The Owen Gun: Homespun Australian Firepower
Russ Chastain 05.20.19
In this video, Ian takes a peek at a crude-but-beloved weapon of war, the Australian Owen submachinegun. Here’s what he says about it in the video description:
The [Owen] submachine gun is one of the ugliest SMGs ever designed, and yet also one of the most beloved by its users. The original basis for the gun was a 22 rimfire submachine gun designed by 23-year-old Australian Evelyn Owen. That prototype was found by his neighbor Vincent Wardell after Owen left for military service. Wardell was the manager of Lysaght Works, an engineering firm, and thought that the gun might be the basis for a useful military SMG. As it turned out, he was right – it became the standard SMG of The Australian military through World War Two and the Korean War, and was one of the best such guns of that period. For more details on the history of the Owen, see my full article.
Ian’s become somewhat clickbaity with his video titles, and this is no exception: “Local Boy Saves Nation: The Australian Owen SMG”
In this case it’s understandable, because the developers of the gun marketed it to the government in just about those same terms. They wanted to sell this gun, and they needed a good pitch. What better than a country boy designing a gun that may help win a war that included the very real threat of Japanese invasion?
These days, any Aussie who built a machinegun at home would probably be publicly vilified and jailed for eternity. Back then, he was a national hero. Alas.
After the history lesson, we hear those eleven tiny words that send chills up and down the spines of every gun lover: “Let me show you the cool innards of the Owen gun.” Oh man.
Interestingly, I recently listened to an audio book in which the main character joined the Australian Navy in WW2 and ended up being deployed with American Marines in the Pacific, where he fought alongside them with his prized Owen gun and did quite well with it.
It’s pretty cool. If you like guns, you will almost certainly enjoy this video. Too bad about the sad fate of Owen himself.