VG45K: Rheinmetall’s 8mm Kurz Volksgewehr

As the end of World War Two loomed close, the German arms industry turned to a number of Volkssturm rifle designs. These were the crudest and simplest rifles that could be made to work with minimal time, labor, and raw materials. Most were bolt action rifles chambered for 8x57mm, like the Walther VG-1 – but in December 1944 a Rheinmetall design in 8x33mm was tested and approved.

This design, designated the VG-3 by the military but also known as the VG45K by the company, was a simple bolt action turnbolt rifle. It never appear to have actually entered mass production, but two examples were uncovered by British investigators in Sömmerda in 1945. One had a full stock design, and one used a stamped receiver with a separate stock and handguard. It is that second design that was reproduced in the rifle we have today. It feeds from standard Sturmgewehr magazines, and has a pretty interesting stamped receiver design. The bolt guide rails are actually just the top of the receiver stamping, folded down horizontally.

Thanks to the relatively low power of the the 8x33mm cartridge, it is a pretty comfortable rifle to shoot despite the heavy trigger and rather sharp edge on the stock. And this example proved more accurate and more reliable than I had expected!

95 Comments

  1. Good gun that on the face of it “under the circumstances” wonder if you could…
    Lever action, but hand power (Grip pressure it) ccmg style angled bolt lugs, then the rest a Winchester style “To fit said stock” lever; you grip.

    Which puts a \ impetus on the bolt, with your hand being / against said movement.

    Sort of semi auto- In that it will try to function that way. Speed it up a bit,on the cheap.

    Fair play anyway decent gun “Obviously they had other problems” Lancaster bombers etc, he he. But fair play.

    • New hi-point that .300 blk out; gave you an idea, get it made 225 bux. Free light stick you can tape on the end as a night sight.

      • People laugh @ HiPoints, but their carbines, though ugly, are better engineered than the Marlin Camp 9 & 45 ever were. And one of the few .380 ACP and 10x25mm Norma carbines on the market. My 9545 takes 1911 mags now, and the HighTower bullpups look pretty slick.

        • Super, well they should make this in .300 blk out; with a hand held lock, operation via ccmg angled bolt lug surfaces a safety nail & threaded for a silencer at 225 dollars a pop.

          • I think the 10mm carbine is great in principle, but this is more powerfull than 10mm; as is .300 blk out.

            But who would not want one of those? The key is, it must be cheap to make & sell.

            Hence why I said what I said, was an idea not 100% but… That is a decent gun, we should make new ones.

          • You could close the bolt via the Winchester handle perhaps, and saw off the bolt handle as shown to be more of a cocking piece.

            Probably a limit to “Hand held” bolt closers; reckon this is it… But, wouldn’t it be good!

        • I respect their simplicity, reliability, and affordability. I just wish they didn’t go out of their way to make them ugly (and single-stack / proprietary mags).

    • “(…)Lever action, but hand power (Grip pressure it) ccmg style angled bolt lugs, then the rest a Winchester style “To fit said stock” lever; you grip.(…)”
      If you have excess lever-action rifle, then it is relative easy to rework it into self-loading one, in way yielding THE FLAPPER RIFLE, see 1st image from top
      https://en.topwar.ru/141952-eksperimentalnye-vintovki-browning-flapper-ssha.html
      it does not impose peculiar grip, that being said I did not suspect III Reich in 1945 to have a lot of lever-action guns.

      • Similarly, the Reich could have considered a slide-action rifle, but that still requires a lot more labor than a bolt-action.
        The simplest option might have been the Lee Navy with its tilting latch. Combined with a very short 8X33 round, you could get a pretty good rate of fire.

    • “(…)Fair play anyway decent gun “Obviously they had other problems” Lancaster bombers etc, he he. But fair play.”
      Rustic bolt-action repeater might look poorly when compared with weapons used in 1945, however it is still better to have that Japanese proposition: namely Kokumin Kan’i Kenjū https://guns.fandom.com/wiki/National_Defence_Pistol
      which was single-shot matchlock design.

  2. Litigation; your excellent guns are made out of diluted recyled spam tins anyway.

    How hard can it be; bang in a safety nail, to limit bolt travel if grip pressure is not applied.

    Nazi Germany never had litigation problems, health and safety gone mad he he!

        • Well I agree there, that would be great if we could incorporate that into small arms… Be revolutionary… Hands up! “No” well take that. Whizzzzz Bang!!! Missile like. Is it not a bit heavy though, even if we mount it on top of an Ar and then shoulder launch it… Looks, sort of heavy? But I like you train of thought.

          • That is because you are foreign zip it zippy.

            And think! Angled rotary bolt, hand delayed .300 blk outs.

            As oppose direct blowback; which would be heavy. Has a safety nail. Girls could fire it easily… Especially girls with stronger than average arms/so grips.

            Should be fine for most men; but safety nail it incase. Prevent “bolt head” death or otherwise.

            Increase the range from 10mm for poor people, it is a good cause.

          • Well you lack “English” I am not talking about missiles; confused person. Small arm mounted missiles.

            Simpleton type person, he he.

          • You have put proposal to
            Needs the bolt handle to cock it like, the Winchester lark “Is to delay”
            So I presume you developed way to use SAM-N-2 for that purpose.

          • Well… Now you mention it, if we… The purpose of, take killer Squirrels; in the U.S countless victims are maimed and worse, Vulcan cannons with a mere fire rate…

            Burp. Out. Pie head 🙂

  3. Nice to see Mr. M. operating a right-handed firearm right-handed — and hitting! Might also suggest he start out that way on these one-sided guns before switching to his usual habit, for insight into the experiences of the majority of intended users.

  4. “Currently, a gas engine that uses the energy of the exhaust gases from the barrel of powder, is perhaps the most popular solution in the field of self-loading and auto…”

    I can round this off for you, your hand assists in holding the bolt back. In this instance.

    The point being, it is probably cheaper; uses less materials than the vg 15, yet possibly quicker than this.

    Hey these things will come in handy, once more; in a Nuclear war, you can shoot your enemy and feel good that you did the cnut a favour.

  5. I have to admire (with slight chill in spine) how frivolously Ian fires all kinds of firearms of suspect origin. I would not touch anything without a known proof stamp. They may be ‘aged’ by previous firing, but still.

    When it comes to this and other disparate Reich’s attempts I imagine that they did not want to loose their own people to accidents. They must have used at least medium carbon hardened steels with common standard industry procedures. One would hope.

    • It’s a modern reproduction, not the real thing, and therefore quite safe to fire. Nobody knows if the originals were safe or not, but reportedly the other VG rifles are safe despite their crude construction.

  6. I question the rationality of this rifle even for a last ditch weapon. It was chambered for a cartridge that was already in short supply and it needs at least one StG magazine, which were not very abundant either, considering the large needs of the StG 44s in combat. Unlike the Gustloff Volkssturmgewehr it wasn’t even semi-automatic. It might have been a sound design, but strategically questionable in my opinion.

    • I agree completely, and would add that it’s far from “the crudest and simplest rifle that could be made to work with minimal time, labor, and raw materials”.

    • According to John Walter in Guns of the Third Reich, most of these “VGs” were produced at the orders of local gauleiters, based on what was available locally. the StG-44 was made at Haenel, but the magazines and ammunition were mostly made down in Thuringia, which happened to be the “home” of both this one and the semi-automatic VG1-5.

      The barrel was likely intended to be simply one cut down from a Kar98, or even a WW1 “Lange” 98, and rechambered for the short cartridge.

      The receiver setup looks a lot like the French Lebel or MAS36. In fact, the bolt is very like that of the MAS.

      Accuracy beyond about 100 meters probably wouldn’t have been great, but for the kind of fighting they were involved in, “one minute of Russian at 100 meters” was probably good enough.

      cheers

      eon

      • “(…)barrel was likely intended to be simply one cut down from a Kar98, or even a WW1 “Lange” 98, and rechambered for the short cartridge.”
        Wait… was twist rate of 98 fit for Kurzpatrone?

        • Twist was 1:23.5cm. In English, 1: 9.25″.

          In a 5.56 x45mm, 1:9″ will stabilize about the widest range of bullet weights, from 35-grain on up to 90-grain. I rather suspect the Kar98 twist would not be “weight-sensitive”, either.

          cheers

          eon

    • However, statistically a full-power rifle round was more likely to do harm fired from any machine gun than from any standard rifle. So whatever stocks remained of 7.92×57 should have been routed to the ultra-cheap MG-45s that Germany also intended to build – with a 1500 rpm rate of fire. Since the riflemen could carry more 7.92×33, they wouldn’t have to be resupplied as often.

      But of course the Army might have taken into account that supply chains would be so broken that units would need to use one caliber for all weapons. So better to stick with the traditional Wehrmacht squad of MG plus Kar98 with some units, and the new squads entirely of Sturmgewehrs with others.

      Alternatively, one could imagine a situation where enough Stgs could not be built, so squads would be a mix of Stgs and this bolt-action rifle. However, at the very moment the Vg45k was being developed, Mauser’s Stg45 was also being readied for production. Not only was Ian’s experience with firing its reproduction positive, but I read that it cost only 45 marks to make, implying very little labor. Furthermore, Ian noted once that the Gustloff VG1-5 gas-delayed 8×33 rifle required only 3 man-hours to build. At that point, I start to question the marginal benefits of reverting to bolt-action designs.

  7. I would be really interested to hear the story of this reproduction came to be.
    Who did it, how many were made, and for what purpose?
    Or is this a teaser for a future video covering these topics?

  8. Mike has hit the nail on the head by describing the originals as “the crudest and simplest rifle that could be made to work with minimal time, labor, and raw materials”.
    The fascination this last ditch junk by my ancestors, replica or not, creates in some people, is totally beyond me.
    Apart from that, the German military called this caliber (short as well as rifle) 7.9 mm, neither 8 mm (commercial) nor the Czechoslovak 7.92 mm.

    • Desperate times; ingenuity.

      I love seeing it, makes me think humans (Me & you) are sentient creatures; capable of thought.

      • I crawled under a railway bridge 20 yrs ago pissed, in Berlin; near the big Siemens factory “Sort of; was drunk, hence sleeping under a bridge” and found… graffiti, scratched… It was the most wonderfull thing, to find.

        Circa 1945.

        • Couldn’t read it, was in kraut. But was lovely to see “Filled me with hope” I woke up; was sick, and went on the piss again.

    • I appreciate the attempted compliment, but those were Ian’s words – which I disagreed with.

      The vast majority of “Volks” (the bottom of the barrel, in a country that had long since conscripted anyone with any value to add to the military) would be generally well served with a blowback 9mm tubegun at the ranges where they could reasonably be expected to acquire and identify a target.

      If an 8×33 boltgun was really deemed necessary (e.g. as a quasi-DMR) it could easily have locked on the bolt handle, used a simpler hammer FCG, simpler (or no) mag, etc.

        • Something like this was on my long list of projects (just to show it could be done) until my formerly free state wiped out scratchbuilds with a “Ghost Gun” law. I’d’ve used 7.62×39 instead (lower pressure, plus cheap virgin AK barrels).

      • You pretty much just described the VG1 bolt action in 7.9 x 57mm;

        https://www.proxibid.com/Rifles/Bolt-Action-Rifles/Volkssturmgewehr-VG1-Bolt-Action-Rifle/lotinformation/56830127

        Except that it used a 10-round K43 self-loading rifle magazine.

        As nearly as I can tell from the photographs on p. 210 of The Book of Rifles by W.H.B. Smith and Joseph Smith (3rd ed. 1963), the thing that looks like a cut-off piece of a 10d nail stuck through the cocking piece is just that. it’s also apparently what the sear catches to hold the firing pin cocked until the trigger is pulled.

        There are dual locking lugs at the front of the bolt, plus the bolt handle acting as a safety lug on the split-bridge receiver, like a Mannlicher, Carcano or Mosin-Nagant.

        I would say that if someone wanted to risk shooting it, it would probably have served the “DMR” function well enough under the circumstances. “One minute of Russian” at 200 meters?

        cheers

        eon

        • dual locking lugs at the front of the bolt, plus the bolt handle acting as a safety lug on the split-bridge receiver

          So in other words, not what I described at all. All those pretty contours on the stock and turnings on the barrel? Sight hood? Rare detachable magazine? The mass (and heat treatment) of metal to take a 1000yd cartridge, when (as you noted) 200 would be a much more realistic range (and the people getting them, unlikely to have the skill even for that)? Germans gotta German!

      • “(…)vast majority of “Volks” (the bottom of the barrel, in a country that had long since conscripted anyone with any value to add to the military) would be generally well served with a blowback 9mm tubegun at the ranges where they could reasonably be expected to acquire and identify a target.”
        In reality many of them ended using captured Carcano
        https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volkssturm_carcano.png
        that being said “blowback 9mm tubegun” was also procured as MP 3008
        https://guns.fandom.com/wiki/MP_3008

    • “(…)Apart from that, the German military called this caliber (short as well as rifle) 7.9 mm, neither 8 mm (commercial) nor the Czechoslovak 7.92 mm.”
      Wait… is not true name of cartridge for presented weapon Pistolen-Patr. 43 m. E?

      • Very good observation Daweo. In the army, caliber was not part of the cartridge designation. The caliber was mentioned in the weapons manuals: “Kaliber 7,9 mm”. You find this in the manual for Gewehr 88 manual as well as for Sturmgewehr 44.
        For Luftwaffe, the proof is easy. Manual LDv 4000/1 of 1940 ist titled: “Munitionsvorschrift für fliegerbordwaffen, Teil 1: 7,9 mm Munition für MG 15 und MG 17.”

        Regarding the twist rate: yes Sturmgewehr 44 barrels had the same 240 mm twist rate as rifle barrels (which I believe was copied from the French 8 mm).

      • I think there is also an implied criticism of how all the world’s military-industrial complexes overcomplicate weapons designs in peacetime – only to retreat to what really matters in a desperate situation.
        However, both peacetime largesse and last-ditch desperation are inefficient. The most useful weapons to emerge from the Reich’s growing desperation were not from 1945, but from a couple of years earlier: the Mkb42 and the Panzerfaust. Circa 1943 was probably the Reich at its most efficient, with Speer trying to rationalize his corrupt military-industrial complex while it was still sort of intact. Some of the 1944 concepts like the He162 never got the chance for a proper development cycle. After that, the cleverness disintegrates into absurdity.

  9. That little iron fits perfectly into the “so ugly it’s cute” category. I wish Ian had bench-fired at least two 5-shot groups with it at (say) 80 meters; we might’ve seen some surprises, because, after all, it has a modern barrel and no worse sights than many a European game keeper’s rifle. Chamber it for 7.62 x 39 (you knew I’d say that), clean it up to look a little less desperate, drill and tap it for a receiver sight for guys like me, and you could have a perfectly okay whitetail gun. Many a poor man in N. America would be glad to get one.

    Oh all right, offer it in .30-30 too. I said whitetails. Maybe hogs? Dunno; we didn’t have ’em in Wyoming when I was young and green.

    • 7.62x39mm Cheaper ammo, than .300 blk out? I think 7.62x39mm is a bit, more powerfull though. He he, complicating the issue. Mind you if nobody can get/afford the ammo I suppose, he he.

    • “(…)offer it in .30-30 too(…)”
      Where you can get cheap 30-round banana magazines for said cartridge?

      • I’m thinking of a cheap but adequate hunting rifle for woodlands and scrub, that is, at short ranges (~100 meters at most) and for medium game. In N. America, especially the USA, medium game means whitetail deer — and there are plenty of whitetails to help feed poor families. A .30-30 is perfectly adequate for that kind of no-nonsense hunting, and I think a 5-round box mag can be built to feed it reliably. 7.63 x 39 with soft- or hollow-point loads is just as good, and again I think a sensible man would prefer a 5-round box mag for that.

        OT and by the way: Thank you, Daweo, for your long service here, providing information that’s always valuable and usually surprising. You deserve another stripe by now.