FG42 Reproduction (Video)

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 smgguns@yahoo.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



    • Good call, Rich — I’m guessing that SMG tried their level best to retain most of the original features of the FG-42 as much as current U.S. firearms law will allow, while still incorporating what they consider certain ergonomic improvements to cater to present-day enthusiasts, inclusive of the more vertically-configured grip that appeared later in World War Two. It would be interesting if SMG did offer, at some point, an option for the early-model, steeply-raked pistol grip.

    • The sharply-angled grip was the 1st model FG 42, so far SMG is only making semi-auto clones of the 2nd model. No idea if that’ll ever change. IIRC, most of the actual military FG 42s were 2nd model, because it’s just a better version of the design.

  1. Romanian surplus ammo. I don’t believe it, what have I got myself into??? Lol

    You all have a nice day guys, Its snowing in dear old blighty….D

  2. It’s just our luck that this fantastic project is finally gearing up just as a potential ban looms on horizon…

  3. As usual, good stuff. This company from Texas(SMGuns) has been unknown to me, however as I am aware there is similar maker over in Europe – HMZ Kulmbach (http://hza-kulmbach.de/). I wonder, how these two relate and if they compete in that sense. Reviving old time guns is a glorious work!

  4. I first heard about this years ago, the manufacturers have been very pleasant to deal with but it will probably be sometime when I am 70 years old to scrape together the money for one of these.

  5. No ban because it is not an “ASSAULT RIFLE” according to the progressive liberals and nutty Dems. around our declining nation.
    So Ian, you didn’t mention the price!?
    And do they have them in stock?

    • Pat,

      You’re mistaken about this not being subject to the proposed ban (although there are many proposed bans.In New York, it looks like they’ll be confiscating weapons that take over 7 round magazines. But hey, they’ll give you a $50 gift card for turning it in!

      This gun would have been banned under the 1994 AWB as it has several naughty features, the existence of which in he same quantum universe are apparently what cause the urban diversity to whack each other in great numbers with stolen handguns. If only there were a law against that!

      • So far, NY is “only” banning future purchase of such weapons, and allow already-owned ones to be grandfathered in. But only if the owners register them. We’ll see how long it takes before they pass a new law to confiscate them, though.

    • The FG 42 repro has a bayonet, a pistol grip and a 20-round magazine. That makes it an “assault weapon” under the anti-gun crowd’s silly definition.

  6. saw some old footage [ww2] of the weapon being used and noticed the bi-pod was mounted immeadiately in front of the wooden fore-end.

  7. Looks like my SSD link was a double tap of the HZA one. Too bad HZA seems to have folded its tent. The VG1.5 copy looked interesting for Canada anyway(no SBR type restrictions here).

    Had the chance to fire the BD-38 copy. Compared favourably with the original.

  8. i have recieved my fg after over one year on waiting list and everyday worth the wait
    i see Ian you are a lefty as well as I , did you have any issues with this rifle being a right handers designed rifle ??
    i would like to see some footage shooting with and without muzzle brake that would be fun.
    the first group of semi auto fg42s where being sold at around 10,000 and people where lining up 5,000 is deal for amount of work and r&d SMG has put into this weapon

  9. Nice. The relative lack of suitable 8x57mm Mauser ammunition suggests they might want to consider a 7.62x51mm version, using a more commonplace magazine.

  10. Very cool. I wish more replica guns like this were being made.

    From the video it looks like the op-rod acts as the striker like on the original. I would have thought the ATF would have made them change that because the original was a quasi open-bolt design (using an open bolt for auto and changing the release point till after the bolt is locked for semi). Did they make other changes to the system?

    I find the FG-42’s operating system interesting as it bridges the gap between the Lewis and the M-60. I always wondered why they Lewis gun was never developed into a belt feed system in the inter war years as the pan mag was driven by the action of the bolt and a pawl.

  11. I want to get one of these, and I’m really torn between saving up my pennies and getting one, and waiting for the Type I version they are working on, since apart from the more steeply raked grip, I like the looks of that one batter, and it’s lighter (which is probably fine as far as durability goes, since this is not a select-fire rifle that has to put up with all the rigors of military service, even if the original Type I’s were just a wee bit too light for the cartridge they fired). But I wonder why, in copying the Type II, they designed the safety the way they did, which as Ian noted is very un-ergonomic. His comment that that’s the way the original safety’s were is not quite correct, at least for the Type II (it is correct for the Type I). On the Type II, the pivoting lever that has to be pulled out with the support hand and moved 180 degrees back and forth from E (Einzelfeuer — Semi) to D (Dauerfeuer — Auto), was a selector lever only. The actual safety was a second lever, located behind that, and which could be flicked up (safe) and down (fire) with the thumb of the shooting hand, and is actually fairly ergonomic. I suspect Krieghoff modified the design from the Type I, which had safety and selector lever in one, because it was so very un-ergonomic. I wonder why SMG didn’t copy the actual safety lever of the Type II and delete the separate selector lever entirely.

    • Hi Darren,
      As with any decision that involves not being able to do everything as it was there is a trade off. My real quick decision to get away from the original flip safety at the far rear of the trigger housing had to do with it being terribly poor ergonomically for me – and most people with large hands.
      One it was so far and high in the rear it required me to back off gripping the pistol grip to reach it. Worse, it was sharp edged and tried to dig a hole in the top of my hand / thumb knuckle when in the normal firing/grip position. Yes it is unheard of to hear anyone complain about those issues with the original safety but it made a lasting impression on me.
      So what to do…. Either leave it and live with it and leave off the selector and change the look of the rifle A LOT. Or leave the selector as a dummy, and have people say “why” I choose to leave the original safety off and turn the selector into as close to what everyone was already familiar with, a flip down safety.
      Doesn’t flip down as easy as we would like as you have to lift the cap with your thumb as you push it from safe to fire but the original rifle had a pin on that lever that had to be pulled all the way out before moving the selector. So, a trade off…..

      The type I has the same setup in that the selector lever has to be pulled all the way out so the pin will clear the hole in the lower to allow movement. It will be left this way on our type I for a number of reasons and there WILL be people that like it for being closer to original and those that will hate the effort to go from safe to fire…..
      Hopefully they will like the rest of the rifle enough to look over that. Shouldn’t be too long as out type I is up and running and just needing a latch here and a pin there before it ships off to ATF for a look see. Wish us luck. Happy Holidays!

      Rick & Sons

      • I’m glad to hear the Type I is nearing completion. How much lighter is it that the Type II? And are you planning to offer a 7.62mm version also? You ought to consider offering buyers the option of a second trigger assembly, with a more vertical grip angle and more ergonomic safety — a modernized option, sort of like your Mk42, but just a spare trigger assembly. Seems like it ought to be possible, since it’s a removable assembly. One could have the more historically correct assembly for display, reenacting, whatever, and a more modern one for the same sort of customer the Mk42 appeals to.

  12. That is the intent – the optional trigger housing/pistol grip assembly. The .308 version will be done as well but we are just so time short we wanted to just get this running and off to ATF so that we can offer the rifle and see where we are at on possible interest. I think once a few are out and people get to shoot them it will be popular enough as it – even though only weighing about 2 lbs less than the type II – feels way smaller and lighter in your hands.

    We just need to put enough rounds out of one of them to test durability etc. We also have to sort out/finalize things that will be different/left off from the original to ours. Everyone wants it “as close as you can make it” but some of those things effect cost and durability.

    Example is the bolt hold open device.The two we have made have it left off and our intent was to leave it off of the production rifles as well. It was a moderately high fail part on the original – at least in the tests – and better materials will not completely correct an inherent design issue. But, I also had a “duh” moment when trying to test the stripper clip guide and without the bolt hold open you aren’t going to use that feature very easily. That said, past just “being able to” how many ever would use that feature?

    I need to get a short “proof of life” vid up of us shooting the prototype just to see what people think maybe…


    • I just picked up a MAS-36 bayonet on ebay in anticipation of getting one of your Type I’s when they come out, and when I have put enough money aside. I’m eager to see the video. That’s quite interesting about the hold open and stripper clips. Of course, the ability to use the stripper clips would be nice to have, but I, and I suspect most people, would rather have durability if it has to be a trade off between the two.

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