The Volksgewehr was a series of five last-ditch rifle designs developed in late 1944 by Nazi Germany.
In 1945, as a last-ditch effort to arm the Volkssturm militia under the limited production capacity, Nazi Germany initiated the Primitiv-Waffen Programm (primitive weapons program), which called for weapons that were easy to produce. Five renowned firearms designers designed each of the five rifles.
This was the first of five rifles designed for the Volkssturm. It was a manually-operated bolt-action rifle and had a simple rotating bolt with two frontal locking lugs. The crudely-made bolt handle also engages a cut in the cast-steel receiver for added safety. It uses ten-round box magazines from a Gewehr 43. It also had a crude manual safety, only consisting of a stamped-steel lever pinned to the trigger guard behind the trigger. When engaged, the safety blocks trigger movement. To disengage, it was simply turned out of the way. The stock was made of wood, and it had crude non-adjustable sights.
The VG2 was the second of five rifle designs for the Volkssturm. It has a similar bolt, stock and safety as the VG1, and even shared the magazine. The sights were zeroed-in at a hundred meters, and was meant for close range shooting only. Around 16,000 to 18,000 are believed to have been produced.
The VG3 was the third of five rifle designs. It was a bolt-action rifle using the 30-round magazine of the Sturmgewehr 44. Less than 50 are thought to have been produced.
The VG4 was the fourth of five rifle designs. It was a bolt-action rifle chambered for 7.92x33mm Kurz or 7.92x57mm bullets, fed into an internal magazine by 5-round stripper clips. Less than 10 are believed to have been produced.
The VG5, or more correctly, the Volkssturmkarabiner VK.98, was the final of all five designs. Of all five, the VG5 could be made entirely in small workshops. It was a simplified Karbiner 98k, lacking a butt plate, full-length stock, bayonet lug, or adjustable rear-sight. It also had much simpler sling mounts and a very basic finish. It was possible to add a magazine to the weapon, because it lacked a floorplate; however, it is normally used as a single-shot weapon without a magazine.
- The VG1 was originally supposed to be manufactured by Zbrojovka Brno in the Czech Republic.