Rheinmetall MG3
Country of origin



Rheinmetall and various other manufacturers including Beretta, MKEK and General Dynamics


Werner Gruner

Year(s) designed


Production began


Weapon type

General purpose machine gun


7.62×51mm NATO


Roller-locked recoil operation

Overall length
  • With stock: 48.2 inches (122 centimetres)
  • Without stock: 43.2 inches (110 centimetres)
Barrel length

22.2 inches (56 centimetres)

  • Gun: 23.15 pounds (10.50 kilograms)
  • Gun with tripod: 61 pounds (28 kilograms)
Magazine/Cylinder capacity

50-round non-disintegrating DM1 belt
100-round disintegrating DM6/M13 belt

Cyclic rate

1000 – 1300 RPM

Effective range

1,200 metres (3,900 feet; 1,300 yards) maximum

Maximum effective range

600 metres (2,000 feet; 660 yards) (bipod)
1,200 metres (3,900 feet; 1,300 yards) (tripod, mounted)
3,000 metres (9,800 feet; 3,300 yards) (gun carriage)
3,750 metres (12,300 feet; 4,100 yards) (terminal)

Muzzle velocity

820 metres per second (2,700 feet per second)

The MG3 (short for Maschinengewehr 3, meaning "Machine Gun 3") is a modernized version of the MG 42 general purpose machine gun. It was manufactured by Rheinmetall GmbH for the West German Bundeswehr after that nation's rearmament in the 1950's. The MG3 was used universally by the German federal armed forces and was widely exported and made under license by several nations. The MG3 is chambered for the NATO standard 7.62×51mm NATO (.308) round. In contrast, the MG42 used the 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridge in German service since 1905.

The MG3 is a recoil-operated, crew-served, air-cooled machine gun that can be fired from an integral bipod or, for fixed use, on the Feldlafette buffered tripod or a pintle. It fires only in full-auto and is fed from the left by a disintegrating-link belt. It has been replaced in German service as the squad automatic weapon by the 5.56×45mm MG4, but retains its place as a section machine gun and vehicle-mounted weapon.

At first glance, it is commonly confused with the MG42 from which it was developed. Both weapons look alike and function identically, thus many parts are interchangeable. The MG3 retains the very fast cyclic rate-of-fire (1000+ rds/min) and quick barrel change feature of its predecessor and is, likewise, made almost entirely of sheet steel pressings and stampings.

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