Swedish Small Arms Appreciation
I thought it was time to take a look at some of the best made European
military firearms of the 20th century; the standard issue small arms of
Sweden. Sweden has never been a hotbed of cutting edge technology or innovation when it comes to military hardware. Rather, what it is good at
is taking someone's design and improving upon it. This combined
with high standards of manufacturing is why Swedish firearms are
normally of superior quality and performance. So lets take a look at
some examples from the dawn of the modern age, right up to the present.
M/87 Nagant Revolver:
(My Husqvarna M/87 Nagant Revolver)
In 1884, the Swedish Army held trials to select a new service revolver,
intended primarily for officers. Several models were tested, but in the
end, no single design was found satisfactory. The two favorites though
were the Norwegian M1883 Nagant and Swiss 1882 Ordnance. As a result,
Léon Nagant was contacted in Belgium by the Swedes and was asked to
alter the revolver design, to best suit their needs.
Nagant complied and in 1887, Sweden ordered 2,600 revolvers, designating
the new pattern as the M/1887. The Swedish Nagant fired the same 7.5mm
round as the Swiss 1882, but in most other respects was similar to the
M1883, used by Norway. It held 6 rounds in a fixed cylinder fed via a
loading gate and had a Double/Single Action trigger arrangement. The
standard barrel length was 4.5". Unlike the later M1895 Nagant pattern
adopted by Russia, the Swedish M/1887 did not feature a sealed gas
system, and lacked a forward moving cylinder. It operated like most
other late 19th century revolvers in other words.
In 1891, the Swedish Navy also adopted the new revolver, naming it with
the shorter form of M/87. It purchased an additional 500 from Belgium.
Then Husqvarna Vapenfabriks AB obtained a manufacturing license, and
from 1897 til 1905, it turned out 13,000-14,000 Nagants, with the
majority manufactured early on. The black powder in the cartridge was
changed to smokeless with the introduction of the 7.5mm M/98 round.
The M/87 was originally intended for use by officers, however by the
early 20th century, other soldiers such as artillery men and medics also
often carried it. By WWI, it had mostly been replaced by the M/07
automatic pistol, but a few were still in front line service. After the
war though, most were put into long term storage. The military allowed
others to be purchased and taken home by officers. By WWII, only a few
Nagants were still carried in Sweden, mostly by members of the Home
Guard. Then in 1954, Husqvarna bought back all of the revolvers it
could. It referbished them, and then sold them off as military surplus
to private parties; both in Sweden and abroad. Its worth noting that
some were bought by the Post Office and were carried for decades more.
The M/87 was a good revolver for its day, but it did have a few short
comings. On the positive side, it was simple and reliable. It proved to
be very durable and quite accurate, with low felt recoil. It was easy
to operate and maintain. Further, it wasn't overly large or heavy, so it
was popular enough with soldiers. On the other hand, its 7.5mm cartridge
was already considered a bit under powered by the standards of the late
19th century. As newer rounds came into service for automatics in the
early 20th; it began to look downright anemic by comparison.
Another drawback was that the M/87's cylinder could be rotated with the
hammer down. This feature was shared also by the Russian M1895. A
solution was devised in Sweden, which came to be known as the M/87-93.
This upgrade prevented the cylinder from rotating, unless the hammer
were back; however, it was not mandatory. In fact, officers who wanted
their revolvers retrofitted with the modifications had to pay for them
out of their own pocket. As a result, most revolvers were left in their
M/94 Mauser Carbine:
(My M/94-14 made in 1904, with original bayonet) (1)
By the 1890s, Sweden was ready to adopt its first modern repeating bolt
action rifle, firing a smokeless powder cartridge. It first selected the
6.5x55mm round-nosed cartridge already in service in Norway, as 6.5mm
M/94. It looked at the Krag-Jørgensen M1892 rifle, which had been
developed in Norway also, but Sweden ultimately selected the Mauser
Model of 1893 to be its next rifle. Mauser was asked to make several
small changes to its standard model, with the most interesting being a
change in steel. Sweden insisted that it send its own steel to Germany
for use in building the firearms for its contracts. It was felt that
Swedish steel was stronger and more durable.
Somewhat strangely, the first Mausers bought by Sweden were of the
carbine configuration. In 1895, 12,000 were bought from Waffenfabrik
Mauser Oberndorf, becoming the 6,5 mm Karbin m/1894, in military
service. The M/94 had a 17" barrel, full length forearm, turned down
bolt handle, side sling mounts, and internal 5 round double column
magazine. It was intended for both cavalry units and artillery crews, as
well as for use by some members of the Navy.
Sweden obtained a license to manufacture the M1893 pattern of Mauser,
and in 1898, Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori began producing the M/94.
during the next two decades, over 115,000 carbines would be built, with
mass production ending after WWI, in 1918.
Several M/94 variants and special runs were created, with the M/94-14
being the most common and noteworthy. Basically the M/94-14 was the same
as the original model, but with the addition of a metal nose cap which
allowed it to mount a bayonet. The standard bayonet had a 13" long
blade, with a longer 15" version issued by the Navy, to be used on board
M/96 Mauser Infantry Rifle:
(My M/96 manufactured by Carl Gustav in 1913, along with its bayonet) (2)
After adopting a carbine version of the M1893 Mauser for cavalry use,
Sweden then opted to adopt a long rifle variant for general infantry
issue. This became the 6,5 mm Gevär m/96 and again the first few
thousand were bought from Mauser in Germany. This model featured a 29"
long barrel, bottum mounted sling swivels, and straight bolt handle. In
other ways though, it was the same basic firearm as the M/94.
In 1898, the M/96 production line was ready at Carl Gustav, who would
continue to turnout the long rifle until 1925. However, in 1900-1901,
Mauser would again supply some rifles to the Swedish military, due to
manufacturing delays and issues being experienced at the Gustav factory.
The majority of Swedish M/96s were built by Gustav, however, during
WWII Husqvarna would also build a small number.
In both WWI and WWII, the M/96 would be Sweden's standard issue military
rifle; and it would continue to be very common through the 1950s. Many
rifles were not actually retired until the 1970s, with a few Home Guard
units not turning theirs in until the 1990s. The rifle had a long and
distinguished service record. It was known for superb accuracy and for
being built to very high standards. Also, rifles were routinely
inspected for signs of worn or broken parts. If any were found, they
were replaced or the entire rifle decommissioned. The condition of a
rifle's bore was particularly important to the military, and a barrel
would be replaced if it showed signs of even moderate wear or light
pitting. The M/96B variant had a threaded barrel, which was used for
attaching a blank firing device.
In total, Mauser built 40,000 M/96 rifles, 475,000 came from Gustav, and
Husqvarna built the last batch of 20,000. Sweden had more than enough
for its own domestic needs, so in 1939, 52,000 were given on 'loan' to
Finland to help that nation defend itself against Soviet Russia. Various
other Swedish Mausers arrived with Swedish volunteers who went to fight
in Finland during both the Winter and Continuation Wars.
M/07 Browning Automatic Pistol:
(My M/07 made by Husqvarna and still in the original 9mm Browning Long caliber)
In 1904, a Swedish military commission began looking into adopting a new
general issue sidearm, for all branches of service. The latest
technology of the day was with self-loading automatic pistols, so over
the next couple of years, exhaustive trials were held to determine
Sweden's best option. The new pistol had to be accurate, durable, more
powerful than the M/87 revolver, relatively inexpensive to purchase or
produce; and above all, it had to be able to survive an arctic
winter.Many models, from several designers were tested, including ones
from Colt, Luger, FN, and Mannlicher.
By 1906, two favorites had emerged: Luger's Model 1900 and FN's Model of
1903. Frankly, most in Sweden appreciated Luger's offering more,
however in the end the FN prooved more functional in an arctic climate.
The Luger was a beautifully designed firearm, but it was more complex,
with more tightly fitted parts when compared to the FN. Thus the FN
functioned better when dirty or icy. It had fewer and larger parts too,
so it was easier to maintain. Finally, it was less expensive. Though
the Swedish military had high standards, it was far from over-funded, so
cost was definitely a factor too.
The M1903 was selected as the nation's first automatic service handgun,
but a few changes were requested. The original design was sold to FN by
John M. Browning. It was a simple direct-blowback, Single-Action Only, full-sized pistol. It had two safety systems: a standard manual thumb
lever and an automatic squeeze grip. The version the Swedes selected was
chambered for the 9x20mm Browning Long cartridge. Essentially, this
round was the big brother to the conceptually similar 7.65x17mm Browning
round. For its day, 9mm Long was the most powerful cartridge, which
could safely be used in a direct blow-back pistol. Like 7.65mm (.32) it
also used a semi-rimmed casing. The M1903 held 7 rounds in a standard
detachable magazine. Like many of Browning's designs, the M1903 was
simple, straight-forward, and streamlined.
The changes to the design were minor. The thumb safety was made larger
and more robust, and the extractor was strengthened. Also, a lanyard
ring was added to the bottom of the left grip frame. In 1907, the
Swedish military placed an initial order for 10,000 pistols with
Fabrique Nationale in Belgium. Thus the FN-Browning M1903 became the
Pistol M/1907 or Pist M/07.
When Germany overran Belgium in 1914, FN could no longer provide new
parts or pistols to Sweden, so a manufacturing license was obtained.
From 1917 through 1941, Husqvarna built over 89,000 M/07s for both
domestic use and foreign sales. The model would remain standard issue in
all branches of Swedish service until it was officially replaced in
1942. Eve n after that though, it remained a substitute standard
firearm, with some examples still seeing use as late as the 1980s.
The M/07 proved to be plenty durable and reliable; as well as decently
accurate. It was relatively inexpensive to produce and refurbish, and
soldiers found training for it easy. Its biggest drawback became its 9mm
Long cartridge though. When it was first adopted, it was of moderate
power, but during WWI locked breech sidearms such as the Colt M1911 and
Luger P.08 became increasingly popular, as did their much more powerful
.45 ACP and 9mm Para rounds. So by the 1920s, the 9mm Long round was
starting to look rather underpowered. This was ironically very similar
to what happened to Sweden's earlier M/87 revolver, with its 7.5mm
Ordnance round. As early as 1925, some in the military began voicing a
desire to replace the M/07 with something both more powerful and more
modern. However, at that time, the Swedish military budget was very
tight, with no spare funding for any new small-arms. So the military had
to continue to make due with the Browning for several more years to come
M/38 Mauser Short Rifle:
(My M/38B built by Husqvarna in 1942) (3)
Always the trend follower, by the 1930s, Sweden decided to adopt a short
rifle pattern of the Mauser. Since before WWI, militaries all around
the world had slowly been phasing out the long infantry rifle and short
cavalry carbine, and replacing them both with a single pattern of
intermediate length short rifle. In other words, a one-size-fits-all long
arm. Early examples of this are the American Springfield M1903 and
British Enfield SMLE. In the 1930s, Germany would continue the trend,
adopting the K98k. Switzerland would trade in its 1911 and K-11, for the
K-31; and Japan would adopt its new Arisaka Type 99, as a short rifle.
Even Russia and Italy would shorten their standard issue infantry rifles
by a few inches.
So it was a logical move when Sweden accepted its own short rifle into
service in 1938, as the 6,5 mm Gevär m/1938. At first, the M/38 was
created by taking an M/96 and cutting its barrel down to 24". The stock
and sights were likewise altered to match, and the bolt handle was left
straight. In all, Carl Gustav converted roughly 55,000 long rifles to
short rifles, from 1938 til 1940. These are informally called M/96-38s
by collectors today but were just M/38s to the Swedish military.
Then during WWII, from 1942 through 1944, Husqvarna built over 88,000
more M/38s from scratch. These short rifles were the same as the ones
from the first run, except they had turned down bolt handles.
As with the M/96B, the M/38B had a threaded barrel for attaching a blank
firing device. Sweden was one of the last European nations to fully
retire its bolt action rifles, so both the M/96 and M/38 saw extensive
use well into the Cold War era.
M/39 Walther Automatic Pistol:
(My Walther HP, delivered to Sweden as part of the 1st contract) (4)
In the 1920s, the Swedish government, like many others, believed that
WWI had ended all war on a major scale in Europe. As a result, the
Defense budget was drastically cut. One of the hardest hit areas of the
reduced budget was research and development into new smallarms,
including sidearms for the military. Making matters even worse was the
Depression which struck Europe in the late 1920s. As a result of these
events, the Swedish armed forces were forced to continue to use the
aging M/07 pistol throughout the 1930s, even though they very much
desired a new handgun. It wasn't until the late 1930s, that the Swedish
Government finally realized war was on the horizon and coming fast. So
funding was allocated for new military equipment, including small-arms.
At first the military wanted to adopt the German produced Walther HP
pistol (later to be named the P.38 in Nazi service), but problems soon
arose. Sweden did purchase 1,500 HP pistols from Germany, designating
them as 9mm Pistol M/39. However, Walther was unable to keep up with
demand and could not continue to fill foreign contracts. Sweden did
briefly consider purchasing a license to produce the M/39 domestically,
but soon realized that it did not have the appropriate modern machinery
or skilled labor to do so.
The first batch of M/39s was delivered to Sweden in late 1939, and
consisted of 1,000 pistols. Since these guns came from the model's first
year of production, they had several early design features, which would
later be altered or removed. For example, the grips were checkered, and
had a round lanyard bar. The safety was longer and larger, than on
later P.38s; and the firing pin had a squared off rear section. The
sights were also slightly different. In the following year, a second
order of 500 pieces arrived. Pistols from this batch were more like
standard German military P.38s, though they retained the early style of
grip panels and lanyard bar. A few true P.38s did find their ways into
the Swedish military during WWII, mostly either via Finland or directly
from German officers.
Though only a few M/39s went into Swedish service, its adoption did have
one long lasting effect. The German pistol, finally forced Sweden to
accept the 9mm Parabellum cartridge as a replacement for its out dated
9mm Browning Long round. This not only meant that Swedish sidearms would
become more powerful, but also that the nation could finally get around
to adopting an effective submachinegun.
(extracted and edited from my original Lahti Thread)
M/37-39 Suomi Submachinegun:
(Husqvarna M/37-39 SMG)
In 1935, Sweden first started to consider adopting its first general
issue submachinegun. In 1937, a deal was struck with Tikkakoski in
Finland, to produce a version of the KP.31 Suomi SMG, chambered for
Sweden's then standard issue pistol round: 9mm Browning Long. This
altered pattern of the Suomi had simplified sights, and fed from Swedish
designed 56 round quad stack 'coffin' magazines. The new weapon went
into service as the Kulsprutepistol M/37, but was produced in only
Tikkakoski was not thrilled with having a separate production line for
the M/37 and put great pressure onto the Swedish military to switch to
9mm Parabellum. In addition, the 9mm Browning round itself was not very
well suited for use in an SMG. It was underpowered and had a rimmed
case, which could cause feeding problems. As a result, by 1939, fewer
than 1,000 M/37s were in military service.
That year, 1,800 MP.35-1 Bergman submachineguns were purchased from Carl
Walther in Germany. These SMGs, along with the M/39 HP pistols also
bought from Walther, finally forced Sweden to adopt 9x19mm Parabellum,
as its standard SMG round. In turn, this lead to Husqvarna redesigning
the M/37 Suomi, to fire 9mm Parabellum. The new variant was designated
M/37-39 and would become much more successful than the first model.
Husqvarna's M/37-39 was quite similar to the original Finnish KP.31
pattern, except it had a shorter 9.1" barrel and shroud. Instead of a
rifle style tangent rear sight, it had a simpler 3 position flip type
leaf arrangement, with settings for 100, 200, and 300 meters. Its stock
and charging handle were also of slightly different shapes. The M/37-39
fed from 50 round quadstack coffin magazines, a carry over from the
original M/37. Interestingly, Finland would later copy this style of
magazine for its own SMGs.
From 1939 til 1942, Husqvarna manufactured approximately 35,000
M/37-39s. Additionally, when it couldn't acquire enough Suomis
domestically, the Swedish military purchased 500 directly from
Tikkakoski. These Finnish made guns were designated as M/37-39F, and
were identical to earlier Finnish military KP.31s. They had standard 12"
barrels and no muzzle brake as was on the later SJR version.
These SMGs would be Sweden's standard issue throughout most of the
1940s. They were good solid, reliable weapons; specially designed by
Lahti for arctic combat. They were also known for very good accuracy for
their class. On the other hand, the M/37-39 was only slightly lighter
than the original KP.31; so it was still quite heavy. It was also made
from carefully machined metal parts, which were time consuming and
costly to mass produce. So a good SMG, but there was definite room for
M/40 Lahti Automatic Pistol:
(My late production M/40, manufactured by Husqvarna for Denmark)
As it was becoming clear that the M/39 could not be Sweden's new
standard issue pistol, another candidate was discovered. About 8,000
Swedish 'Volunteers' went to Finland to aid the Finns in the Winter War
against Russia. While there, some of these volunteers saw the new L-35
Lahti in action and were impressed with its quality of construction and
reliability in the Frozen Hells of that war. Lahti already had a favorable name among the Swedish General staff, as a modified version
of his KP.31 had already been adopted into service as the M/37-39 SMG.
After the end of the Winter War, Sweden purchased the rights to
manufacture the L-35 domestically, designating it the 9mm Pistol M/40.
The Lahti pistol was thought to be better suited for Swedish
production because it required less sophisticated tooling and mostly unskilled labor.
Initially, VKT sold 50 L-35 pistols to the Swedish Airforce and the
Swedes began looking for a factory to build M/40 pistols. Soon though,
another problem was apparent; no one was free to take on the new
contract. Carl Gustaf was busy building the Browning M1936 heavy
machinegun and Husqvarna had contracts for both the new Mauser M/38
short rifle and Lahti M/37-39 submachinegun. As a result, a company
which had never produced firearms before, Rosenfors Bruk, was awarded
the contract for M/40 manufacturing. The gamble on an unknown company
did not pay off. Rosenfors did not have either the right tooling or
enough skilled workers to build the M/40 or any other firearm for that
matter. A small run of pistol frames was built, but all were deemed
unacceptable and destroyed. By this time however, Husqvarna had caught
up on some of its other production lines and was able to take on a new
one. The M/40 contract was transferred in late 1940. Lahti manufacturing
under Husqvarna was ready to start by year's end.
The first 80 Swedish Lahti M/40s were virtually the same as their
Finnish L-35 counterparts. Soon though, some changes were introduced to
the design. First of all, the loaded chamber indicator was removed. It
was felt that the indicator weakened the slide and also provided an unnecessary point of entry for dirt and moisture. Next, the M/40's
trigger guard was enlarged to make the pistol easier to fire while
wearing thick winter gloves. Finally, the recoil spring and rod were
made captive with the frame, instead of being removable from the bolt
piece like on the L-35. One other important change was made with the
M/40. During WWII, Sweden was experiencing a shortage of quality steel.
As a result, the best steel with nickle in it was reserved for the
barrels and bolts of M/40 pistols. The frames and slides were instead
built from lower grade steel with molybdenum in it. Please note this
wasn't a move that Husqvarna desired to make, but one that was forced
upon them by the deprivations of war. Regardless, it would have
far-reaching consequences decades later.
The first two years of M/40 production would be rather slow, but by
1942, manufacturing would be in full-swing. Also in the same year, the
pistol would be officially adopted into Swedish military service as its
standard issue sidearm. Husqvarna would not do the M/40 in separate
series like VKT did with the L-35. Instead, it was made in one long run
from 1940 through 1946. Additional changes would be introduced to the
design as time went on. For example, a new nut to retain the barrel was
added. This nut made replacing the barrel much easier. The front sight
block would change too, going from the L-35 'stepped' style to a more
simplified square block type. Earlier made grips were black in colour,
but later ones would be a reddish-brown bakelite. Due to the lower
quality steel used in the slide, it was felt that a possible problem
area for cracking could be around the bolt accelerator. This area
underwent several revisions. First it was changed from 1 large hole to 3
smaller ones to retain the accelerator. Later the area was reinforced
with a metal shelf. It is unclear if late production pistols were ever
made with accelerators, or if they were dropped when new replacement
slides from Carl Gustaf were installed during the 1960s. Some sources
claim the accelerator was not installed in late production
M/40s;however, I have found no evidence of this so far. My own Danish
contract pistol has the accelerator and a friend's even later 1946,
manufactured M/40 still retains the feature. At this point, i feel
perhaps accelerators were removed in the field or during arsenal
The M/40 did see use in WWII. In 1943, the Swedes trained so-called
'Police Units' made of exiled citizens of Norway. These units were
equipped with both Lahti pistols and submachineguns. In 1944, the Danish
Brigade also received training along with 1,000 M/40 pistols drawn from
standard Swedish Army stocks. In the same year, the Danish government
in exile in London ordered 2,500 M/40 pistols. In 1945, the Danish
Brigade went back to reclaim their homeland; armed in part with Lahti
pistols. After the war, the re-established Danish government ordered
10,000 additional M/40 pistols to equip police officers. These pistols
had a new serial range, starting with 'D' as a prefix. In 1946, a final
order of 2,000 pistols was placed with Husqvarna by Denmark. Pistols
from this batch have RPLT marked on the side. In Denmark, the Lahti M/40
was designated the M40s pistol. It appears that about 13,500 M/40s were
sold to Denmark in total, meaning at least one contract was not
completely filled. Ironically, the Danish actually used more than twice
the number of Lahti pistols compared to the Finns.
The M/40 continued as the standard sidearm of the Swedish armed forces
throughout the Cold War era. It was somewhat fondly nicknamed the 'Iron
Range' by generations of soldiers. This is because Husqvarna also
manufactured iron stoves/ranges and the Lahti was likewise large, heavy,
and made of solid metal. Often it was fired with the M/39B 9mm round,
which was more hotly loaded for use in M/37-39 and M/45 submachineguns.
This hotter round combined with the lower quality steel of the pistol's
slides resulted in cracks forming overtime. By the 1980s, some M/40s
were withdrawn from service and temperarily replaced by the older M/07,
until a new pistol could be selected. In January of 1991, a soldier was
injured when his M/40 exploded during training. As a direct result, all
pistols were immediately pulled from service and eventually over 50,000
M/40s were melted down. The Swedish government refused to sell these
pistols as surplus and ordered their complete destruction. The Glock G17
replaced the Lahti in 1993, designated as the Pist/88 or M/88. It is
worth noting that the Danish M40s did not experience cracking like the
Swedish models because they were only fired with standard 9mm Parabellum
ammunition, and fired less frequently.
(extracted and edited from my original Lahti Thread)
AG M/42 Ljungman Self-Loading Rifle:
(My AG M/42B rifle, built originally in 1943) (5)
In 1942, again following globel military trends, Sweden adopted its
first standard issue self-loading (semi-automatic) battle rifle.
Somewhat unusually though, it selected a domestically developed design,
which used a rather unconventional operating system.
The idea to adopt a self-loading rifle for use in the Swedish military
appeared around 1938, after many officers whitnessed the M1 Garand in
America and the SVT38 in Soviet Russia. At first, it was hoped that a
way could be found to simply rework bolt action Mausers into
self-loaders, to both save time and money. naturally though, this idea
was soon abandoned and ongoing tests, with new prototypes, began being
conducted in 1940.
In 1941, a Swedish designer working for AB J.C. Ljungmans factory named
Erik Eklund, came up with what would become the AG M/42. Eklund's design
used a tilting bolt very similar to the one found in the SVT, combined
with a direct impengement gas system. It used a very unique bolt
charging system, which is frankly difficult to explain but highly
memorable. Lets just say that 'AG Thumb" was a more serious problem than
'Garand Thumb' ever was. The rifle underwent a very rapid development
schedule and was ready for field trials in 1942.
It went into service as the 6,5 mm Automatgevär m/1942 that same year,
and was quickly put into production at Carl Gustav. From 1942 til 1944,
30,000 AG M/42 rifles were turned out, with the majority built in 1943.
The new rifle, fired both the original 6.5mm M/94 round-nosed bullet,
and the new 6.5mm M/41 Spitzer type. It had a 25" long barrel and fed
from 10 round detachable box magazines. It could also be reloaded using
standard 5 round Mauser stripper clips. It took the same blade bayonet
as the M/96 and M/38 too.
Sweden had a standard issue self-loading rifle ready by the middle of
WWII, which was probably the whole point. So after the war ended,
production was haulted, as there was no longer an immediate threat to
the nation. The AG M/42 served along side various Mausers throughout the
rest of the decade, and continued on in the next. Since relatively few
were produced, the automatic rifle never fully replaced the bolt action
By anyone's standards, the Ljungman was not only rushed into production,
but also had an excellerated development program. So it should not come
as a surprise, that after some time in the field, some design flaws
were discovered. Quite the opposite in fact, really all of the flaws
were minor, a true testiment to Swedish engineering and manufacturing.
In 1953, an upgraded version was approved for military service under the
designation of AG M/42B. Over the next 3 years, most every original AG
M/42 in the military's inventory was sent back to Gustav to be
The new M/42B standard called for several changes. The original carbon
steel gas tube was replaced with one made from stainless steel; so it
would not rust as easily. The rear sight received a new knob for
adjusting elevation. The topcover, used for charging the weapon, was
given two large bumps; as well as a rubber brass deflector. The
extractor was improved, and the return spring made stronger. The
Ljungman's original two piece cleaning rod, was exchanged for the single
piece one used with the M/38 Mauser. Finally, the magazine received a
secondary retaining latch in the front, as it seems soldiers were known
to accidentally hit the first latch; dumping the magazine onto the
ground. Nearly every single rifle was so altered and updated; with very
few original AG M/42s surviving today.
In 1965, both the blueprints and tooling for the Ljungman were sold to
the Maadi factory in Egypt. There the design would be reworked into the
8mm Hakim and 7.62x39mm Rasheed. Unfortunately, this would be about as
far as the AG M/42's legacy would go. After the Ljungman, Sweden would
return to its habit of selecting a foreign designed firearm, as its next
M/45 Gustav Submachinegun:
(Original Gustav M/45 SMG)
The Kpist M/45 (short for Kulsprutepistol m/45) was the standard issue
submachinegun in Sweden from immediately after World War II, until the
end of the 20th Century. It was a well made, simple, durable, accurate,
reliable weapon; chambered for the standard 9mm Parabellum (9x19mm
M/39B) cartridge. It did its job quietly and well.
Design work on the M/45 began in 1944 at the Carl Gustafs Stads
Gevärsfaktori, by a team lead by Gunnar Johnsson. In the following year,
it went up against a design from Husqvarna Vapenfabrik AB, in trials
conducted by the military to select a new general issue SMG. The desire
to have more domestically produced small arms in Sweden was strong after
the war. Obviously, the M/45 won and was officially adopted in 1945.
It was a conventional open bolt design, which operated using simple
direct blowback. It had a stamped metal receiver, as well as barrel
shroud. Its design was heavily influenced by WWII era SMGs such as the
Soviet PPSh41 and PPS43, German MP40, American M3 Grease Gun, and most
of all by the British Sten. Also not surprisingly, a few design elements
of the Suomi were carried over into the new model, most noteably in the
magazine and feeding areas.
The M/45 had a simple large solid bolt, with fixed firing pin. The front
sight was adjustable and protected by two ears. The rear sight was a
flip aperture, also with protective ears. The barrel was very similar to
that of the Sten, right down to its 7.8" length and attachment. It was
covered by an easily removable ventilated shroud. It was locked to the
receiver tube via a large nut, with a spring loaded retaining pin at the
bottum. A decade later, Israel would use a similar setup on the Uzi
SMG. The M/45 had a tubular steel stock, which folded to the right.
There was a rubber cheak rest on the top, to protect the shooter's face
in Subarctic conditions. The pistol grip was large and straight, with
two wooden grip panels. The trigger was large and curved, with a large
guard so that the M/45 could be easily used while wearing winter gloves.
The only safety was a J hook notch located at the rear of the cocking
handle slot. Also the handle could be pressed in when it was forward to
lock the bolt to the receiver. Suomi style sling swivels were located on
the left side of the weapon; one on the receiver and the other on the
One interesting feature of the weapon was its use of a removable
magazine well. Originally it was designed to feed from 50 round
quadstack magazines, often nicknamed 'coffin mags.' These were the same
mags as were being used in the M/37-39 and KP.31. Thus 71 round Suomi
drums would also fit the M/45. However, at the same time as the SMG was
being developed, a new box type magazine was also in the works. This new
mag type would officially be adopted in 1948 and would soon become
standard for the M/45. It held 36 rounds and had a unique shape. It was
easier to load and unload, more reliable, more durable, and cheaper to
mass produce. It was an all-around better magazine. In fact, it was so
well received in Sweden, that later in the 1950s, Finland would copy it
themselves and issue it with their KP.31 and KP.44 SMGs. Anyway, for use
with this new magazine type, the M/45 had a magwell. The device wasn't
strictly speaking neccessary, but did make inserting the stick mag
faster and smoother. If a person wanted to use the older 50 round
quadstacks, the well was easily removed by pulling out a bracket type
clip. Nothing about the M/45's design was revolutionary. It brought
together features from several other SMG types; and brought them
together in a very well thoughtout way. This combined with the quality
one expects from a Swedish factory, made the weapon a success.
From 1945, until 1964, the Gustav factory built roughly 300,000 M/45
SMGs. Thanks to its simple stamped construction, it has been estimated
that the cost per unit became as low as $5, once general production was
under way and the process had been streamlined. This gave the Swedish
military an aforedable and effective weapon, which was compact and easy
to use. It had a relatively slow rate of fire of between 550 and 650
rounds per minute, so even though the earlier versions were limited to
full automatic only, the SMG was nevertheless quite controllable.
Several variants were offered.
(The improved M/45B SMG)
The original M/45 had a dark grey phosphate finish and was issued with
Suomi type quad stack magazines. As a result its magwell was removable.
The M/45B came out in 1954, and had a grey/green lacquer/paint type
finish over phosphating. It incorporated several minor design
improvements including a stronger bolt buffer, a more secure endcap
latching system, and a barrel shroud with smaller vent holes. It was
mostly issued with the newer 36 round stick mags, and thus most models
had magwells riveted in place. The M/45C was the same as the B, with the
addition of a bayonet lug on the barrel shroud. It used the same long
blade bayonet as the M/94-14 Mauser carbine. Finally, the M/45D was the
last major version and differed by having a fire mode selector switch
located on the bottom left side of the receiver. Originally, the M/45
was a full-auto only weapon to keep its design as simple as possible,
however many military and law enforcement users wanted the ability to
switch to single shot mode if the situation called for it. I have seen
the D also referred to as the M/45BE.
The SMG served faithfully in Sweden throughout the Cold War era.
Starting in the mid 1990s, it began to gradually be phased out and
replaced, first by the AK-4 and later by the AK-5 assault rifle. By the
end of the decade, most units had turned in their M/45s. In 2003, the
Home Guard let theirs go, and Hemvärnet was the last military unit to
have theirs in active service. In April of 2007, the Gustav Kpist M/45
was officially declared obsolete; ending a service life which had
stretched over 60 years.
(A semi-auto M/45D, built for me by MK Gun Mods)
(extracted and edited from my original Swedish K Thread)
AK-4 Battle Rifle:
(A 1960s H&K G3 standing in for the AK-4)
Throughout the 1950s, several semi-auto and select fire rifle prototypes
were developed and tested in Sweden. Many such as the FM/50 and FM/57
were based on the AG M/42. Changes to the original Ljungman included the
addition of an M/45 SMG style folding stock and the use of an extended
20 round magazine. At first these prototypes were still made in the
traditional 6.5mm caliber, but towards the end of the decade, some began
to appear also chambered for 7.62mm NATO.
In the early 1960s, the military became serious about adopting a modern
select fire rifle to replace the M/38 and AG M/42. Trials were held,
which included the Gustav GRAM/63, Finnish Valmet M60, American
Springfield M14, Belgian FN FAL, Swiss SIG SG510, and the then very new
to market H&K G3 out of West Germany.
The FN FAL and H&K G3 both proved themselves very capable rifles
and able to withstand the Swedish winter. Many preferred the FAL, but in
the end the G3 was selected as it was less expensive to manufacture and
In 1964, a typically Swedish modified version of the G3 was accepted
into service as the Automatkarbin 4. The AK-4 and G3 are essentially the
same rifle, but with nearly 30 small differences. The most notable of
these include sights calibrated from 200 to 500 meters, different
selector markings, a longer buttstock, and a 'thumb print' bolt carrier
which acts as a manual forward assist (H&K later used this pattern
of bolt on many HK33 assault rifles). Also, most AK-4s were fitted with a
port buffer, which acted as a brass deflector/saver. Most of the other
differences are internal and were done to make the AK-4 perform better
in an arctic climate. Like the G3, the AK-4 has a 18" barrel, uses a
roller delayed blow back operating system, and feeds from 20 round
From 1965 through 1970, both Carl Gustav and Husqvarna built the new
battle rifle. Though by the 1970s, the AK-4's general production
contract for the military had been completed, small limited runs of
individual parts and complete rifles were created on demand. This
practice continued until the early 1980s, by which time the new rifle
was already starting to look quite old.
As the newer AK-5 was coming online in the late 1980s, most surviving
AK-4s were relegated to second line service or given to the Home Guard.
Others were used as DMRs and by law enforcement agencies. To this end,
many existing rifles were updated to a newer standard, designated as
AK-4B. Basically the original iron sights were removed and a weaver compatible rail installed. Many AK-4Bs are still in military service
today, but are second line or special purpose weapons.
(My PTR91GI standing in for an AK-4, which I modified with an original steel lower housing and addition of a bayonet lug)
AK-5 Assault Rifle:
(An original AK-5 assault rifle)
After the FNC's less than steller performance in the NATO
Standardization Trials, it was quickly ignored by most of Europe's
nations. Also in the 1970s, Bullpup designs such as the FAMAS and Steyr
AUG were gaining quite a following. However, one nation did take an
interest in FN's .223 rifle.
From 1979 through 1980, Sweden conducted an extensive and wide ranged
trial of then cutting edge .223 caliber assault rifles. It had
previously been decided in 1976, to adopt the new cartridge and a new
firearm to use it, rather than purchasing more AK-4 rifles.
The Swedish military laid out strict requirements for its new standard
issue rifle. It had to operate from -40 degrees c, all the way up to +40
degrees c. It must be able to function for extended periods without
oiling, cleaning, or maintenance. Snow, ice, rain, dust, and dirt must
not effect the weapon's operations. It would have to be accurate in
full-auto fire out to at least 300 meters and be able to digest a wide
range of ammunition types. Needless to say, it would have to be fully
workable and operable in Sweden's arctic winters.
FN entered both its CAL and FNC (Mod 79 variant) models into the trials.
They went up against many other makes and models, from all over the
world, including: Colt M16A1, Stoner M63A1, Armalite AR18, IMI Galil,
H&K HK33, SIG SG540, Steyr AUG, Beretta M70, and FFV 890c (a
domestic design heavily influenced by the Galil, itself based on the
Valmet, itself based on the AK47). The then current Swedish standard
issue rifle, the AK-4, was also included as a baseline for the tests.
None of the weapons actually passed the trials, however both the FNC Mod
79 and FFV 890c were felt to be the two designs which were best suited
for use in Sweden's climate. The AK-4 was judged to still be an
excellent weapon, however by the 1980s, Sweden very much wanted to
follow NATO's lead in switching to a small caliber cartridge.
A second round of testing was conducted in 1981-1982, in which the FNC
Mod 81 and 890c were again pitted against the AK-4. Again the AK-4 was
found to be very durable and reliable, but honestly too long and heavy
for modern combat situations. It was poorly suited for operations inside
vehicles or for use by specialized troops. The FNC didn't have such a
great showing either. Broken welds were reported, as well as cracked
bolts and loose trigger guards which could fall out. The one thing that
these trials did illistrate to the Swedish military was the benefits of
the .223/5.56mm cartridge. It was found easier to control in full-auto
fire and that soldiers could carry more rounds. They had an easier time
learning to fire it and keep on target also.
For the 1982-1983 round of trials, FN sent the Mod 82, which proved to
be much more durable than previous FNC models. No broken parts or welds
were reported, and the average number of shots between stoppages went up
to 25,000. All in all, after this round, the FNC was starting to look
like it would become Sweden's next general issue rifle. The only problem
area left that needed to be addressed were the handguards.
In 1983-1984, there was yet another round of testing: one final FNC vs.
890c bout. Some still wanted the FFV design because it was seen as
Swedish, but the FN rifle was cheaper per unit and after its exhaustive
testing and upgrade schedule, it had been turned into one very reliable
and durable machine. During this round of trials, new furniture was
tried out on the FNC, which prooved to make it easier to use in the cold
and with winter gloves.
Finally, in 1985, after half a decade of testing, the FN FNC was
officially adopted into the Swedish military under the designation of
Automatkarbin 5 (AK-5).
The version of the AK-5 first adopted by the military was based on the
Belgian FN FNC Mod 2000, but it was customized and altered in several
ways. Mechanically, it was the same firearm, except that its fire
control group lacked the 3 round burst feature. The bolt and hammer were
strengthened in minor ways also. Otherwise though, the internals were
the same. However, the FNC and AK-5 are externally quite different.
FN finished the FNC with a black paint over parkerization type finish,
where as the AK-5 received the same Green lacker paint finish as the
Gustav M/45 SMG. The AK-5 features both an enlarged trigger guard and
charging handle, to make it easier to operate with gloves. The pistol
grip and handguards are of an altered design, and the stock from the
890c found its way onto the AK-5, rather than the FAL Para style that FN
supplied. Finally, the AK-5 uses different sights, as well as mounts
for optics. All adaptations made to make it better suited to the needs
of its military.
The first AK-5s were issued to Swedish troops in 1986. The earliest
examples were made in Belgium by FN, but soon the production line at
Bofors (part of Carl Gustav) was up and running. By the 1990s, the new
weapon system was in widespread use. Soon there after, a DMR version was
adopted as the AK-5B. It lacked iron sights and was issued with an
(An updated AK-5D assault carbine)
More recently, Sweden has begun a program to update its AK-5s to be
current with the 21st century. At first there was consideration of just
retiring the firearm and replacing it with a newer design. For example
the HK 416 was evaluated, but the decision was made to stick with what
was already prooven and worked. Afterall, the AK-5's operating system
was very sound. It just needed a few modernizations.
In 2006, the AK-5C began to appear. Some of this model are older rifles
that went through a referbishment program, but most are purpose built
new firearms. The C variant features a shortened 13.8" carbine barrel,
which was chosen as it was felt to be better balanced while not
sacrificing much accuracy. The two position gas regulator was deleted
from the design and a last-round bolt hold open added. A Picatinny rail
is standard on the C, and the iron sights were changed to be flip-up and
for backup use only. The handguards were changed so that rails could be
attached and often the carbine is issued with a vertical foregrip. The
flash hider was updated and a new style of bayonet lug introduced.
Translucent polymer 30 round magazines began being issued with the
AK-5C, as well as more tactical type slings. A new ergonomic pistol grip
was introduced, along with an ambidextrous fire mode selector. The
original green paint has been changed to black even. The AK-5D is an
even more compact version of the AK-5C, with a 9.8" long SMG length
barrel. It has a redesigned flash hider to work with the extremely short
Variations of the AK-5 are Sweden's current standard issue rifle today,
and with the recent upgrade programs, it looks as if the series will
remain in front line service for several more years to come.
(A semi-auto FN FNC, which I had in the store a few months ago, which has since found a new home)
(extracted and edited from my original FN FNC Thread)
Notes On My Swedish Firearms:
(1) M/94-14 - I've had this carbine for a couple of years now, but
before that I had been wanting and looking for one for nearly a decade.
Finding a decent M94 or M94-14 isn't always that easy. This one came
from a guy I met back at a gun show. I didn't get it from him then and
there, but he did find it for me some months later. Its just a neat and
handy little gun. I wanted this version too, as mounting a bayonet on
one of these is quite interesting looking.
(2) M/96 - This rifle I found in a local store about 12 years ago. The
store was about an hour's drive away and a friend's dad agreed to take
me down to get it. What is so memorable about getting this one is the
ride down to get it itself. You see the car had been completely gutted
as the guy was in the middle of restoring it. Literally the only things
inside it were 2 seats and the wheel..it was otherwise a metal box,
which is rather loud going down the interstate at 65 mph.
(3) M/38B - This was my first Swedish firearm and only my second Mauser
of any kind at all. It was another local store pickup and I like it as
it has the turned down bolt and is a WWII production model.
(4) M/39 HP - I also posted this one in my recent Walther P.38 thread. A
friend found this one for me at an old man's house and got it for me at
a great price. Its all original and correct, for a late 1939 Swedish
contract HP. It fits in my collection in several ways and is just
something i actually never expected to be able to own, seeing as how
only 1,000 were made. Who knows how many survive today though?
(5) AG M/42B - I found this rifle at the same shop that i bought my M/96
at, a couple years later. They had had it on sale for a while without
any takers. I traded them an Interarms Walther PPK/S in .32 for it,
which i felt was a good deal for me then; and a great decision in
hindsight. You just don't find AG42s everyday after all. Its fun to shoot
too, just as long as you remember its favorite snack is fingers!