GunLab’s Work On Reproduction VG1-5 Rifles

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One of the many projects GunLab has been hard at work completing is producing reproduction VG1-5 (more properly referred to as the Gustloff MP 507) carbines. These were last-ditch carbines, intended to be vastly cheaper to make than either the Kar98K or StG-44 carbines then in service. They were intended to operate via a closed bolt, gas-delayed blowback system; in practice, they were essentially straight blowback weapons, however.

A challenge GunLab has had to meet in producing these guns is redesigning the trigger group. The original Gustloff carbines had a riveted trigger group that cannot be taken apart, making copying it difficult. GunLab redesigned the trigger to both work safely and not change the lines of the original firearm; externally it would be just like an original VG1-5.

The VG1-5 is particularly interesting in that there’s really nothing else like it that also saw service. As a concept, it combines the crude-but-necessary construction of the Sten or PPS-43 with an intermediate caliber round and selfloading (not automatic) mechanism. This makes it a near-ideal weapon for the sort of war by economy that typified World War II. Post-war, the lessons learned from making weapons in large quantities were incorporated into post-war rifle design, from the M14 to the AK rifles, but no post-war weapon would quite reach the level of rude economy exemplified by the Gustloff carbine.

A collection of GunLab’s posts on the VG1-5 project can be found here.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Scott P

    Nice. Guessing they will make one version in 8mm. Kurz. Wonder if they will make one in a more readily available caliber? 7,62×39 with AK mags?

    • I doubt it. That would require a major redesign of the stamping.

      • iksnilol

        Would require a redesign. But 8×33 is pretty similar to 7.62×39 though the magazines might not be.

        • Ian McCollum

          The biggest issue is that the AK magazines are longer, and would require an entirely different receiver to fit.

    • Ian McCollum

      No, it will only be in 8×33, using StG magazines.

      • Zachary marrs

        So i take it a magpul edition is out of the question?

        • Ian McCollum

          Yep.

          • Zachary marrs

            It’s painfully clear I’m not the target market for this

  • patrickiv

    What is the difference between self-loading and automatic in this context?

    • Ian McCollum

      Simply that these rifles in their original 1940s guise were semiauto only. So there is no modification required to remove full-auto capability.

      • Ian, glad to have you in the comments!

      • Reader

        Good to see you, Ian!

  • wetcorps

    I’ve been lurking GunLab from time to time, I hope the project will be able to be completed someday. The owner seems to get side-tracked quite easily though 🙂

    • Ian McCollum

      I just talked to Chuck (GunLab), and the guns really are very close to being finished now – the first handful, anyway. They still need to go to ATF for approval, though. Should be one on display at the SAR show in Phoenix this coming weekend, for anyone who’s interested and going to be there…

      • wetcorps

        Nice. I’m patiently waiting for the day you’ll be able to use one in a two guns match.

  • I would buy one. Have a bunch of 7.92×33 that needs shootin’.

    • Zachary marrs

      Define “bunch”

      I am genuinely curious

      • 3,000 rounds or so. Nathaniel has seen my stash and can verify this 😉

        • Zachary marrs

          Privy? Or is this surplus?

          If you have some surplus, I’d love to see the head stamp

          • iksnilol

            Doubt it is surplus, but isn’t Prvi Partizan a bit on the weak side? I guess Alex uses it in his STG-44.

          • Zachary marrs

            I think Hornady did a run, but im probably mistaken

          • Ian McCollum

            Prvi is good ammo, and not underpowered in 8×33. I believe the batch from Hornady was repackaged Prvi.

          • iksnilol

            It isn’t? I just thought that they usually make the ammo weaker for old guns and the like. I know that the Nagant ammo is pathetic compared to the original ammo.

            + I don’t buy Prvi because of politics. Not a fan of Serbia.

        • Yes, Alex is the decadent sort who just has thousands of rounds of obscure obsolete ammo lying around.

  • David Lowrey

    What will this sell for, and I guess they will be making new mags, unless they stumbled upon a hidden stash of original nazi mags lol.

    • Ian McCollum

      I believe they will be sold with new-production 10 round mags, and original 30-rounders will also fit.

    • Kivaari

      I was led to believe there were many surplus magazines from the East German stockpiles.

  • noguncontrol

    yeah, make the Gerat 05 and 06 next!! the roller locking system is better!

    • Ian McCollum

      Those are on the project list.

      • iksnilol

        For some reason I want to see a repro of the bolt actions. Both the one with the magazine and the singleshots. The simple and crude bolt and action on them is beauty to me.

        • Tassiebush

          Yeah I agree they have a real charm. The VG1 and VG2 look cool! Especially the VG2!

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but what interests me is the simplicity of the action. It could be y’know, reproduced easily. Would love to make on in 308 and make it take G3 mags or something. And of course 7.62×39 with AK mags.

          • Tassiebush

            Sounds like a cool idea. Even if it was original calibre and mag configuration it’d be good. 8×57 for a VG2 certainly isn’t as obscure to source as 8×33 for VG1-5 is. Agreed too about making it in more recent chamberings. I like idea of a .223 version using AR15 type mags although I think that’s less straight forward given the efforts Mossberg went to with MVP to make it feed. Still a .223 VG2 or even 5.45×39 would be cool!

  • Tassiebush

    I’m so glad to see this covered! I remember reading the entry on this gun over and over again in Ian V Hogg’s encyclopedia of firearms where it was called a volksgewehr (I gather that must have been a propaganda name). I was interested to read here that despite it’s gas delayed blowback design it operated more as a straight blowback weapon. Gosh the action must be quite violent on these!? It’ll be very interesting to see what insights will be possible about the effectiveness of this design once it is finished.

    • My understanding is that it’s not that bad; the bolt is really, really heavy.

      • Tassiebush

        Ah that makes sense! It’s great to see the truth rather than theory and speculation! I watched the forgotten weapons video you linked from article (since first commenting. I really must start doing so beforehand) and it’s most impressive! I think that heavy bolt approach was used in early Winchester semi autos like the 1910 but they all had straight walled cases which from what I’ve read was considered an essential thing. Now it turns out the Germans did it with a bottle neck cartridge accidentally. I remember seeing an article many years back on Khyber Pass gun makers that mentioned a sighting of a 7.62×39 Stengun in a shop. The mind boggles at how far the idea of blowback can be pushed!

        • Ken

          Oerlikon 20mm cannon.

          • Tassiebush

            I just looked Oerlikon up. Very cool!

      • Ian McCollum

        The recoil impulse is shorter and sharper than an StG, but not really worse. The mass of the bolt and barrel sleeve (the moving parts) is about 6 pounds.

        • Tassiebush

          So well over half of weight is providing inertia to resist recoil!

    • Kivaari

      “Peoples rifle”, like the HK VP named handguns. Volk Pistol 70 = People Pistol.

  • I’m very close to agreeing with that. It’s a really interesting piece of engineering.

  • Ian McCollum

    I saw one of those myself at a show a couple years ago. It was an AK74 action worked over to mostly look like a VG1-5 (kinda like the HK33s made to look like Stg-44s).

    • Tassiebush

      Would the concept be feasible in a contemporary chambering like 5.45×39 or 5.56×45 for that matter? I guess another question is if a country today found it needed to field a quickly produced utility weapon in decentralized light workshop context could this type of operation still be feasible or has it had it’s day given subsequent simplified designs like the AR18?

  • Kivaari

    Question. Wont this have the same trouble of the originals? That being the coiled spring around the barrel, the rifles got very hot and ruined the spring.

  • David Lowrey

    If this reproduction dosent ask the almost mandatory 5k for repro german guns then you might just get to use it.