Transferable MKb-42(H) Assault Rifle at RIA

The MKb-42(H), or Maschinenkarabiner-42 (Haenel), was the first production iteration of the German Sturmgewehr. It was chambered for the then-new 8x33mm kurz cartridge, and fired both semiauto and full-auto from an open bolt. Approximately 11,000 of these were made before production changed to the closed-bolt MP43. This particular MKb-42(H) is fully transferable, and up for auction from the Rock Island Auction Company on September 13th, 2014.



  1. Let me highly recommend the Collector Grade book “Sturmgewehr!” to anyone interested in the utterly byzantine path the Germans took in their [partial] adoption of self-loading rifles. As usual, the effort was a day late and a Reichsmark short…

  2. That stamped fore-grip would also be a problem in cold weather. It would be very uncomfortably cold and suck the heat out of your hands unless you were wearing thick gloves or mitts.

    If you are trying to control your body temperature in winter (so you don’t sweat) and you are getting too hot, one of the first things you do is to take your gloves or mitts off. However, the rifle could still be quite cold, making bare metal uncomfortable to handle.

    I wonder if the German troops ever wrapped some cloth around the fore end to deal with this?

    • From all indications, the usual grip for firing the various iterations of the machine carbines was very similar to that for firing the MP.38/40. The off hand cradled the front of the receiver, just in front of the magazine, with the palm forming the hypotenuse of a triangle, the front of the magazine well and the underside of the trunnion block box forming the “short” sides.

      This grip avoided most of the problems with both heat and cold. It was entirely practical to hold it this way, even when wearing heavy mittens or gloves in cold weather, without removing the off-hand one.

      Wrapping the fore-end with cloth was not a good idea. This would block the cooling vents and lead to rapid heat buildup, which was something the rifle was quite prone to anyway. The cooling vents had to be kept clear to allow heat to bleed off to avoid damage to the barrel.

      Trying to hold the rifle by the barrel jacket/ fore-end, even with the bare hand, was a bad idea for the same reason. Not to mention the problem of ending up with lightly grilled fingers & etc.

      The wooden fore-ed of the MKb’s Russian analogue, the postwar Kalashnikov, is no accident.



      • Any sort of plastic back then was made of petroleum, which Germany was very short of. This was the reason the early FG-42 had a stamped-steel butt, and the later version had wooden furniture overall in spite of increasing weight.



        • Bakelite uses a phenol-formaldehyde resin with some sort of fibrous filler to reinforce it (usually wood pulp)

          The phenol and the formaldehyde are both easily obtained from the byproducts plants associated with coke works and coal gas works, both of which Germany had in abundance.

          That said, I’m not sure what other perhaps more pressing uses those ingredients might have been reserved for.

          It is interesting that the di-phenol “resorcin” (a benzene ring with two OH groups) yields a red coloured resin. The Soviets used resins containing resorcin.

          Resorcin, with three nitrate groups added is “styphnic acid” the lead salt, sensitized with tatracene forms the basis of non corrosive primers.

        • I recall my father had Wehrmacht issue case for field binoculars out of bakelite. He admired the German capability in early plastics and mentioned it at several occasions. I remember to this day how they cleverly combined plastic with stamped parts with rivets to final result which was outstanding.

          They might used wood to save effect, which would definitely add to value of the gun. Russians have used it for many years to their and others satisfaction.

          Thanks to Keith further coming to help with his expertise.

  3. The question I have that doesn’t seem to be answered is Why is the gas-tube lengthened to the front-sight when on the STG44 it is chopped?

      • The gas tube is the same length in both MKb42H and MP43 – note the position of the gas block is the same in both weapons. The MKb42H had a 4-inch long gas block front plug shortened to 1-inch with a stacking rod. Why the change, nobody knew – but the gas systems were of the same length.

  4. Is the magazine single stack or double? Along with ‘MG’ I wonder if there are improvised hand guards in any of the photos of the gun in combat?

  5. I think what interests me most about these rare weapons is the back story, the etiology of how the piece came to be available for auction. It fascinates me to learn this. These stories, to me, are every bit as enthralling as any war story, and I’d wager that I’m not alone in that regard. That these weapons are such durable and evocative pieces of history makes them, to me, as valuable as they are as examples of complex and brilliant engineering and invention.

  6. In reply to the query from Seth the gas tube and gas hole ( 9.430″ from breech) is the same for the whole series the difference is that on the MkB42(H) the threaded gas plug is long and goes through the front sight whilst the later rifles had a shorter gas plug. As an aside the gas hole position and piston diameter was copied exactly on the AK

  7. It never occurred to me before (from what I can tell) to notice the amount of over-travel for action. Must have been for a reason, probably to reduce ROF. It creates conspicuously short butt.

  8. Dear Ian,
    Could you produce an enlarged photo of the rear of the sheet metal sight bracket and also is there a photo of the small (2mm) grub screw that locates the telescope underneath the forward sheet steel bracket,

    Best regards


  9. The fact that the MKB was open bolt is something which had completely passed me by.

    The assumption of full auto fire as the default is certainly clear from that.

    The presence of Hugo Schmiesser in its development, and in the background of the development of the AK also gives some circumstantial evidence for why the first position for an AK selector after it is taken off “safe” is full auto.

    • That was most likely a legacy from the MP.38/40, which only fires on full-auto, with no single-shot setting. As the carbine was intended to be used primarily at ranges under 200 meters, it would usually be on full auto, either for burst fire in CQB or in roughly aimed suppressive fire.

      Keep in mind that Wehrmacht tactical doctrine held that the squad machine gun firing the full-bore 7.9 x 57 round was the primary killer. The rest of the infantry section was there to support the SAW, by providing flanking cover, provide suppressive fire as the SAW was moved up (“bound and overwatch”), and of course by lugging the ammunition belts.

      As such, the idea of the machine carbine was that it would be used like the MP most of the time, at close to medium range, firing short bursts, while the machine gun got on with the business of doing major damage to the enemy.

      This was the opposite of the U.S. and British doctrines, which held that the rifles of the infantry section were the base of fire and the machine gun was mainly to be used to suppress its opposite numbers, i.e. enemy MGs, while the riflemen attended to the mission objectives.

      It must be said that this sort of doctrine probably evolved it of necessity. The BAR and Bren were box magazine fed, unlike the belt-fed MG34 and MG42, and simply could not deliver the volumes of sustained fire the German guns could. As such, the riflemen, armed with the eight-round Garand or ten-round Enfield, became the section base of fire.

      This was less by default than by design. Both the American and British armies had always taken pride in their rifle marksmanship and their ability to deliver volleys of aimed fire. As a result, their weapons were more-or-less tailored to those tactics.

      The Germans, more realistically, concluded that it took a lifetime to make a man a crack shot at the level of the British Territorials or the American National Guard, and so tailored their weapon mix to get the maximum effectiveness out what were basically conscript troops who had not spent their entire lifetime practicing at a target range on Sunday afternoon.

      Of course, we won, anyway.




      • This brings up the thought how the other side e.i. Eastern front champion was doing it. Yes, there was standard Mosin, self-loading Tokarev, PPSh, DP light machinegun and heavy Maxim. Looks to me like combination of previously mentioned.

        As you say, at the end “we” won.

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