Top 5 Overly Complicated Guns

Some guns are famed for their elegant simplicity, but some are notorious for their complexity. In this video, we take a look at five firearms that are overly complicated for one reason or another, with some shooting footage in the mix.

Thanks to our sponsors Ventura Munitions and Grizzly Targets.

For more info on the G41(M) check out Ian’s video:

Mauser C96 info from C&Rsenal:

Firearms featured:
Nagant Revolver
Boberg XM9
Mauser C96

The  full transcript …

– [Alex] Hey guys! This is Alex C. with TFB TV, and the topic of today’s video is gonna be “Five Overly Complicated Guns.” As you can see, we’re just gonna go right into it with a wonderfully complicated G41 M.

These rifles are bizarre to say the least.

The requirements were that they do not have a hole drilled for a gas system, they have no moving parts on the outside of the gun, and they’d be able to function as a bolt action rifle in case of an emergency.

Mauser actually met all these requirements.

You can see the bolt handle right there resembles that of a Mauser rifle.

They met the requirements.

They made about four-thousand of these is what I’ve heard.

Because the G41 Walther design ignored some of the requirements and actually was more successful.

Here you can see me working the bolt, just as if I were using a Mauser rifle.

And it feels a lot like one.

These rifles are spectacularly complicated because of the gas trap, slash, bang system.

You can also see in here, the guts.

They do have a rotating bolt, different than the flapper lock G41 rifles, which is arguably better.

Flapper locking has some issues on these guns.

Again, you can see me working the bolt here.

And, it actually disengages the spring, so when you work the bolt, you’re not actually working against spring pressure.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about the G41 M, Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons has a great overview of one he did at the Rock Island Auction.

He really goes into the details of how it works, and it is a doozy, as he says.

But, let’s move onto the next overly complicated gun.

Of course, next, I chose a gun that’s kinda common but has an element that I would say is overly complicated.

It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.

I’d like to make that clear in this video.

None of these guns are necessarily bad for being overly complicated.

But this is, of course, an Nagant revolver, an M1895 Nagant revolver, adopted by the Russians.

Nagant revolver is very interesting because it features a round that is unusual by any metric.

You’ll see here, coming up, how the round is very strange.

The bullet actually doesn’t crest above the brass cartridge case.

You can’t see the bullet.

It almost looks like the round has already been fired.

The cylinder also holds 7 rounds as opposed to 6 like most revolvers.

And there is a very good reason for the bullet being set like that.

And that is, of course, what I’m about to show you here.

When you pull the hammer back on these revolvers, the cylinder actually moves forward to create a gas seal, and coupled with the unique ammunition, allows you to get about fifty more feet per second out of it.

So, that gas seal is nice, as far as gaining power, but I kinda doubt the utility.

It seems like a conventional revolver woulda been cheaper and a little more reliable.

‘Cause a link to our Nagant revolver video, and you can see it in action right here.

It does not work too well, and I’ve also heard a rumor that you can suppress these.

I’m not sure, but that is the internet talking to me.

Okay, so next, we’ve got the Boberg pistol.

The Boberg pistols are really cool.

They’re very compact.

They have a really cool feature.

The barrel length is actually quite long.

Because, they’re almost like a bullpup pistol.

However, they are very complex.

You can see here.

I’m going to cock the pistol, and the barrel rotates.

A rotating barrel is not unusual.

Some Beretta pistols have ’em.

The Colt All-American 2000 I believe had a rotating barrel.

Not that unusual.

But here, you can see, the magazine has no provisional load cartridges in the front.

That is, of course, because you load cartridges backwards.

You load them nose first instead of rim first, and I’ll show you why, here coming up.

But this is pretty strange, and it throws a lot of people for a loop.

There’s also no magazine follower, which is strange.

Anyways, the reason for that, I’ll show you.

I disassemble the pistol here.

Disassembly’s not too bad.

You just flip this little doodad here.

The switch kinda like a Sig pistol, everything comes forward.

And then, there’s a switch just like there is on a general purpose machine gun, like an M1919, or a PKM, that withdraws the bullets, rotates them upwards, and puts them into the chamber.

Now this, of course, has led to some problems with bullets actually getting ripped outta the cartridge brass case.

So, use the ammunition they recommend.

Also, here, you can see the I guess what you’d call a locking block that you remove to field strip the gun.

Boberg, in the manual, recommends putting grease in the surfaces.

I believe it’s molybdenum grease in the surfaces of the, the cam surfaces of the block and on the stud on the barrel.

So grease your Boberg if you have one.

And fully field stripped, it does look kinda weird.

I couldn’t figure out how to remove the barrel.

And I don’t have the instruction manual, so that’s about as far as I could get it.

But, let’s see what we have up next.

That’s, of course, gonna be the wonderful Sig 510.

This is actually a Sig AMT, but it applies to all the Sig pattern rifles of this type.

And, we have done a video on this gun, and it was very fun to shoot, very awesome gun.

Very great shooter, I can’t really praise this rifle enough, especially for a large 7.62 by 51 battle rifle.

It is light. Shoots well.

Not the most attractive firearm, but I really like shooting it, and the “beer keg” charging handle is pretty fun to operate.

I’m not gonna lie.

Another unusual feature is it’s got this winter trigger that you flip down if you’re wearing heavy gloves.

I also like it because it gives you some extra leverage if you’re trying to shoot it very accurately.

As for complexity, if you look at the guts of the system here, this is actually the bolt.

You can see it has rollers, but it also has flappers.

I’ve seen this described as a flapper locked gun.

However, it’s not really flapper locked.

That was, more or less, to circumvent the patents on roller locking.

Here’s a close-up.

You can see the flaps in there kinda retain the rollers.

So it’s not really flapper locked, but you can see what they were going for.

And, I believe they successfully skirted HK or whoever sent me these patents.

You can also see the silly straw extractor spring that’s pretty characteristic of Swiss complexity.

Now, it has two extractors.

It’s got I guess what you’d call a primary and a secondary extractor.

You can see on the bottom it had a primary extractor.

Next up’s gonna be the broomhandle pistol.

Now the broomhandle pistols, I really like.

This proofmark here is very cool.

That means it was accepted into the military in World War I, the German military, or Prussian.

Great pistols.

They are short recoil operated.

They’re very complex.

They actually only have one screw, and that’s to retain the grip.

Very beautiful pistols. I love shooting these.

The muzzle flash is incredible.

They fire a hot little round too.

Thirty mauser is a very stout round.

There also are, of course, select fire versions.

This is a M712 Schnellfeuer.

I was planning on actually field stripping one of these.

I have done it in the past, but it is an absolute nightmare.

Here is about as far as I like to take it down because they are ludicrously difficult to take apart, so I figured a picture would do.

I’m sorry guys! Maybe on a Friday field strip, I’ll make a thirty minute video on how to take it down.

But anyways, this is Alex C. with TFB TV.

I really appreciate you watching this “Five Overly Complicated Guns” video.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Maybe hit that subscribe button if you liked what you saw.

Until next time, Alex C. signing off!

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • ozzallos .

    “It does not work too well, and I’ve also heard a rumor that you can suppress these.”

    You… I mean… What… How… a rumor…?
    /headdesk gif here.

    • Burst

      I’m pretty sure the rumor thing was intended in jest.

      I sure HOPE it was.

      • iksnilol

        I sure hope the doesn’t work well part was also in jest.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Not entirely a jest, but he was referring to his specific, personal Nagant.

    • 😉

    • mechamaster

      I watch in some model with threaded barrel and with original design of nagant 7,62x38mm gas seal ammunition, it can be suppressed.

  • mechamaster

    My top 5 complicated firearms :

    1. FN 2000
    2. KelTec RFB
    3. KelTec KSG
    4. Ruger MK22

    5. Ithaca 37

    But it’s still cool firearms.

    • David

      The fs2000 is easy….it’s just not an AR. Can’t comment on the rest.

      • ostiariusalpha

        The extraction and ejection mechanism is certainly more involved than what you’d find on an AR-15, but it’s no Boberg.

      • mechamaster

        Yes, the FS2000 is easy. But when it’s jammed, it’s a little bit pain for normal muscle memory, plus the non-dropfree magazine can be an annoyance in some situation.

        The MK22 and Itacha 37 is a liitle bit harder to fieldstrip completely.

        • David

          Ok…but you said it was complicated, and are now saying it’s easy. I’m just trying to understand your logic. I own an FS2000 and complicated has never come to mind.

          • mechamaster

            Well, sometimes it’s feel awkward ( for me, personally ) to open the chamber inspection cover, and cleared the jammed round ( or just checking the chamber ). Rather than see the bolt-carrier and ammunition directly in ejection port like a common design rifle.

            Just that little ‘extra step’ that add some little complicated in my muscle memory, in my case.

            but yes, it is easy fix to do by a little training. That’s why. And I’m still like FS2000 too, but I understand the ‘unique-and-awkward-feeling’ of the rifle.

    • Giolli Joker

      No place for AN-94?

      • mechamaster

        Actually, my list is the firearms that already enter and available in civilian US market.

        Yes, if we add “world-most complicated firearms”. The G11, and AN-94, and Steyr ACR, is easily placed in top big three “space-magic” guns.

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    Of course you can suppress a Nagant revolver. You can suppress ANY revolver.

    The Nagant just works better suppressed because of the gas seal.

    • Wetcoaster

      That’s always bugged me when people claim conventional revolvers can’t be suppressed. Since we generally acknowledge that suppressors for most centerfire guns are to reduce the noise from ear-shattering down to merely loud, why couldn’t you put a suppressor on a normal revolver to reduce some of the gas leaving from the muzzle?

      It’s not like semis don’t have a whole load of mechanical noise and suppressed blowback SMGs like the Sterling and Sten must have had a fair bit of gas leaving via the ejection port when cycling given the nature of unlocked open-bolt guns

      • Micki

        Well, in order to get any noticeable effect, you have to reduce the barrel-cylinder gap as close as possible. If I remember correctly, there was an aborted assassination attempt on Idi Amin that involved a suppressed Dan Wesson revolver. The Dan Wesson was chosen because the barrel-cylinder gap was more easily adjusted than on most revolvers. Unfortunately, the cylinder on such revolvers tends to bind-up with fouling and debris after only a few shots, which limits their usefulness.

  • Southpaw89

    Definitely want to see that C-96 field strip, the gun has always fascinated me and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out just how it works.

    • RH

      They really aren’t that complicated from a mechanical standpoint, compared to something like a P38. Field stripping isn’t too bad, but detail stripping is difficult without a vise. Still far easier than a luger or many other early automatics. They really are ingenious internally. Just the one screw for the grips, and the fcg comes out the back in one neat package, and all the parts interlock without using any pins. The manufacturing complexity, however, was absurd. The fcg housing is skeletonized, it has a machined two armed leaf spring that doubles as a hammer axis pin, and the frame walls are only about .050″ thick in some spots.

      • Southpaw89

        Probably just need to get my hands on one, to bad they’re so valuable, seems I cant fully understand something until I can take it apart myself, but a video is the next best thing. Good info though.

        • RH

          Start trolling gunbroker and be patient. They made approximately 1 million, and there are always quite a few on GB. You could probably pick up a rough bolo for around 600 and unless you specifically want one unusual, like Alex C’s contract pistol or a Red 9, you can find a pretty nice shooter for under 1k. Prewar are better finished, and M30s have the best metallurgy. My C96 is my favorite early automatic, and the last gun I would ever sell.

  • Jean Luc Picard

    I wonder. I would have put something (in disorder)

    HK G11

    FIAT-Revelli M1914
    UTAS UT15
    Treeby Chaingun

    I found the boberg pistol was one of the most complicated of the batch I think but that’s just my opinion

    I read that some other lists have their own sets, so I tried to not chose the same models 😉
    Besides I’m not a firearm expert even if I know some of the mechanisms regarding certain weapons …

    • Giolli Joker

      The Jatimatic is a wonder of mechanical simplicity… it just looks odd, but it’s extremely simple.

      • Jean Luc Picard

        I do like the ergonomics, yes but I always thought it was a tad complicated, at least a little more than most SMGs with its mechanics (well I should probably have put the Kriss Super V instead 😛 ) maybe that would be nice to see it on something like forgotten weapons as I do like what Ian does in terms of presenting guns and showing the mechanics behind each firearm, mostly the odd, intricate stuff …

        • Giolli Joker

          Actually Forgotten Weapons has a video of the Jatimatic, sadly no shooting, but the guts are shown with a very straightforward field stripping.

          • Jean Luc Picard

            I see, thank you for the tip, not knowing much the weapon made me do a wrong statement, but I see how simple it is.

  • Edward Franklin

    I don’t think any of these come close to the internal complication of the Matebas, the MTR-X and the 6 Unica are almost painfully complicated and fiddly internally. I’d say they’re joined by its close cousin the Chiappa Rhino, another Ghisoni designed and just as complicated.

    • Giolli Joker

      The Chiappa Rhino is actually designed by Mr Antonio Cudazzo, he got Ghisoni involved to get his contribution and as a tribute to his innovative genius.
      (source: I know the guy that sponsored the Rhino project (and paid all the patents) well before Chiappa was involved, I met the late Ghisoni, I bought a Mateba directly in the company headquarters)
      I’m a bit far to lend a Mateba, but I guess the TFB TV crew should contact Brian of LifeSizePotato, if they want to show a few overly complicated (and equally cool) handguns.

      • Edward Franklin

        I never knew that on the Rhino, I had always heard it was a Ghisoni design that had been completed by Cudazzo. The truth of the matter is quite a bit more interesting.

        Another painfully complicated handgun would be the Dardick, that darn thing was an answer to a question no one ever may have asked but it did sorta work. Honestly the real winner for complicated rifles has to be the bolt action conversions like the Charelston and Huot-Ross, the fact one of them was adopted in a minor role is absolutely mind blowing and speaks volumes about the perceived need for any automatic weapon.

        • Joshua

          The Huot Automatic Rifle is much simpler than the Charleston and Reider conversions, what makes the Huot complicated is the cooling shroud and safety covers, otherwise it’s a standard Ross Rifle with a long strock gas piston mounted to the side and a drum magazine added to the bottom.

  • kipy

    Alex do a range review of the Boberg please!

  • Some Guy

    no G11? AN94? TKB-022M?

    I know you can’t get physical examples of them but your average belt fed machine gun is more complicated than most of the guns in this video.

    • Jean Luc Picard

      I have to agree with those, I mean the G11 is a clockwark, the AN94 is quite complicated, the TKB 022 is the most complicated genuine bullpup with the steyr ACR.
      For me in the examples only the boberg fitted the desciption remarkably due to its complex internals.

  • Jean Luc Picard

    It’s very similar to the german luger pistol to me, there is a couple of weapons who take that kind of mechanism even in automatic weapons

  • Wolfgar

    Great video, I have never seen a G-41M field stripped before and never even heard of the Boberg pistol till this video. Back in the early 80’s an elderly friend of mine who fought in the Pacific with the Marine Corps during WW2 brought back a Chinese copy Mauser pistol with a wood holster AKA shoulder stock. I volunteered to field strip it and clean it for him. We had no internet or manuals back then and I do have to say it took me awhile to complete the re-assembly. This gentleman also had a Samurai sword and original snap shots of Japanese soldiers beheading Chinese nationals with swords and what looked like a big paper cutter. He took all these items off a dead Japanese soldier. Thank you for these videos, I enjoy them immensely.

  • Shmoe

    Honestly, the Boberg looked pretty cool. I look forward to greasing my Boberg at the first oppor…oh. wait… Also, Alex, did you know you can suppress the Nagant pistol?

  • Grammar police

    Mol ib den um. Say it again…. mol ib den um.

  • Mikial

    I just want to tell you that I am completely impressed by so many of you in terms of your firearms knowledge. I am a lifelong shooter and have done my time in Iraq and Afghanistan and plenty of other places, but I cannot hold a candle to so many of you. That’s one reason I really enjoy these blogs . . the reader’s comments often teach me more than the articles.

    • Micki

      Speaking as someone who would have made a hopeless soldier, I’m equally impressed by those who have done difficult work in dangerous places! 🙂

      • Mikial

        Thank you, Micki.

        I guess we all just go with what we’re good at. 😉

  • Asapdod

    They left out the pathetic Beretta M92/M9