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The MAB 38 and its variants were the official submachine guns of the Italian Army during World War II. The MAB (Moschetto Automatico Beretta) 1938A was introduced in 1938. Variants remained in production until 1975. The Beretta was also used by the Germany, Romanian, and Argentina armies.
Originally designed by Tullio Marengoni in 1935, the Model 38 was developed from the Beretta Model 18, itself derived from the Villar Perosa light-machine gun of World War I fame. The Beretta Model 18, in caliber 9 mm Glisenti, was issued to Italy's Arditi assault troops in the last months of the first World War.
The 1938 series was extremely robust and were very popular weapons. They used the widely distributed 9 x 19 mm Parabellum cartridge. Fully-automatic or single-shot fire was selectable by the use of two triggers. The weapons had a wooden stock, were about 800 millimeters in length, and weighed about 3.3 kilograms when loaded. They had a range of about 200 meters.
The Model 1938A can be recognized by the perforated cooling sleeve over the barrel. It was produced from 1938 to 1950. It had 10, 20, 30 or 40-round magazines and fired at a rate of 600 rounds per minute.
The cooling sleeve was eliminated for the 38/42 model, which was produced from late 1942 to 1975. It had 20 or 40-round magazines and fired at a rate of 550 rounds per minute. The MAB 38/42 was adopted by the German army as the MP.738.
The 38/44 Model, which was produced from 1944 to 1955, was a drastically simplified model for production during the limitations of the end of the war. The MAB 38/44 was adopted by the German army as the MP.739.