While remaining neutral during World War 2, Sweden did not rest on its laurels when fearing invasion from the Germans in the West (having conquered Norway) and the Soviets in the East (having subdued Finland). As such, there proved several notable military programs which netted the Scandinavian nation useable combat tanks and small arms. One of the latter proved to be the Automatgevar m/42 (AG m/42), a self-loading combat rifle of good quality. The m/42 is noted for its unique direct gas system which went on to see use in the successful line of Armalite AR-10 and AR-15 automatic rifle series by American Eugene Stoner.
Design work on the type began by Erik Eklund in 1941 and led to its rather quick adoption in 1942. Production of the 30,000 recorded units was handled by Carl Gustafs Stads Gevarsfaktori. The rifle weighed in at 4.71 kilograms unloaded and featured a running length of 1,214mm with a barrel 622mm long. The rifle was chambered for the rimless, bottlenecked 6.5x55mm cartridge of joint Swedish/Norwegian design and originating in 1894. The weapon sported a long wholly wooden rifle-style body complete with integrated grip and shoulder stock. There was one barrel band and the metal receiver was embedded into the wood. The trigger lay in an oblong ring underslung ahead of the hand grip. Curved, 10-round box magazines were inserted into a well some distance ahead of the trigger group though the rifle also supported 5-round "stripper" clips loaded from the top of the receiver. The forward portion of the gun was completed covered by the wood forend with only a short section of barrel exposed. Sights were iron and included a forward and rear iron fitting. A bayonet could be affixed to the forward end of the weapon in traditional fashion. The action relied on a conventional gas-operation (direct impingement) with a tilting breech block.
Initial operator of the AG m/42 was the Swedish Army though their appearance proved limiting to the extent that the standardized 1896 Mauser bolt-action service rifles were never fully supplanted in service. The weapon was in broader circulation by the end of the war and even issued to Norwegian security forces by the time of the German collapse in 1945.
From the span of 1953 to 1956, the rifle was upgraded to the AG m/42B standard in an effort to address some deficiencies in the original design - no doubt owed to its quick acceptance into service. The rear sight was modified to include a new elevation handle and a cartridge deflector was added. The magazines were completely reworked for the better and a new stainless steel gas tube was instituted. The changes made for a better end-product that ensured operational service into the near future. In this form, AG m/42B rifles managed an existence with the Swedish Army into the middle of the 1960s before be outright replaced by the all-modern and excellent German Heckler & Koch G3 Battle Rifle series (as the "AK 4" in the Swedish inventory).
The AG m/42 was in limited use with Denmark (local production by Madsen - Dansk Industri Syndikat), Egypt and Iraq (after 1975). AG m/42 tooling equipment was eventually brought to Egypt where the type was produced as the "Hakim" in its 8.57mm Mauser form. Beyond that, its reach was rather contained when compared to other offerings of the day. The age of the semi-automatic, self-loading rifle had finally given way to the more automatic-minded designs coming online.