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VG45K: Rheinmetall’s 8mm Kurz Volksgewehr

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As the end of World War Two loomed close, the German arms industry turned to a number of Volkssturm rifle designs. These were the crudest and simplest rifles that could be made to work with minimal time, labor, and raw materials. Most were bolt action rifles chambered for 8x57mm, like the Walther VG-1 – but in December 1944 a Rheinmetall design in 8x33mm was tested and approved.

This design, designated the VG-3 by the military but also known as the VG45K by the company, was a simple bolt action turnbolt rifle. It never appear to have actually entered mass production, but two examples were uncovered by British investigators in Sömmerda in 1945. One had a full stock design, and one used a stamped receiver with a separate stock and handguard. It is that second design that was reproduced in the rifle we have today. It feeds from standard Sturmgewehr magazines, and has a pretty interesting stamped receiver design. The bolt guide rails are actually just the top of the receiver stamping, folded down horizontally.

Thanks to the relatively low power of the the 8x33mm cartridge, it is a pretty comfortable rifle to shoot despite the heavy trigger and rather sharp edge on the stock. And this example proved more accurate and more reliable than I had expected!

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