G41(W) Rifle Shooting: WWII German Semi-Auto

The Walther Gewehr 41 is a mechanically interesting rifle that was adopted by the German military during WWII. Over 100,000 were made, and it uses an interesting operating method known as the “bang” system that traps gas after the muzzle and uses it to self load. This system is known for being unreliable and sensitive to fouling (especially with corrosive ammo) but how does it shoot?

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Alex C.

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


  • Wolfgar

    Excellent video Alex. I saw an episode on the American Rifleman on the Walther and Mauser Gewehr 41 rifles but your video showed the gas system perfectly, thank you. The Mauser version was quite unique with its bolt action option even though it was a bigger failure than the Walther version.

  • The_Champ

    Seems as though the German’s just couldn’t get a full powered self loading rifle quite right during that war. Haven’t had a chance to shoot the G41s or G43 but from the sounds of it the M1, SVT-40, and AG42 are all better choices.

    • Darkpr0

      If you were a guy on the ground using them I think you’d find the G43 the best of the lot. Despite its design foibles, for the period of use you’d probably find it to be a fine piece of equipment for as long as you would need it. Its biggest failure is its questionable long-term durability and use of small, annoying parts. The gun was provided with an extra mag just in case so you could do proper mag switches unlike the Garand or SVT (which was not issued with extra mags IIRC), it shoots well, it has a fantastic (adjustable) trigger, and it could readily mount optics. Some of those traits were effectively firsts for general-issue rifles even though today they’re just something you expect.

      • CapeMorgan

        The Garand uses enbloc clips, not magazines. Ejecting a partially emptied clip is very easy. No mag switches needed.

      • Tritro29

        SVT no extra mag? What? NCO SVT’s were issued with 3 magazines and usually complemented with 10 stripper clips. ‘Sniper’ SVT’s issued with 5 magazines and about as much clips they could put they hands on.

        Troop rifles were also issued with at least 4 mags (SVT38 AFAIK).

        • UnrepentantLib

          The Gew43 adapted the piston from the SVT-40. It has occurred to me that the Germans might have done better to adopt the whole rifle, redesigned for 7.92x57mm. I think the tilting bolt has inherent advantages over the locking flaps on the Gew43 in terms of durability and ease of manufacture. Just my opinion.

  • Kelly Jackson

    Have you ever noticed how the HK SL7 looks like the Gewehr 41?
    I know, completely different mechanics, the SL rifles were roller locked like the G3s, but the appearance is very similar.

  • Anon

    So quick question: Would you take a G43 over this? Because I want to know if the statement in the video included that rifle.

  • MPWS

    It’s unusual when seasoned gunner such as Alex complains about recoil. I subscribe it the fact that there is no gas flow (amount) adjustment and therefore system is overpowered to cover for contingencies. Let’s not forget that gas is pushing first of front annular face of cap before it inverts pressure to back. That way actually “helps” to reduce recoil, as much as in might sound as irony. Also at that location the gas pressure is at its lowest point thru the length of barrel.
    For comparison you may want took at AK 47 with its 14mm non-adjustable gas piston while 12mm would be more than enough. That’s what redundancy is about.

  • mazkact

    Hans Landa approves