Self-loading rifle Ag m / 42 – in the late fifties it needed replacement
At the end of the fifties, the Swedish command came to the conclusion that their army was backward in terms of small arms. Foreign countries adopted automatic rifles, while in Sweden, the operation of self-loading systems and even weapons with manual reloading continued. After a series of experiments, the army launched a full-fledged competition. One of its participants was the FM1957 rifle.
Competition and its participants
The program for the development of a new rifle was launched in 1957. Both Swedish and foreign arms factories became interested in it. Soon, a list of samples-competitors was formed, applying for a major contract. It is curious that at this stage Sweden was represented by only two projects. Five more samples were sent by foreign countries.
Kungliga Armétygförvaltningen, a Stockholm company, became one of the participants in the program. Its engineer Eric Wahlberg developed a new model of weapon, to a certain extent based on the existing and well-mastered one. In a project called FM1957 (it is also possible to write fm / 57), the Automatgevär m / 42B self-loading rifle, which has been in service since the early forties, has undergone a serious alteration.
It should be recalled that before the launch of the competition, experiments were carried out to modernize the Ag m / 42B with minimal effort, but they did not justify themselves. The military was not interested in the proposed options for updating a fairly old system – which led to the launch of the new program. Despite such results of previous projects, E. Walberg nevertheless implemented the new FM1957 on an outdated basis. It is likely that this was the key factor that determined the further fate of the project.
New from old
In terms of its ideology, the FM1957 project was similar to one of the rejected options for updating the Ag m / 42B. He proposed the preservation of the main part of the units and all automation, but at the same time provided for a radical reworking of ergonomics, ammunition, etc. Due to this, the new sample in a number of characteristics remained similar to its predecessor, but outstripped it in others.
Experienced rifle FM1957
The existing receiver with a movable L-shaped cover was supplemented with a metal lower casing that replaced the wooden stock. He combined the firing mechanism cover and the magazine receiver. A pistol grip and a folding stock were also attached to it. The original wood fittings were cut off, leaving only the forend and barrel lining.
Ergonomics were improved by using a full-fledged fire control pistol grip. To it and to the receiver was attached a butt based on a U-shaped tube with a coating and a metal butt pad. The stock could be folded to the right, without interfering with the use of controls.
E. Walberg kept the existing automation based on the removal of gases directly to the bolt carrier. The design of the bolt group and its principles of operation have not changed. In particular, the cocking of the weapon was still carried out by moving the movable cover of the receiver back and forth. The barrel was locked with a swing bolt. There was also a trigger type trigger. The control was carried out by a trigger and a fuse flag on the rear wall of the receiver.
An important innovation was the use of detachable box magazines for 20 rounds, which greatly facilitated reloading. At the same time, the unified receiver cover retained the guide for the clips – although hardly anyone would use it. Like the base product, the FM1957 rifle used its own Swedish 6.5×55 mm cartridge.
The use of a standard cartridge 6,5×55 mm and the existing barrel made it possible to do without reworking the sight. The rifle received a front sight in a ring flyer and an open sight designed for a range of up to 800 m.
With the stock unfolded, the FM1957 rifle had a length of 1160 mm and was slightly shorter than the Ag m / 42B. Product weight – 4.9 kg, i.e. slightly larger than the existing sample. Fire characteristics have not changed. At the same time, the rifle met several actual customer requirements.
Under a new cartridge
At that time, the Swedish command not only planned the rearmament of the army, but also considered the possibility of replacing the main rifle cartridge. For economic, logistic and political reasons, it was proposed to abandon its own 6.5×55 mm in favor of a foreign 7.62×51 mm NATO. For several years this issue was only discussed, but in 1960 the army made a decision in principle.
The competitors of the Kungliga Armétygförvaltningen factory immediately used a foreign cartridge, which saved them a lot of problems. In contrast, E. Walberg and colleagues had to revise their FM1957 project. The modified version of the rifle with a 7.62 mm barrel was named FM1957-60 – after the year of modernization.
To adapt to the new ammunition for the FM1957 rifle, the barrel was changed and the bolt group was redesigned. The movable receiver cover was fixed. An improved mechanical sight, designed for a new cartridge, was transferred to it. On the left, on the bolt carrier, there was a custom cocking handle. Now the retraction of the shutter to the rear position was carried out without manipulating the box lid. At the same time, the automation, trigger and other components remained the same. Together with the new cartridge, a corresponding store was introduced.
The FM1957-60 rifle was shorter than the base one – 1095 mm. The weight was reduced to 4.3 kg. Fire performance was at the level of other modern samples chambered for 7.62×51 mm NATO. At the request of the customer, a variant of the rifle could be produced for the 6.5-mm Swedish cartridge.
The rifle is not in the final
In the early sixties, comparative tests of several Swedish and foreign rifles took place, incl. FM-1957-60, during which the finalists of the competition were determined. Several new samples were considered unusable and removed from the program. Among the losers was a rifle designed by E. Walberg. The 1960 modernization did not help it and did not give it any advantages over its competitors.
Upgraded version of FM1957-60, external differences are minimal
The main reason for this result was the use of an outdated base system. The developer did not make a completely new sample and limited itself to a deep modernization of the existing Ag m / 42B. Because of this, the FM1957 product received some new advantages, but at the same time retained the main features of the older rifle – incl. negative. Thus, FM1957 (-60) repeated the failure of previous projects based on the outdated sample.
Several experimental rifles FM1957 and FM1957-60, after exclusion from the competition, were transferred to one of the Swedish museums, where they remain to this day. A little later, prototypes of other rifles presented for the competition – Swedish and foreign design – became museum exhibits.