An Interesting Possibility: The FG-42 in 8x33mm Kurz?

Here’s an interesting thought – what if they made the FG-42 in 8x33mm Kurz? Well, they actually did, in very small numbers. The rifle’s designer, Louis Stange, actually thought it was a really good idea, and the Heereswaffenamt office converted a handful of first model FG42s for testing, although it never went farther than that. The Army was very much in favor fo the 8x33mm cartridge in the MP43/44 for a variety of reasons, but the Luftwaffe was determined to issue its own unique rifle in the full 8x57mm cartridge.

After the war, there was one further addendum to this idea – Waffenfabrik Bern in Switzerland made a couple experimental patterns of what was essentially the FG42 in 7.5mm Kurz (7.5x38mm). These were tested as part of Switzerland’s move to a self-loading rifle, but ultimately lost out to SIG’s design in the full 7.5x55mm.


  1. Very welcome / awesome video! I’ve often wondered about this same idea myself.

    It could have been developed even further: a 6.5 or 6×33 would restore the medium-range performance (and the DMR / LMG roles) of the original FG, while also being even more controllable in FA, using less strategic metals, etc.

    • Mike, the 8mm bullet was the centre of German small arms theory and the essence of Herr Mauser’s rifles. The smaller calibre models were fine for export and for Scandinavians, but not for combat on the Continent.

      • Except that the Wehrmacht itself had experimented with smaller calibers in the ’30s. The reason it went to reduced-power 8mm instead was not effectiveness, but the desire to retain existing manufacturing equipment. Same as happened with the USSR and 7.62. The US & UK came to similar conclusions before and after the War: 7mm was optimal.

        • I agree with Super390. The Kurz cartridge was already a complete break with Mauser’s 19th Century thinking.

          I can’t fault the Germans too much, though, since they were one of several states that pursued the false economy of caliber commonality despite complete differences not only in chamber reamers, but also profiles (blanks), twist rates, etc. It amazes me that anyone could weigh all the combat advantages, scientifically demonstrated in those interwar tests – against nothing but “We can save 10% or so on gun drill bits if we buy in bulk” on the other side – and choose the latter.

          • “(…)nothing but “We can save 10% or so on gun drill bits if we buy in bulk”(…)”
            7,62×39 is 7,62 not only because economic factors. 7,62×39 from very beginning was destined for usage both in carbine/avtomat and machine guns. For second effects of tracer and incendiary bullets were deemed important. And smaller bullet means less illuminating/explosive stuff.

          • Daweo,
            Good point, but I wasn’t really thinking of 7.62×39 (a cartridge I admire). I was thinking more along the lines of 7.62 Tokarev and .30 Carbine, where those factors don’t apply.

          • I think it’s more along the lines of the “installed base” problem, akin to why we’re all still using the QWERTY keyboard, when other layouts make more actual sense for speed-typing.

            They had all the calculations done for .30 caliber here in the US, all the ranges laid out, and to swap over would have meant having to rebuild all of that supporting infrastructure. That was no doubt a part of the calculations made by MacArthur, when he was Chief of Staff.

            Then, too… You don’t really grasp how nutty the bureaucracy can get, inside the military. I went to the Advanced NCO Course in 1993-ish; at the course, they were still teaching things that were “out” of the manuals in 1988-89. Why? Because while the cadre had re-written the course modules, they still hadn’t been “approved” by all the necessary parties elsewhere in the structure, like the Infantry School (fighting positions), the Armor folks (obstacles), and not least, the Sergeant Major’s Academy, who had oversight over all the training done in the other NCO academies. When we bitched out the Commandant about this fact, that we were being taught off obsolete material, he just giggled maniacally, and pointed us at the file cabinet where all the documentation for this bullshit was kept. You could see that the Engineer Advanced NCO Course cadre had submitted the necessary changes as soon as the new manuals had been published, but the proposed changes were still bouncing around between agencies and other parties for approval. Some of the objections boiled down to a disagreement about punctuation and/or language used in the proposed changes, and every single change meant the process needed to start over again…

            The real wonder isn’t that it takes so long for things to get done in the military, but that anything at all even gets done in the first damn place.

          • Kirk,
            I am painfully aware of the military bureaucracy, particularly on the procurement side. I might be in a very different place right now if it weren’t for the RDT&E bureaucracy.

            I’m not sure what you meant about .30 caliber, though. Not much of that really carries over to the carbine cartridge. Were you talking about MacArthur shooting down the Pedersen?

          • @Mike,

            Precisely the Pedersen cartridge fiasco.

            My question about that was always “Why the hell did they waste the time and money on that, if they knew from the start they’d likely do something different…?”.

            Frankly, I’m pretty damn sure that if you were to build a time machine and go back to the interwar era with complete designs and tooling for a really modern set of small arms…? They’d likely ignore you, ‘cos “they knew what they wanted…”. The US, in particular, with its friggin’ cult of the individual rifleman. They should have looked long and hard at WWI, and then realized a.) an individual weapon firing single shots at fast-moving targets wasn’t really something that .30-06 was suitable for, and that b.) you needed real firepower down in the squad and fire team, as in “Belt-fed” and in a heavy caliber that could punch through light cover.

            Unfortunately, the “gravel-bellies” were running things, and they didn’t have a good handle on reality. Plus, egos were involved, and they felt like their uber-riflemen could win wars. Problem was, they didn’t bother to step back and analyze the whole thing, or look at how ineffectual and wasteful of manpower their preferred techniques were.

            No matter how you cut the cake, I still think the Germans got it more right than everyone else did. You look at how the squad MTOE and actual doctrines converged during the late war campaigns, and you’re struck by how much they were starting to look alike. Too bad none of that really got captured on the US side, and how little practical experience wound up being institutionalized.

          • I agree with you, especially the “Why the hell did they waste the time and money . . .” part, though context makes it hard to blame them too harshly for the final decision.

            WWI was a brief (and stupid) departure from an otherwise fairly consistent US military tradition of small frontier armies and expeditionary forces. It left not only a strong aversion to meddling in European affairs, but also what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of effective munitions. Millions of .30-06 rounds were a drop in the bucket of WWII, but could have won a lifetime of banana wars.

            I think it’s also important to consider their outlook on technology. In most areas except electronics and networking, we live in an era of what some call stagnation (I prefer to think of it as maturity, synthesis, and optimization) – and yet most discussions on replacing the M-16 come around to “It would have to offer something truly revolutionary”. Imagine how much higher the bar would be if – like every senior decision-maker of the 20s and 30s – we had grown up amid truly transformational, game-changing developments. The Garand, carriers, and tanks rose to that standard; the .276 cartridge – which essentially replicated the performance of several countries’ 1890s-vintage rounds – did not.

  2. And, strangely, there may be a further addendum to the Swiss Waffenfabrik Bern prototypes that copied/ used the Fallschirmjägergewehr 42’s layout: The TRW “low maintenance rifle” of the early 1970s! I’d played role-playing games set in a dismal post-apocalyptic early 21st Century: Twighlight 2000, that had this rifle but no images or pictures… Years later, living in a rather different if often dismal post-apocalyptic early 21st Century, I learned all about this prototype from Mr. Ian M’Collum and his wonderful, informative site Forgotten Weapons!

    Admittedly, the TRW LMR used a sort of M-60-ish trigger housing and M-16/ Stanag AR magazines with an odd offset-to-the-right gas system, instead of above or below the barrel like normal, but perhaps that is the small-caliber, hyper-velocity SCHV version of the FG-42?

    Quite a few early LMGs fed by magazines attempted to use this left-side magazine feed, placing the magazine close to the firer’s face… The Swedish Kg m/40 for instance… But others too like the Schmeisser-designed Steyr Solothurn Maschinengewehr 30, etc.

      • Yes. “But these go to the left” versus right… Just as British, Swedes until 1967, Australians, Japanese drive on the “wrong side” of the road, so too with odd right-side magazines: German Bergmann SMG and yes, Adolf Furrer’s colossally expensive and fastidiously machined toggle-locked MP 41/44 9mm SMG, which ended up being relegated to a bunker defending weapon while the more conventional–if still expensive–Suomi kp31 emerged from Hispano-Suiza as the rather more reliable SMG…

        While we talk about Stange and his FG-42, I might add that apparently RWS in Fuerth bei Nuremburg introduced an 8x46mm intermediate-power cartridge in the 1930s, as did Geco with the 7.75x40mm. For the Luftwaffe/ air force, DWM produced an experimental 7x39mm cartridge for use in a prototype LMG.

        Vollmer produced a lavishly expensive M.35 automatic select-fire karabin in the 7.75mm cartridge, which interests me because of its crazy use of the Soren Hansen Bang principle, like the General Liu rifle, etc. Unless I’m mistaken, the same “not 8mm therefore more difficult to make” manufacturing argument (and the expense of production) were used just like the US decision not to adopt the 7×51/ .276 Pedersen and the decision to use .30 cal. for the M1 carbine “light rifle” prototypes, or, for that matter, the .30 cal. 7.62x25mm pistol cartridge of the USSR, no?

        Ian quite rightly points out how the Luftwaffe contemplated Merkur and the disastrous “pyrrhic victory” at Crete and thought that rather than having paratroops scrambling around looking for weapon containers armed with pistols and knives, and then finding SMGs and/or bolt-action carbines or LMGs of one type or another, it made more sense to have a single weapon that could be a reasonable automatic weapon, negating the need for SMGs at least theoretically, a better-than-manually-operated-bolt-action carbine, and a reasonable automatic rifle if not LMG… Only that the paratroops would only be used in a ground role fighting as elite infantry. So, in hindsight, perhaps the whole development effort was in vain.

        Only Albert Speer and perhaps a handful of others thought in terms of total standardization where possible?

    • Yep, the open-bolt striker, roller locking breech, gas-operated action, full-auto only fire, 5.56mm caliber, TRW Low-Maintenance-Rifle for the Win!

      Probably the biggest strike against the LMR, is it has such an unusual fusion of features, that it doesn’t really fit any conventional shoulder-arm definition. More machinegun than rifle, more SMG than LMG, but combining elements of all.

      All the LMR needs is a red-dot optical sight update, and good to go today!

  3. The entire point of the expense of the FG42 was the need to wrangle that big 7.92 cartridge. If you’re going to 7.92 Kurz anyway, you want the simplest weapon for the job because you have no labor to spare to make them. The Stg44 is too heavy but provides all the utility of a depowered FG42. The Stg45, based on Ian’s positive experience with the reproduction, was the optimal solution in all ways, just too late.

    • I agree with your first statement, but not the rest. For one thing, German industry was still riding high when the StG was developed.

      Also – as a front-locking, rotating-bolt design – the FG is actually more amenable to simplification than the rear-locking StG. The latter was anomalous enough; not only all previous, but many later such designs (SKS, FAL) used milling for their fully stressed receivers, whereas the many modifications and descendants of the AK demonstrate the simplicity of that method.

        • And the SKS uses a near-equivalent cartridge. The point is that, once you’ve machined an “insert” or “trunnion” for a rear-locking bolt, you’ve basically made a milled upper receiver – leaving little savings in the “stamped upper”, especially compared to the simple, minimalist rear portion of the SKS receiver.

          • You forgot or overlooked one important thing – in time when SKS were made, AK47 receivers were also machined from solid billet and not stamped – for widely known reasons, thus by logical deduction its easy to see why SKS receiver was not stamped.

          • That doesn’t really negate the basic point I made, or Kirk’s either. Has anyone else ever tried the wasteful “milled rear-locking receiver inside a stamped ‘receiver'” idea in any other rifle? (honest, not sarcastic or rhetorical question)

          • I dont know about that huge machining or this “rear locking receiver (? wtf)”,
            as SKS uses square peg as a locking surface, riveted/sides squashed into that milled receiver, which easily could have been (and it is in some chinese variants) stamped steel.
            So if your claim is that rear locking stipulates heavy or complete receiver machining, I don’t think its (completely) true, its exaggeration.

          • The square peg is the locking SURFACE, but the stressed area is everything from the barrel threads, across the whole bolt, to behind the peg.

            Contrast that with a front-locking rifle’s receiver. The stressed portion is so small that it can be reduced to a barrel extension as in the AR15. Even though it’s intricately machined and looks nightmarishly complex, you can buy one for $20. In a simple two-lug FG, it could be cheaper still. The high-quality steel block required for the stressed area of an SKS or StG receiver would cost more than that before I even turned on the milling machine.

            I admit I was unaware of the stamped Chinese SKS until now. It looks like it’s the rarest version of all, so (while I didn’t find many details), I can’t imagine it worked out that well.

          • Given that when one is designing it that 100,000’s or millions are planned/hoped to built one would forge the trunnion and then just clean it up with a milling operation.

            The bolt and carrier for a rear locking gun is/can be simpler to make than a front locking one(roller lock aside). Which means few machine tools, less inspection and less scrap.

            First rule to checking a design that would fill the final us requirement is to count the the number of machined surfaces and angles of them. If the angles aren’t 90 or 45, one’s first response needs to be “Can you fix that?”. If they say if can’t, ask for a different design.

            Just because todays CNC can make it much easier to have odd angles that doesn’t mean one should use them.

          • Martin,
            I definitely agree with your final point. Your first sounds optimistic.

            The bolt carrier as well. As a home gunsmith with manual equipment, I find a helical cam path challenging (but doable), and tooling is just a basic endmill. A professional shop (even pre-CNC) with equipment dedicated to making that one part could gear a rotary table to the X feed without too much difficulty. Carriers for tilting bolts look simple, but (without CNC) what kind of cutter, on what kind of path, matches the odd angles and curves almost all of them have? One could simplify, at the risk of creating stress risers.

        • FAL was originally designed around the same 7.92X33 as the StG44, then shifted to the British .270 and .280 calibers, finally being extended out to the illogical conclusion of the 7.62X51 NATO.

          Somewhere in there was a proprietary FN caliber that I can’t remember. I think…

          • 7mm Compromise, and 7mm Liviano, the latter briefly used by Venezuela. Both conceptually similar to the later 7mm-08 sporting cartridge.

    • Thats true, fg42 in 7.92×33 is like putting a supercar 500hp engine in regular family car, overkill for its purpose.
      But if they could simplyfy and cheapen the production by stampings, it could work – and still dubious if its better or worse than stg44.

      Stg45 was an prime example of huge missed opportunity about a rifle that could have become legendary, even up to AK47 status, in terms of its simplicity and cost of production. I think it deserves a big evaluation, albeit it is known that examples today are mostly assembled from existing and new made parts, so there is not a single that is 100% authentic to what germans were testing.

  4. The FG42 chambered in one of the British 7mm cartridges (alongside an AR10 in the same cartridges) has always been one of my favourite what if fantasy rifles.

        • Indeed! Was mostly thinking about ballistics w/o considering the case geometry… The rimless 6.5×58 Vergueiro – a truly forgotten cartridge – is an excellent candidate for my imaginary FG42. The other obvious one is 6x5x55 Swedish.

          • The most obvious one is 7*57, as it is the same case as 8*57, just with a tighter mouth. And you can even buy ammunition in that caliber today.

  5. The whole “One caliber to rule them all” idea is where this breaks down.

    The Falschirmjager needed the things a full-house 8mm could do for them, tactically. Period. Just like the “everybody carries the StG44” Volksgrenadiers found that they had to pull the full-house MG34/42 systems down into their squads. The intermediate-caliber individual weapons are ideal, but solely as individual weapons. You absolutely need that full-house solution somewhere nearby, whether in the form of an MG34/42, an M60, or a PKM. And, everybody in the world that’s actually done real combat since WWII has eventually gravitated towards this dual-caliber “desire path”. There’s a reason for that, and that reason is the same one that led to the FG42: Nothing else actually works.

    It’s my belief that the idiots behind the NGSW are going to find this out, yet again, and probably the hard way. The actual need is for something portable, controllable on full-auto, and lethal out to about 300m or so as an individual weapon, and then something that can effectively chew through a degree of cover out to about 1800m. You’re not going to get that in one cartridge, thus the two-caliber solution.

    The amazing thing to me is that there is such a limited amount of theoretical work done to analyze this. Everybody just winds up doing it, though, no matter how much of a kludge it turns into.

    People really need to stop and consider just how it is that the late-WWII German squad looks just like the US Vietnam-era squad which looks just like the late Soviet-era squad, after everyone tried out the single-caliber solution and found it wanting, from one direction or another. Two-caliber has been validated multiple times from multiple aspects, and it’s just what works. Yet, everybody still thinks they can somehow shoehorn all the vastly different capabilities into one “does everything for everyone” caliber, which likely ain’t going to happen until some genius figures out how to get two wildly different ballistic solutions out of the same cartridge.

    Only thing I can think of is maybe a two-stage propellant that gives radically different performances based on barrel length, or some kind of liquid propellant that gets metered into the chamber, with different amounts for the two vastly different types of weapon. Other than that, the actual tactical desire path shows that two calibers are going to keep being a “thing” until something changes radically elsewhere in the tactical equations governing all of this.

    • “It’s my belief that the idiots behind the NGSW are going to find this out, yet again, and probably the hard way.”
      I thought they had “overmatch” – at extended ranges as objective, in addition to reduced ammo weight. The start was the Support Weapon with carbine attached to it later in process. Result is that to evaluate it fairly may be exceedingly difficult given variety of ammo types. At least the bullet is same 🙂

      • They’re essentially recapitulating the same fundamental conceptual errors that created the 7.62X51 NATO round. The role of “individual weapon” and “support weapon” are not cartridge-interchangeable, in my opinion. And, in the actual experience we’ve had since 1939. The necessary characteristics for each role are just too damn different, and until something elsewhere changes, pushing the balloon in here is merely going to result in that balloon bulging out over there

        All sorts of things could change the basic parameters. Dual-capability cartridges are one, albeit unlikely. Same-same with powered exoskeletons and armor carriages; the power and chemical technology simply isn’t there, yet.

        Until those parameters change, however? Dual-caliber is the path, and the only path proven by experience and reality.

        • Your view is much appreciated, Kirk.
          You as much as I do know, in a productive and well founded dialogue, there is lot to learn. Thank you!

    • Can’t really disagree with that (except maybe the last para!).

      Perhaps because I’m British, I still think the proper .280” intermediate could serve well in both rifle and LMG. Perhaps with a platoon or company-level MMG intermediate between 7.62 and 12.7 (a huge gap between those two in terms of capability) and maybe bin the .50” and Ho for something more like 14.5 Soviet for the big MG that isn’t a 20mm cannon.

      You need a rifle that prioritises effective volume of fire out to 300, maybe 500, and a section/squad MG that is more than a glorified version of it but adds both firepower and reach, at least beyond 5.56/7.62M43 ranges.

      As a quick way of helping select a fighting weapon, assuming all designs are sound from a reliability point of view, just take them all to Camp Perry and shoot matches. Immediately discard the ones that do best there, then pick from what’s left.

      • Yeah. Hard “NO” on the Camp Perry idea.

        The root of the problem we’ve had here in the US is precisely that–The “Game” tail has been wagging the “How to fight” dog since the Civil War era. It does not work.

        The trick with using any “game” as a proxy for real-world experience is that you absolutely must maintain fidelity with reality, and ensure that what you are defining as that “reality” is really the ground truth of it all. Camp Perry and the National Matches left that bit behind somewhere around 1890, and never regained it.

        I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to try to use something like Camp Perry as your proxy for “Does this work?”, then you’d have to have people downrange actually shooting back at your ass, using the enemy’s tactics and weapons. Short of artificial reality, that ain’t happening, not any time soon. You’d also need to replicate fully the stress of battle, like hearing the “wheet” of return fire going overhead, while looking over at the adjacent shooting bay and seeing another competitor with his head blown off, while your squad leader is yelling in your ear and you can hear the LT calling fire down on your position…

        The kind of thing that happened to IPSC shooting happened to Camp Perry back before 1900–The gamesmanship types took it all over, and it’s like you see today with the “race gun” shooters in IPSC. Those pistols and ammunition are about as practical as the old PPC shooters with their tricked-out revolvers and wadcutters were for police shooting back during the mid-century.

        No, I’m sorry… Any use of “game” for a combat proxy has proven, time and time again to be a non-starter. The “game players” take over, and away goes any contact with reality, right up until you’re at the level of the German village Schutzenfest. Try taking one of those rifles into combat, sometime, and tell me how it goes.

        “Game” just doesn’t fly, I’m afraid. You have to spend a lot of time figuring out reality, and then replicating it as best you can. Today’s military training is mostly BS because of that–You go look at qualification standards for things like the MG, and you’ll find that instead of taking guys out and having them shoot a dynamic, constantly moving tactical scenario, they’re instead shooting something for “qualification” that really only replicates late-Korean War era defensive use of the MG–Fixed firing platforms, static flat ranges, and that’s just about it. Then, you go look at what the MG teams are actually being asked to do in combat in theaters like Afghanistan, and you tell me if that’s even halfway realistic.

        Yet another problem is that the “game” drives procurement–We don’t have decent tripods at least partially because the current qualification standards don’t actually require anything better than the POS M122, which means that the “leadership” isn’t asking for anything else. It’s a vicious circle.

        What needs to happen is for there to be a constant rotation and re-examination of the simulation and the training–Is what we’re doing actually replicating what we need the troops to do under fire? And, if not, why not? What’s the biggest issue with effective fires being delivered by troops in the field?

        To my mind, it ain’t the weapons or really even marksmanship: It’s spotting the damn enemy, making positive ID for the ROE, and then being able to deliver and coordinate fires on them. Another issue is fire control at the squad and platoon level; with the way the squads are spread out these days, you really need some easy and effective way to mark targets for everyone and communicate that across the spread-out element. Verbal commands aren’t enough; you need something like a target designator that everyone can see, whether it’s like a visible laser or something built into their sights or night vision devices.

        That’s actually where the money ought to be going; forget the “overmatch” ballistics they’re wasting money on. Better Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence is where the low-hanging fruit is at, and what they should be spending the dosh on.

        • Amen to that! I’m not completely averse to using ordinary range time / competition (as one – not the only – set of data points) for procurement as long as it’s reasonably realistic. High Power strikes me as the worst of both worlds – extreme gamesmanship permitted in some instances, but absurd and arbitrary restrictions on the other.

          • Agree, both.

            Don’t get me started on training vs reality.

            Example. A couple of years ago, I got to shoot the laser “bullet” simulator used to train British recruits against a video screen of enemies. No-one told me what the game rules were, so I treated it as reality. Just over half way through, my “weapon” stopped working. I IA’d it, replaced the magazine. Still didn’t work. One of the NCOs tried “fixing” it, but it still would not “fire”.

            At the end of the course, I had confirmed “hits” on I think 8 of a potential 30 hostiles. Better than most of the recruits, but got called out by the Sergeant in charge for wasting rounds.

            It turned out that it was a bloody video game. The “rifle” was limited to 30 “shots”, against 30 simulated targets. So the two indoor CQB terrorists than had been engaged each with two double-taps to the torso and one or two headshots as they still moved on the screen were counted as 2 kills against 9-10 rounds fired. The bloke 30 metres away who popped up in a window scored one point for the actual hit, but the four “rounds” in close proximity were not only “misses” but counted against me, with no thought for penetration through the wall, or suppressive effect.

            Similarly, most reactive pop-up, pop-down targets on real ranges fall with one hit.

            I can recall running a pistol course years ago where some of the steel plates were deliberately set up not to fall with solid torso hits, requiring a transition to the head box. That’s also questionable as a training tool, but at least it asked a relevant question, even if the answer may have been debatable. It taught that A-zone hits don’t always mean elimination of threat and that you need to be able to deal with that reality.

            So we are still teaching our soldiers that the rifle is intended to deliver a single accurate, aimed, and decisive hitt, like it’s 1900 at Bisley. And that it’s better to score three kills with ten rounds than eight with thirty. That dying and losing with rounds left in your mags is better than staying alive and winning with no ammo left.

            And then we send the best of the best of the best of those to higher specialist levels, and retrain them (in green roles, not CT/HR or CP tasks) to chuck masses of lead downrange with only reasonable (not 1shot = 1kill) accuracy as the best solution.

            I love organised target shooting. I have shot targets over the years with everything from air pistol to 30-06. I won a club lever-action match with a .348”, and a revolver match with a 2.5” Smith 629.

            And I believe, unlike some, that formal target practice and competition can help combat shooting by reinforcing the basics of hold,breathing, sights, trigger and recovery.

            But I equally believe that our soldiers should primarily be taught combat firing, not marksmanship. Or rather, teach the basics of hold etc as above. Then teach combat. And then teach it again. And again. Only then teach the higher end of marksmanship.

      • The 5.56 is mature technology and it does a decent enough job in the individual rifle.
        What I’d like to see as the SAW would be a well designed belt fed .338 Lapua Magnum in a weapon weighing about 15 LBS.

        • As commented elsewhere in this thread. The gap between 7.62 and .50” is huge. There’s a strong case for filling it. Equally the gap between (in the West) 12.7 and 20mm.

    • Is it a viable option (or is that tried anywhere) that troops have the same caliber bullet, with exactly the same dimensions, but different cases (smaller for rifle, bigger for MG).
      In that way, you could standardize the production and make only 1 type of bullets that are universally used, instead of 2 – which would be surely cheaper and easier in factory logistics.

      • Storm,
        I’ve actually been mulling the converse of this idea.

        As you probably know already, the military buys, stocks, orders, and ships the same cartridge for different purposes under different NALCs/DODICs anyway.

        I wonder if DoD could take a good intermediate cartridge with reasonable mid-range ballistics, and standardize a second (MMG / DMR) chamber with a longer throat / leade and COAL to accommodate an ELD bullet seated out to minimize powder intrusion. That could preserve most of the common-cartridge economies AND allow use of rifle ammunition in a pinch, while providing longer-range punch where needed. Maybe even a third (low-flash, light-bullet) load for urban, shipboard, PDW, etc. use. Thoughts?

        • I gotta admit I’m not from US, so I’m not familiar with these DoD specifics, but vaguely I know what you mean.
          As for the cartridges, I think main consideration should be that you cannot accidentally load MG ones in a rifle.

          This rifle to MG cartridge “in a pinch” is very appealing idea, however I suppose the whole mechanism should be (maybe impossibly) adjusted since they are weaker, and thus you would be at a huge chance of jamming or not working correctly, especially with belt fed platforms where you need the power to cycle the action and belt,
          not to mention ROF would increase from shorter bolt travel.
          But overall it is food for thought and something could be invented no doubt.

          • Not to belabor the point, but Navy Ammunition Logistics Codes / DoD Identification Codes. The “same” caliber is ordered as different line items if it has different bullets, belted vs. stripper-clipped for rifles, etc. No one orders 5.56 for rifles and pushes it into belt links in the field.

            Bolt travel (to ejection) would be the same length for all cartridges, with plenty of overtravel built in (I’m a big believer in “constant recoil”). I imagine the performance difference should be about 10-15%, which could be accommodated with a gas regulator.

  6. Quite a discussion here with several “heavyweights” present… and that’s exciting!

    My humble view is that Fg42 and 8x57mm shot go together; there is no sense for this rifle without full power cartridge. Conversely MP43/ Stgw44 and 8x33mm go together just as naturally. They were made for each other – in hell of the war.

    • An afterthought: what would you do with that FG42 weight if it launched a projectile from “light” shot? That would be less than sensible, would it not?

      • Denny,
        From what I’ve read here and elsewhere, the 8×57 FG is similar in weight (lighter in the first model) to the StG.

        I have no idea about the experimental models, obviously, but if we follow the idea to its logical conclusion (proportionally shorter receiver and BCG, shorter barrel to achieve a comparable burn with a much smaller powder charge, optimum use of sheet metal in light of StG experience, no bayonet, probably a lighter buffer) the resultant Kurz FG should be a pound or two lighter still.

        • Hello Mike

          you seem to work overtime today… I read your remarks carefully. You show you continuous commitment to this game. I am happy to see it.

          I tell you something while not revealing any secret: I had long time ago, at my place of employment opportunity to grab and feel both the MP43 and Fg42 – in both versions and I did. Frankly, those buggers did not make big impressions on me – they are unwieldy, wiggly and heavy. I guess I was spoiled by sa.vz.58 about same number of years earlier.

          What would be the “optimiest” solution in my mind would be a shot still in 8mm but, with casing somewhere around 50mm and same head diameer. Was there time during the war to fiddle with such an idea? Of course it was not. This would be possible only in relative peacetime.

          Now I will play a little heretic to what Kirk declared so many times – I believe there is a place for rifle caliber support weapon, in addition to carbine. You can see where I aim now – a ‘FG42’ in some lighter form and little more cultivated ‘Stw44’ combo. But like I said, it would needs more “culture” – e.i. nicely forged and machined receivers together with overall finesse.
          The HK almost did almost that after the war in form of G3 rifle and HK23 LMG. The 7.62×51 is just fine and as you can see, it fares well in many countries militaries.

          • Denny,
            Thank you very much! Your comments are always enjoyable, thought-provoking, and informative.

            I’m curious about your preference for 8mm, though. All else being equal, a larger bore results in reduced SD, BC, and range, and increased mass and recoil. What you proposed sounds like 7.62 NATO, but moved in those directions; I’m probably missing something (wouldn’t be the first time!).

          • You are not missing anything Mike.

            You just need to consider effect of time/ thought development. In 1940 the 8mm Mauser was good universal shot. In 1955 the 7.62 was good universal shot. Now it is moving towards ‘optimised’ 6.5-7mm; back to the future 🙂

          • Ah, OK, so (if I understand correctly) you’re basically talking about melding what we know works today, with the entering paradigms of the WWII German arms industry?

          • “Ah, OK, so (if I understand correctly) you’re basically talking about melding what we know works today…”
            Basically yes. It is a ‘long and winding road’ if I use the classic rhyme…. but no procurement authority will dare (as U.S. Arm did with M193) to jump into something radical. Expect 2-3 full circles before all is done.

            Look at another misstep made by Chinese 20 years ago. They thought that the 5.8mm will be RIGHT shot and they screwed up. Why, because they spread their fan too far – they included medium MG into it. The gunners soon realised that shot is deficient for the role and quickly turned back into 7.62R.

          • “Ah, OK, so (if I understand correctly) you’re basically talking about melding what we know works today…”
            To finish it off….
            the right role for rifle is (big surprise) – Rifle; that is one pull, one shot with burst as emergency measure only. No spraying, but AIMING. To fire automatic you get good use of a squad support weapon (not necessarily beefed up rifle) or GPMG which is typically too heavy for quick operation. That is where the development is heading right now and not just in States.

          • “Ah, OK, so (if I understand correctly) you’re basically talking about melding what we know works today…”
            And the last one….
            the point of this exercise is to decide, where to make the border line for rifle/ support weapon, which are by far the most present. I am afraid 5.56/5.45 is too low; the 7.62×51 might be a little on heavy side. Thus they are looking at something at 6.5-7mm range with perspective application for GPMG. The currently stipulated 6.8mm happen to be basically necked down and soupedup old 7.62×51. That means same belt link and same magazines. It has more performance/ reach, more penetration and potentially less recoil (pending weapon’s internal buffing). The weight is also supposed to be less thru use of new case materials.

          • I have almost no knowledge of the new developments in this area, but I hope they (or you!) make it work.

          • Thanks, Daweo!

            Interesting – straight-line recoil, looks easy to strip, but the video is long on “That’s badass!” and short on details (operating system, cartridge specifics).

            I’m not sure what purpose the forwardish cartridge ejection services, since it’s not a bullpup and the chamber is nowhere near a lefty shooter’s face, but it seems like an unnecessary complication.

  7. PS to comments above, and without re-opening the LMG vs GPMG at section level debate, you could do a heck of a lot worse than 5.56 carbine + 7.62 Bren (or similar) in the section, MG42/59 in the platoon or company.

    We Brits have just withdrawn the 5.56 LMG and reintroduced the 7.62 GPMG in light role. Good (though I’d keep the 5.56 in inventory for jungle and certain raiding tasks). What we have not done but should is to stop fielding the 7.62 DMR in the section. It was brought in to make up for 5.56 range limitations, but it reduces firepower in the rifle kill zone. With GPMG back, elevate the DMR to platoon or company and deploy where actually needed. Problem is that everyone (me included) really likes the DMR, because it’s a lovely bit of kit. But it shouldn’t be down in the section.

    • Stupid question: Would you rather use something like the American M4 Carbine as opposed to the L85A1? I’ve heard from others and read that the L85 looked cool but was about as useful as a shattered teacup in any intense firefight, especially with the magazine change process taking up to a FULL MINUTE under stress. But I could be wrong.

      • M4 all the way.

        L85 is just, well, really not good. It’s not, in A2/3 form actually bad, because at least the thing works, and it is very accurate for a service rifle, but the AR15 platform is just so much better – in handling and mag changes. Poor on some kinds of stoppage because of the rear-mounted charging handle, but you can teach that.

        There is a reason the AR15 platform has been in service longer (just) than I have been alive. It’s that it’s good.

  8. Existential question. Apart from the ten or so guys who regularly comment on here: does anyone else? Does Ian read this?Does anyone care? Does it have an effect? Should we all move to FG YouTube and contend with the kids saying “awesome machine gun” when we want to say “yes, but it’s an XXX, and is actually a bit rubbish”?

    • That’s good one…. and be sure, Ian doe not see this. He is busy preparing next number. Also, his German pronunciation is pretty good.
      May I propose FG42 porn page?
      It’s not political, no need to worry about censorship.

      • To be honest, in first “infant” years, he actually did reply to some comments here – but that was way before site started to put out videos on a daily basis.
        But also, since commenters here crystalized in a “gang” of 5,6 to max. 10 or so regular people, maybe now he is almost scared to come here…

    • I enjoy reading the comments here much more than on YouTube. The main contributors all seem respectful of each other and knowledgeable.

    • I remember from few years ago in q&a where Ian replied to a question that he “actually reads all of his youtube comments” (!?).
      I dont think thats true, however if it is, it would be a crying shame, because moronic utterings by idiotic people there, is nothing compared to aladdins cave of knowledge some (most) comment threads produce here – so he should really come by from time to time here.

      If shut down and all of this is lost – it would be very sad – it would be nice of some archivists to preserve it.

      • You are getting to something I thought of recently; I do not believe Ian has a Heir (maybe Karl?). Therefor, even with him disabled for some time, the FW is in jeopardy. I may be wrong as I hope I am.

        However, in a greater perspective – all is passing, even the world we are living in. Your world is YOU, no one else 🙂

        • True, but it would be beneficial for coming generations that knowledge is preserved, hoping they will improve on it.

  9. This is a little miracle, almost 60 replies and not one comment from hyperactive self-reply freak 😀

  10. I love all your comments. Even when there’s a bit of bickering. I’ve learned as much from you guys as from Ian. And that’s a lot.
    Cheers to all of you regular commenters. I’ll certainly pipe up if something comes up where I might actually have something useful to add. But we haven’t gotten into Ballistas yet….

  11. I think the point is that no two geniuses are alike.
    And idiots, they are the same at all times and on all continents.
    When a cartridge for the Pedersen rifle was tested in the United States, they came to the conclusion that in terms of combat characteristics it is practically equivalent to the 30-06. And it has a weight and cost advantage.
    But the armament department said something like “we have a hell of a mountain of cartridges in our warehouses. We need to use them” (C)
    And then it turned out that automatic weapons did not want to work on old cartridges due to dirty and sluggish gunpowder.

    • As if on purpose, at about the same time, in Russia, exactly the same idiots said “we leave the old cartridge on supply, because there are many weapons for it. And there are also many cartridges themselves” (C).
      And then it turned out that there were almost no cartridges left in the warehouses. More than 80% of weapons are worn out before retirement. And the production equipment is so worn out that you have to make a new one.

      At the same time, they had a great opportunity to accept the Japanese 6.5mm cartridge. Which was well studied in the troops and was mass-produced at the Petersburg Cartridge Plant for Japanese rifles.
      Not to mention the even more perfect patron of Fedorov.

      • The Germans turned out a little differently, but the same is similar.
        Hitler objected to weapons chambered for the new cartridge, mainly because (the official version) “it is necessary to use the existing cartridges” (C)
        With the advent of STG “had to accept”, since the industry could not provide the release of the required amount of automatic weapons chambered for a rifle cartridge.
        The German Air Force reasoned similarly.
        “Another cartridge in the supply? Nonsense. We have “bloody mountains” of machine-gun cartridges. Which, after strengthening the armament of the aircraft, there is simply nowhere to do except for the safety of airfields”.(C)

        • And the Swiss turned out to be smarter than everyone else.
          They tried everything available and decided that there was no point in STG under the machine gun cartridge.
          Equally, there is no point in a machine gun chambered for STG.
          They focused on the STG chambered for the STG cartridge.

          • Didn’t the “smart Swiss” end up with an “StG” in 7.5×55 (a “machine gun cartridge”), except considerably longer and heavier than the FG-42?

          • The Swiss went with the 7.5 full-house cartridge more because they needed the range for the LMG role that the StG57 was supposed to fill, and because they needed the cartridge capacity for launching rifle grenades, which was another key concern driving the design.

            If they’d have wanted an intermediate caliber, and it did what they needed it to, they’d have adopted it. Given Swiss tactical and operational intent, that was not what they designed for.

            The StG designation is a bit of a puzzler, I have to admit. The StG57 is really about as much a “Sturmgewehr” as it is Ronco Slice-o-matic; the reality is that it’s more an LMG and AT weapon than it is anything else.

      • I realise you talk history here (reg.6.5mm Fedorov cartridge), but what I observe for some 2 decades it that Russians do WANT to make a change in that direction, but as you say they have “bloody mountains” of existing stuff, so they think they cannot. But they will, eventually.

        • “But they will, eventually.”(C)
          They will.
          After the new patron is accepted in NATO, or at least in the United States.
          It is impossible to steal something that does not yet exist.

          ““StG” in 7.5×55″(С)
          Do you really not see the difference between an automatic and an assault rifle?
          Or is it such a pun?

          The Stgw57 is an automatic rifle with a light machine gun mode. In addition, it was created for the existing rifle cartridge.
          When the Swiss really needed STG, they made the SG550.
          After they realized that SIG510, the Swiss analogue of the M14, is not suitable for the role of STG.

          • Do I? Did I name the thing?

            I agree with your closing statements here, which is why I was curious why you said what you did in the first place.

          • The Swiss designed the StG57 the way they did due to doctrinal desires and goals unique to their situation. The StG57 is nearly a perfect match with their intent, which was to provide every soldier with a weapon that could sere as a rifle, an LMG, and an anti-tank weapon. If you disbelieve me, go look at the depth of work they did in order to make the thing work for launching gargantuan rifle grenades, and how carefully the weapon is optimized for it. Bloke on the Range has partnered with Dale, and they’ve done numerous videos going over it all–The StG57 does not make sense as anything outside the unique Swiss set of requirements and tactical thinking, which was to provide all infantry with what really amounts to an LMG and an AT weapon as well as an individual weapon.

            If you think of the original StG44 as a half-way house between a submachinegun and the rifle, the StG57 is a half-way house between a rifle and an LMG with an additional role of AT weapon grafted on.

            So far as I am concerned, the StG57 is a near-perfect example of what should happen with a mature technology like we have had since mid-20th Century in the small arms world: Design to meet the intent of your tactical and operational intent, not “figure it all out after building blue-sky uber-waffen” like the US seems to be so fond of. Along with a lot of the rest of the world, TBH.

            It’s actually kind of interesting to find out about how the Soviets weren’t really all that much better, in that they designed the SKS with the intent of it being the basic infantry weapon, and the AK as a replacement for the submachinegun, only to find out that what they really needed was just the AK in all individual weapon roles. Up until Max Popenker had highlighted that historical fact, all I’d ever heard was that the SKS represented a consolation prize for Simonov, and that the weapon was a transition between the Mosin-Nagant rifles and the AK, never meant for long-term issue. Which, it appears, was wrong–Like so much of our “knowledge” about Soviet doctrine and thinking.

          • Kirk,
            I too would argue with your “near-perfect” characterization. I admire its versatility, and the brilliant engineering that results in its very mild operation (compared to HK’s), but it seems like they found the most complicated way to perform every function.

          • @Mike,

            You really have to go digging into it all before the brilliance of the design and its integration into the intended tactics and operational aspects of Swiss national strategy becomes clear. There are so many features of the rifle that are bound up in things like the necessity for providing everyone with the ability to take out armored vehicles, and the long-range precision fires for wreaking havoc up in the mountain fastnesses of the Alps that it’s not even funny. Just about every nook and cranny on that rifle are there for a reason, along with the accompanying uniforms and other items. It’s an all-encompassing affair, one that was very well thought-out, and on an entirely different order of things than most other countries got to. You were, ideally, supposed to be able to go from street clothes to fully-equipped soldier simply by putting on outer garments and picking up your rifle, all of which were conceptually supposed to be stored at home with you as a reservist under high alert conditions. It’s really mind-boggling when you look at the whole system, laid out in front of you. I knew a guy who was a collector of Swiss militaria, and he showed me how it all went together, and I’m here to tell you it wasn’t what you first think, just looking at the outer edges of it all. That rifle and the rest of the gear that goes with it represent some very careful and very well-reasoned work done by the Swiss Army, and I suspect that there’s a lot there you don’t appreciate at first.

            One thing I always thought absurd, for example? The hard-chromed bayonet for the StG57. Why wasn’t that parkerized or dulled down?

            However, comma, there’s a reason for that: What is the primary purpose of the bayonet on the end of your rifle? It’s a mostly psychological weapon; you want the enemy to know that there’s some bloody great maniacs with blades on the ends of their guns coming to kill them. What’s the smart thing, given that? Concealing the damn blades and making them hard to see? What’s the point, again? Psychological weapon: What good is one of those that nobody notices coming at them…?

            Don’t dismiss what you don’t understand; instead, seek to understand it. If it is still worth dismissing, then by all means, go ahead and dismiss away. But, if you just glance at something that’s contrary to your experience or background and say “That’s not the way we do it… It’s stupid…”, then you’ve done yourself a major disfavor, and probably blocked learning something from another point of view.

          • Kirk,
            I don’t disagree with anything you wrote (other than you leaping to conclusions about my own thoughts or motives). I agree completely that they got quite a bit of the “design to mission” right, but that’s not the end of the process. Design to manufacture, maintain, etc. also have to figure in.

            There is a spectrum of design philosophy that tends to be nearly binary: some people (I call them cuckoo-clockmakers) believe that brilliant design consists in intricacy; they focus-group every possible eventuality, then throw a new subassembly of 5-10 parts at each “problem” (often one of the designers’ own creation). I’m of the opposing school, which values the elegance of simplicity (everything that needs to be there, and nothing that doesn’t) above all.

            Take the offset hammer, the Rube Goldberg firing pin it dictates (and probably a similar reacharound sear arrangement, since the trigger is centered). I know why they did it (reduce the VCG of the recoiling mass – good goal), but what about (oh I don’t know) twin recoil springs?

          • “(…)designed the SKS with the intent of it being the basic infantry weapon, and the AK as a replacement for the submachinegun, only to find out that what they really needed was just the AK in all individual weapon roles.(…)”
            Well, keep in mind that by 1945 Soviet infantry was equipped with a lot of sub-machine guns. With units equipped solely with PPSh. I do not have any more-detailed description in English language articles, so I will limit to
            The Soviet Union had infantry formations in which all soldiers were equipped with PPSH-41 submachineguns. With their size going up to company level, a Rifle Regiment had one in each battalion, along with another one in the regimental level.

            In tank brigades, the analogous formations made up the Motor Submachine Gun battalion, comprising two companies of SMG infantry and a third, specializing in tank riding: Tankodesantniki.
            Thus by 1-to-1 replacement PPSh -> AK you would get units fully equipped with AK.

          • “I’m of the opposing school, which values the elegance of simplicity (everything that needs to be there, and nothing that doesn’t) above all.”
            This sound like А. А. Рихтер,_%D0%90%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BD_%D0%90%D0%B1%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BC%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87
            who claimed (in Логика конструкторского мастерства) designs should be laconic. Some observation he made:
            – it is easy and quick to find complicated solution, finding simpler one needs more effort
            – hardest part is not looking for simpler solution, but to abandon already found complicated one
            – primal source of overly complicated solutions are three: 1) inertia of thinking 2) reluctance to abandon complicated solution due to perceived lost of prestige associated with such action* 3) lack of knowledge, this might manifest as providing superfluous safety measures as designer was not informed that certain situation are not possible anyway
            DISCLAIMER: This is from book from 1986 year and this information might be out-dated.
            * note that this observation of what was happening in Cold War-era Soviet Union as is cultural thing, so it might or not appear in another era xor another country

          • “it is easy and quick to find complicated solution, finding simpler one needs more effort” Yes, this, absolutely – just like Mark Twain’s famous quote, when complimented on a long novel: “If I’d had more time, it would have been much shorter.”

            Editing is good, even (especially?) in steel.

  12. The whole point is to be able to destroy the enemy, without being destroyed yourself.

    Maybe the real solution is just what Kirk said. Better C4I.

    Instead of engaging targets with rifle or support MG fire, give the squad leader a militarized pad phone. Use map function to show (1) where squad is and (2) where enemy is. Then left click on enemy, scroll down to type (infantry, MG team, etc.) and right-click on “Send Fire Here”.

    Division HQ then allocates assets, depending on target. MG team? Mortars. Infantry? Mortars. Arty? MLRS. MICVs or full-grown tank unit? Call up one of the UCAV swarms that are orbiting just behind FLOT, armed with ASMs.

    Yes, you still need the infantry section with the individual weapons backed up by the SAW. But their weapons are mainly for self-defense while they’re doing the spotting for the heavy elements that do the actual killing. Which is really the way it’s been for centuries, going back to about Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713), when the real lessons of the Thirty Years’ War and English Civil War began to be applied tactically.

    They still managed to get most of them wrong, of course.

    Always remember the first rule of USMC combat;

    Only bring artillery if you intend to kill everybody.



    • I can see you are well “up-to-date” 🙂

      But then, if you do not field disposables with rifles, MGs and mortars…. why you need them at the first place? You can put there mannequins instead and war is “won” or “lost” depending who is quicker or more accurate 🙂

      Have you ever thought, what was purpose of wars? Did you think it was the other side who was “enemy”? I hope not.

        • Very interesting. Thanks.

          I tend to side with Machiavelli and Clausewitz, in that war is (or at least should be) a last resort versus a credible threat. Not because war is inherently bad or evil, but because it’s the most expensive way to solve a problem.

          There were cheaper ways to stop Lenin from taking over the Russian revolution, for instance. Maybe starting with the Portuguese revolution in 1910, the first time an actual Socialist/Communist state was formed by coup d’etat. (No, really- look it up.)

          However, contrary to generations of writers, killing Hitler would not have stopped the Nazis. The underlying assumptions of their philosophy were too deeply rooted in the German culture, notably through the German Romantic movement, with its roots even deeper in – surprise!- the Persian version of Islamism.

          In short, Hitler became Fuhrer not because he “drove Germany insane”- it was because the culture preconditioned the German people to generally agree with what he was saying. By the time most of them realized what a huge mistake that was, it was far too late- the Russian Army was in Berlin, and in a very bad mood.

          States which believe that a “short victorious war” is a quick-fix answer to their domestic problems tend to come to bad ends. Consider the Galtieri regime and the Falklands.

          Single charismatic leaders with similar beliefs tend to come to even worse ends. Consider Bonaparte.

          Probably the worst combination is a charismatic leader in a culture which has been convinced of its “destiny” to rule for centuries or even millennia. Consider China.

          What all of the above have in common is that if they see weakness, they will try to exploit it. The popular term for this is “realpolitik”. Actually, it’s the mentality of a mugger writ large.

          The only way to “deter” this is that old Latin phrase, Ave pace, para bellum– “If you would have peace, prepare for war”. It’s not a coincidence that “PARABELLUM- BERLIN” used to be DWM’s telegraph address, and where the “Luger” pistol got its name.

          It still holds true today, and probably will into the future. Unless and until Man evolves into something else, as H. Beam Piper said in Space Viking (1964).

          Such an evolution seems a very long way off.



          • Good discussion – thank you for your thoughts.
            I can see we’d have lots to talk about if we met.

        • Answer.
          War is a continuation of politics.
          Politics is the continuation of the economy.
          “If our soldiers understood why we are fighting, it would be impossible to wage a single war.” (C)

      • The trouble is that you still need a conscious mind to decide where to send the fire. And today especially the old Mark One Eyeball is about the only “sensor” nobody’s ever been able to completely neutralize.

        That still leaves the problem of getting in touch with higher when the other side is ECMing for all they’re worth.

        The squad on the ground, with eyes to see and minds to properly interpret what it is they are seeing, is still the “least worst” solution to this perennial problem.



        • If a person is observant enough to see the situation in time.
          Smart and educated enough to properly assess her and draw up the correct plan.
          Determined and brave enough to lead the execution of this plan…
          Such a person will find himself a more reasonable occupation than trying to kill himself in such an intricate way, and even in the company of the same idiots.

          This is the image of a certain ideal military leader.
          Almost god.
          There is no such thing.