Larry Vickers Shoots an Original FG42

I’ve gotten to take apart an original second model FG-42, and play with an SMG reproduction second model (and shoot against one in a 2-gun match), but I’ve never gotten my hands on an original first model. And I’ve gotten a lot of requests for that. Well, Larry Vickers just got the chance to do this, and has a great video of it:

A couple things I want to mention about what he says…

He describes the gun as being definitely not lefty-friendly – that is the case with the one he was shooting, and one of the elements added to the second model by the Germans was a case deflector. That allows left-handed use of the gun without any problem – and SMG’s reproductions actually have a better ejection path than the originals and don’t even need the deflector.

He also complains about the balance being weighted off to the left by a loaded magazine, which is not an issue I found to be noticeable on the second model. That may be because the second model has a more vertical grip (which affords more leverage to hold the gun square) and it weighs more overall, which means the offset loaded magazine is a smaller proportion of the overall weight.

I noticed the really high rate of fire, and I’m really impressed by how controllable he made the gun appear. I’m definitely jealous – I can’t wait to find an opportunity to shoot one of these myself!

63 Comments

  1. I was all chuffed with myself once after cutting a cam guide into a cardboard tube and making it turn in my hand with a AA battery stuck in the guide and another tube.

    I then saw the insides of a Lewis gun, mind you I thought well at least I was thinking of something remotely viable.

    Mine was a square to diamond arrangement though, idea was to lock behind the bolt. A hollow square tube would sit behind the cylindrical bolt however to it’s rear was a square section. When the bolt was unlocked, the square section fitted inside the rear square. But when it was locked the square became a diamond and wouldn’t fit through the square, it’s corners became four locking lugs. Behind the bolts square section was another tube which passed inside the square section to the rear allowing the bolt to swivel.

    Something like that, might have had numerous flaws the purpose of it was trying to avoid machining conventional lugs…

    Anyway I digress, what lovely weapons 🙂

  2. Very interesting video. Thanks for posting! I too was impressed by the seemingly high rate of fire and by how controllable the rifle looks in the expert hands Mr. Vickers.

  3. An absolutely remarkable weapon,
    It is an WW2 legendary automatic rifle ever made compared to US Browning BAR,the Russian AVS36 cant be even compared between those 2 models…

    If not for FG42 and MG42 there wont be any M60’s today in use,I could made an FG42’s but I don’t have machinery or materials to establish full production run..

    I only see most chalanging parts in FG42 is bolt and bolt carrier rather than anything else…

    The person who showed his 1st FG42 model forgottened to mension that’s 1st models receiver housings was actually milled and stocks was made out of aluminum forgings….

    The 2nd and third models receiver was sheetmetall stamped and barrel extension was spot welded inside in order to simplify manufacturing as much as possible,stocks was made out of cheep compressed wood but still its smooth operation cannot be confused with any other rifles…

    • My impression of the FG-42 has always been that it’s a weapon surrounded with the usual mythical fascination many people seem to have with regards to German weapons of the Second World War. It looks cool, is very interesting and is really a very ingenious design.

      On the other, more practical side, it is expensive, difficult and time consuming to make, heavy, badly balanced, not terribly ergonomic, very hard to control on FA and it has a low magazine capacity. All in all, not a weapon suited to real world warfare.

      • That little spike bayonet strikes me as somewhat strange also, I wonder if prototype drawing one of 365 etc didn’t have a similar looking piece as the bayonet stowed as a actuating rod for a bang type system sort of looks apt.

        Also although this gun was a Luftwaffe baby, the Army originally told gun designers to not have ports in the barrel apparently. And given it’s bulbous muzzle device as an attempt to tame substantial forces seemingly, this may have evolved as a sort of recoil booster acting upon said rod in one configuration.

        Then they went for a gas port, a badly placed one but were else would it go sort of thing… And covered the now vacant space up with a bayonet of a sort hurriedly.

        • The line of thought makes sense, but I don’t think it’s correct. The G41 development (which was the Bang system) was completely independent of FG42 development, and Army requirements for their rifle had no impact on the FG42 design parameters. The location of the gas port was chosen to minimize weight by keeping the piston short, and the spike bayonet was there because the spec required the guns to replace the K98k in all functions, and thus it was required to have a bayonet. It was a dumb requirement, so the designers met it with the smallest and lightest “bayonet” they could get away with (much like the requirement for bayonets on M1941 Johnsons in US service). The negative side effects of the gas port location were dealt with through the clever chamber design (to maximize the time that the chamber stayed sealed as the bolt was unlocking).

          • Think I kind of went of on something of a wayward tangent, I sort of imagined the bayonet as being a exposed piston, sort of a separate gas tube on a MKb.42(H)in the same position with the sight block etc… Only with a spring around the barrel behind it, a sort of large gas tappet blasted back by some muzzle device to actuate the actual gas piston attached to the bolt etc. Which returned forward independently of it, I found a picture of something called a Mg35/36 which looked like it might be slightly related to Fg42 development in someway.

            I can get were your coming from with the bayonet being required, and thank you for the explanation in general.

    • The genesis you mention – FG42 to M60, well it has been known and its true. On the other hand, whatever the new MG for US Army would turn out to be, the user might have been better off and saving in the process.

      For one, it might have ended up with something like recently featured and home-grown Johnsons LMG which still, had lots of development potential in it, namely if pertinent belt-feed was to be implemented.

  4. The initial first model stock was an aluminum stamping. The later first model weapons had a sheet metal stamped stock.

  5. Needless to say the FG 42 first Model is also my Ideal weapon. I got to shoot one in 1980 and was amazed at how compact and controllable it was with less felt recoil than a M1.

  6. The first model aluminium butt was a casting machined and the rear sight was an adjustable open sight. There was also at least two different intermediate models that looked similar to the second model but used different mags and the bolts were of smaller diameter than the production second model as well as other minor differences

  7. Facinating gun.. I fired one at Shrivenham many years ago, and it brings home the advantages of a straight through stock. Compared with the FAL on full auto, which I think is the closest comparison in size, power and weight, it is night and day. The FAL climbs like crazy and is almost impossible to hold on target, the 42 is no trouble..
    Wrecks cases though!

  8. For a weapon of the same calibre I wondered why it’s effective range was different to that of the K98 according to Wikipedia, given the model one version video gave me the impression the Fg42 was the same length. I thought perhaps it’s the scope, in regards the “effective” range for the K98 is stated as being greater for a scoped model. However the Fg42 also had a scope, it also had a shorter barrel by about five inches so it’s probably to do with that.

    Fg42
    Length
    Ausführung “G”: 975 mm (38.4 in)

    Barrel length
    500 mm (19.7 in)

    Effective firing range
    500 m

    Sights
    Iron sights (all models); flip-up front post and folding rear diopter sight; ZFG42 or ZF4 scope

    K98
    Length
    1,110 mm (43.70 in)

    Barrel length
    610 mm (24.02 in)

    Effective firing range
    500 m (550 yd) with iron sights
    1,000 m (1,090 yd) with telescopic sight

    Source Wikipedia

    • For an extra 5″ length on the receiver approximately, they could have perhaps put the magazine in an M4’s position and had the stock collapse/extend in the same manner to take reduce the additional length again.

      Does the first models stock have the later ones sort of telescopic recoil buffer, in addition to the internal bolt buffer thing just thinking the first model still looked smooth in full auto.

      • Maybe in conjunction with it’s 16″ barrel also, oh and making the recoil rod slotted to fit a mag through it, or M14 style to avoid the magazine in this new position clearly.

      • That’s not as simple as that. That’s a complete redesigning. Why? Because the bolt is made to take a cartridge from the left side and eject it to the right and not from the bottom to the right.

        • It could eject from the top perhaps, do you work for ze Kaisers ministry of armaments “the enemy soldiers aren’t going to spot brass ejecting upwards from behind a bush a 300m” for example.

          Just a thought, better mag position.

  9. While the FG-42 is not very ergonomic, it does make for a great step forward in small arms doctrine. Along with other selective-fire rifles, it preceded the assault rifle proper and was more of a battle rifle (terminology based on ammunition strength, battle rifles chamber “full-strength cartridges” opposed to “intermediary strength”).

    And people unfamiliar with this thing would probably think it was a Star Wars prop gun… Sorry about that…

  10. Would overly deep rifling, like in the Hk Vp70 which allows some gas to pass the bullet in the barrel help with muzzle blast on a rifle like this out of interest anyone think?

    • I don’t think muzzle blast is really that much of an issue with the FG. It has a 19.7″ barrel (500mm), which is a bit longer than the G33/40 carbines, and only about 4″ shorter than a K98k. Surprisingly, the muzzle brake isn’t as bad to be around as a lot of fancy AR competition brakes I’ve been concussed by.

      • I’ve been following this article and the comments of my fellow FW members with great interest ( and I’ve certainly learned a lot from them , as usual ).

        I have to add that the fancy ( and over-rated, over-priced ) AR muzzle brakes, flash hiders, compensators , et al, that seem to have flooded the market, each manufacturer claiming quantum leaps in total performance over the competition, seem to be mostly the products of clever marketing and snob value while offering very little, if any, improvements in real-world performance over the inexpensive basic Mil-spec A2 “birdcage” flash hider. There are a few exceptions that perform exceptionally well indeed, and which are definitely well worth considering, such as the YHM Phantom flash hider ( which is also available for other rifles in assorted calibers ) — but overall, I would say that the majority are more about marketing hype and “tacti-cool” looks than shining examples of real-world performance.

      • I suppose, I meant flash and possibly blast if stood behind a bush. In regards some Scotsman firing at the smoke, so to speak.

    • That’s simple, if you reduce the pressure on the bullet by creating some leaking, you just reduce the velocity of the bullet and therefore its “power”. Basically you just waste a large part of the powder, therefore better use simply less powder than wasting it.

      • Yes that’s what I meant Paul, in relation to say a Vp70 Using a 9x21mm round without a locking system due to it’s power output being that of a 9mm luger via “losing power thus” therefore requiring a slide weight appropriate for that in using the blowback principle. It’s not that much power loss, in the aforementioned. Suppose I was thinking, it would lose a bit but not to much sort of in-between a kurz 7.92 and the full power round. Resulting it not requiring the large muzzle break for example, possibly.

  11. I just watched the Smg guns replica video, and the Fg42’s original chamber design was mentioned. Which originally added to the delay of extracting the case apparently as a function, in principle does this achieve the purpose a chamber ring delayed blowback like the Seecamp pistol?

    • As I understand it, the FG42 chamber is designed to allow the brass to maintain an effective seal as it begins extracting, and it does not cause any delay in the cycling process. The Seecamp, OTOH, uses the chamber ring (again, as I understand it – I’ve never handled a Seecamp) to hold the brass in place longer and thus delay the whole extraction process.

      • I’ll watch you explain why it does this again, I must have misunderstood the reason for creating a better seal in the manner you explained.

      • “The negative side effects of the gas port location were dealt with through the clever chamber design, to maximize the time that the chamber stayed sealed as the bolt was unlocking” These negative effects being thus i.e. Because it’s closer to the chamber, it operated quicker… To quick hence the necessity of the clever chamber got, you I think.
        Your explanations are very good Ian, I’m just a bit slow. Or indeed fast, thinking of something else before I’ve thought something else through cheers.

    • No, the gas system and handguard are the same design in the second model. The handguard might be a little bit larger; I’m not sure. It’s not really a problem per se, just a design element you need to be aware of – keep your hand on the handguard and you’ll be fine (don’t put your thumb in the Garand, don’t put your knuckle where the Vickers handle will hit it, etc).

  12. Ian, would the first model have been employed more frequently in the prone position because of the dramatic angle of the grip? It seems rather difficult to have to try and fire a first model FG42 from the offhand position. I’ve also heard some documentaries say that the recoil was so bad on this weapon that it was rarely used on full auto. But from your experience shooting a repro second model and Larry shooting the first model, that seems like a fallacy.

    • The link appears to have worked, so I will continue with a brief explanation of my drawing. The basis for this conception of the Fg42 is that perhaps once it was designed even merely as a drawing using a gas system similar to the Mg42, within this assumption which I make on the premise it kind of resembles one essentially I take two aspects of the Fg42 as we know it and present them in a different manner.

      Mainly the bipod, which I switch to being a frame holding what is essentially a recoil booster. And the bayonet when in the stowed position, I envisage as a actuating rod for the actual operating rod.

      The gun is supposed to be the same as the fg42 however in this configuration, gas from the muzzle hits a gas piston inside the recoil booster the piston however is turned into an actuating rod running under the barrel. This rod/piston is sprung loaded via compressing against a sleeve running over the barrel.

      Upon firing gas hits the piston, pushing the attached actuating rod into the conventional operating rod. This then functions normally, as the sprung loaded actuating rod/piston returns independently. A partially reciprocating cocking rod, runs over the actuating rod allowing you to cock the actual operating rod.

      • The frame holding the recoil booster consists of two sides, which I imagine to look like the bipod in the closed position.

        Some parts of the drawing are simplified to illustrate the general area concerned.

  13. “The barrel should be shown protruding from the front of the gas piston, in the middle picture when the piston moves rearwards as the barrel remains static throughout”

  14. This comment more refers to the linked tear-down video Ian did, than this one.

    What’s interesting to note is that there’s virtually none of the wear seen at points in the mechanism of the M60 that were notorious for it–Namely, the point where the op rod tower goes into the bolt. If you look, you can see the relieving cuts and other features that preclude this happening.

    What else is interesting? I never really thought about that firing pin spring being superfluous in the M60, not realizing that it’s a vestigial hold-over from the semi-auto feature on the FG42. Why they bothered including that, and not the relief cuts in the bolt cam track…? Who the hell knows. I’ll continue to say that the people who designed the M60 were a bunch of flipping hacks, however, who didn’t understand the mechanisms they were copying.

    • Is the firing pin spring required for semi auto Kirk, or does it just assist it. I thought it was the position of the “sear” trigger catch thing, as when the rod moves back a bit the pin is under pressure thus. While the bolt is still locked, so releasing the trigger at that point would fire it without the firing pin spring. Actually I’ll watch the videos again, that Smg guns website is good they have photos of loads of metal guns bits, stacks of bolts, triggers wee nuts and bolts exactly the same lined up like the heaven of folk who like such things.

      • The firing pin spring is primarily needed for semiauto, and less important for full auto. The reason is that in full auto, the bolt starts in the open position, and the mainspring has lots of stored energy to slam the bolt and firing pin forward to fire. In semiauto, the oprod is almost all the way forward and at rest when the trigger is pulled. The mainspring is close to its uncompressed length, and doesn’t have much stored energy available to push the firing pin forward. The firing pin spring acts as a booster, to make sure there is enough energy.

      • It gives it a boost I think, which in regards the M60 firing from an open bolt It was unlikely to have been required.

        When I was trying to design a imaginary firing mechanism for my re-invented Lewis type action I didn’t think to mount it to the operating rod, seems obvious now. Instead I came up which a rather elaborate, turning firing pin contraption. Essentially it was a firing pin/spring inside the rear of the bolt “an extended Lewis type, cammed tube thing” and the bolt itself ran on pins inside two further cams… Which cocked when the bolt turned, and fired when it turned the other way. Have to dig a picture out of it actually, amuse myself.

  15. After looking at the Smg guns website, if I was an American and had $5000 to spend on a gun. I’d like one, it’s a nice reproduction of a distinctive gun which looks well made so I would like to support their endeavour. However this proposition isn’t relevant to me, as I’m British minus $5,000.

    One of those sauce pan making machines off Schindler’s list looks like it would come in handy for them, should have a “Church roof” collection to purchase an old old one from Moldova or somewhere for them in order to knock unt more of ze cheaper German replica guns mit der niche market in mind.

    Or make one, utilizing an old Jcb digger or something…

    As after watching those Gerat video’s, they look cheap to make, so tubes, stamped sheet metal, the Fg42 models were originally made in “war” so weren’t works of art etc. Doubtless you could sell reproductions to a guaranteed niche market, particularly in regards WWII “German” weapons.

    You could probably get away with a series of “what if weapons” 1946 model used in the victorious “German” Soviet campaign of 1946 to 52. More and more Volkssturmg… Etc, weapons as the U.S pulls out after defeating Japan in order to concentrate on selling them fridges, revolution in Britain overthrow of the monarchy. French people running amok guillotining things “Germans” being delivered covert supplies to continue there anti Soviet campaign with their badly depleted forces. Or indeed, potential prototypes prior to their defeat in 1945.

    • Speaking of the Gerat 06h which was presumably part of the Spz series, a family of German assault rifles that was in the planning stage in the final stages of the war. Weren’t much different than the Primitiv-Waffen-Programm of which the Gustloff Volkssturmgewehr using the Barnitzke system was part of, in that they needed to be cheap in essence.

      I have a notion for a presumed simpler to manufacture version of the roller delayed system, which I’d like theoretical opinion of in regards it’s hypothetical viability.

      It consists of four flat “rods/plates” set to overlap each others ends vertically, resembling a diamond shape thus:
      /\
      \/

      These would be pinned together so they could swivel in the middle i.e. at the top of each V shape, then at the top of the “diamond” to a bolt face which would sit inside two plates, the plates sitting above and below the tops and bottoms of these rods.

      At the rear the rods would be pinned to a weight to the rear of the “diamond” in the same manner as above, so as to permit movement of the rods and bolt/weight as aforementioned whilst connected to each other.

      The pins which would hold the four rods together in the middle of the “diamond” would be fitted with rollers at either end, giving four vertical rollers in a H type shape.

      Above and below the central – part of the H type shape, as viewed if the mechanism was placed horizontally inside of the receiver is were the four rods would sit stacked on top of each other. The uprights of the H type shape would be the pins with the rollers sitting around each top and bottom, around the pins.

      Try it with four cigarettes on a table, created a stacked diamond then imagine the pins through the middle and the plates at either end to pinned through them containing the bolt face at the front and the weight at the rear.

      “Overall it would be around this size also”

      When inside the receiver the rollers would “lock” behind the upper and lower inwards protruding points of a [ ] shape, this shape would be formed from two halves of a box section fitted inside the tubular receiver.

      The protruding sections would be ground to an angle so if viewed from above they would look like this shape roughly \ /

      A recoil spring would sit behind the weight in the tubular receiver, behind the box sections.

      Upon firing recoil would actuate the weight therefore compressing the spring, retracting the rods inwards via the swivel pins.

      The rollers would now fit into the gap between the recesses and the entire diamond piece would move rearward in it’s contracted form, kept in place via the rollers running parallel to each other down the channel between the box sections and the rods between the recesses sides.

      The box sections front i.e. the “locking” recesses, are located in the position from were a round is attached to the bolt face and chambered with the rollers “locked” which will be appropriate distance in regards the cartridges length. These sections end at a point, past that required as a guide for the rollers.

      Locked, delayed, or neither?

      • Other than that the bolt face, has a firing pin with an offset rear to the right “offset as per the stgw57” and a conventional extractor/ejector. A striker running down the right hand side between the box section and tubular receiver, and a non reciprocating cocking rod/handle running as above on the left hand side which engages the weight protruding from the box sections rear which in turn contacts the striker. The gun is a one piece tube, with a wire piece running down from it’s rear forming a butt plate then back up at an angle then along and down at an angle to form a section to mount a pistol grip to, trigger as per the Mauser Volkspistole acts upon the striker. Magazine well, something simple etc.

      • Make it if you think it’s viable “my contribution to, ze Volk” I’m thinking of frickin lasers like everyone else.

          • It should work, simply by recoil given the angled surfaces upon which the rollers rest upon. So the delay is provided upon firing by the recoil forces working outwards on the rollers which can’t go anyway because the weight can’t fit into the box section so the diamond cant expand, therefore only the weight can move and when it does the diamond contracts in so doing moving the rollers down the angled surfaces in the recesses between the box sections.

  16. Watching that Vickers chaps video, he shot at that “bomb” bag, after switching to semi auto after full, so the bolt was still open and missed, then it went to a closed bolt and he hit which perhaps proves the extra judder from firing single shots out if open bolt guns has an effect in accuracy.

    Mind you, he was close.

  17. As far as the Fallschirmjägergewehr 1942 influencing other designs postwar, certainly the M60 GPMG or Vietnam-era “pig” is one such. The layout, including the side-mounted magazine, turned up in any number of Swiss prototypes. The Swiss straight-pull sniper rifle remained a manual repeater, but sure seemed to use the very same FG42 muzzle-brake design, no?

    Question: Would the FG42 be the very first attempt to have an infantry weapon system that combined all the attributes of a rifle and LMG/support weapon? I know it was developed because of the Crete invasion experience where Luftwaffe Fallshirmjäger jumped with pistol-caliber SMGs and pistols, and after landing had to locate weapon canisters with G33/40s/ K98s/ MG34s and other support weapons… Seems like the premise survived in M14/M14E2 (do I have that right?), the British EM-2, the Steyr Stgw77/AUG, British “IW” to SA80 development, and even, perhaps, the current USMC interest in an “automatic rifle” equipped fire-team.

  18. Hi there,

    I’m working in a Canadian military museum and last week, just found out that we have a first model of FG42, fully functional, but the muzzle brake is missing. I’m looking for any collector who may provide an original muzzle brake, that may not exist anymore, but if we could borrow one to make a copy of it, would be very great.

    Feel free to send me an email if anyone of you can help me.

    martin.dauphinais.1@ulaval.ca

    Thanks to you.

    Martin

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