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03/06/2007 Archived Entry: "FG-42"


Blogispondent Ian here. The German FG-42 was the first successful modern EBR. It was designed for the German Fallshirmjaeger (paratroops) after an early debacle that nearly caused the German military to abandon paratroop units altogether. The troops went into combat armed with only pistols and submachine guns, and had their rifles and heavy weapons dropped alongside them in canisters. Well, in one of thier only major operations - an attack on Crete - the troops and their weapons canisters were widely scattered, and pretty well routed by the much more heavily armed British defenders.

Enter the FG-42.

A request was sent out for a new rifle for the paratroops; one that could be carried on a jump by each soldier, and provide accurate, high volume, long range fire. The required characteristics included: the use of the standard 8x57mm catridge, controllable full-auto fire, size and weight no greater than the basic K98k Mauser rifle, 20-round detachable magazines, a bipod and bayonet, and, of course, that the rifle be exceedingly durable and reliable in the field. No small task, eh?

Surprisingly, the request was met, and the rifles were produced in several variants. The FG-42, as it was designated, was the first of the modern battle rifles. Look at any later battle rifle - the FAL, M14, HK91, AMT, Galil - and you'll see the same characteristics.

Well, there has never been a reproduction FG-42, in large part because it was one of the most expensive rifle made during WWII. The amount of machining required for the receiver alone is staggering. And there were not a lot of FG-42s made during the war, with few enough in the US to drive prices of registered full-auto examples into the six-figure range. But now, with the maturation of computer-aided machining, there is a semi-auto FG-42 replica being made. Every single part is made from scratch to original specs, right down to the inspection stamps. Only 300 are being made, and they won't last long. The price is a hefty $10,000 shipped and insured - but a deal for what will likely be one of the only repro FG-42s ever made.

Posted by Ian @ 12:10 PM CST

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