View Full Version : The Yugoslav M53 and the MG42

04-10-2019, 01:14 PM
There is the possibility of purchasing a Yugoslav M53 in the near future (not in Canada of course!) and I was wondering if anyone here has any familiarity with it and can also comment on the differences between the M53 and MG42 and the interchangeability of parts etc.


04-10-2019, 01:17 PM
I have nothing to offer, but you must take pictures and share if you get it please!

04-10-2019, 01:31 PM
Of course, of course, I wouldn't think of anything less! :D

There is basically a Polish version of TradeEx that has a whole pile of them. They seem to be quite popular at the moment!

Funny thing is I have a Yugo K98 that I got from TradeEx (German parts with new Yugo markings, I can still see the original German markings under the Yugo crest on top of the receiver). One day they'll look quite nice side by side ;)

04-10-2019, 04:31 PM
all I know is ammo drums and belts fit both

04-10-2019, 08:42 PM

04-11-2019, 05:39 PM

04-12-2019, 04:54 AM
I believe Dilligaf knows the 42 quite well.

And maybe look into how you might become a small scale exporter? Rules are kinda different when the US isn’t involved...

04-12-2019, 06:52 AM
Alright, this thread officially sucks. Not a single photo! Please, even a stock photo will do. I don't even know what a M53 looks like. I shouldn't have to google it in a gun forum.

04-12-2019, 07:11 AM
I believe Dilligaf knows the 42 quite well.

And maybe look into how you might become a small scale exporter? Rules are kinda different when the US isn’t involved...

The good news/bad news is these are still open bolt (as far as I understand)! But on the flip side, I've had this crazy idea of maybe importing some guns from Canada. Wouldn't it be a gas if I could rescue some poor C1A1?

Alright, this thread officially sucks. Not a single photo! Please, even a stock photo will do. I don't even know what a M53 looks like. I shouldn't have to google it in a gun forum.

Don't worry when I end up getting this thing there will be lots of photos.



04-12-2019, 07:22 AM
Marstar has a deactivated M 53 only 3,495.00. A rich mans ornament.

05-16-2019, 02:18 PM
My plan is in motion. Today I went to the shop to have a look and make a deposit ;)




05-16-2019, 02:25 PM

My understanding is that a Polish company imported a pile of these in 2018 and converted them to semi-auto (but they are still open-bolt!) and you can see some additional stamps on the receiver.


The box with some of the tools, and the barrel change mitt. I wonder if the Yugo mitts are made from asbestos, as I've heard that the German mitts were so made.

05-16-2019, 02:27 PM



06-15-2019, 11:58 AM
And, just like that, I now own a Yugoslav M53! (and a crap ton of cosmoline)

I see lots of cosmoline in my future... so much cosmoline...

I've already found a few German parts. The bipod is German, parts of the rear sights, and the elevation mechanism on the tripod is dated 1939, so I'm guessing the Yugoslavs reused it from an MG34 tripod.

It's open bolt, but the trigger group has been modified to fire semi auto. It will be interesting to see how that was done, once I get it taken apart.

A company in Wrocław imported a whole pile of them and modified them. They seem to be quite popular here in Poland. It's nice to have things that even American's can't have ;) Poland seems to have an almost-anything goes policy. No FA, no suppressors (sort of, but not really). For now.

Anyhow, look forward to all kinds of neat photos and info as I work through the thing.



06-15-2019, 12:05 PM

06-15-2019, 12:15 PM
Some disassembly Info:



06-18-2019, 05:32 PM
Here are some photos of the semi auto trigger:



06-18-2019, 06:19 PM


06-19-2019, 10:10 AM
Potato trigger

06-19-2019, 11:49 AM
I will need your address and a time frame that I can visit ;D

06-20-2019, 08:46 PM
cool, how much did it run ya?

06-21-2019, 02:46 AM
cool, how much did it run ya?

Marstar has a deactivated M 53 only 3,495.00. A rich mans ornament.

About $500 cheaper than Marstar's offering ;)

06-21-2019, 06:01 AM
About $500 cheaper than Marstar's offering ;)

sweet jeebus that's a pile of dough

07-09-2019, 05:02 PM
Spent the evening cleaning the receiver. Thought I'd share some neat photos of MG guts.




07-10-2019, 12:17 PM
This thread has impressed the hell out of me.

07-10-2019, 12:31 PM
This thread has impressed the hell out of me.

Thanks! I haven't even gotten started yet. So much neat stuff involved with this gun. Those Germans can actually be quite clever!

07-11-2019, 05:50 PM
Now that I've got everything good and clean, it's time to figure out how this thing works!

In no particular order I'll start with: The Feed Tray and Drum (Gurttrommel 34)




The metal tab on the right hand edge of the feed tray catches the belt so that it won't back out of the mechanism.

07-12-2019, 12:32 PM

07-12-2019, 11:33 PM
Probably the coolest thing about this whole endeavour is that the M53 actually comes with the mythical "attachment for shooting down police helicopters" in the "accessory kit".

I wonder.... does the flash hider count as the "loudener"?




07-12-2019, 11:38 PM
The Lafette tripod in highest and lowest configurations.



The Breech Cover that came with it.


07-13-2019, 04:25 PM
can you sponsor anyone who wants to move to poland? asking for a friend......

07-13-2019, 07:32 PM
Sooooooo.. When are you going to shoot it?

07-14-2019, 02:17 AM
Sooooooo.. When are you going to shoot it?

One of these days... she's got some bugs and a few broken parts that need to be dealt with first.

07-14-2019, 04:25 AM
Sooooooo.. When are we going to shoot it?

Fixed that for you. :cool1:

07-14-2019, 01:39 PM
Fixed that for you. :cool1:


07-15-2019, 05:34 PM
As a machinist, I have a real fondness for the engineering and fabrication that went into these old MG’s. It is always a treat to see some of the guts. Thanks for sharing your work.

That trigger though....the designer rolled in his grave for every one of those triggers modified like that. I shuddered a bit too when I saw that “alteration”

07-15-2019, 06:22 PM
As a machinist, I have a real fondness for the engineering and fabrication that went into these old MG’s. It is always a treat to see some of the guts. Thanks for sharing your work.

That trigger though....the designer rolled in his grave for every one of those triggers modified like that. I shuddered a bit too when I saw that “alteration”

By the way, it took me a while to figure out how to get the trigger back together properly. I thought I had it figured out when I took those photos, but was way off. I'll give a proper explanation later.

07-15-2019, 06:30 PM
The last mystery to getting the puzzle back together was the rear sight.

If anyone else should find themselves in a similar situation, the answer is paracord, and a tautline hitch to compress that spring all the way and get that pin in. Paracord also saved the day for getting the trigger back together as well.

The spring holder is one of the few German parts that I've found on it so far (along with the center part of the bipod). The rest is pure Yugo, and they made sure to proof mark everything!




07-15-2019, 06:31 PM

More neat trivia:

Like the K98k (until late in its production), the rear sight has range markings on the top, as well as underneath, so that you could adjust the range while remaining prone.


07-15-2019, 06:32 PM
Easier method.. In zip ties we trust.

07-26-2019, 05:23 PM
Since there doesn't seem to be any info out there regarding the unicorn: the trigger groups of semi-auto open bolt conversions, I thought I'd make an attempt at describing it in a bit more detail.

Of course, there is plenty of info out there regarding converting MG42s to lame a$$ semi-auto closed-bolt monstrosities, but fortuneatly, cheesy NFA and ATF regulations don't apply to the whole planet :D


In the original MG-42 trigger, when you pull back on the trigger (which pivots on hole #1) a pin in hole #2 pushes up on the forward section of the sear (B), causing the back section of the sear, which catches the bolt, to drop, allowing the bolt to move forward.

In the semi-auto trigger, the pin in hole #2 is removed, and instead replaced with part D, which now acts on the sear. As Part D pivots on Hole 1 and thus the same axis as the trigger, the original MG-42 disconnector is removed and replaced with part C, which is sprung. In situ, Part C is actually rotated 90 degrees from the position shown, and actually rests under hole 1, where it presses up against part D. An additional piece of metal has also been welded onto the trigger, but I'm not entirely sure what that does. It contacts the sear and at first glance appears to stop the trigger from moving too far forward. You can also see where a bit of material was ground off on the sear to make room for Part E.


Part C locks against Part D and thus the two move together in order to push up on the sear. However after a certain point Part D (I think) contacts the large angled surface on Part E causing the lock between Part C and Part D to break. Part D then returns to its starting position where it can no longer act on the sear, and the sear, under the pressure of mainspring pressing up on the rear, is now free to return to its starting position.


Part E functions as a trip when the bolt recoils. Partially depressing the trigger causes Part E to raise into the path of the bolt lugs, and when the rear bolt lug contacts Part E, the lug forces it down, where that angled section pushes on Part D, breaking the lock between Part C and Part D, and thus resetting the sear and further helping to prevent full-auto fire. As you can see in the photos a large chamfer has been ground onto the rear lug on the bolt as part of the semi-auto conversion, presumably to facilitate engaging this trip mechanism.


07-26-2019, 06:04 PM
As I discovered when I initially went to reassemble the trigger group, the layout shown in an earlier photo is not quite correct.

Part C should be rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, under Hole 1, while the short end of the main spring has to be rotated counter-clockwise 180 degrees, to rest under the tail of the sear.

In the original MG42 trigger group this end of sear spring actually sits inside the trigger, so I was thrown off at first when I was trying to put it back together. But eventually I figured it out!

As well, when reassembling this, you have to hold Part C down, against that spring pressure, in order to install Part D, the trigger, and the corresponding pin back into the pistol grip! Paracord came in handy for that as well.


The long tail on the Sear (3) is what engages the crossbolt safety, which is also the one part on the gun that the Yugoslavs seem to have modified from the original German design. They added a small detent block under the actual safety button, thus necessitating the addition of the square cutout on the grips. So MG-42 grips won't fit on an M53.

Y = Safe
O = Fire

I should also note that it appears that this modification was not carried over to the MG3.



07-26-2019, 06:11 PM
I could never afford this but it's nice to see someone passionate enough about it to keep it alive. Kudos

07-26-2019, 06:55 PM
I could never afford this but it's nice to see someone passionate enough about it to keep it alive. Kudos

Oh its not so bad. Building that C7A2 clone cost almost double what this did!

08-09-2019, 06:37 PM
More MG goodness: The Belt Loader (Gurtlader)! In this case a Yugoslav made version. A neat piece of kit, and built solid. The whole affair weighs like 17 lbs. Note the red stripe on the ammo can. As I've seen photos of other Yugo Belt Loaders with a red stripe on the case I'm guessing that was their way of denoting cans containing belt loaders.




08-09-2019, 07:03 PM



08-09-2019, 07:24 PM


08-19-2019, 04:42 PM
In this video I demonstrate one of the lesser mentioned design features of the MG42, the ability to load a new belt with a starter tab with the bolt in battery, AND with the top cover closed.

With the bolt in battery, feed the starter tab in and pull the belt in two-clicks (engaging the inner feed pawl and then the outer one).

Here, the dummy loop on the starter tab engages the feed pawl, so that when the bolt is retracted, the feed mechanism lines up the first round in the belt to be fed into the chamber.

Note that this method does not work with the bolt cocked, as the dummy loop on the starter tab will not go past the feeding position, so that when the trigger is pulled, no round is chambered. Also probably won't work without a starter tab. (To load without a starter tab, leave the first two loops on the belt empty to facilitate loading by opening the top cover, while the bolt is cocked, Close the top cover and the gun is ready to fire.

Seems like a sensible idea, when you run out of ammo and hear click instead of bang, you can load a new belt, cock the bolt and away you go, without the inconvenience of having to open the top cover and potentially allowing the ingress of dirt, and more importantly, maintaining a lower profile.

I'm guessing that (in an ideal world) the belts in ammo cans (typically divided in belts of 100 and 150), as well as the belts on drums (gurtrommel) would all have starter tabs on them.


And here's what's happening inside the top cover:

When you load the belt (with starter tab) with the bolt in battery, (1) the dummy link and first round click past both feed pawls so that when you cock the bolt back (2), the first round is in firing position. When you try to load the same belt with the bolt cocked (3), the dummy link can't be pulled past the firing position, so you would have to pull the trigger and cock the bolt again to finally get the first round to chamber.


08-19-2019, 06:53 PM
I think they designed it to load with the feed tray cover down. Because the high rate of fire. Produces alot of heat. There be a greater chance in a cook off. And It shaves some time in the reloading.

But the rounds being fed. Will catch grass, dirt, mud.. So its doesn't lessen less mud in it, by opening it.

09-03-2019, 12:40 PM
Some MG discussions.

A youtuber named Lindy Beige made a terrible video a while back comparing the MG34 and MG42 against the Bren, that really seemed to annoy a lot of people (me included), and here is one of the rebuttals to it. British people talking about guns that they've never seen or handled before just feels weird...

But all this talk makes me wonder how things would have been in the Bren and BAR were just belt fed.


The second is a conversation with a guy who owns and operates both the 34 and the 42. Some interesting comments about dealing with milsurps. At one point he remarks how it's a miracle these things even work at all, given that springs might be worn out, components may have wear, and the ammo we have today is probably not to the same specifications as those the gun was designed for. So at what point do all those factors add up and cause various failures.

Also some good commentary on the experience of firing them both. The 34 is quite pleasant, while with the 42, your whole world shakes.


09-03-2019, 12:46 PM
Some secrets of the ammo cans and drums.

The handles on the ammo cans are designed so that you can hold two cans together in one hand.


They're also designed to be carried by a sling around your shoulders.


Here's how the starter tab is secured on the drum.


10-31-2019, 06:23 AM

10-31-2019, 06:42 AM
You had it since April and still no range video?.. MAN this is weak.

11-01-2019, 07:51 AM
You had it since April and still no range video?.. MAN this is weak.

Since July...

Need some parts so that it doesn't blow up when I shoot it. Machine gun parts a little bit tricky to make fall from the sky.

12-18-2019, 11:17 PM
A procedural video I found on loading and clearing malfunctions the M249. I notice the feed mechanism and trigger group on the M249 are quite similar to the MG42.



This an ISAF soldier on Camp Leatherneck Afghanistan, who upon clearing his MG3 machine gun, didn't do so in textbook fashion. Now obviously there isn't any time to waste while under fire, but this is a prime example of why the 5 point safety check is often taught with open bolt weapon systems. Fortunately the soldier wasn't badly injured and only had his cheek ripped open instead of the back of the 7.62 round impacting his face head on, literally.

Meanwhile, if anyone with a TNW MG34 or other closed bolt frankensteins is having trouble, here is a guy having a bad day with his closed bolt semi-auto MG42.


It looks to me like he is not following the correct loading procedure. He is placing the first round against the feed tray stop with the bolt in battery. Normally you can load the belt like this when the bolt is locked back, but since these guns don't seem to have a provision for locking the bolt back, he is trying to load the belt with the bolt in battery. Unfortunately, when he then pulls the cocking handle to chamber a round, the feed mechanism is trying to push the belt to the right, but since the first bullet is already against the stop it can't move, and thus the mechanism bends the $hit out of his cartridges. In this instance he should load his first round offset a bit to the left of the stop.

This would be a good situation to have some starter tabs, as with the bolt in battery he could just pull the starter tab through (two clicks) then rack the bolt and chamber a round.

01-01-2020, 12:41 AM
Is the MG42 effective or is it just a waste of ammunition?

A surprisingly detailed article on what it takes to operate with an MG42!

01-17-2020, 04:45 PM
How about a nice gun post for some merry diversion from the absolutely dreadful world of politics we've all been sucked into?

I made an interesting observation regarding some of the changes made to the MG-42 design over the years. The MG-42 was vulnerable to out of battery detonations when the rollers bounce back inwards into the bolt head, unlocking the bolt from the barrel extension. In response, the "anti bounce device" was designed to try to combat against this, but, as you see in this video, it is not a guarantee.


Now, I had taken my gun for granted, and didn't realize that my bolt had this device, and though I had heard of it, I had never seen it, thinking what I had was just a normal part of the gun. But now that I realized what I had, my question became, how did the gun fire without it?


Originally, the firing pin was actuated by the recoil spring pushing the entire bolt body forward against the firing pin holder, as the rollers lock into the barrel extension.


In this new arrangement, the bolt body does not move, and it is this anti bounce device that now pushes against the firing pin holder.


Neat how they were able to engineer such a workaround!

I've also heard this part described as a "rate reducer" but I can't comment on what impact it has on rate of fire.

01-19-2020, 01:21 PM
The MG42 is a super cool MG. I had the opportunity to shoot one many years ago. To this day, and even after having served in the CF, that MG42 is the most impressive MG I have ever fired. It is like 30-06 fired at MAC10 cyclic rates. :shoot:

The idea of a semi-auto, belt fed MG doesn't really do much for me. But they are still very cool guns.