Two VG1-5 Gustloff Last Ditch Rifles at RIA

The Volksstrumgewehr Gustloff, more commonly (albeit incorrectly) known as the VG1-5, was one of the few semiautomatic Volkssturm weapons produced at the end of WWII. I have discussed these rifles before, but wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to take a close look at two more examples of the type.

Mechanically the Gustloff uses a system quite unusual in rifles – gas delayed blowback. Chambered for the 8×33 Kurz cartridge, there are 4 small gas vent holes in the front half of the barrel which vent gas into a chamber in the front muzzle plug. Pressure in this chamber acts to keep the slide closed, thus delayed the opening of the action. A nearly identical system is used in the much later Steyr GB pistol.

One of these in particular still has its original sling, which is a neat feature (the other clearly was issued with a sling but has lost it). In total 10,000 of these were manufactured, but they were not able to make a significant impact to prolong Germany’s war effort.


  1. Gas escape holes seems cut fairly far. This means the gun works in simple blowback to that distance. If ıt were all the lenght of the barrel, the additional gas brake mechanism would not be necessary. Gas assist action seems, as if made to cushion the violent impact of recoiling slide, rather than to delay the opening of breech backside.

    • Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that… That would explain the large slide. I did think, to better facilitate delaying the slide the ports would be better nearer the chamber. Just seemed logical, given you are trying to delay blowback.

    • ” Strongarm
      November 20, 2015 at 7:25 am · Reply

      Gas escape holes seems cut fairly far. This means the gun works in simple blowback to that distance. If ıt were all the lenght of the barrel, the additional gas brake mechanism would not be necessary. Gas assist action seems, as if made to cushion the violent impact of recoiling slide, rather than to delay the opening of breech backside.”

      EXACT !!!

      it’s not a gas blowback: it’s a gas buffer…

  2. Fantastic stuff, Ian! I’ve long been fascinated with the Barnitzke/Gustloffwerk Volksgewehr since I first saw it in the Smith _Small Arms of the World_ and the example at the IWM in London. W. Darrin Weaver’s book on the Volksturm armament programs and your site have by far the most thorough and informed discussion of this “also ran” self-loading carbine design. It is really to the credit of forgotten weapons that we can observe how these were made, fit together, and functioned. I like the even handed evaluation of the rifle too, with very good observations about actually firing and handling one, and also a consideration of the operational aspect of actually putting such weapons into production. For those of us with “champagne tastes on a beer budget” for collecting WWII service rifles, this vicarious presentation is as close as we’ll get to a real one, and the hand-built replicas have a price-tag commensurate with being newly built in a very small production run and are also out of most of our budgets.

    As far as Thüringen goes, it is frequently anglicized to “Thuringia” so don’t worry about the actual German pronunciation, which is “TooreenGen.” Pronouncing umlauted vowel sounds is tricky insofar as one must purse the lips and make the vowel sound while simultaneously trying to pronounce the most common vowel in English: “e.”

    My understanding of the ten shot 7.92x33mm magazines is that the Austrian paper hanger in chief, ol’ Adolf himself actually imposed this idea in one of his very many micro-managing interventions there at the end as the edifice of his racist European empire came crashing down and the Downfall was nigh…

    Obviously the destruction of the Third Reich took too many lives and caused incredible misery and destruction, so I don’t want to “Monday morning quarterback” such an odious regime, but the better idea for arming the Volkssturm/Gauleiter-led Home Guard and the so-called “Volksgrenadier” formations of the late Wehrmacht was to go full tilt into making simplified Sten clones, e.g. the Volksmachinepistole MP.3008/ Gerät Neumünster with three MP40 mags per weapon and very many more Panzerfäuste 60s.

    Thanks very much for all the exploration of this carbine design!

  3. Erfurt is in Thuring’etc, they made guns there Erma. They were perhaps thinking, of after the war so to speak if the Mp44 factories had gone… They did plan some sort of insurgency war in the event of defeat, I think it was supposed to have things for it hidden towards Austria. But it never materialised, after the war.

    • Jawohl: ERMA: Erfurter Maschinenfabrik in Thüringen

      The Nazi “stay behinds” were the so-called “Werwolf” or “Wehrwolf” named after bands in the Lüneberger heide during the Thirty Years War. The Soviets extirpated such bands, as did the western allies, although there was comparatively less activity in the western sector. Still, such pro-Nazi elements did cause mischief including assassinating the mayor of Aachen and so on. The “Alpine redoubt” caused Allied planners much anxiety, and U.S. forces increasingly were directed southwards to meet this threat, while the British sought to prevent Uncle Joe from handing them a fait accompli of a Soviet-dominated Baltic and/or North Sea coast.

      • I’ve been through on a train, lots of forests… And a red and white striped chimney somewhere round there, like they had in the Soviet union which I assumed was because Erfurt was in former east Germany. Actually I changed trains, think I was going to Dresden or possibly Nuremberg.

        • There’s a statue of some 19th c or earlier German prince on a crossroads, in southern Germany, somewhere… Forgot, probably loads of these rifles under it.

        • Yes. Me too. Switched trains in Erfurt en-route to Naumburg during the “fire sale” just before the Anschluss, erm, I mean re-unification… Wife’s relatives or in Mittel-Franken near Nuremburg und so weiter…

          Suhl in Thuringia is a very ancient gun-making center and has loads of small gun makers and high-end sporting arms. During WWI the region churned out small pistols for the armed forces. In WWII, well, those Germans really know how to make a machine gun, no?

          • My mate is a postman there, I had a conversation in German with a drunk 80 odd yr outside the Brandenburg gate. Long after all that, I was drunk also.

          • The bottom and top of it was, never trust Poles.

            I just nodded, he was well off and ex military you could tell.

            No offence to any Poles, loads here now tak.

      • According to this book;

        A lot of the “Werwolf” operatives made a very good business after V-E Day by selling off the contents of their “operational caches” on the black market.

        On the minus side, a lot of firepower ended up in criminals’ hands.

        On the plus side, in the winter of 1945-46, a lot of people didn’t freeze or starve because of fuel and food gleaned from those caches.



    • Kurz is an abbreviation of Kurzpatrone, like milf is… Or is that an acronym, you are Russian right. Er, bad example… Can’t think of one, sure you have them in Cyrillic. Abbreviations, that is. It means short cartridge in my understanding, not milf, Kurz, hope that helped.

      • Automat Kalashnikov? Ak. Kurzpatrone 7.92x33mm 7.92 kurz, 7.92 short as oppose long 7.92x57mm, short cartridge, long cartridge. Mauser- big, kurz small, bore 8mm

        • I know
          Kurzpatrone in German mean short cartridge
          kurz in German mean short
          Maybe I ask in bad way: which was formal Wehrmacht name for this cartridge?
          I know that military intelligence often use their own names to describe enemy equipment if original are not know which might lead to multiple names for one thing and I assume that it how 8×33 was invented, but I want know original name.

          • Ok, I found answer: true name for 7.92 Kurzpatrone is:
            Pistolen-Patr. 43 m. E
            (or at least this name was found on ammo-boxes of this ammunition)

          • Pistolen… Pistol? Pistol cartridge. Little cartridge, sort of an abbreviation. You know, it isn’t a k98 round neither is it fitting in your c96

          • Recall that the initial name was Machinenpistole, aka. “submachine gun” or, literally, “machine pistol.” MP44. Then Adolf Hitler liked the name “Sturmgewehr” evoking, as it did, the glory days of Spring and Summer 1940…

            German cartridges were 7.92x57mm, but routinely shortened in English publications to simply “8mm Mauser.” The same occurred with the “7.92x33mm kurzpatrone”, hence “8mm kurz” or “8x33mm” It is frequently the case that there are variations or idiosyncrasies in caliber descriptions. The British predilection for using caliber into the thousandths is a good example. Thus, U.S. caliber .30 or .30-06 [.30 caliber adopted in 1906, e.g. spitzer ammunition] becomes “•300-in.” in British English vs. “.303″ or 7.7mm. Soviet 7.62x54r is 7.62×53 in Finland, and the actual ammo uses a .312” bullet, so it is closer to an 8mm, yet uses the “three-line” or .30 caliber nomenclature. The most notorious is .38 Special, which uses a .36 caliber projectile, perhaps.

            9x17mm/.380 acp is 9mm corto in Spanish, 9mm kurz in German, and .380 acp in the U.S. because very many small handguns in the caliber have been produced, and North American consumers would confuse 9×17 with 9×19.

            In Europe, the 9×19 is “Parabellum” but in the U.S., it was named “Luger” due to popular association with the Luger P-08 pistol, north americans being ever alert to clever marketing gimmicks…

            The Germans call submachine guns “MPs” but Thompson decided on “submachine gun” for marketing reasons, while in Britain such weapons were “machine carbines” and later, “sub-machine guns!” The DDR NVA Kalashnikov was the ‘MPiKM” or Kalashnikow machine pistol!

          • Yes, I known that cartridge designations are sometimes not real dimensions;
            “the actual ammo uses a .312” bullet, so it is closer to an 8mm, yet uses the “three-line” or .30 caliber nomenclature”
            It is 3-line in Russian because Russian understanding is that caliber is bore diameter in lands unlike American style in which caliber is bullet diameter.
            As you can choice between bore diameter (lands) and bullet diameter you can also choice imperial (inches) or metric (mm) hence we have 4 variation available:
            METRIC BORE – used in Russia, for example 5,45×39 or 9×18
            METRIC BULLET – used for NATO cartridges, for example 7,62×51 NATO or 9×19 NATO
            IMPERIAL BORE – for example .218 Bee
            IMPERIAL BULLET – used by US Army, for example .45 ACP
            Some cartridge have numbers as a legacy of their parents – .32 S&W Long because is child of .32 S&W.
            To complicate situation even more some cartridge have just random number assigned – both old and recent – for example .38-40 W.C.F. is nowhere .38 when .327 Federal is nowhere .327

      • “Cyrillic. Abbreviations, that is”
        In fact abbreviations were very popular in Red Army. Oh, if I just say Red Army it was often called RKKA (РККА) which mean Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army when Soviet Air Force was known as VVS (ВВС) or in full title VVS SSSR (ВВС СССР), VVS literally mean War Air Forces.
        Also ranks of commanders in pre-1940 system were abbreviations for example Komkor is Commander of Corps (US equivalent: 3-star general)
        Abbreviations were also often used in weapon system names:
        general rule for firearms: letter[s] for category letter[s] for designer[s] name[s] in PPSh, PP stands for sub-machine gun and Sh for Shpagin
        general rule for artillery pieces: factory index, for example 203mm howitzer B-4
        general rule for aeroplanes (post-1940 system): letter[s] for designer[s] and number (odd for fighters)
        general rule for self-propelled artillery: SU-[caliber], for example SU-152
        and so on, you probably could write thick book “abbreviations used in Soviet Union”

    • I check in Альбом конструкций патронов стрелкового оружия (Moscow 1946) which describe this cartridge as:
      7.92-mm “intermediate” cartridge for avtomat “Mkb 42(H)” and MP-43

      • Intermediate is giving it a nomenclature in regards it’s function, as oppose it’s size perhaps, in terms of power.

        What do you call 7.62x25mm as oppose 39mm or 54mm.
        39mm is intermediate power?

        I’m not doing a hypothetical conversation again.

  4. Patrone means cartridge, kurz means short in gerry talk according to the internet translation, intermediate might be a transliteration… To you have intermediate folk in Russia instead of short, as oppose tall.

    Da you are intermediate heightski. “I am not short?” Nyet, you are intermediateov. “Oh thanks” Dobro pozhalovat.

    Hypothetical conversation there.

    • Well, if people want to use the correct name of the cartridge, the first step would be throwing away that “7.92” caliber number. The number itself is wrong (it was “7.9” mm from 1888 to 1945) and calibre was not part of the designation: “Patrone 88” for example.
      Because the later Sturmgewehr started as “Maschinenkarabiner” (Mkb) it first was “Machinenkarabinerpatrone S”.
      When Hitler forbade development of the weapon, and it was renamed “Maschinenpistole” (submachine gun, literally machine pistol), the cartridge became “Pistolenpatrone 43”.
      When the gun in Octiber 1944 finally became “Sturmgewehr 44”, the model year was kept and the cartridge became “Kurzpatrone 43”.

      Calling the German 7.9 mm rifle and assault rifle calibres “7.92” is a bit like renaming the U.S. .30-06 to .308-06. Czechs, Poles and others renamed the 7.9 mm cartridge to 7.92 mm when they adopted it after WWI. But, as mentioned, it was 7.9 mm in the German army from its adoption in 1888 to the end.

      • “Poles and others renamed the 7.9 mm cartridge to 7.92 mm”
        No, so far I know Polish ammo boxes were labeled 7.9 m/m

        • It seems, Poland originally called it 7.9, but later changed to 7.92.
          I have a photo of a box label of the Polish State Factory lot 79/32 that has the line:
          15 NABOJOW kal.7.92mm Wz “S”

          The book by Gwozdz/Zarzycki (Warsaw 1993) uses “7.92” throughout.

  5. I’m curious as to the purpose of the round hole right behind the “charging handle” what if any propose does it serve? Also, I’m wondering if there are any surviving blueprints for these….. Seems like it might be neat to repro with a bit more durability and maybe to accept a modded AK mag in 7.62 x 39….

    • I’d buy a VG Barnitzke/Gustloff with Kalashnikov mags in 7.62x39mm in a heartbeat. My heart was racing with the reproductions being put together over at “Gun Lab” but the price is too rich for me, I’m afraid!

      BTW: Did the Barnitzke/Gustloff rifle use left-over aircraft machine gun barrels like the VG-1 turn-bolt rifle?

      • They were more likely barrels originally intended for the MP44/StG44 assault rifles. If you look just about where the front “cup” sits when the slide is in battery, the barrel reduces in OD just ahead of that point, the same way it is just behind the front sight mount on the StG44.

        Also, the VGI-5 barrel is 14.75″ long, that of the StG44 is 16.5″. Cut 1.75″ off the muzzle end of the StG44 barrel, and it “moves” that reduction “shoulder” forward to just about where it is on the VGI-5.

        ( Small Arms of the World, 9th ed., pp. 421-427)



    • My best guess is that it served two functions;

      1. A gas-escape vent in case of a case-head failure. It would vent gas and hot brass fragments almost straight up and away from the shooter’s face.

      2. A loaded chamber indicator “witness hole”. You should be able to look down into it and see just a bit of the rim of a chambered round.



  6. Obviously the resources used in the design and production of these would better have been used to make more MP44s, but the motivation here was internal political — Most arms production catered to the demands of the Wehrmacht. The Waffen SS, in its early years, had to beg weapons off the Wehrmacht, or set up its own production/procurement chain (as its influence grew, it was able to command a bigger piece of the overall pie). By the end of the war, the Nazi Party in the various states, concerned that the armed forces’ defensive objectives might not agree with their own, wanted militias under their own control to defend their fiefdoms. Naturally the Wehrmacht and SS had no interest in contributing weapons to forces not under their control, so the Party had to shop for its own, having only those resources not up to Army standards to work with.

    • W. Darrin Weaver’s important study of Volkssturm weapons offers a qualification, although I think your appraisal is spot on. Namely, the “true Volksgewehr” turned out to be the Mannlicher Carcano rifles and carbines because the swift German occupation after the side-switch allowed the Germans to more thoroughly loot and redirect resources from Italy. The other point or qualification is that some last ditch weapons were also considered to be for the regular armed forces as well, such as the MP.3008.

    • These are easier to make though than Mp44’s without proper factories I think… Particularly if you imagine the slide is enough to make them work, and as such they are better than 9mm Sten type guns.

        • There actually was a better way to make the system with a lighter bolt. Just have gas from the chamber-end of the barrel flow into the “slide.” Or am I wrong?

          Weapon of choice scenario:

          Darn it boys, terrorism is here. Hostages are being rounded up, and you’re probably stuck with me hiding in the broom closet (strangely, no terrorists seem to check the broom closets around here, presumably because “nobody hides in them anyway”). Assuming the coast is clear, please take one of my “last ditch weapons” I hid in the closet or find your own toys wherever you hid them. Just remember not to attract attention too soon, lest hostages be killed…

          1. Volkssturmgewehr
          2. Francotte-Automatique
          3. Mauser 1934 pistol with suppressor
          4. RSC M1918 with lots of clips
          5. Soviet “ballistic knife” (seems to have been stolen from the Spetsnaz)
          6. Sten MK IIS (suppressed)
          7. Why do I have a scoped STG-44 in this closet?
          8. Breda 30 or MG 08/15
          9. Hanyang 88 with bayonet and a satchel of stick grenades
          10. Get to your own “closet full of guns”

          Oh crap, here come the bad guys! Hide!

          This activity is completely voluntary. You are not required to respond if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

          Thank you,


          • You are right:
            “Gasdruckverschluss,The blow-back modification to the M.P.43/1 mentioned under the paragraph on the Haenel Works, was an attempt to simplify the mechanism of the gun. It was realized that the more powerful cartridge of this weapon would present problems if the recoiling parts were not specially slowed down and this first attempt included a gas buffer.”
            Suppressed Sten, don a bin bag from the broom cupboard and step out, say Salami Alibaba to first fecker you run into and pop them. Your hairy legs sticking out from beneath the bin liner will act as a stun grenade, and give you the advantage as they stand open mouthed for a second.

          • I didn’t intend to say that anyone was getting naked, I meant to say that we were hiding in the last places any seasoned terrorist would search for guns and potential hostages.

          • In an indoor CQB, firepower and silence would be priority. Barring something more modern (my preference would be a Glock 18 with 30-round mag and suppressor, better yet a pair of them), I’d go with the Sten MK IIS.

            When it came time to get “loud”, I’d also like to have a couple of flashbangs and a PRB V-40 Mini-Grenade or two;


            The neat thing about the little buggers is that most structural materials will stop the fragments. So you could,for instance, frag a few tangos in a room without endangering hostages “next door”.

            Also, given some nylon fishline or commo wire and 100-MPH tape, the little suckers made terrific “kneecappers” when rigged in doorways with a tripwire.

            Being the size of a golfball and dark green all over, if you were careful in placing them they were very hard to spot before…oops.



          • The Horn rifle of the same era took the gas from the chamber side. They were being tested when the war ended and seems the Russians got all of them. At least a 1 pound of weight was saved with this design, but still weighed 10 pounds. I think these were to complete against the so call STG-45 for army adaption and not for the Volkstrum. They were select fire.

            The Russians were impressed enough by it to continue working on it. Koborov’s TKB-454 came out of this. From what I can gather things didn’t work as well in 7.62×39 as they had in 7.9×33. Powder used maybe?


            For a good write up, pictures and illustration of how it works:

          • TKB-454 has following advantages (over AK):
            – accuracy improved 1.3-1.9 times for unexperienced shooters
            – 2x easier to manufacture
            – 0,5kg lighter
            and following drawbacks:
            – lower muzzle velocity (38,5m/s slower)
            – unstable rate of fire
            – fail to fire in full-auto with current blank cartridge, new blank have to be designed
            – much bigger muzzle flash (200-250mm in length when compared to 30-40mm)

          • It appears that there were a couple of different TKB-454 designs and only the 1st one worked like the Horn and the latter ones used a lever delay and lead to the TKB-517. FWIW, the TKB-517 beat the AKM in Soviet trails.

            I think what list might be for the lever delay one, but I’m not sure.


            I think the 1st rifle pictured on this link is one that works like the German Horn rifle.

            I’d like to try making a rifle that used the Horn method in 5.56, but the fact that professionals seem to have failed doing one in 7.62×39 dampens thoughts of doing it.

          • Don’t think it would have done having a mp43 barrel. Interesting design, the wee gas plug thing turns in order to disengage from the bolt is that right… So gas pressure prevents it turning, because blowback on the bolt is trying to turn it. Untill the pressure in the barrel drops via the bullet leaving, allowing the blowback of the bolt to turn the plug in so doing freeing the bolt to go rearward. On the return, the rotated plug is under spring pressure and is kept rotated by the part of the bolt which is above it untill the cut out in the bolt for it realigns and the sprung plug rotates into it. Apparently the wee plug also vents excess gas, trying to think how gas prevents it from turning. Is the inside of the plug, shaped in a spiral so the gas acts like a screw driver screwing in a screw, the screw being the plug counter acting the bolt which is trying to turn it in the opposite direction. Or is gas just forcing the plug straight up…

          • I think gas is just forcing the plug to go straight up following it’s channel through the chamber, the top of the plug would be pressing into the bottom part of this sort of shape ¬ at a \ type angle said shape forming part of a cut out in the bolt, the bolts trying to go rearwards but this prevents it… So the bolt isn’t imparting a rotary force on the plug at this point, it does that when the plug falls if you will, via a lack of gas pressure behind it. The shape of the plug, in relation to that of the chamber, and bolt cut out must be reasonable for this.

            Would 5.56mm off less blowback pressure on the bolt than 7.62x39mm if so, it might be worth trying. The Horn rifle was under development apparently, perhaps you could develop it further. Seems a sound enough principle, perhaps the plug is hollow and there’s a hole through it’s top chamber side which when not rotated is blocked by the bolt when rotated it vents above the bolt in the channel between the bolt and chamber.

          • The cocking handle is attached to the front of the bolt, it passing right above the chamber all the way to the front end of the hand guard.

          • “Powder maybe” Quick burning powder would perhaps be better, because you want a good volume of gas behind the plug right away…

          • No.4 piece on the disassembled picture is the bolt on the Russian pdf Martin provided, that looks to have quite alot of anti blowback mass. A Shotgun might provide a initial blast of gas… Although it also probably provides a fair amount of blowback, there’s a gap in the gas plugs channel from the barrel port to the plugs bottom. The plug has gas sealing rings around it, and it can’t move up much at all so given it vents excess gas there must be a port running part way up the plug with another port entering this from the side. Hmmm, what if gas turns it thus… That wouldn’t really be gas delayed though, more gas actuated. Given the plug rests in its channel, perhaps it’s a bit of both. Although the blowback is trying to force the bolt back, no it must be the plug can turn by itself but only when it isn’t being forced into the bolt by gas.

          • You could probably fit a Hk p7 type gas plug to the underside of the Horn rifles bolt, which slotted into a tube running from the port beneath the barrel. I think There’s probably more resistance to be gained via the metal against metal design of the Horn though, and the time elapsed to rotate it clear friction etc as oppose simply gas filling a chamber.

          • The gas chamber would need to be longer also, given the longer case. In order the plug operating within provides room for the bolt to cycle.

  7. After all this disquisition opn the meaniongs opf “words” in several different Languages, including the US Penchant for calling the “:Calibre” as the Bullet (Maybe) or Groove diameter (Maybe), and rounding up (Incorrectly) either,
    WE will get back to the Original (and Military meaning:

    BORE: the Diameter of the Smooth Unrifled BORE of the Barrel, as Finished reamed (for Smoothbores) or BEFORE Rifling (For Rifled arms); originally measured in Number of Lead Balls of “Bore diameter” to the Avoirdupois Pound. Name eventually changed from “#12 Bore ” to #12 Gauge to simply 12 Gauge.

    CALIBRE: (Note spelling) Originally from Arabic and Latin, meaning “What weight”( of Ball);ie, what diameter of Ball for the Barrel (Unrifled).
    Initially established a THousandths of an Inch (Imperial) in Britain, and by the mid 1800s, in Hundredths of an Inch (American)–rounded-up, or down as the case may be. EG .577 Enfield became .58 US, whilst 11mm Mauser became .433 British, but .43 in the US ( similar to 11mm Spanish Remington aka .43 Spanish)

    GROOVE Diametre: Actual “virtual” diametre of a Circle going through the Bottom of the Grooves of a rifled Barrel ( difficult to estimate if the Barrel has an “Odd” Number of grooves (3,5,7 etc.)
    For Muzzle loaders, and early Breechloaders, this was the Diametre that a Lead Bullet ( Plain or Paper Patched) would expand to, to give complete Gas seal ( Obturation).

    BULLET Diametre: the actual Bullet Diametre, which in Lead Muzzle Loading Balls/Bullets was at or under the “BORE” diameter, and “Pounded in” to tightly fit the BORE over the Powder ( could even be Patched by cloth, to ease the Loading operation and give a tighter fit.

    In Jacketed Lead-core Bullets, a Diametre which ( A) could “ride” the Rifling Lands, with minimum engraving, but with a Base which could “Upset & Obturate” (qv)to give the Bullet spin, without too much Friction of a long Jacketed cylindrical Projectile (RNFMJ from 1880s to 1920 or so.) (B) Being Spitzer” shaped ( Pointed, with less contact surface on the body) could Fully engrave on the rifling without too much friction (Lower contact area), and a flat or concave base would ensure the necessary “Obturation” (qv). (C) When Boattail Bullets (BT) were introduced, (Modele 86D, 8mm Lebel) it was found that the Boat tail Prevented “Upset and Obturation, and thus the Bullet had to be equal to the Groove diameter, for good Obturation. ( eg: 8mm Mannlicher, .324″ RNFBFMJ, BUT .329” S FMJBT).

    Getting Back to the 7,9 x33 Patrone 43; Orignally called Pistolen Patrone 43 mE ( mit Eisenkerne, mild steel core) for Hitler deception reasons,

    and Colloquially called “KurzPatrone 43” by 1944-45 ( Label not seen)…maybe someone can supply Photo of Box label with “KurzPatrone 43 mE on it?

    The British, Czechs, and Numerous other Nations, adopted “7,92mm” for the German Cartridge, as this more closely reflected the “common” BORE (Military) of the Mauser 98 S series of Cartridges ( Barrels in German Military use varied from 7,90 to 7,94 mm in BORE diameters , and were marked as such (for estimation of “Bore Wear” by Armourers during service, with a “Plug Gauge” from chamber and Muzzle.

    Calibre-Bullet diameter- Groove diameter confusion: AS Civilians (in most of Europe) were prohibited from the use of “Military” ammunition, the simple solution was to Rename “Hunting/Target ammo with a New “Calibre” (cloe sto or equal to the Bullet/Groove diameter) so 11mm Mauser become 11.15mm; 7,9 Patrone became “8mm”, Austrian 8mm Mannlicher became “8x2mm, and so one. A Collector of Pre WW I Sporting ammo will certainly demonstrate all these factors.

    Similar systems developed in the USA, some using the Groove dimensions, some the Bullet dimensions, and some “Fanciful Names” ( ie, 38/40 is actually .40/40; .38 is actually .357-358,etc.).

    SO finally, BORE and CALIBRE can be used Interchangeably IN A MILITARY SENSE, BUT on NO Account, can they be used to Describe Bullet or Groove diameter (Military) But only Civilian Sporting Ammunition.

    Now that I have put you all to sleep, The Chinese ( M77B and M20,9mm Pistols) and the Germans ( 9×18 Ultra) used the “Gas delay” system as well.

    I intend to use it in a Movie MG for “Bunker/Port” Use, firing a 7,5×40 Blank ( aka 7,62 Nato case, resized to give a Full Profile Bottle-necked Blank) using a Heavy, Blowback Bolt, with Gas Delay, to keep the Cyclic rate down. Since it is for “Hidden Use”, a simple 30 or 40 round Mag will suffice for Film-Takes ( several Bursts…and the advantage is, they can be set up as “Remote” firing, in case the Director wants to “Flame out” the Bunker/Tank by Explosion, Flame thrower, etc.

    Doc AV
    Curmudgeon and Grizzly Bear.

      • “For Hitler deception reasons” I’ve heard Adolf didn’t like it originally, I wonder why? He was a non smoking, vegetarian, tee total, animal rights activist, nutcase who was also pretty racist, and angry about WW1 but what was his beef apart from that, in regards this cartridge.

          gives following explanation:
          “(…)Hitler, who demanded that the troops should only be equipped with full-power [i.e. 7,92×57] rounds, believing them to be superior(…)”
          after Eastern Front veterans tested it, they required more that new rifles and
          “Hitler finally tested the StG-44 himself. After tests by Hitler who became impressed with the weapon”

          • Hitler also learned from the logistical disaster that befell the Tiger 1 heavy tank. Issuing new weapons before proper support and maintenance can be instituted results in utter catastrophe.

    • Remember that in the US a lot of arms development was done commercially, not by or for the government. Being invented for the private market, the companies that made them were at liberty to call them whatever they thought sounded best for marketing. .32 caliber is really .311, .38 Special is really .357, .44 Special (or Magnum) is really .429, and .45 ACP (and 45 Colt, as in the cowboy gun) is really .451. Where it is especially interesting is where two cartridges use the same diameter bullet but use different calibers, for example, .38 Special and .357 Magnum use the same bullets, and .30-06 and .308 WIN use the same bullets.

      To further make things interesting, of all the major arms maker only a couple of them (Remington and used to Winchester) made both ammunition and guns. So almost always one company designed a new gun while asking one ammunition company or another to make the ammunition for it. Sometimes the ammunition would be named after the company that had it developed (e.g, the .308 Winchester, .35 Remington), mainly to have the pleasure of making other gun makers stamp another company’s name on their barrel.

    • Also, “caliber” came into European languages by way of “caliver”, the term for a lightweight cavalry long arm (later called a “musketoon”).

      These were some of the earliest military arms in which the bore spec was standardized, so that soldiers could draw balls from a common store instead of needing to cast their own balls with a mould specifically made for their weapon. This is an obvious advantage for highly mobile units like mounted cavalry and dragoons.

      First introduced in the mid-17th century, the term “caliver-bored” soon became a common appellation for any shoulder arm (or, later, pistol), with a bore made to a standard inside diameter.

      From that, the term “caliber” came along, I suspect mostly because unlike the Arab languages, in most European tongues a “v” in front of an “er” ending sounds funny to most people. The harder plosive “b” is more familiar.

      Just a guess.



  8. Nice video Ina however I have seen these with serial numbers in the 11,000 to 13,000 serial number range with one in the 16,000 range. The ones in the 11,000 range even had Waffen Amt markings which is strange but they could have been test guns. After the fall of the East German Government lot of military museums in the former East Germany became available to view for us and I checked out as many as I could in the 90’s I kept a gook that I listed the serial numbers in now to find it. I am on the list for the reproduction gun being made by Gun Labs and am looking forward to receiving it. Interesting design. Oh, the first models were full auto but Hitler forbid their development (described in Last Ditch Weapons) and then the Party got involved and had them made as a semi-auto. Also there is a strong feeling among German Collectors that the 10 round Stg magazines were for test weapons, not for combat issue. Harry

    • Just a guess, but considering the shape of the protruding muzzle, is it possible that the 10-round magazine was intended for use with blank rounds to fire rifle grenades with the Gewehrgranatgerat 42 rifled-cup discharger normally “associated” with the Kar98K?

      Postwar, a similar “short” magazine was used on the Polish grenade-launching variant of the AK, the PMK-DGN aka KbKg Model 1960.



    • I’d be inclined to think that the PPS-43 Sudaev and the British Sten Mk.III and German Gerät Neumünster were the simplest and cheapest WWII firearms. At least in the European theater. I think the cost of the Sten Mk.II was about 10 dollars, give or take, and the Mk.III, instead of seamless tubing actually used a sheet of metal, cut out and then bent around a mandrel and spot welded along the top “rib” where the sights were mounted. The German MP.3008 actually joined the rolled sheet of metal at the bolt handle raceway and ejection port, using little welded bits of scap metal to seal the portions where there was to be no slot… These were very cheap guns to build. Recall that the Sten had only 47 parts. Not sure about the German equivalent. The PPS-43 is in a category all its own. I’d flat love to have a Polish M52 version with the wooden stock. Not gonna happen….

      • “PPS-43”
        One of original requirements for new sub-machine gun was that it would need no more than 3,5 labour-hours to produce, finally PPS-43 need 2,7 labour-hours (for comparison older PPSh need 7,3 labour-hours). I am not sure, however I suspect that Korovin 1941 SMG:
        could be even more labour-effective. It was created in 1941 when Red Army was in DIRE need of any fire-arms (citing one song from that year: 10 rifles for whole battalion, in each rifle – last cartridge)

        • Created by Tula ordnance factory workers for the defense of that city and salient vs. Guderian’s forces during Typhoon/Taifun, yes?

  9. The AR-15 magazine release appears to be directly copied from this weapon (or perhaps the STG 44). The disconnector looks very similar to that of an AR-15 too.

    • Hardly surprising, as the AR-15 bolt locking system is basically copied from the FG42,which got most of its gas system from the Lewis gun.



  10. Question:

    Given the use of an automatic-pistol slide, which in the VG Barnitzke/Gustloff looks for all the world like a Spanish M1921 Astra with the knurled cap with interrupted threads forming the front of the slide/bolt mechanism, is there more than a bit of the VG self-loader in the Madsen m/45 9mm SMG? The Danish subgun dispensed with a charging handle, and used semi-auto pistol-type grooves in the “slide” as gripping surfaces. The actual bolt is fixed to the reciprocating slide, and there is a rear cover over the rear of the bolt/slide. I’m not entirely sure, but the resemblance may even extend to the placement of the return spring?

  11. Have a question: it looks the return spring shares room with gas compartment. Is it so? That means its life will be limited. But then, this gun is kind of ‘throw-away’.

    • I think the spring sits behind the gas sealing rings on the barrel looking at the springs length if it compresses against the barrel trunnion, the barrel is of a lesser diameter in front of said sealing rings so it is that area which is the gas compartment between the rear of the slides bushing thing and them.

    • Location of gas vent holes seems, gas cushioning was made to soften the impact of very fast recoiling parts rather than slowing the breechbolt opening. This piece seems made of rather big mass and gives sufficient resistance at time interval when the pressure being highest in the bore and acquired gas volume is used as a very powerfull recoil spring during actual firing. This means, the recoil spring is only for bringing the slide to its foremost location when trackted manually and the gun will work even if a weak or broken return spring is on the rifle.

      • Although the ports are sat behind the end of bushing thing when the slide is fully forward, when the slide moves back, the bushing would cover the ports…

        • So the weight of the slide would be sufficient to resistant blowback untill the bullet got forward of the ports gas would then hit the rear of the bushing adding to the resistance to blowback until the bullet has exited the barrel, it is gas delay I think, but not a particularly efficient method the gas compartment is quite large initially but then it gets rapidly shortened but the gas ports are cut off.

          • The gas must then just vent by leakage, through the compartment and then back through the barrel when the ports are uncovered again.

      • Actually if the spring stops against the barrel trunnion it’s miles away so to speak from the rear of the bushing… Oh, no the spring must compress against the gas seal rings meaning it is in the gas compartment, otherwise what keeps the slide forward.

        • The rear of the bushing would still cover the ports though almost as soon as the slide moved back, I think. Heavy slide, strong return spring, the gas isn’t doing that much on this design I don’t think.

          • Better port arrangement, on the Gb… With them facing forward out of a gas sealing ring type thing creating a gas compartment between it and the bushing. That Horn rifle, is the best version for a rifle I reckon.

  12. In fact, return or recoil springs are for carrying the breechbolt to its foremost locations in all autoloading system including blowback. Their function at instant of firing as a delay factor are minimal. In this weapon, sudden impact of gas volume against to the violently recoiling breechbolt slows its rapid rearward travel. IMHO.

    • How far do you think the slide travels rearward before the gas hits the rear of the bushing i.e. The front of the gas compartment? I don’t think, looking at the length of the bushing that it’s rear is that far forward of the ports. When you said this originally, I misjudged the length of the bushing meaning the slide would be moving rearward a fair amount before gas hit it- To slow it down. But the bushings rear compresses the spring against it’s stop, the barrels gas rings front.

  13. In this gun, the gas volume captured within the gas piston has no exit to go off until the slide returning its foremost possition, therefore provides compression like “gas ram air rifle piston” alongside the recoil spring as softening the impact of recoiling parts. IMHO.

    • I see, so the chamber fills with gas then the gas is cut off which acts as a gas ram. So you think the slide moves back by some amount straight away, and gas enters the compartment before it is cut off but it doesn’t delay it initially.

      • There can’t be much room… Would the slide moving back say an inch instantaneously before the rear of bushing covers the ports generate enough violent blowback that the slides rearward movement would need to be “gas rammed” as opposed slowed by the spring, even with it’s weight.

        • What about a Steyr Gb, with the port in middle… Is that similar, the slide does move via blowback initially then it’s slowed down. Hmmm, that makes sense I suppose. I sort of imagined it as lock, i.e. The slide doesn’t move untill the bullet leaves the barrel.

          • I think the intention of gas feed of this gun and Steyr GB is different. This guns aim is slowing down the slide full back recoil travel, whereas the GB’s is both providing a delay for slide opening at highest pressure within the bore is present and a softening effect for slide at the end of its striking travel. HK P7’s should be at only its beech end’s opening at the time when highest pressure within the barrel is present. The slide impact at end of P7’s travel should be softened only by the combined massed of slide and frame and their engaged parts. IMHO.

          • As the VG 1-5 operates as per a gas ram in your HMO with my somewhat retarded brain action following, venting gas back out the barrel when the front of the bushing has passed the ports again. Would that cause it difficultly in operating full automatically, because the gas would perhaps build up or would the next shot still blow it out as per?

        • Actually I have completely misjudged the bushing, haven’t I… Now I have established that, the front of the bushing is in front of the ports by at least an inch. Well you are usually right about these things, it’s a gas ram. The slide moves initially, well you learn something everyday he he.

    • That explains the funny recoil impulse when you fire it, so gas is doing a whole lot then, without it the slide would have to be twice as heavy to prevent blowback from being far to strong.

          • Cheers, the gas ports being any further forward towards the front of the bushing, wouldn’t work because the slide would have blownback past them before gas has any chance to slow down the slide as it isn’t heavy enough to prevent blowback happening instantaneously due to the power of the round. I think that would perhaps be the case if the ports were much closer to the chamber in a different configuration such as a Steyr GB, the round is just to powerful to so configure into a practical rifle because the slide would need to be very heavy. Which perhaps explains the Horn rifle, a new method was required to enable gas to be more effectively used. This gun works, because of the gas ram lark. But it isn’t particularly pleasant to shoot, due to it being a blowback that gets delayed.

        • Though the this gun’s round has a bottlenecked case and more gas producing capability than 9mm, the initial speed of bullet is more higher than it, therfore, the arriving speed of this gun’s bullet to the gas vent holes should be earlier than a 9mm in a same lenght barrel. This is important for high speed bullets with rather little mass like FiveSeven of FN. In its pistol, a locked breech construction could not be used and a movable barrel in half speed of leverly engaged barrel was used to get positive extraction. Hey!…This topic is going to a record of gottan posts.

      • On the Gun lab replica slow motion video, I think you can see the slide opens instantaneously then it gets slowed down.

  14. Placing the gas system like in GB would be without much doubt beneficial, but you would face problems in spring placement – it could no longer be in around the barrel arrangement like now, but it should be under the barrel, which is tricky for this size of a gun (not in pistol).
    Or in the back of the slide/bolt, but that would need to redesign the rifle profile to more of a stg44/45 looks and less of a conervative no grip semi auto rifle looks.
    Since on the place where is not the trigger pack with its cover that holds the back of the slide, you would need to lenghten it and put in a big old (Ians favorite word LOL) spring behind it, that would get in the way of the hammer, so you would need to make something like in stg45/gerat arrangement, guide for the spring fixed to the bolt, that is on the underside partially hollow (for few inches) for the hammer to have a place to swing and hit the fp, and that would further make the trigger pack longer,
    so when at it, you would, as I said, benefit in making the spring compresses straightly inside the stock, in a straight AR15 type arrangement. But if you got that way, than when you would place sights, that need to be elevated… ??
    You all see how in gun design, changing only one simple thing sometimes changes 10 others.

    IMO, rifle was designed basicly as a straight blowback, since there was no time to research the possibilities of gas delaying, primary interest was in making it work relativel safe, at the expense of ridiculously heavy slide/bolt, and said option of gas delay was put in as a gimmick; maybe as a bureaucratical engineering ploy to present it to superiors “See, its not supersized pistol in rifle round, we designed a nice revolutionary gas system” type of story.
    Also, slide cushioning (and its weight, stories of spring being negligent in delay, are just false) can probably be fairly augmented with exceptionally stronger spring, or buffer spring arrangement, but that has it own problems with slide of 2kgs slamming to the front like hell and beating the barrel trunnion, ending in a not fortunate situation of rifle literally recoiling in user hands 2 times from just one shot!

    I need to point out that in repro vg1-5 gun slo-mo video, I saw rows of gas vent holes (pointed that out earlier on that com. thread, but no reply), one like in original arrangement, and other closer to the machined rings, which is probably helping the cushioning, but not in a huge degree.

    • Unusually heavy breechbolt with engagements indicate that the gas system of this gun was provided as a buffer as stated by S.N.A.L. Somewhere in this topic. Very powerfull return spring could not be used since it would not permit manual traction for initial loading and this gas buffer intentionaly provided to cushion the enarmous impact of heavy recoiling parts. The gun should be developped as a blowback SMG and all designing efforts seem made scintificaly with proper knowledge, not casually. IMHO.

    • The rear port on the replica, expels the gas from the gas compartment quicker than it would with just the front ports because it does it on the end of the rearward movement “you can see it exit on the replica video” Not saying that’s a benefit, or otherwise. On the initial movement of the slide the front of bushing would cover the front ports fairly quick, I don’t think the gas compartment is filled with gas. I think it gets a quick fill say half or less when the bullet passes the port, before the bushings front passes the ports this gas is then squashed against the barrels gas rings when the front bushing gets far enough back. Cushioning the impact of the slide, adding a port at the rear would put more gas into the compartment adding more resistance to the slide traveling rearward in theory. But, would it… In the sense the bullet leaves the barrel after the slide passes the front port. Gas in the compartment could then be squeezed into the barrel and thus out the muzzle. On the video, plenty comes out of the rear ports, however I don’t think it delays blowback at all in either configuration. The point of the gas, is to act as a buffer when it gets to it’s rearmost point. Taking the strain…

      • So it does slow the slide, by virtue of it acting as a buffer but not initially. I don’t think it does anything until the gas in the compartment is compressed, when the rearward movement is almost over.

        • The prototype replica barrel looks longer, though… The slide seems to slam the gun forward somewhat on the return, maybe that wouldn’t happen as much if it expelled gas via front ports only. The gas compartment having gas in it still, until the front of the bushing passes the ports again. Be interesting to see the original in slow motion, if the gas does cushion the slide at the end maybe the spring isn’t so compressesed which would mean the layout would need to represent this in regards the position of the front of the chamber etc if the replica doesn’t replicate this correctly.

          • Noticed that either. The replica seems made with a sense of giving priority to “Initial Delay” function, not buffering the motional energy of 3 kilograms of huge slide impact. Regarding to sufficient gas feed, the amount of gas vent holes could be multiplied. But it should have been tried, inspected and decided in existing amount.

          • This dude, Harry Connors, claims, and it makes sense, that the gas ports were drilled at an angle, with intention of blowing the gas at the front of chamber, acting very much similar as the AK47 piston head, which functions by intertia, and only needs one hit, not constant gas supply (which is easily demonstrated in aks fired underwater that cycle ok, guy did a slo-mo video in his pool,ytube search). In this case, slide moving past the holes relatively soon would pose no problem, and gas stays trapped inside gas chamber on the slide recoil backwards, cushioning it,even after the bullet has left the barrel. Dude said that at his company,if thats true since his word is only evidence, they made tests with ports blocked and firing was noticeably more violent. Also, the replica has longer barrel to meet the legal criteria, and original had a 38cm barrel, and with such barrel surely some adjustments are needed, at least if you want to get that gas buffering right.If not, just beef up the slide to 6 pounds which hza kulmbach that made? replica, from germany also did (5.5kg, 1kg more than original vg). So, I suppose if you want to be accurate completely,and with legal barrel, replica should have by some percent longer slide with only one set of gas holes, made at a distance same as in original. But it is a good question in what percent would that function and upgrade the whole system better than now,and did it even functioned properly in original vg, or was it only a concept.

          • Some sources in the net state that actual weight of slide of original VG1-5 is 1.5 Kg. But they do not clarify even this value containing the engaged other part weights like gas buffer and recoil spring and hammer and etc. Simple recoil formula with a 1/4 milisecond of bullet remaining time within the barrel shows, only 1.5 kg of slide weight is sufficient to get a 2mm blowback at the highest pressure within the barrel presents. This also shows that the gas system is not needed to delay the breechbolt opening, but it is must for cushioning the recoil impact of moving parts. Angled gas ports may be true and senses a good measure but even in that form, bullet motion velocty should be at least 600 times more than the recoiling slide with engagements and it should be got more than enough gas volume inside the gas tube to provide a gas ram effect. This values can comfortably be carried to a longer slided and more realistic reproduction and do not effect the functionality of gas tube. IMHO.

  15. Thanks, this was a particularly useful and interesting video for me. I’m doing a short comic where a few people carry copies of these rifles, since there’s no way I could design a rifle myself. Being able to show parts laying around and field-stripping happening in the background will do a lot for the realism.

  16. I suppose the brass screws one had a history of shipping/smuggling to usa in a state of drilled out rivets, for owner being able to remove the stock and make it a smaller,more compact package.

    In russian article about horn rifle(compared to vg), figure of 1.5kg is mentioned for vg, so I am skeptical about the 3.25 kg bolt\slide

  17. In reply to a comment Sturm made on NOVEMBER 27, 2015 AT 1:37 AM about the company I worked for testing these weapons. That company was Inter Armament Corporation and the tests were published in a period Gun magazine (1959 to 1962) not sure anymore of exact date. I never stated that we tried the gun with blocked ports as that would have defeated the tests. The guns came from the West Point museum. Only problem with them was that the lacquer on the steel rounds would cause the cartridge to jam as the lacquer would clog the flutes in the chamber. We fired about 300 rounds through three guns. The purpose was to see if they worked and was it a design to pursue for manufacture in third world countries. The answer was yes on the function but no on the production as the world was full of better developed weapons on the surplus market. Also after the fall of East Germany many museums in the Eastern part of Germany had these weapons on display and I have seen weapons with higher serial numbers than 10,000. One located right outside of Berlin on the way to Poland has two guns one with serial numbers in the 16,000 and 21,000 range. In Erfurt there was one with a serial number just over 11,000. I suspect that there was somewhere around 22,000 made but most never were issued due to the advancing Soviet Forces. Just my thoughts. Harry

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