June 18, 2012
Small Arms of the Volkssturm
The Germans had the very best until near the end of World War II, when anything that would fire a bullet was pressed into combat service. See the July 1 SGN for Kokalis' investigation of a rifle once-cheap that's now expensive.
The "Thousand Year Reich" lasted only 13 years, during which its arms industry went from among the finest in the world to making crude arms like this VG1.
The dramatic decline in Germany's industrial potential can be seen in these four K98k rifles — top to bottom: an exquisite Mauser "byf41" made in 1941; a still-excellent Sauer "ce 42" produced in 1942; a Mauser "byf44" with a substantial number of sheet metal components; and a last-ditch Czech "swp45" with numerous features deleted.
The best estimate on the total number of VG1 rifles produced appears to be no more than 50,000. The exact number of Volksgewehre produced will never be known.
Blued G43/K43 Magazines
Blued G43/K43 magazines most often fit better in the VG1 than the slightly thicker black enamel versions. The blued magazine on this VG1 is marked "K43."
Rifle's Receiver Markings
The rifle's receiver markings, "VG1 tbq 383 A" indicate probable manufacture by Rheinmetall-Borsig. The bottom of the VG1 receiver was machined flat.
VG1 Bolt body
The VG1 bolt body is a very crudely machined forging with two forward locking lugs. A slot was machined in it to accept a stamped sheet metal extractor.
MG81 Aircraft Machine Gun Barrel
An MG81 aircraft machine gun barrel was used to fabricate this "tbq" code VG1 and the distinctive forward bearing bulge at the muzzle was not removed