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"German Paratrooper's Rifle F.G. 42" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report on the German F.G. 42 rifle was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 38, November 18, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The versatile German Ordnance Department has produced a new weapon in the F.G. 42 (Fallschirmjaeger Gewehr 42), a semi-or-full automatic, gas operated, air-cooled paratrooper's rifle, caliber 7.92 mm (see accompanying illustrations). It is extraordinarily light for a full automatic rifle--10.75 pounds fully loaded--conveniently stocked, and equipped with what appears to be an excellent micrometer aperture sight, an innovation in German fire-arms. The addition of a 11 1/2-inch spike bayonet appears to be somewhat superfluous, copied perhaps from the French Model 1936 rifle, but with a weapon weighing under 11 pounds, a bayonet might be used effectively.

[German Paratrooper's Rifle F.G. 42]

a. General

Weight, with bayonet, and loaded (20 rounds in magazine)     10.75 lbs
    with bayonet - no magazine9.00 lbs
Length - bayonet fixed42.75 in
    bayonet unfixed35.5 in
Type of sight, frontfolding blade
    rearfolding micrometer, peep, graduated 100 to 1,200 meters
Sight radius25.0 in
Ammunitionany 7.92 Mauser rifle ammunition
Magazine capacity20 (10 rds also said to exist)
Barrel length19 in
Number of grooves4

b. Other Details

The butt of the piece is of 16 gauge steel, hollow, and ridged to add to its structural strength. The receiver is of a very high quality machining, which is left without further finishing. The magazine is on the left, the ejection opening and operating handle, on the right. Trigger guard and pistol grip are light metal, and comfortable in either offhand or prone positions. The hand guard is of wood, 7 1/2 inches in length, with holes drilled in the top to facilitate cooling and ridges milled in the sides and bottom to prevent the hand from slipping. The bipod legs fold forward from a collar, to provide a housing for the bayonet, and clamp to the bayonet lug. There is no quick-change feature incorporated in the barrel, which appears odd in so modern a weapon. A combined flash hider and compensator perforated with 74, 1/8-inch holes drilled in the side of the body and with 8 1/8 inch holes drilled around the muzzle end at a 45 degree angle help to counteract the natural tendancy of the muzzle to rise in firing, although this model, like the MGs 34 and 42, is designed with the barrel practically in line with the point of support against the shoulder to minimize this annoying habit of machine rifles stocked like an ordinary rifle. The high sights of the German weapon compensate for the absence of drop in the stock. This is very noticeable in the F.G. 42. The rear sight is a 1/16-inch aperture peep with a micrometer type adjustment, but apparently no wind gauge. The bayonet is normally carried point-backward, clipped in the cylindrical stud. When it is to be fixed, the blade is removed and clipped into the stud, point forward.

c. System of Operation

Upon firing, the propelling gases are taken off through a .060-inch port, 6 1/2 inches from the commencement of the rifling, on the underside of the barrel, and impinge on a piston head .620 inches in diameter. The piston rod passes through a gas cylinder 1 1/4 inches in length, with four 1/4-inch exhaust ports at the rear end. After the head passes these ports where the gases are dissipated, the piston rod continues to move rearward through a cylindrical guide at the rear of the cylinder, under its own inertia.

The bolt mechanism is attached to the piston rod by a lug on the under side of the bolt. The lug slot is approximately 3/4 inches long and twists toward the left-hand side of the bolt, allowing the lug to cam and turn the bolt a quarter turn to the left, and disengage the locking lugs. After unlocking, the bolt moves straight to the rear, as in the Lewis gun (although the bolt is known as the Solothurn type) and the piston rod has 3/4 inch of free travel before the bolt is unlocked, permitting ample time for the gas pressure in the barrel to be released before the unlocking of the bolt takes place.

By the use of a change lever which also acts as a safety, the gun may be operated either as a semiautomatic or with full automatic fire. The change lever brings into engagement one of two sears, depending on the type of fire selected. The unique feature of the operation lies in the fact that the gun fires automatically from an open-bolt position and semiautomatically from the position of the closed bolt.

The firing pin is attached to the piston-rod lug and the bolt-body moves around it under spring pressure contained in the firing pin spring compressed behind the lug. After firing each shot, the recoil is partially absorbed by compressing a driving-rod spring which then drives the bolt forward again to carry a new cartridge from the magazine into the chamber. This completes the operating cycle.


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