MG 34

The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, is a German recoil-operated air-cooled machine gun, first tested in 1929, introduced in 1934, and issued to units in 1936. It accepts the 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridge, and is generally considered the world's first general-purpose machine gun.

The versatile MG 34 was arguably the most advanced machine gun in the world at the time of its deployment. Its combination of exceptional mobility – being light enough to be carried by one man – and high rate of fire (of up to 900 rounds per minute) was unmatched. It entered service in great numbers following Hitler's repudiation of the Versailles Treaty in 1936, and was first tested by German troops aiding Franco's Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.

MG 34
Class Manportable
Type Machine Guns
Manufacturer Mauser
Production Period 1935 - 1945
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1935
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Germany 1936 1945 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Steyr-Daimler-Puch 1935 1945 View
Waffenfabrik Bern 1935 1945 View
Mauser 1935 1945 577120 View

The MG 34 was based on a 1930 Rheinmetall design, the MG 30. The Swiss and Austrian militaries had both licensed and produced the MG 30 from Rheinmetall shortly after patent. The MG 30 design was adapted and modified by Heinrich Vollmer of Mauser Industries. Vollmer modified the feed mechanism to accept either drum magazines or belt ammunition. He also increased the rate of fire. The MG 34's double crescent trigger dictated either semiautomatic or fully automatic firing modes.

In the field, the weapon could operate in offensive or defensive applications. The offensive model, with a mobile soldier, used a drum magazine that could hold either 50 or 75 rounds of ammunition. In a stationary defensive role, the gun was mounted on a bipod or tripod and fed by an ammunition belt. Belts were carried in boxes of five. Each belt contained 50 rounds. Belt lengths could be linked for sustained fire. During sustained fire, barrels would have to be changed at intervals due to the heat generated by the rapid rate of fire. If the barrels were not changed properly, the weapon would misfire. Changing barrels was a rapid process for the trained operator and involved disengaging a latch and swinging the receiver to the right for the insertion of a new barrel. Accordingly, stationary defensive positions required more than one operator.

The MG 34 was the mainstay of German Army support weapons from the time of its first issue in 1935 until 1942, when it was supplanted by the next generation Maschinengewehr 42 or MG 42. Although the 34 was very reliable and dominant on the battlefield, its dissemination throughout the German forces was hampered due to its precision engineering, which resulted in high production costs and a relatively slower rate of production. For its successor, the MG 42, the Germans instead used mass production techniques similar to those that created the MP 40 submachine gun. However, the Germans nevertheless continued widespread production of MG 34s until the end of the war.

Type General-purpose machine gun
Place of origin  Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1936–1945 (officially, German military) 1936–present (other armies)
Wars Spanish Civil War
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Chinese Civil War
1948 Arab-Israeli war
Korean War
Portuguese Colonial Wars
Algerian War
Vietnam War
Angolan civil war
Yugoslav Wars
Production history
Designer Heinrich Vollmer
Designed 1934
Manufacturer Mauserwerke AG, Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, Waffenwerke Brünn
Produced 1935–1945
Number built 577,120
Specifications
Weight 12.1 kg (26.7 lb)
19.2 kg (42.3 lb) (with tripod)
Length 1,219 mm (48.0 in)
Barrel length 627 mm (24.7 in)
Cartridge 7.92×57mm Mauser
Action Open bolt, Recoil-operated,Rotating bolt
Rate of fire 800–900 rounds/min
Early versions: 600–1000 rounds/min selectable on pistol grip
MG 34"S": 1,700 rounds/min.
MG 34/41: 1,200 rounds/min.
Muzzle velocity 765 m/s (2,510 ft/s)(s.S. Patrone)
Effective firing range 1200+ m
Feed system 50/250-round belts, 50-round drum, or 75-round drum magazine with modification
Sights Iron sights calibrated to 2000 meters in 100 meter increments.

End notes