A Rare G.43 Variant

Unlike the armies of the USA and the USSR, the Deutsche Wehrmacht never tried to make a semi-automatic or automatic rifle their standard, and most Germans carried the venerable Mauser 98 bolt-action rifle until V-E Day. But they supplemented their Mausers with all kinds of other small arms, from the submachine guns common during the war to the assault rifles changing infantry armament at the end. One of these supplements was the semi-automatic K.43 and G.43 rifle (the same weapon was known by both names, we’ll call it G.43 for the rest of this post). This rifle fired 7.92 x 57mm Mauser ammunition from a 10-round box magazine. This is a standard G.43 (image from the Imperial War Museum, London):

g43_from_iwm

The G.43 was a gas-operated rifle using a tilting bolt, and was the product of several years of experimentation and preliminary models. (In the video embedded at this link, you can see Ian and Karl shoot a G.42 and one of its predecessors, the G.41(m), in a match).

As it was developed midwar, new developments were readily combat-tested, usually on the Eastern Front. The magazine was detachable, and in combat an empty magazine could be replaced with a fresh one, or reloaded with Mauser chargers, at the soldier’s option. Today, these standard but less-common German infantry weapons are collector pieces selling for several times the price of a K.98k, and the rare scoped versions are higher yet. But we’re going to show you a very rare variant indeed:

G43 in 792 x 33

What you’re looking at is a G.43 factory-built to accept the 7.92 x 33mm kurz, the MP-42/43/44/St.G.44 magazine, and with a selector switch. It was called the G.43 DFE, for Dauerfeuereinrichtung, or automatic-fire equipment. While it looks like it would have been a one-off or few-off prototype, Russian researchers found evidence that it was combat-tested near Leningrad (the Communist-era name for St. Petersburg), and, in fact, in the same area where the ur-assault rifle, the MkB.42(h), was tested.

The evidence? 7.92 kurz ammunition packed in Mauser-like chargers. Most often, 7.92 x 33 was packed loose in boxes.

Relic found near Leningrad battle site.

Relic found near Leningrad battle site.

These could, however have been used to reload magazines out of the firearm, like the chargers used with the US M16 or the Soviet AK-74. There’s Evidence for that proposition? There is an extant and known 7.92 kurz charger that is used to load magazines, and contains a wide area that attaches to the mag.

MP43 assault rifle ammo in chargers

In any event, production of these firearms was not extensive. The illustration above (from a book by S.B. Monetchikov, although the only book by him we know of — and have on order — is History of the Russian Assault Rifle) shows a firearm with a two-digit plus-a-leading-zero serial number, possibly 019. With a few more serial numbers we could run the Panther Tank Problem to estimate total production, but we can’t do it with one data point.

Monetchikov’s caption, po-Anglicky:

7.93 x 33 automatic rifle G.43 Dauerfeuereinrichtung (DFE). Probable designation model 1944. This firearm was equipped with the detachable 30-round magazine from the MP-43.

A close-up in Monetchikov shows the selector at the left rear of the receiver cover.

G43 in 792 x 33 action

Caption, quick and dirty meatball translation:

Close-up of the 7.92mm automatic rifle G.43 Dauerfeuereinrichtung (DFE) for the “short” cartridge 7.92 x 33. It contains a fire-control mechanism that enables both single and automatic fire. Probable designation model 1944 by the Walther firm. On the left side of the action is the switch to select mode of fire.

The G.43 DFE is also covered briefly in Senich’s The German Assault Rifle: 1935-1945, in both the 1987 hardback and 2008 paperback editions.

This whole discussion took place on the guns.ru forum back in 2007. (Pretty poor google translation). It would be interesting to see what else has been unearthed (literally) by those investigators since then.

10 thoughts on “A Rare G.43 Variant

  1. Sommerbiwak

    Great find!
    I knew of the 8*33 mm variant of the K43. It comes up quite regularly in german firearms magazines as part of a Gewehr/Karabiner 43 story. That it may actually have been deployed at the front is news to me.

    The DFE carbine is kind of a spiritual predecessor to the red chinese type 63 rifle, which is basically a SKS taking AK magazines and with fun switch.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Often times, military weapons designers will select a “high/low alternative” strategy for development. In that case, they try to develop something new and revolutionary (the “high”, with the greatest potential rewards and greatest risks) while at the same time, a parallel team will work on a low-risk “low” option. The G43 kurz may have been a German ordnance officer’s “low” option, or it could have been home-grown by Walther for that same reason.

      1. Sommerbiwak

        Or simply as competition to the other 8*33 designs that were not made by Walther. They had to run a business and make a profit after all. ;-)

  2. DSM

    That’d be fascinating to find on a dig. Finding the Kurz rounds on a clip, by itself, isn’t solid proof of course. Military rounds had been loaded onto clips for decades prior so this could be the evolution of the experimental shorty rounds to being fully accepted, soldier fodder.
    At the same time a little telling maybe in the manufacturers seeing the future of the StG concept and making motions like the G.43 DFE above. I’ve no doubt the final outcome would have been the same but had the German been able to field them en masse even a year earlier it would have been a much costlier victory.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Actually, in the Russian thread someone (I think Max) says that. I have seen a picture of it somewhere. It used the usual MP/StG magazine in the usual FG side position.

  3. archy

    Oh, and also sort-of related: The Brazilian Model 954, a postwar G-43 derived rifle in .30-06, then the Brazilian standard service round, developed and produced in prototype/test quantities but now just anpother small arms footnote. Used a BAR magazine- I think, maybe a BAR-derived mag.

    But one did turn up for sale on the GunsAmerica site recently, and this is it:

    https://www.gunsamerica.com/905678522/Mauser-G43-Brazilian-954-30-06.htm

    pic here:

    https://www.gunsamerica.com/UserImages/142717/905678522/wm_6352225.jpg

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