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Rheinmetall MG42/59: The Slow-Fire Commercial MG42

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After World War Two, when West Germany was allowed to reconstitute its army and join NATO, it needed small arms. The new Bundeswehr chose the MG42 as it’s standard GPMG, and the Rheinmetall firm undertook the project of recreating the technical data package to build them. The work was completed in 1958, and the company began making new MG42s in 7.62 NATO for the commercial export market as well as for the Bundeswehr (which designated the gun the MG1). Rheinmetall made a number of iterative improvements to the design, including nearly doubling the bolt weight (from 550g/1.2lb to 950g/2.1lb) for their MG42/59 model to bring the rate of fire down to a reasonable 700-900 rpm. The bolt (and its associated heavy buffer) was not adopted by the Bundeswehr, but was bought by one other clients.

The MG42/59 also includes many of the other upgrades that would be implemented on the final MG3 version adopted by the military. These include:

– Top cover hinge that holds the cover in a raised position
– Feed tray to mount modern belt boxes and prevent belts from falling out when opened
– Integrated AA rear sight
– New muzzle booster design

This particular one is a beautiful example made in 1964 and brought to the US early enough to be a registered, transferrable, C&R piece.

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