F1 submachine gun

The 9×19mm Parabellum F1 was a standard Australian submachine gun manufactured by the Lithgow Small Arms Factory.[1] First issued to Australian troops in July 1963, it replaced the Owen machine carbine.

An Australian soldier with an F1 submachine gun during a training exercise in 1967
TypeSubmachine gun
Place of originAustralia
Service history
In service1963–1991
Used bySee Users
WarsVietnam War
Production history
ManufacturerLithgow Small Arms Factory
No. built25,136
Mass3.7 kg (Empty)
4.30 kg (Loaded)
Length714 mm
Barrel length198 mm

Cartridge9×19mm Parabellum
Caliber9 mm
ActionBlowback, Open bolt
Rate of fire600–640 rounds/min
Effective firing range150 m
Maximum firing range100–200 m
Feed system34-round Sterling SMG compatible box magazine
SightsOffset iron sights

Like the Owen, the F1 had a distinctive top mounted magazine. It had a robust and simple design, but "never gained popularity with those using it"[2] and in Vietnam it was later largely replaced by the American 5.56mm M16A1 rifle. The F1 was retired in the early 1990s and replaced by the F88C Austeyr, an Australian-built version of the Steyr AUG rifle.

Some 25,000 were produced by Lithgow from 1962–73. While the F1 is no longer used by Australia, a shipment of F1s was also donated to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary by Australia.[3]

Design details

The F1 is a simple blowback design firing from an open bolt with a fixed firing pin. It was designated the X3 while under development.[2]

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. It used the same magazine as the Sterling. The top-mounted magazine is unobtrusive for carrying and when lying prone; it also benefits from being 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. However, it was mostly used with a detachable spike bayonet fitted on the right side of the barrel jacket.

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 and pull off. Remove spring, release safety, tip barrel up and pull so that the 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.



The Complete Equipment Schedule (CES) for the F1 included:

  • a large round wire and nylon brush, similar to a bottle brush for cleaning the tubular body of the weapon
  • a standard SLR pull-through (a string with a loop at one end for holding a piece of service flannelette and a weight at the other to assist the user in feeding it down the barrel)
  • a sling similar to the standard brass and canvas SLR sling, but shorter
  • a detachable spike bayonet
  • 5 magazines and
  • a 4 magazine pouch, each pocket having its own flap.

See also


  1. Modern Firearms' F1 submachine gun. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  2. "F1 Sub-machine Carbine", Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum
  3. Capie, David (2004). Under the Gun: The Small Arms Challenge in the Pacific. Wellington: Victoria University Press. pp. 63–65. ISBN 978-0864734532.
  4. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/f1this-weird-australian-machine-gun-was-beast-battlefield-63062
  5. http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/royal-malaysia-police-museum/


  • Australian Service Machine Guns (Skennerton)
  • S.A.I.S No.3, 9mm Owen & Austen MK I* (Skennerton)
  • Various Factory Records, S.A.F. Lithgow
  • Infantry Training Vol. 1, Infantry Platoon Weapons Pam.
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