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Calico M960

Submachine Gun (SMG) [ 1990 ]

The Calico M960 Submachine Gun is unique in that it feeds from a helical magazine fitted over the receiver.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/10/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Calico M960 is a roller-delayed blowback submachine gun-class weapon marketed primarily to military, security and law enforcement elements by Calico Light Weapon Systems (CLWS). A semi-automatic-only civilian model known as the "Liberty" has also been developed. CLWS was originally based out of Oregon after being founded in 1982 as a private concern to which it then moved operations to Nevada before returning and settling in Hillsboro, Oregon. Calico is best known for its line of .22 rifles, 9mm pistols, M900 series carbines and M750/M900 series submachine guns (including the M960/Liberty).

The Calico M960 series has yet to secure any large-scale quantitative defense contracts though it remains an intriguing design endeavor. It sports features uncommon to most assault weapons in current use worldwide as it manages a small working profile with less protrusions that are likely to snag in the heat of battle. It is also a well-balanced design in the hands. Calico weapons are noted for their reliability and accuracy as well as robust function and long life.

The Calico M960 series is unique in its general design in that it makes use of a helical-feed magazine, a cylindrical drum fitted over the rear portion of the receiver and adjustable shoulder stock. The primary benefit of this arrangement lies in a larger internal magazine that can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition where traditional submachine guns are generally limited to 20-, 30- or 40-round detachable box magazines. The weapon is chambered to fire the widely-accepted 9x19mm Parabellum pistol round from a 50- or 100-round drum at a rate of 750 rounds per minute with spent shell casings ejected through the bottom of the receiver, ahead of the trigger guard (thusly making it ambidextrous). Iron sights are standard though optics can be fitted as necessary. The rest of the design consists of a conventional angled pistol grip with integrated trigger unit, a handguard with angled foregrip and a protruding barrel assembly capped by a perforated muzzle brake. Overall weight is 2.17 kilograms when empty and the stock can be collapsed to form a 647mm overall length (down from the full 835mm extended length). Overall construction includes metal for the critical internal working components and lightweight composites for the furniture.

The basic production mark of the weapon line became the M960A with its collapsible stock and this was followed by the compact, selective-fire M961A with its shorter barrel. The M960AS was given a fixed stock. As mentioned, Calico also markets the M960 family under the "Liberty" name and the product line encompasses the Liberty 50, Liberty 50 Tactical, Liberty 100, Liberty 100 Tactical, Liberty I, Liberty I Tactical, Liberty II, Liberty II Tactical, Liberty III and Liberty III Tactical. Each is differentiated by obvious physical changes (fixed/collapsible stock) to the base design to suit the discerning customer. Law enforcement and military versions are offered with full-automatic fire functionality whilst civilian-minded designs are limited to semi-automatic fire only. The "Liberty III" series takes on more of a "machine pistol" form and is lighter in overall weight and made more compact thanks to its lack of a shoulder stock and shortened barrel assembly. "Tactical" models incorporate Picatinny-style rails for additional tactical accessories mounting. All models range out effectively to 300 yards maximum according to Calico marketing materials.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

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United States


Submachine Gun (SMG)

Calico Light Weapons Systems - USA
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)

Overall Length
835 mm
32.87 in
Barrel Length
330 mm
12.99 in
Empty Wgt
4.78 lb
2.17 kg

Iron Front and Rear; Optional Optics


Roller-Delayed Blowback; Semi- / Full-Automatic

One shot per trigger pull; self-loading or auto-loading action aided by internal mechanism; trigger management (and initial cocking) typically required by the operator; subsequent shots are aided by the unlocked / moved bolt.
Rounds are automatically ejected from the breech, a new cartridge stripped from the feed and set in the chamber, and rounds are continuously fired so long as the trigger is pulled and an ammunition supply exists.
Blowback Operation
Gas pressure from the rearward movement of the ignited cartridge case provides the needed bolt movement, ejecting the spent case and stripping a fresh case from the magazine.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


9x19mm Parabellum

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 9mm pistol cartridge
Rounds / Feed

50- or 100-round helical magazine
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
984 ft
(300 m | 328 yd)
Muzzle Velocity
1,290 ft/sec
(393 m/sec)

M960A - Collapsible Stock Version
M960AS - Solid Stock Version
M961A - Compact variant with shorter barrel.
Liberty 50 - 50-round helical magazine; fixed shoulder stock.
Liberty 50 Tactical - Picatinny-style accessories rail.
Liberty 100 - 100-round helical magazine; fixed shoulder stock.
Liberty 100 Tactical - Picatinny-style accessories rail.
Liberty I - 50-round helical magazine; collapsible stock.
Liberty I Tactical - Picatinny-style accessories rail.
Liberty II - 50-round helical magazine; fixed stock.
Liberty II Tactical - Picatinny-style accessories rail.
Liberty III - Machine pistol form; sans shoulder stock; 50-round helical magazine; shortened barrel assembly.
Liberty III Tactical - Picatinny-style accessories rail.

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