On Rebuilding MG42 from Part Kits

Glenn Fleming, a gunsmith at Red Jacket Firearms, regularly gets requests from customers to rebuild MG42 from cut-up parts kits – apparently a job that is a lot less fun than it sounds. Glenn writes

The thing is, when you are remaking them, they are a pain in the ass to get running right.

Remember, I deal with guns that have been cut up to the point the US government considers them destroyed. It’s no easy feat to make these things shoot again; that having been said, it can be done. Just look at the amount of post samples and even transferable rewelds out there. It’s no wonder all the surplus 8mm is drying up — a fact that I hate!

So, what did I learn through all this? Well, if someone says, “Hey man, we need you to build 4 MG42’s in a week,” . . . run.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Alex Pawelczyk

    Kinda makes me want to buy a random old parts kit, not an MG-42, and try my hand at assembling it and rewelding the chopped receiver. Been wanting to get into gunsmithing for a long time now. Seems like this would be a nice trial by fire into in to the wonderful world of gunsmithing.

    • Komrad

      Apparently, Uzi kits aren’t too hard. You might try your hand at that first.

    • Bryan S.

      I hope you mean rebuild and convert to semi-auto.

      Start with an AK… remember to follow all the rules about US parts. It is a fun process.

  • D

    Red Jacket….neat

    • More like Red jacket…meh. If I had questions about an MG42 build I’d call Allegheny Arsenal, those guys have been building MG42s longer than Red Jacket has been in existence. There’s a reason they’re constantly calling in experts to do builds, it’s because they are NOT experts. They do decent work but are pretty much an “us too” manufacturer that has a high profile only due to the show. They’re a great “one stop” shop if you don’t know where to look but much of what happens on the show needs to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt!

      • Komrad

        Like the Desert Eagle that magically transformed into a Beretta when a girl shot it?
        I laughed when I saw that one.

      • W

        Ive heard of Allegheny Arsenal…dont they provide guns for movie sets?

  • His comment about “zipper burns” made me glance at the ridge that grows down the middle of my left thumbnail. Damn you MG42!!

  • I wonder if it would be more or less work to build the M56 Smart Gun from the movie Aliens. It is based on the MG42. 😉

  • Jeff Smith

    When did the Discovery Channel start having NOTHING to do with science? And the History Channel start having little to nothing to do with history?

    • Reverend Clint

      Hey man Swamp People and Axe men are two historically signifagant shows… one deals with toothless hillbillies and the other alligators

      • Jeff Smith

        Reverend Clint,

        Hahaha, they should just show Swamp People in history classes and Ice Road Truckers in science classes.

        But, in all reality, it’s sad. As a history nerd, I LOVED watching shows on the Civil War and other random history stuff. I could watch that stuff all day. Fortunately, PBS still runs the Ken Burns series. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth watching. Especially the Civil War series.

        I say we petition the History Channel to bring back Tales of the Gun. That show was a perfect fit and was partly responsible for getting me into guns in the first place.

    • NickB

      @ Jeff, Miss Ken Burns?

      • Jeff Smith

        @NickB, I’m not sure if you are referring to Ken Burns’ political affiliation or not.

        Whatever his politics, the man’s documentaries (at least all of the ones I have seen) are beyond question. If you haven’t seen The Civil War, check it out ASAP.

  • Higgs

    First thing i saw in that picture was the PIAT in the background… with no trigger…

  • RocketScientist

    Let me first start by saying that I realize that a ‘reality show’ like Sons of Guns RARELY reflects reality, and that the way Red Jacket is portrayed in the show may very well have no relation to the way the shop is run and the quality of their work. That being said, I only have the show they volunteered to be a part of to use as a basis for an opinion on them. And based on that show, I wouldn’t let those monkeys within a hundred yards of any gun I owned or planned on shooting. I can’t tell you how many instances of flat-out incorrect information, long-ago-disproved old wives’ tales and the like I have seen come out of the mouths of those guys. Or the instances where one of them gives a little history or background information on a gun/topic that is superficial, and obviously rehearsed (after being taken directly from the Wikipedia page for that subject), if not blatantly wrong. Also I have to assume they are on their best behavior when cameras are rolling, trying to show what a good shop they are. If this is true, I’d hate to see what they do when no one’s watching. Their complete lack of attention to detail, and crappy “good-enough” attitude towards machinework and fabrication is deplorable to anyone who has worked in that, or similar fields. I would never hire any of those guys (except maybe the dude with the goatee who I think is the one interviewed above, he seems to at least have his wits about him) to work in my facility. And all that pales to the thing that gets me the most about the Red Jacket: their ridiculous comical ‘original designs’. They always end up being comical, barely-practical pieces of junk. Things I would be embarrassed to put my name on, much less something I would promote and tout as “expanding new marketplaces” and being “revolutionary”. Perfect example is the customer (an alligator hunter) who came in looking for something to deliver a killshot to the back of a gator’s head using a .410 shotgun shell. They ‘designed’ a single-shot handheld tube with the least ergonomic and most unsafe “trigger” I’ve ever seen (ND anyone??). For about half the price they were charging, they could have sold him a Taurus judge, which does the same things, but has multiple shots, a safe trigger, ergonomic grip etc. What a joke. Don’t get me started on all their other “custom” projects (shoulder-fired .30 browning, ‘tactical’ tommy gun for SWAT use, armored truck with homemade ‘grenade launchers’ in the rear, etc.) Dumb show. Dumb people.

    • RocketScientist

      Man, I was afraid I’d get a lot of hate and down-votes for this comment. Instead it turns out to be the most popular one I’ve made here! Apparently I’m not the only one ashamed of the image this show presents of the gun community. For the one person who down-voted me, I am honestly very curious as to why. I don’t wanna start a flame-war or any of that mess, I am just honestly curious what you disagree with. I don’t watch the show regularly, and maybe I am missing something. I assume you’re just a fan of the show, which is cool. I hate to admit it but so am I to some extent. It’s entertaining and a guilty pleasure, much in the same way watching a NASCAR wreck or an episode of Jersey Shore is.

  • NothingButCorrupt

    “When did the Discovery Channel start having NOTHING to do with science? And the History Channel start having little to nothing to do with history?”

    The absolute truth. What a shame these formally fine shows have descended to the lowest common denominator.

    • Nater

      I remember back when Discovery really didn’t have any actual programming. By this I mean they had no series. You’d just turn to it and there would be a show about Super-massive Black Holes, or Inflationary Cosmology, or Darwin’s time on the HMS Beagle. Shows that you would actually learn something from. TLC actually had real programing to, it hadn’t become “The Learning Channel for Wedding Dresses”.

      While 15 years ago, History did have actual series-style programming, it was full of shows like “Sworn to Secrecy”, “Tales of the Gun”, and whatnot. Now it presents Nostradamus, the Anti-Christ and Ancient Aliens like they’re legitimate, scientific theories. The sad thing is, I’m sure the ratings are better.

      Now you have to spend more money to get uprated cable packages that have History International, the Science Channel, ect in order to watch anything remotely interesting.

    • mosinman

      it appears our entire culture is geared to the lowest common denominator. maybe Idiocracy was more of a prophecy instead of a goofy movie……

  • Anton

    The first to make me a shorty box-fed MG-42 will get a free guitar.

  • Lance

    Forget a MG 42 Id like a semi-auto M-60.

  • rick

    Yah what part of true life reality does red jacket or any reality searce play? It’s interesting to see what people bring in to a gun shop but this stuff walks through the doors of gun shops every week in every place you can think of in the USA. Not putting red jacket down but they do stuff like this for show ratings.

  • northor

    Ugh, the MG3 IS a pain in the ass to maintain and damn heavy to boot. Brilliant weapon though. Nothing like hearing that sound beside you during fire and advance. Don’t get why people don’t get that instead of the 42, You’d think that 7.62 ammo would be easier to come by.