World War I and (nearly) fielded ‘en masse’ during World War II.

Through an exhaustive research project, with some logistical assistance from our friend Wendy Cunningham of the NRA National Firearms Museum, the My Gun Culture staff has learned just how close we came to a very different course of history – and new world order.

The Marquis Belt Buckle pistol, also known informally as the Power Pelvis Gun, was conceived by Louis Marquis while interned in a POW camp during World War I. Frustrated by long chow and loo lines, Marquis was consumed by a desire to exert his authority over other POW’s without drawing the attention of guards – hence the idea for a concealed weapon not requiring the use of hands or traditional holsters. Named the Koppelschlosspistole, the design was patented before the outbreak of World War II. The patent was issued in late 1934 for a “trommelrevolver” to be mounted on a belt.  Both .22 (four barrel) and .32 (two barrel) versions were produced in very limited numbers.

The innovative weapon faced challenges from the start. In order to gain approval for broad scale deployment, Marquis had to prove that average soldiers could easily be trained to use the weapon effectively. As the pistol had no sights, and relied entirely on groovy pelvic gyration to aim, it was assumed that biological instincts would overcome any training obstacles. And of course, the natural male instinct to aim for the toilet.

Not so, according to WWII historian Basil Exposition. “Training soldiers to charge, while aiming with their pelvises, proved more difficult than anticipated” commented Exposition. “Not only was it nearly impossible to run while aiming one’s midsection, it really looked quite effeminate. The enemy was not at all intimidated.”

Recent tests have determined that accuracy and effectiveness are increased if Elvis Presley songs are played at loud volume. Unfortunately for the Germans, Presley was not available to train soldiers in proper hip-aiming techniques.

However, military training teams did adjust screening criteria for prospective belt buckle assault troops, although too late to impact the war effort.

“The Nazis were quite disappointed with early field trials” explained Exposition. “Until they elected to actively recruit accomplished Salsa dancers that is. Their natural sway and hip motion really helped cut training time. However, there were few Salsa dancers in Nazi Germany at the time, and the program was not considered scalable.”

The NRA National Museum continues to search for specimens from other top-secret wartime weapons programs. Stories of experimental crotch rockets, hula hoop grenade launchers, monocle lasers, and garter garrotes persist; although surviving specimens have yet to be found.

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