German 9mm Training MG

A while back we had an excellent guest article by Michael Heidler on the Haenel ZfG-38 training machine gun. Well, we also happen to have found a pretty detailed line drawing of another Haenel training gun, this time in 9mm and labelled “Zielfeuergerät Schmeisser”. It used a very extended 100-round stick magazine, although the bolt and trigger mechanisms look basically identical to the 8×57 ZfG-38.

ZfG Schmeisser 9mm training machine gun
Haenel ZfG Schmeisser 9mm training machine gun (click to enlarge)

This gun (along with the 8mm version) was used in training exercises, either as a remotely triggered simulator controlled by an instructor or as a warning device with the trigger connected to a tripwire. As you can see form the drawing, the trigger mechanism is designed so that it can be fired by pulling a wire either from in front or behind the gun. Here is a photo of an example of one of the 9mm guns, courtesy of Michael Heidler:

ZfG 9mm Schmeisser
ZfG 9mm Schmeisser

The cartridge used in these was the crimped 9mm blank originally developed for the MP28,II (photos again courtesy of Michael Heidler):

9mm blanks in box
9mm blanks in box
9mm blanks on blueprint
9mm blanks on blueprint



  1. A neat and fascinating weapon. Was it sufficiently stressed to enable firing of live rounds as well? The reason I am asking is because this gun could potentially lend itself, with a few modifications, to being set up as a remotely-activated ambush weapon, whether it be by operator control or trip wire.

    • I would have said almost certainly not.

      From the blueprint, the bolt is turned down around the middle to reduce weight, sufficeint for a blank (without either a bullet or a restriction in the barrel to up the pressure) to operate it,

      the bolt’s cotton bobbin shape with a bearing surface at either end is to give it stability in the tube receiver.

      The length of the receiver is probably to allow the light bolt to recoil far enough against a light spring to give a realistically slow rate of fire.

      Just swapping the barrel for a 9mm one would likely result in the bolt moving back too fast on firing and the case head emerging from the chamber too soon and either bulging or popping.

  2. The magazine looks a lot like a MP28 or Sten. I’m surprised that some one has not tried to use one with their live guns. Of course the magazine spring might be too weak to work in any orientation than tilted down.

  3. Does anyone else think this might work with live ammo, provided it was fitted with a proper barrel?
    The weight of the bolt and firing pin assembly alone might be enough to let it function relatively safely with live ammunition.

  4. It istu mutch to call thid dewice a traninggun, I shuld be called a mashingun fire simulator. A simular gun is stilli in use in the danish army, made of STEN guns, witch is a copy of the smeiser MP!8. The danes use the 9 mm starcrimped blanks to. Model 57, with 19 mm chamber length and the model 53, with 21 mm length. The danish Mashingunfiresimulater model 45/57 is used on the shootingranges, to simulate the targets shooting back at you. The german Zielfeuergeret 38 is normaly in the german 8 mm infantery caliber, and uses an extended MG17 magasine and blank cartridges, with wooden bullits.

    • Yeah, you are right Peter; it is Ein Shten simulator! -))))

      BTW, what are Danes doing currently in firearm field? Still buying Canadian made rifles?

  5. This one seems to be a predecessor to the ZfG38, probably turned down by the Wehrmacht due to lack of officially accepted 9 mm blank in the inventory. 9 mm blanks were made for use with the MP.28,II BFA, but this was a model being phased out of the army at that time, and so Hugo Schmeisser was told to redesign it for the blank that the army had – the Platzpatrone 33 in 7.9×57. The ZfG38 is but a redimensioned ZfG Schmeisser, which is abundantly present in museum and private collections while the ZfG Schmeisser is only known from this drawing and a couple of almost 80 years old factory photos.
    The other nation that used training full-auto MG simulators was Japan. Switzerland had an ingenious device called the Maschinengewehrmarkiergerat (MMGt), resembling a sheet-metal cuckooclock with a metal megaphone tube set on two spikes and having a crank at the back. You put a roll of brass foil belt with .22 blanks into that, and upon cranking two cogs with chamber halves counter-rotate inside, coinciding over consecutive blanks while an eccentric cocks and releases a firing pin, detonating blanks inside the “chamber” in front of the megaphone tube, which makes a hell of a racket, simulating the MG fire. This counter-rotating cogwheels chamber arrangement was also used in at least two other weapons – a 1917 German aviation 12-bbl Fokker-Leinberger “Gatling” gun, and the US Mk18 Mod.0 crank-operated 40 mm (LV!) grenade machine gun (with belts made out of two lengths of… 100MPH tape!).

  6. Looking at this cute little pop-corn gun makes me think: “where is the training part of it”? (Where is the beef?) Training the popping noise or what? It does not shoot any bullet (perhaps even light with limited range just to break paper). It also does not have the usual (as I had been used to) restriction orifice at muzzle. Yes, I can see, it is “Naturliche Grose”. Oh, I see, that’s what it is – German ingenuity as usual. Great!

  7. @Denny: The purpose of this device was to simulate an enemy soldier firing a machinegun. So it did not fire any bullets, only the noise was necessary. Unfortunately paintball wasn’t invented yet at this time. And since the blank round wasn’t closed by a wooden bullet, there was no need to add a muzzle device.

    • Very good, Michael! This puts more light on the subject. It did not occur to me right off. So, training device for acoustic accommodation. I figure nobody else would bother with such a thing part of mentioned nationality.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. SayUncle » Gun Porn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.