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Calico M950

Submachine gun

Calico SMG

The Calico M950 was a very unusual and innovative weapon, though it was not a commercial success

Country of origin United States
Entered service -
Caliber 9x19 mm
Weight (unloaded) 1 kg
Weight (with loaded 50 round magazine) 1.8 kg
Weight (with loaded 100 round magazine) 2.63 kg
Length (with 50 round magazine) 356 mm
Length (with 100 round magazine) 483 mm
Barrel length 152 mm
Muzzle velocity 390 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 750 rpm
Practical rate of fire 50 - 200 rpm
Magazine capacity 50, 100 rounds
Sighting range 50 m
Range of effective fire 50 m


   The Calico is a small American company, manufacturing firearms. It was established in 1982 and released its first weapon in 1985. It was originally designed as a submachine gun, but evolved into a line of unusual pistols, semi-automatic carbines and submachine guns with helical high-capacity magazines. The Calico company offers an entire family of firearms based on the same design. The M950 submachine gun was the baseline product of this company proposed for military market and law enforcement forces. It was introduced in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The Calico weapons have a number of advanced and even revolutionary features, as well as unusual styling. However there were significant reliability issues with these weapons. Eventually for various reasons these submachine guns were not adopted by any country and were produced only in limited numbers. Sales of civilian versions were also not so bright.

   The Calico M950 submachine gun uses a roller-delayed blowback action used in the German Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun, and some other Heckler & Koch weapons. This weapon is chambered for a 9x19 mm ammunition.

   The most unusual feature of this weapon is its magazines. The Calico submachine guns are fed from detachable high-capacity helical magazines. It is available with 50- or 100-round capacity magazines. The idea behind this weapon was the volume of fire. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s such magazine capacity was impressive and the weapons looked like from the space age.

   Magazine is located at the top of the weapon. This feature allowed to reduce overall size of the weapon. Furthermore the center of gravity is located directly over the shooter's wrist, providing great balance of the weapon. Spent cases are ejected downwards through a special port located in front of the trigger. On top of the magazine there are some small vision blocks, that allow to make a quick estimate on the remaining ammunition. Translucent magazines are also available.

   The magazine contains a helical glide grooves at its inner walls, with the rotating central follower that causes the cartridges to follow the helical track inside the cylinder. Such design allows to store 50 or 100 rounds in relatively compact package.

   After the magazine is loaded the shooter has to wind it up. There is a special winding handle on the magazine. It takes 10 times to wind the 50-round magazine and 23 times for the 100-round magazine. With unwound spring the magazines can be stored fully loaded indefinitely without the spring fatigue. The spring tension can be released with a push of a button.

   The Calico company offers a speed loader for its magazines. When the speed loader and an open box of ammunition are used, the 50-round magazine is loaded within 15 seconds and the 100-round magazine is loaded within 30 seconds.

   The Calico company patented design of its unusual magazines. However the design was soon copied and cloned. Russian Bizon and Chinese CF-05 submachine guns use similar magazines. Though the Bizon is fed from the bottom, rather than from the top. North Koreans even use helical magazine for their Type 88 assault rifles.

   Furniture of this weapon is made of glass-filled polymer. Also all the controls are well laid out. It is comfortable to shoot and has mild recoil.

   This submachine gun is extremely compact and light considering its firepower. Even though the Calico M950 functions like the Heckler & Koch MP5, and has two times and even tour times the magazine capacity, it is in fact lighter than the MP5 or Uzi.

   The downside of the Calico submachine guns is that these weapons proved to be notoriously unreliable. The weapons tends to jam due to the feeding problems. The crops of the problem lie in its unique magazine. There was something fundamentally wrong about the cycling of the ammunition. Also the magazines are cumbersome.

   A combined safety switch and fire mode selector is located in front of the trigger, on the triggerguard. This switch is fully ambidextrous. A non-reciprocating cocking handle is located on the left side of the receiver. The military and law enforcement versions of this weapon are capable of semi-auto and full-auto firing. There are also various semi-automatic only versions intended for civil customers.

   The Calico M950 is easy to clean and to maintain. All models of the Calico pistols and submachine guns can be easily field stripped in a few seconds without using any tools.

   The Calico M950 submachine gun comes without stock and as a result had poor firing accuracy. Improved version of this weapon, the M960 is available with a solid or telescopic buttstock.

   This submachine gun also has unusual iron sights. The rear sight post is fixed directly on the magazine. The front sight is adjustable. Though due to the unusual design the Calico submachine guns have a very high sighting line, which reduces accuracy. Also the baseline submachine gun lacks buttstock. As a result the weapon is not particularly accurate. Range of effective fire is 50 meters. Maximum effective range is 100 meters. Despite poor accuracy due to its high capacity magazine the M950 has got a lot of firepower and provides the volume of fire.

   This submachine gun can mount a laser pointer or sound suppressor. An optical sight can be mounted via an adaptor.




   Calico M950 submachine gun is a baseline version capable of semi-automatic and fully-automatic firing. This weapon comes without stock. Sometimes it is also referred as an automatic pistol.

   Calico M950 semi-automatic only pistol version.

   Calico M951 semi-automatic only carbine. It has a longer barrel than the pistol.

   Calico M951S is a semi-automatic only carbine with a solid stock.

   Calico M955A submachine gun with a telescopic stock and longer barrel. Due to the added buttstock this weapon is more accurate than the baseline M950. Furthermore the stock is located directly behind the barrel centerline. Such design greatly reduces recoil effects. The weapon has very little to no muzzle climb even when firing in fully automatic mode. The same design feature, when the stock is located behind the barrel centerline, was used on the M16 assault rifle and some other weapons.

   Calico M955AS submachine gun with a solid stock and longer barrel.

   Calico M960 is a submachine gun with additional forward grip. It is based on the previous M950 and has some minor improvements over its predecessor such as additional forward grip. Buttstock is present on this weapon. It was introduced in 1990.

   Calico M960A submachine gun with a telescopic stock and a forward grip.

   Calico M960AS submachine gun with a solid stock and a forward grip.

   Calico Liberty series of a semi-automatic only civilian weapons. These are also fed from 50- and 100-round capacity magazines. These weapons are available with various buttstocks and barrel lengths. In 1994 the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was introduced. It restricted civilian firearms to 10 round capacity magazines and made sale of the Calico weapons for civilian customers illegal. Though the legislation expired in 2004 and the company is again producing and selling these unusual weapons with high capacity magazines for civilians.



Calico SMG

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Calico SMG

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Calico SMG

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Calico SMG

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Calico SMG

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Calico carbine

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Calico M960

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Calico M960

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Calico helical magazine

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Calico's helical magazine

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