InRange: Modernized FG-42

InRange has got something very interesting for their viewers this week: Two segments on the SMG Guns project to create a modernized FG-42. They also released a trailer on YouTube, embedded below:

The SMG Guns MK42 – as they’re calling it – is a modernized and reduced-cost FG-42 for practical competition shooters and civilian users. Gone are superfluous, cost-adding details necessary to a perfect reproduction, like the proprietary scope rail, “pull-out” selector, sheet metal magazine port doors, and original FG-42-style sheet metal bipod. Instead, the MK42 has a 1913 scope rail, 1913 bipod mount, AR-15-compatible pistol grip mount, and a shorter and lighter barrel. The initial prototype seen in the video retains the wood furniture of the reproductions, as well as the original design of muzzle brake. These will probably be changed in future versions.

The FG-42 was one German weapon virtually all of their enemies took note of during and after the war. In particular, the United States felt the weapon was a superb combination of firepower, accuracy, and light weight. The M60 machine gun was derived directly from both it and the MG-42.

For the full (and trully fascinating) FG-42 story, I highly recommend Death From Above: The German FG42 Paratroop Rifle available through Amazon. More information about the SMG Guns reproductions of the Type 2 version of the FG-42 can be found on their website, and also via the Forgotten Weapons YouTube channel.

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 is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Zebra Dun

    Hardly a beautiful weapon, yet it combined a short package, in line recoil and full power lethality in a pure Teutonic kind of way.
    At first the magazine sticking out the side is disconcerting and seems to be something that would get in the way of handling.
    Having never handled one I really cannot say.

  • MountainKelly

    Neat gun but the M60 isn’t… the best in the world hahaha. Still, very cool gun.

    What the heck ever came of PTRS making their STG clone!?

    • Ian McCollum

      Those were imported from Germany, not made by PTR. The deal went sour, and that’s why only a few came in.

      And yeah, the M60 is a pile. That’s what makes this modernized FG interesting to me – the design never had a chance to develop into its potential as a shoulder rifle.

      • MountainKelly

        Understood on the PTR Ian, that’s really a shame. You bring one to market and I’m sure it’ll sell haha.

        I’d love to see more work on the FG as well. Cool concept weapon wise. You get right on that, I don’t have 1/100 the tools you do hah!

      • billyoblivion

        “And yeah, the M60 is a pile. ”

        Bite your TOUNGE. That thing was killing commies for DECADES.

        A BAR and an M-60. All a man really needs.

        Semper Fi.

        • I don’t think that was necessary, Billy.

          • billyoblivion


            Sigh. Kids these days.

          • Don’t Drone Me Bro

            Marines were never taught to be polite… and in any case the BAR is a pig and took the Belgians to rework it into what the M1918A2 “should’ve been”.

          • I’ve known many polite Marines.

          • Don’t Drone Me Bro

            Nate, I was being sarcastic. My sarcasm hasn’t changed since TAMUG, thus it does not translate well to the digital realm. I hope all is well, or at least better than my Garand was…

          • Hyok Kim

            My experience with service members is like this.

            The most polite were Navy and Coast Guards.

            The Marines,

            The Army,

            and you know whom.

            I have worked with about 15 Marines (not just shoot the breeze, but actually worked the entire shift with them) in my life.

            Only 3 fit the negative stereotype you mentioned. And none of these 3 actually saw the elephants. I know one Marie recon (2 tours in Afghanistan) who became an Army ranger (better career opportunity). One Iwo Jima Vet, One Vietnam vet, one Korea vet, one Iraq vet, all polite.

          • Don’t Drone Me Bro

            Dear lord, it was a joke. This is the internet, not everything is serious.

          • Hyok Kim

            Sorry for not getting your sarcasm.

  • andrey kireev

    With that side fed magazine, it would get on the way of being slung across the chest, back or side…. Cudos for trying to reproduce a piece of history though !

  • andrey kireev

    Perhaps an STG-44 in 7.62×39 ? I wouldn’t mind that at all…

    • What would that bring to the table? StGs are heavy, and don’t really have any features that an AK or AR doesn’t.

      (Other than being cool, I mean).

      • andrey kireev

        Well, It’s the ability to possess a historical firearm, and being able to shoot it with commonly available ammo…. Ammo availability is one of the biggest factors I look at when i purchase a new firearm, I learned all too well from surplus ammo drying out…

        • I was under the impression you meant a modernized StG in 7.62×39.

  • Dr. Daniel Jackson

    The M14 is the modernized M-1 Garand.

  • Tassiebush

    It’s interesting that the original fg42 had the feature of working closed bolt on semi and open bolt full auto.

  • Squirreltakular

    Looks beautiful and functional. I’d spend SCAR 17 money on that. $4500? Probably not.

  • billyoblivion

    “Couple that with the fact that the internet somehow believes that everything thats awesome should cost what junk costs kills the bottom line for most manufacturers.”

    Thumbs up for this.

  • That’s true, but another part of the problem you didn’t touch on is that these sorts of firearms of limited interest can’t benefit from economies of scale like a mass produced service weapon can. You might look at a reproduction German military firearm and say “hey, that thing isn’t a high quality custom gun; it’s just as rude and crude as my AK!” And it is, because it’s a military-pattern weapon (reproduction manufacturers of course taking great care because they know they’re making something special; but you’re still talking military quality), but economy of scale is not something people can feel in their hands, which is where a lot of the confusion comes from.

  • roguetechie

    The swiss follow on designs in full power 7.5×55 and the 7.5mm version of 7.92×33 made by W.F. Bern are even more drool worthy. (Weapons man blog has a blurb on the stg-51 that recently sold at auction for 26k awhile back)

    Interestingly I’ve always wondered if a captured Johnson LMG may not have had quite a bit to do with several features in the fg-42. For example the hybrid open bolt full closed bolt semi fcg, the full power rifle round (no the Garand did not chamber a true full power rifle round! Unlike Melvin Johnson’s rifle and lmg which could use true full power m1 30 ’06 loads the Garand required a reduced m2 loading as the m1 loading would severely damage a Garand quickly.), and the side feed magazine might have been inspired by the Johnson lmg which had all of this standard.

    When one looks at the above and the fact that both Johnson guns were built on virtually identical receivers, could be switched between rotary pot belly side feed and even a BAR magazine feed system with the release of two pins, and the fact that the rifle and MG were both designed specifically to be easily produced. It really makes one question the Garand on a fundamental level. (Especially the ease of production part especially in light of the lies that were told resulting in the m-14 project going ahead resulting in such low numbers of m-14 rifles produced in the early years after type classification. Which provided the opportunity for ESSENTIALLY A THIRD GENERATION JOHNSON RIFLE to massacre some watermelons at a barbecue one day and seal the fate of the still behind schedule m-14!)

    • Tassiebush

      Good points! That comparison with the Johnson LMG and idea of whether captured examples might have influenced fg42 got me running to my books. On the one hand the high sights straight recoil and side mounted magazine are common features between both but it looks like fg42 development started in 1940 but Johnson LMG and rifle while developed earlier couldn’t have been captured till after 1941. The Dutch East Indies army apparently had an order for them which couldn’t be fully delivered due to Japanese action. Seems they were taken on by USMC after 1941. I think Johnson LMG seemed a very cool gun though! I think the main downfall of Johnson rifle was that the long recoil mechanism didn’t accept weight variation of bayonet (so a small spike one was made) the movement of barrel on firing was a source of wear too but mostly it seems it is just that the Garand got approved first. I agree the Johnson seems superior in quite a few ways. It is probably a good candidate for a reproduction too given it’s simple design!

  • gunslinger

    when will red jacket come out with their new idea to make a mag-fed mg42?

  • Karl Kasarda

    That’s to be decided with future testing. We’re going to attempt using P-Mags with the next iteration.

    • Don’t Drone Me Bro

      Thank you for your excellent videos and commentary. Not just on the FG-42/Mk 42 but all of these unique and historic small arms (and a Hellcat). Keep up the great work on Forgotten Weapons and the new channel!

  • Don’t Drone Me Bro

    Indeed the M1 was designed for the incredible M1 Ball round. The M2 was supposed to replicate the ballistics of the M1906 Ball round. Which was a moot point because during the war, they issued an AP round that I believe was about 168gr. M1s were designed on tooling created by John Garand himself. Say what you want about the rifle, but the man knew advanced practices for mass production and tooling. Hell even after he retired Springfield Armory and Matheson Tool still consulted him for the T-44/M14. The magazine for that rifle is from his T25 I believe.

  • Mazryonh

    So could the FG-42 be viewed as the first “modern” battle rifle in a way? It has select-fire, optics, and the ability to mount a bipod–probably the first in the wave of the ability to mount multiple accessories to a rifle.

    • I think that line of inquiry is a very deep rabbit hole, indeed.

      • Mazryonh

        Rabbit hole as in speculation? I just thought that it would likely be the most “recognizable” WWII firearm to those used to this modern age of “accessories on every rifle.”

        • Maybe?

          I’ve found that asking what the “first” of anything was ends in a lot of different answers and nobody happy.

  • Tassiebush

    Good point! There is no way the extremely competent German intelligence networks at that time would be ignoring a detailed public debate on cutting edge small arms for that time! No live example needed.

    • Tassiebush

      Good luck re establishing your log on too!