FG42 Automatic Rifle

The following report on the FG42 Automatic Rifle (Fallschirmjägergewehr 42) was published in Foreign Military Weapons and Equipment, Vol. III, Infantry Weapons, Pamphlet No. 30-7-4, Department of the Army, 1954.

7.92-mm M42 (FG42) Automatic Rifle

FG42 Automatic Rifle - Fallschirmjägergewehr 42

This weapon, referred to very often as the German “Paratroop” rifle, is designed more like a light machine gun than a rifle. It is gas-operated, has selective automatic or semi-automatic fire, is fitted with a permanently attached folding bipod, and is fed from a 20-round magazine. It was originally designed for use by parachute troops as an automatic rifle, but it can be used as a light machine gun or as a machine carbine.

The FG42 underwent extensive tests and progressed through several design stages before a final model was adopted by the German High Command. It was late 1944 before the rifle was finally introduced in combat in significant numbers. It is fitted for a bayonet, compensator, telescopic sight, and rifle grenade launcher.

The salient recognition features of this weapon are: (1) A horizontal box magazine which feeds from the left side of the weapon; (2) a pronounced rearward slope of the hand grip; (3) the attached folding bipod; (4) folding post-type sights; and (5) a selector lever on the left side of the trigger housing permitting settings for automatic or semi-automatic fire or for “safe”.


German FG42 Automatic Rifle - Fallschirmjägergewehr 42 - Diagram


System of operation Gas-operated, air-cooled, selective automatic or semi-automatic fire
Caliber 7.92-mm (.312 in)
Weight (incl. sling, bipod, and bayonet):  
     Unloaded 4.9 kg (10.5 lb)
     Loaded 5.5kg (11.5 lb)
Length over-all:  
     With bayonet 110 cm (43.5 in)
     W/o bayonet 98cm (38.5in)
Length of barrel 48 cm (19 in)
Feeding device 20-round magazine
     Front Both have special folding post sights
     Rear Graduated 100-1,200 m
Muzzle velocity 750 m/s (2,461 fps)
Effective rate of fire Semiautomatic 20 rpm; auto 40-60 rpm
Effective range 400 m (440 yd)
Ammunition Standard German 7.92-mm automatic

Additional U.S. intelligence reports:


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