Video—Shooting the MG42 Machine Gun

posted on May 31, 2019

The MG42 is perhaps one of the most infamous arms of war ever created, mainly because the intimidating qualities of its high cyclic rate of fire. The German military made effective use of it during the closing years of the Second World War and, although the cartridge it fires – 7.92×57mm Mauser – is no longer in widespread military use, the MG42’s roller-locked recoil operation influenced designs that remain in military service today. Since a variety of reliable sources on the internet provide deep and factual examinations of the history and development of the MG42, this short article will deal with another part of the weapon’s history.

Thousands of MG42s are legally owned in the United States by collectors who purchased them in compliance with the regulations spelled out by the National Firearms Act of 1934. This law provides a heavily regulated category of civilian ownership of machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles and short-barreled shotguns which requires fingerprints, a background check, and registration. Eligible U.S. citizens over the age of 21 with no criminal arrest record pay a one-time $200 transfer tax and wait up to 15 months before being able to take ownership of a legally registered firearm like an MG42. Making things even more complicated, keeping an MG42 running in the 21st century is no longer easily affordable. This is because of not just the sales price of the gun itself, but also the price of the ammunition. It used to be that, three or four decades ago, feeding a 42 was not a particularly costly prospect, but things are much different today. Most of the surplus ammunition that used to make shooting much more affordable is no longer available, leaving factory new ammunition as the most reliable option for a day at the range. The 89-year-old Serbian ammunition maker Prvi Partizan (aka PPU) produces a 198-gr. Full-metal-jacketed 7.92x57mm cartridge that makes the MG42 run like the day it was made. 

On an unseasonably cold Sunday afternoon in rural Louisiana, an MG42 made by Maschinenbau und Gerätebau GmbH, Berlin-Tegel (also known as MAGET) was put through the paces with several hundred rounds of PPU ammunition. This video shows just how efficiently that ammunition makes the 42 do what it was designed to do. No malfunctions were encountered at any point and, because the outside temperature was below 32° Fahrenheit/0° Celsius, the gun did not build-up heat rapidly as MG42s are prone to do in warmer weather. While reading about “Hitler’s Buzz Saw” in abstract is informative; being able to shoot one and then review footage of it in operation provides an irreplaceable lesson in World War II history.


Private ownership is the only outlet for experiencing this rare insight into the realities of combat against the Third Reich, and it is only because individuals who have the interest and the resources, that a video like this can exist. Otherwise, we would only have the occasional training film and the personal accounts of men who faced this very dangerous firearm in action. As veterans recede from the living memory of World War II, it is up to a post-veteran generation to preserve the war’s history and promote a better understanding of the conflict that gave birth to the MG42. 

Watch this video footage as the author puts hundreds of rounds of PPU ammunition through the MG42.

Additional Reading:
MG42s: "Their Bark is Worse Than Their Bite ... I'm Not Buying It"
I Have This Old Gun: German MG42



Springfield Armory Emissary 1911 New 2021 F
Springfield Armory Emissary 1911 New 2021 F

New for 2021: Springfield Armory Emissary 1911

Springfield Armory's new Emissary 1911 combines the features of today's cutting-edge defensive 1911 with some of the best custom features you can find in the handgun market.

Review: Leupold DeltaPoint Micro

Leupold’s DeltaPoint Micro doesn’t look like any other slide-mounted optic. Rather than using a flat-bottomed design, the DP Micro features an L-shaped mounting surface that covers the top-rear portion of its host’s slide, with a small 9 mm lens sitting atop the gun and the battery compartment overhanging the aft of the slide.

Streamlight Donations Support for Breast Cancer Research

For the past 13 years, Streamlight has donated proceeds from sales of the pink lights to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Preview: NoSweat Baseball Hat Liners

NoSweat disposable hat liners instantly absorb sweat and wick it away from the user’s skin, reducing odor, stains and obstructed vision.

ARTV Preview: New Colt Wheel Guns, Kel-Tec P17 and The Gewehr 33/40

This week on American Rifleman Television, we go behind-the-scenes to see how Colt makes its revolvers, test the Kel-Tec P17 pistol and examine the history of the German Gewehr 33/40 rifle.

The Armed Citizen® July 26, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.


Subscribe to the NRA American Rifleman newsletter