Left 4 Dead Wiki

"Oh, man, this is just like Counter-Strike!"
"I guess it'll do. Yeah, whatever, it's a machine gun."

The Submachine Gun is a Tier 1 weapon that is available to players at the start of most chapters and is automatically equipped to those who have re-spawned in a Rescue Closet after dying. This weapon deals the lowest damage per shot of any weapon in the game (including pistols), but makes up for that by having the highest rate of fire of any weapon in the game (tied with the Silenced Submachine Gun).

It has a 50-round magazine with 480 rounds (650 in Left 4 Dead 2) in reserve. Accuracy-wise, it excels at short ranges but can also engage medium range targets (which is helped when the player crouches to fire). Although it is replaced by the Tier 2 Assault Rifle, its rate of fire is higher than the heavier rifle.

Given its ability to take on medium range targets, inherent accuracy and high rate of fire, the Submachine Gun (and its variant) is a worthy alternative to the slower firing, shorter ranged but heavier hitting Pump Shotgun (and its variant).

The Submachine Gun has two major drawbacks. First, its bullet penetration and stopping power are poor, making it a risky choice when facing opponents with high health, such as the Tank. Second, its high rate of fire relative to its ammo reserve means that even players who maintain strict fire discipline will start to run short of ammo partway through a level. This situation is even worse in the case of a co-op team featuring a member with a "full-auto" bad habit; these people will become team liabilities due to a lack of ammo in short order. The Submachine Gun damage drops off by 16% every 500 Hammer units. On top of that, it has a max range of 2500 Hammer units.


Louis wielding the Submachine Gun

  • Fire in small bursts. This keeps accuracy up and prevents wasting ammo on Infected when they are already dying.
  • Try to fire mostly while still and crouching. This produces better accuracy and an opportunity for another team member to shoot over the user's head.
  • Switch to your secondary weapon at every opportunity, saving the Submachine Gun for when it is really needed.
  • Learn when not to shoot. Ammo conservation is paramount. Let another team member armed with a shotgun take point and use the Submachine Gun to provide cover.
  • When fighting Common Infected, you should either shoot at head level or at center mass. Shooting at head level will reduce the number of shots it takes to kill each infected (since headshots kill Common Infected in one shot), so long as you are actually hitting the infected with your shots. Shooting at the infected's chests will maximize the surface area you are shooting at, increasing the number of shots that actually land. Shoot at head level when the infected are closer to you; your accuracy is better the closer they are, so you are more likely to land your shots. Otherwise, aim for the torso.
    • When facing a horde, it is typically better to aim for the head, since you will have a large number of targets that you might hit even if you miss your intended target, and you want to conserve ammo enough that the horde is killed before you run out of ammo in your clip.
  • The Submachine Gun can shoot through apertures in damaged doors, thereby preserving the protection afforded by the door whilst being able to inflict damage on Infected on the other side.
  • Players with Submachine Guns should not be reluctant to help teammates snagged by Hunters or Smokers: the Submachine Gun does an excellent job of "delousing" them with aimed fire at even long ranges.
  • Reload often. The high rate of fire on the Submachine Gun means that the 50-round magazine will run dry fairly quickly. In fact, it takes about 3 seconds for the ammo count to go from 50 to 0 on full-auto, faster than any weapon in the game, apart from the Silenced Submachine Gun. A player disciplined to fire short (five- or six-round) bursts knows that after about four or five bursts, the magazine is about half empty and due for a reload, something that is impossible to gauge when firing on full auto.
  • Practice the Pistol Shuffle when faced with a mob of Common Infected. Engage them initially with the Submachine Gun, empty the magazine and then switch to (ideally) Dual Pistols. The rate of fire that can be put out is prodigious and deadly, especially if the player remembers to fire controlled bursts and avoids wasting ammo by aiming at the Common Infected's bodies (see Notes above).
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the Submachine Gun is a good complement to a melee weapon such as a Katana.

Pros and Cons[]


  • Tied with the Silenced Submachine Gun for the highest fire rate in the game.
  • Reliable accuracy when crouched and not moving, being capable of taking out mid-range targets.
  • Effective for early-game sniping compared to the Silenced Submachine Gun.
  • Extremely accurate with a laser sight.
  • Extremely common to find on early rounds.
  • Easy to use to prevent from friendly fire in harder difficulties.


  • Lowest damage output out of all weapons compared to the Silenced Sub Machine Gun and H&K MP5 along with the other Tier 2 weapons.
  • Drains ammo quickly when fired at full auto.
  • Accuracy falls off quickly at long range and while moving, especially if fired in full auto.

Left 4 Dead 2[]

Ellis holding the Submachine Gun

The Submachine Gun returns with new animations. It is much more efficient than its Left 4 Dead counterpart as its ammo reserve is now 650, compared with the original version's 480 reserve. However, players should adopt all the tactics specified in the section above, such as fire discipline and burst firing.

The Submachine Gun is better than the Silenced Submachine Gun for long range work because it is more accurate when burst fired, even though it does less damage per bullet than the Silenced Submachine Gun.

Behind the Scenes[]

The flashlight mounted on the handguard

Originally, the Submachine Gun's flashlight was mounted directly under its handguard. In the final version, the flashlight is mounted on the right side of the gun.

The Submachine Gun is (at first glance) based on the world-renowned Israeli Military Industries SMG, the Uzi. However, the fire-selector switch seems to betray its actual origin as Italian; the R is a feature present chiefly on the SOCIMI Type 821, an Uzi clone. The in-game weapon is fitted with an Uzi stock and grip, however.

It's interesting to note that the weapon was apparently originally to have been based on Counter-Strike's MP5N submachine gun. Its "price" in the gun's weapon file is the same as the MP5N's, and it references the MP5N in its "animation" listing. A scoped MP5 is also carried by the Survivors in some of the posters.

It also had a full reload animation of pulling the cocking handle after replacing the magazine. The cocking animation can still occasionally be observed in the final version of the game when pulling out the weapon after meleeing with the M1911 Pistol.


The Uzi

The SMG's removed cocking animation

  • The Submachine Gun in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 is modeled after the Uzi.
  • The ammo count of 480 in Left 4 Dead hints that the Submachine Gun may have originally modeled its real-life capacity of 32 rounds.
    • Aftermarket 50-round magazines are available for the Uzi, although the in-game model appears to have the more common 32-round magazine.
  • The in-game Submachine Gun has a much higher rate of fire than the actual Uzi (960 RPM versus 600 RPM)—nearly identical to the fire rate of the Mini-Uzi (not to be confused with Micro-Uzi) variant which fires at 950 RPM.
  • Though Louis says, "Oh man, this is just like Counter-Strike," however no version of Counter-Strike features an Uzi. Louis could be mistaking the gun for the similar-looking MAC-10, which does appear in Counter-Strike; this could also be an early voice line, given that the Submachine Gun was built from Counter-Strike: Source's MP5.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, it is incorrectly shown with a reciprocating cocking handle.
  • Very rarely, usually after shooting a Pistol, if you pick up a Submachine Gun, a different sound might play. The sound resembles the cocking of a gun and it may have been the sound intended for the gun's cut cocking animation.
  • The Submachine Gun, along with the Assault Rifle, was capable of a glitch called a "Power Shot" in Left 4 Dead. The glitch resulted in the entire magazine of bullets being fired at once. This was patched on 22nd September 2009.
  • In Left 4 Dead, the removed cocking animation may sometimes show up when using the SMG.
  • Prior to the PC exclusive September 2020 update, this weapon, along with the Assault Rifle and the Hunting Rifle were the only weapons that had reloading animations in which the magazine is actually removed from the weapon when seen from the third person view in Left 4 Dead 2. Other weapons' magazine would remain attached to the weapons if their reloading animations were played in third person.

External Links[]


Primary Weapons
Tier 1 Chrome invert.png Chrome Shotgun / Pump invert.png Pump Shotgun / MP5 Invert.png MP5 / Mac10 invert.png Silenced Submachine Gun / Uzi invert.png Submachine Gun
Tier 2 Ak invert.png AK-47 / Icon weapon rifle desert inverted.png Combat Rifle / M16 invert.png M-16 Assault Rifle / SIG Invert.png SG 552 / Auto invert.png Auto Shotgun / Spas12 invert.png Combat Shotgun / AWSM Invert.png AWP / Hunting invert.png Hunting Rifle / Steyr Invert.png Scout / G3 invert.png Sniper Rifle
Special Tier Grenade launcher inverted.png Grenade Launcher / M60Icon.png M60 Machine Gun
Secondary Weapons
Sidearms Pistol inverted.png M1911 Pistol / Deagle invert.png Magnum Pistol / Pistol inverted.png P220 Pistol
Melee Weapons Bat invert.png Baseball Bat / Cricket invert.png Cricket Bat / Crowbar invert.png Crowbar / Axe invert.png Fireaxe / Pan invert.png Frying Pan / GolfClubIcon.png Golf Club / Guitar invert.png Guitar / Katana invert.png Katana / Knife Invert.png Knife / Machete invert.png Machete / Baton invert.png Nightstick / Icon pitchfork inverted.png Pitchfork / Icon shovel inverted.png Shovel
Special Tier Chainsaw invert.png Chainsaw
Other Weapons
Grenades Bile invert.png Bile Bomb / Molotov inverted.png Molotov Cocktail / Pipebomb invert.png Pipe Bomb
Upgrades L4D2 ammo explosive.png Explosive Ammunition / L4D2 ammo incendiary.png Incendiary Ammunition / Laser sight HUD invert.PNG Laser Sight
Fixed Weapons MMG Icon.png Heavy Machine Gun / Minigun icon.png Minigun
Usable Items Explosive Barrel HUD invert.png Explosive barrel / Fireworks icon.png Fireworks / Gas canister HUD invert.png Gas can / Oxytank icon.png Oxygen tank / Propane tank icon.png Propane tank
Special Items Cola.png Cola / Gnome icon.png Gnome Chompski
Featured in both games / L4D1-exclusive / L4D2-exclusive (Counter-Strike weapons / PC-exclusive)