The Vault

Walther VG1

The Walther VG1 was one of several last ditch German weapons designed to arm Home Guard “Volkssturm” units against American and Russian forces. The Volkssturm weapons are most notable to their crude manufacture, intended to be as cheap and easy to make as possible, in small shops throughout Germany.

The VG1 is a basic rotating bolt action rifle in design, with two locking lugs in front and the bolt handle functioning as a third lug. They were made by a wide range of companies, and known examples show many variations in all sorts of details.

The receivers were milled from blocks of bar stock, and barrels were pressed and pinned in place. A wide variety of barrels were used – basically whatever was available to the shop making the rifle. The rear sight was a very basic notch on a ring that was placed between  the barrel shoulder and receiver when the barrel was installed. Front sights were generally welded in place. To avoid the negative affects of welding heat on the muzzle, the front of the barrels were typically counterbored out to 10mm diameter.

The trigger mechanism and guard are made entirely of stamped components, held together by pins. The safety was a simple rotating sheet metal piece that blocked travel of the trigger. The magazine was a standard K43 component. Stocks were made from all qualities of wood, and only crudely finished.

The interesting aspect of the VG1 is not any novel mechanism or design element, but rather the simplicity possible in the manufacture of rifles that were in fact serviceable. They may have been very crude guns, but they were proofed when made, and were surprisingly functional, for their appearance. It was estimated after the war that in mass production, a VG1 would have cost no more than $5 per unit to make.

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4 comments to Walther VG1

  • Unknowm

    I thought that there are 5 versions of the Volksturmgewehrs (VG 1-5)

    • The ones I’m aware of are the VG-1 and VG-2 bolt actions, and the so-called VG1-5 semiauto (actually called the Volkssturmgewehr Gustloff after the factory where it was made). That VG1-5 nomenclature is the result of someone misreading a German report after the war, though. I haven’t seen any references to a VG-3 or VG-4 anywhere.

  • Kris Hendrix

    A while ago I corrected the article of the VG’s on Wikipedia, trying to get rid of that old mix up between the VG1-5 and the Gustloff design. Also, I only wrote about the VG1 and VG2 but there was also a VG3-5. Walther designed the Volkssturmgewehr VG 1 rifle, Spreewerk Berlin the VG 2, Rheinmetall the VG 3, Mauser the VG 4 and Steyr the VG 5 aka VK 98. The latter was a single-shot rifle.

  • hans maulwurf

    a few years ago i had seen one of these rifles at a german gun auktion
    to me it seemed to be a simple but reliable gun also.

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