There has been talk for a while of people making functional reproductions of the German FG-42 paratroop rifle for a long time…and it wasn’t just idle talk. We have gotten our hands on a sample of the second model FG-42 being made by SMG out of Texas, with instructions to go nuts, and not baby it in any way. Well! Sounds right up our alley.
I will be posting a complete review for TheFirearmBlog.com shortly, but here are the main points:
– We had 5 failures to extract in about 300 rounds, and Rick Smith at SMG suggested this was due to using Romanian surplus ammo. I checked, and the rims on my milsurp ammo were all in the 47-50 thousandth range (for thickness), while random boxes of Remington, Winchester, and Federal brass-cased 8mm was all at 40 thou. The rifle’s extractor was designed for commercial ammo, and going 20% larger caused the extractor to occasionally not fully snap over the case rim. We had no other rifle malfunctions throughout our testing, so I would rate the reliability as excellent as long as you don’t use stingy cheap-o ammo like I did.
– Handling was very good. It’s a relatively heavy rifle (~12 pounds), but that helps tame the recoil (along with the buffer design and muzzle brake). Rick Smith claims the recoil feels like a stock AK, and I would agree. The safety is totally un-ergonomic, but that’s how the gun was originally designed. Despite the weight of the piece, it is well balanced and great fun to shoot…and I had one person at the IPSC rifle match suggest that I should get a 20 second bonus for style.
– Historical accuracy is about 90%. The changes are the result of using modern small-scale production methodologies, and are understandable. Very few people can recognize the differences, and the working parts (except the ATF-mandated semi-only trigger) are functionally identical to the original. My only real complaint is that the metal reinforcing was left out of the handguard, and the one on our review rifle started to crack along the top of the barrel.
I think I’ve pretty well aired all the rifle’s dirty laundry, so if you watch the video and think one ought to be in your gun safe (either like this one in 8mm or in .308 using M14 mags), you should drop Rick a line at email@example.com and get on their waiting list. The future is foggy because of the potential for new legislation, so if you want one you should jump on it and get a receiver secured in your name ASAP. And if you do, please tell them you saw it here at Forgotten Weapons so they’ll send us a sample of the next gun they make too!
Last minute addition: SMG has one of the guns from the current batch for sale on GunBroker. It’s clearly going to be more than the list price, but it would be an opportunity to get one right now: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=325959107