USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “Germany’s Fallschirmjägergewehr 42 advanced the infantry rifle from the slow, stodgy, 19th Century bolt action to a Science Fiction-era “machine rifle” in one step,” author Jeff John observes. That and the SMG Guns reproduction of “this unique and nearly forgotten WWII classic” are the subjects of his new book, “FG42,” the first volume in his planned “The Art in Arms Book Series.”
It's “A study of WWII Germany’s innovative FG42, a technological breakthrough taking the primary infantry rifle from a slow-firing pre-1900 bolt-action rifle to an ultra-fast machine rifle capable of spitting out 900 rounds per minute,” John tells us. “The battlefield superiority the FG42 offered was lost on post-war arms designers who ignored its valuable lessons. Included is an in-depth review of the SMG Guns semi-auto replica of this remarkable rifle. FG42 is written for arms enthusiasts, reenactors and students of the Second World War.”
A word of disclosure is appropriate before proceeding. I worked for Jeff for almost 20 years, beginning with his tenure at Guns & Ammo as Associate Editor. He let me follow him over when he was named Technical Editor for Handguns, and again when he became editor of GUNS Magazine. He parted company earlier this year to independently pursue his art and his passion. It’s also a departure for me in terms of subject matter: I’m not a hardware guy and as the saying goes, I don’t know art but I know what I like.
Much of that can be gleaned and appreciated from John’s Art in Arms website, featuring “historical and contemporary firearm stories and photography.” The former category features “firearm photography from the Revolutionary War to modern times. There are galleries for the Old West and Napoleonic War, WW II, the Cold War and modern arms of interest.” In the latter category, “Modern firearms of the 20th and 21st century abound here.”
But back to the book, “FG42” is more than technical specifications and awesome photography. John gives us history, including what prompted its development after German paratroopers suffered disastrous setbacks:
Rethinking the tactical doctrine, the Luftwaffe wanted the soldiers armed from the get-go with a rifle capable of offense equal to the defenders. The concept involved jumping with a 10-pound, select-fire “machine rifle” and combat load of ammo, requiring an arm thought by many as impossible to make.
Enough spoilers. What happened up to and including postwar designer shortsightedness and the renewed interest with SMG Guns reproductions is recounted in a painstakingly researched and attributed narrative supported by unique historical and original contemporary photographs. “FG42” fulfills John’s goal, in his own words, for “writing a story about a firearm longer than the 2,000 or 2,500 words allowed most firearm articles in magazines.” As the first in a planned series, he is working on similar treatments for future publication, including:
- A Rifle, A Cannon and the Chicanery of War: The King’s capable Pattern 1776 Rifle, and a light, fast-moving 3-pounder Grasshopper, were commanded with artful imagination by the Queen’s Rangers, who never lost a battle during the American Revolution.
- The Whitney Kennedy Lever Action Rifles: Winchester’s only early competition was the unique Whitney rifle action pioneered by Andrew Burgess, an arms designer rivaling John Moses Browning in patented designs.
- The .303-inch BREN Gun: Top banana among Light Machine Guns (and looking like one!), this Czech-designed arm served Britain well for more than six decades.
- Sniper Supreme: Among top WWII sniper rifles was England’s No. 4 Mk. 1(T) .303, used with telling effect.
“FG42” is available as an e-book for Amazon’s Kindle and on Smashwords, both offering previews to see and learn more. Check it out and if you like what you see, treat yourself and tell like-minded friends.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.