The development of the Ljungman semi-automatic rifle Ag m/42.

Text and pictures by O. Janson

Uppdaterad 2015-06-22


Above is  Ag m/1942B.


Around 1890 several famous men like Hiriam Maxim, John Moses Browning, Von Mannlicher had brought out ideas for so called automatic rifles. An automatic rifle is actually a self loading rifle. In appearance, general design, size and weight it looks like an ordinary military manually repeating rifle. However the military worldwide was not really interested in self loading rifles. They were happy with their bolt rifles, which were strong and reliable. The military considered at that time negative to use firepower by plenty of shots. They wanted the soldiers to spare their ammunition.

During the Great War there were some attempts to introduce these self loading rifles made by France and Russia.


At the end of the war there was however great a demand among the soldiers at the front for semi- or full automatic rifles. A very popular gun was the Winchester M1907 which was purchased privately.

Winchester M1907, with  an extended magazine for the war in France.



The only military accepted automatic rifle which was used successfully during the Great War was the US BAR, constructed by John Moses Browning. However it was quite heavy.


 Between the wars both USA and the Soviet Union accepted semi-automatic rifles.
USA accepted 1936 John Garands semi-automatic rifle. He applied for patent for it already on the 21st of April 1930


  John Garands semi-automatic rifle.

Here is one of the patent drawings





The Soviet Union and the Red Army made several tests between 1931 and 1936. Sergey Simonov brought out an automatic rifle which was adopted as Model 1936 or AVS-36 in short. Service life of this weapon was relatively short, as it was too complicated and not sufficiently reliable in harsh conditions.

 In 1938 the SVT-38 (Samozaryadnaya Vintovka Tokareva - Tokarev Self-loading rifle) was adopted. It was designed by Fedor Tokarev. 1940 it was improved and adopted as SVT-40. More than 1 million rifles were made prior to 1945.


Here is a Tokarev SVT-40



Many enemy troops  like the Finnish and German considered it to be very good, while it has low reputation among Russians. The truth is the matter of training and education. The majority of the Red Army lacked the proper education and training for this nice rifle. They were not capable of taking it apart properly and keeping clean. They preferred the standard Mosin-Nagant bolt action instead.

 The interesting feature of the SVT is that the gas block, along with front sight base and a muzzle brake, was produced as a single barrel extension unit. This enhances the capacity for precision shots. The construction simplified the manufacture of the barrel, but the barrel extension itself unit was quite complicated to make.


Test model FM 40 WBG
Eric Wallberg tried to change already existing bolt action
of the Swedish rifle m/39 (Kar 98k) to semi-automatic
(Picture taken at Vapenmuseet in Eskilstuna.)



The beginning.

In Sweden the interest for a semi-automatic rifle started around 1938. To start with Eric Wallberg at KATF (Kungliga Armétygförvaltningen, Stockholm) tried to change already existing bolt action rifles to semi-automatic. Very soon it was clear that a completely new construction was needed. An offer went out to constructors. Several guns were tested. They can be seen on the picture.

An interesting construction was made by the Finnish Captain Pelo.
The system used was short recoil operation. This system is very reliable but tends to be heavy due to the construction.


One of the weapons from Captain Pelo from Finland.


Here is a picture of different test weapons used to develop semi-automatic rifles. I took the photo in Vapenmuseet, Eskilstuna while it still was available to the public. Unfortunately it is closed now.


Click on the picture to make it larger. (260 Kb)


Ag m/42

The winner of this contest was a construction made by manager Erik Eklund at AB J.C. Ljungmans engineering company in Malmo. It was also here the test rifles were built. This company normally produced pumps for petroleum. The construction has borrowed some ideas from the Tokarev SVT-38. The Swedish gas system is inferior to the Russian because the gas tube and the barrel are locked together and when the barrel becomes warm it can note move properly because of the gas tube.

The influence on dispersion of heating of the barrel during continuous firing wary from best results 83 mm at 100 m to the worst case with 356 mm at 100 m! The SVT-38 and 40 don’t have this problem because of the muzzle attachment with the gas chamber. The semi-automatic rifle was called Automatic Rifle m/42 (Ag m/42) and it  was introduced to the Swedish Army less than one year after having left the drawing board, an extraordinary feat by any standards. 


Above is one of the rare remaining original Ag m/1942


original Ag m/1942 (Armymuseum)


 Swedish terminology calls semi-automatic rifles for automatic rifles although they are only semi-auto. Full automatic weapons are called Kulsprutegevar (Light machinegun) or Kulsprutepistol (Submachine gun).

 The manufacturing of Ag m/42 took part in Eskilstuna at Carl Gustaf’s gun factory during basically only 1943. All together 30 000 Ag m/42 were made. The instruction manual was first issued to the military separately but from 1943 edition of Instruction for the soldier this manual was included. The manual remained as part of this Instruction for the soldier until 1970.




The basic feature of the Ljungman Ag m/42 system was unusual when first introduced, although it has since become more widespread: The usual gas piston assembly has been discarded in favour of a simple direct gas construction, where the gases themselves impinge upon the bolt. There is no gas piston nor any rod device at all used to convert the gas pressure into mechanical action! This direct-gas system has since been used with success on Stoners AR10 and AR15 rifles.

When the bullet passes the hole in the top of the barrel, a small amount of gases are returning backwards through a gas tube. There is a small cup fixed to the carrier of the bolt surrounding the gas tube. When the gases come backward they hit this cup and force the bolt carrier backwards and the bolt is lifted up from its locked place.



The rear end of the gas tube comes out above the chamber
The rear end of the gas tube meeting the cup on the bolt-carrier.
The rear end of the gas tube meeting the cup on the bolt-carrier. Closed action.
The rear end of the gas tube meeting the cup on the bolt-carrier. Opening action.

Note that there is not any gasket but the steel cup itself.


 The simple direct gas construction, where the gases themselves impinge upon the bolt.
(from Army instruction 1969)


  The ammunition used by the military from 1894 was a cartridge called m/94 with a 10,1 gram (157 grain) round nose bullet. Since many years before WW2 ammunition manufacturers in Sweden had made torpedo ammunition with a 9 gram (140 grain) bullet for the civilian Sharpshooter association. This torpedo bullet had much better ballistics then the round nose bullet.

1941 the defence forces accepted this bullet and it was called prj m/41.

The rear sights of Ag m/42 had a small picture of either round nose or torpedo to show the soldier how to make his sight according to what ammunition he used. (See the picture below.)


The rear adjustable sight

At the arrow you can see the mark for the torpedo bullet prj m/41.


The different cartridges in the Swedish 6,5x55 mm in the army manual 1960.

At top of the page it says which weapons can be used with these 6,5x55 cartridges:

Carbine m/94, Rifles m/96, m/38, m/41(B);

ag m/42 B, kg m/21 and m/37;

Machineguns m/14-29, m/36 (ground, AA and tank), m/39 (tank) and m/58.


You can clearly see the bullets:

  1. The round nose prj m/94

  2. The newer torpedo bullet prj m/41

(prj shortening of projectile)



Major Karl-Olof Björsell (retired) has told me an episode from spring 1951 when his company started to shoot for the first 2-3 shots the guns refused to reload properly. Rust coloured oil came out of the gas tube instead. After these shoots the rifles worked fine. I remember myself that the first time I shot with an Ag m/42B, during my time at the High school, how I was amazed by the puff of air I got over my head for each shot.


From the beginning the gas tube was made of steel which rusted.

The soldiers found it easy to drop the magazines by mistake

The cleaning rods were from the beginning made of a tube with inner steel rod which should be screwed together to make full length so they could reach all the way. The construction was too weak.

The cover for the bolt carrier, which was used for loading and discharging of the gun, was only serrated. With cold and numb fingers this serration was too little.

 If you consider the very haste with which the Ag m/42 was adopted it is not strange that there was a need for modifications and they were:


  1. The gas tube was made of rustproof material.

  2. An extra hook in the front end of the magazine was added beside the original catch on the rifle.

  3. The recoil spring was made out of double wires for extra strength. They are two springs joined by a tube of steel.

  4. The cleaning rod was exchanged for the one used with rifle m/38, which is shorter than the one for the Mauser rifle m/96.

  5. The cover for the bolt carrier was equipped with two round bottoms, one on each side. A recoil buffer of rubber was added to save the empty brass from being bent, when they were thrown out after firing the cartridge.

  6. The trigger mechanism.

  7. Extractor was redesigned.


These improvements were accepted 1953. During the first part of 1950:s all the Ag m/42 was improved. This was done so very well that you most likely will never find any original Ag m/42 which has not been improved. They are extremely rare. The improved rifle was called Automatic rifle m/42 B.



The cover for the bolt carrier on Ag m/42 first model.


The cover for the bolt carrier on Ag m/42 B.
The cover for the bolt carrier was equipped with two round bottoms, one on each side.
cylindrical recoil buffer of rubber was added to spare the empty brass from being bent, when they were thrown out after firing the cartridge.


Ag m/42 magazine (first model)

Ag m/42B  magazine - second model with extra hooks.


Extra equipment


The same bayonet was used like for rifle m/96, m/38, Ag m/42 and Ag m/42B.

There was a blank firing device which made the semi-automatic rifle work properly for peace time training.

A simple sight for low light was issued, which could be put on top of the ordinary sights.






Here mounted on top of rear sight.


 Every gun was issued with a toolbox.


Inside of the toolbox-bag looks like this


The toolbox contained an ordinary twin oil can with the brush, a universal tool, another tool with flax all around to clean the chamber. One small squirt can for oil. This squirt can should be used to drip oil on the cartridges in case of feeding problems.




There was also a small box of steel with spare parts.
(Left to right bottom line):
The box
(far left),  two extractors together with the special tool to remove and insert them
striker pin (above extractor tool)
2 Coil springs
2 pins for extractor
firing pin
Long coilspring for the firing pin


Loading and field stripping.

 Please note a special rule: Loading - the safety much stand in FIRE position (to the left)!
ALL OTHER actions the weapon shall be handled with the safety in SAFE position to the right!


Move the cover for the bolt carrier forward as long as possible and pull subsequently back to the rear position.

Put a cartridge clip in the recess for the clip in the frame, introducing the UPPER knobs of the clip in the grooves.


Push the cartridges down in the magazine with the right hand.

Take away the empty clip.  

Load another clip the same way.


Push the cover forward with the right hand as long as possible about 3 – 4 mm and pull firmly back.

Now the bolt and the bolt carrier are thrown forward collecting the top cartridge from the magazine.

Adjust the safety to the position safe.


The weapon is now loaded and put to safety.

When the last cartridge has been fired, the bolt and the locking piece are cocked in the rear position by the bolt catch.
The magazine can be refilled the way described above.


Removing cartridge from the chamber.

Make sure the safety is on!

Push the cover forward with the right hand as long as possible, and then backwards.

Move the cover backwards but not so long that the base of the cartridge touches upon the ejector. Hold your fingers to prevent the cartridge from being thrown out from the receiver. Repeat this until the magazine is empty.

Be sure that the weapon is in safe position!

Press down the magazine feeder and push the cover forward as long as possible. Press in clasp of the cover with the thumb of your right hand. Release cover slowly in backward direction.


If you do the operation above with safe in OFF position the result will most likely be a painful bloody thumb!

Among the Swedish soldiers, a thumb hurt in such away, was called an “Ag-thumb” and it was much joked about!


Release the safety, fire on an empty chamber in a safe direction and twist the safety to safe position again.



The safety is on!

Remove the magazine by pressing the locks in both ends (Ag m/42B).

Move the cover fully to the foremost position.


DO NOT PULL THE TRIGGER when the bolt and boltcarrier have been removed!

It will damage your rifle!
If you want to let the hammer forward - hold it firm and release it VERY slowly!



Turn safety lever straight backwards and lift the back piece with the safety out from the rifle.

Press down the clasp of the cover releasing it from locking piece.

Hold the cover with your firm hand and release it slowly backwards.



Take away the cover and the recoil springs. Take away the bolt carrier (locking piece) and the bolt.



Hold the bolt carrier upside down in your left hand with the bolthead directed forwards.

Catch the bolt with thumb and forefinger of your right hand and raise the bolts rear part so that the locking lugs come above the grooves in the bolt carrier. Move the bolt forward while you twist it a little and lift it out of the bolt carrier.

Far left:
Back piece with the safety

Top right:

Bolt carrier or locking piece.

The cover with the double twinned recoil spring which is joined by a steel tube in the middle



The parts of Ag m/1942. You can click on this image to see a much larger.





Insert the bolt in the bolt carrier in reverse order.

Return the bolt carrier to the receiver. Now the hammer must be pressed down

Wait to insert the magazine until you have assembled the rifle.

Insert the recoil springs in the bolt carrier and the cover when you move the cover back to its foremost position so it will engage and lock to the bolt carrier.

Return the back piece with the safety and turn the safety to the left.

Release the cover by pressing the clasp down and let the cover come slowly to its rear position.

Fire on an empty chamber and put the safety in safe position to the right.


Characteristics of the Swedish Ag m/1942
Length over all 1217 mm Barrel length 637 mm
Weight 4,4 kg Grooves 6 grooves right hand twist.
Calibre 6,5x55 Swedish Sight RN prj m/1894 100-600 m
Muzzle velocity: 745 m/s (2450 fps) Sight Torpedo prj m/41 100 - 800 m
System of operation: Gas-operated Function Semiautomatic only.



More developments of the Ag m/42.

There were attempts to further develop the Ag m/42 to an assault rifle which you can read about in an article at a different place on this website

Swedish military assault rifles 1945 – 1990, Ak4 and Ak 5.

These test weapons were never accepted. After the acceptance of the Swedish assault rifle Ak 4 (G3) the Ag m/42B were melted down but some were sold abroad to arms dealers who sold them to collectors.



Variants of Ag m/42

The Ag m/42 was also manufactured in Denmark by Dansk Industri Syndikat, Madsen. The Madsen version had a longer gas tube coiled around the barrel to improve accuracy, however this made the cleaning of the tube more difficult. This version was never accepted by the Danish army so its life span became very short.


Egypt - Hakim

Hakim (Ljungman) rifle in calibre 7,92x57 


Around 1950 Egypt set up a manufacturing plant ‘54 later known as Madi Industries Inc. with the assistance of Swedish technicians from a company in Sweden called “Internationella Gevars Aktiebolaget” (I.G.A.B)

This plant manufactured Ag m/42 under license in 7,92x57 mm and 7,62x39. These rifles are known as Hakim rifles. The plant also made the Port Said submachine gun in 9 mm which is a Swedish Carl Gustaf m/45 submachine gun.

Sweden withdrew the licens but Egypt kept on manufacturing these rifles anyway for years.

The production of these rifles and machine guns has now stopped since many years.



Karl-Olof Björsell, Gothia Arms Historical Society annual magazine No 14, 1995

Instruction manuals for the Swedish army 1939 to 1983.

Josef Alm, Arméns eldhandvapen förr och nu, 1953

Vapenmuseet, Eskilstuna Sweden

Joseph E. Smith and W.H.B. Smith 10th Edition of Small arms of the World 1973, ISBN: 0-89104-021-8

Ian Hogg & John Weeks, Military small arms of the 20th century, 1973, SBN 85368 319 0



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