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Gustloff Volkssturmgewehr VG.1-5 rifle (Germany)
Caliber: 7.92x33 mm
Action: Gas-delayed blowback
Overall length: 885 mm
Barrel length: 378 mm
Weight: 4.6 kg
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
During the closing months of the WW2 Hitler tried all possible means to stop Allied advances on all fronts. One of such means was creation of the Volkssturm organization, which conscripted males aged between 16 and 60 who were not already serving in German armed forces. Hastily trained and usually armed with second-hand or obsolete weapons, the Volkssturm formed the last line of defense of Third Reich. Due to shortage of small arms during late 1944 and early 1945, German industry developed a number of cheap, rude but at least marginally effective weapons, solely intended for Volkssturm use. Most of these weapons were very basic in design, crude in finish, made of inferior materials and with little attention to durability, fit and finish. The VG.1-5 rifle, developed by the engineer Karl Barnitzke at the Gustloff Werke factory, was among the most interesting Volkssturm weapons, as it provided plenty of firepower in a relatively compact package, especially compared to other Volkssturm rifles. Production of the VG.1-5 commenced early in 1945, with about 10 thousands produced before the capitulation of the Reich on May 8th, 1945.
The Volkssturmgewehr VG.1-5 rifle was known for sensitivity to cleaning and oiling, and easily jammed if not properly maintained. Its construction relied heavily on steel stampings, welding and pinning.
The Volkssturmgewehr VG.1-5 rifle was delayed (retarded) blowback operated, semi-automatic weapon. It used power of expanding powder gases to slow down opening of otherwise unlocked breechblock (bolt) during the initial stages of its recoil. To achieve this effect, the breechblock (bolt) was permanently pinned to the tubular slide (similar in design and concept to most semi-automatic pistols), which run almost all the way toward the muzzle. Front part of the slide formed the annular gas cylinder around the barrel, and four gas ports were drilled in the barrel which fed hot powder gases from the bore into the gas cylinder, closed at the front by the slide bushing, and at the rear by stationary collar on the barrel. These expanding gases resisted the rearward movement of the slide and bolt under the recoil, slowing (retarding) it down while pressure in the bore was still high. The return spring was located around the barrel, inside the slide and just behind the gas cylinder. The retracting (charging) handle was formed from sheet steel and pinned to the slide. Weapon was fed using 30-round detachable box magazines of the MP.43 / Stg.44 assault rifle. Sights were fixed, without any adjustments.