The Swedes Got Their Hands on Some Browning Automatic Rifles
The BAR became the KulspruteGevär m/1921
In 1920 the Swedish army purchased 700 Browning Automatic Rifles from Colt. This was before Fabrique Nationale acquired the European manufacturing rights.
These weapons differed from the original M1918 pattern as they chambered Sweden’s 6.5-by-55-millimeter cartridge. They also had a detachable pistol grip and a bipod — something the original M1918 lacked.
The Swedish army adopted the light machine gun as the Kulsprutegevär m/1921 in 1921. Indigenous production began in 1923 at Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori. The m/21 retained the BAR’s 20-round magazine but, owing to the 6.5-millimeter cartridge case’s shape, Carl Gustaf traded the straight box magazine for a curved one.
The m/21 had checkering on both the foregrip and the butt and, unlike the BAR, had a front sight hood. The rear sights were marked in meters rather than yards. The m/21 weighed approximately the same as a later M1918A2 did — 19.6 pounds.
While the m/21 was a well-made, reliable weapon that was very controllable in fully automatic fire, it suffered the same drawbacks that the M1918 did. Its fixed, relatively thin barrel prevented it from sustaining prolonged fire.
In the mid-1930s, Carl Gustaf began developing an improved version of the m/21 with a quick-change barrel system. The m/37 removed the m/21’s large foregrip and added a folding carrying handle. This brought Sweden’s BARs in line with contemporary designs and the m/37 became the Swedish army’s primary support weapon until the late 1950s.
Photograph evidence suggests that the m/21 saw some action during the Soviet-Finnish Continuation War from 1941 to ’44. Sources suggest Finland, desperate for small arms, purchased 130 m/21s from Sweden in early 1940.
The photograph at top depicts a Finnish light machine gun team, part of Finland’s coastal infantry, on an exercise in the Turku islands in July 1941. The m/21 is unloaded and the gunner seems to have his eye very close to the rear sight.
The photograph above shows a platoon of men from a Swedish volunteer battalion that fought for Finland during the Continuation War. Some of the volunteers are armed with captured Soviet PPD submachine guns and two men have Swedish m/21 light machine guns.
Carl Gustav produced approximately 7,500 m/21s. Production of the m/37 continued until 1949, when 15,400 had been manufactured. The m/21 and m/37 remained in front-line service until the 1950s when the Swedish army adopted the FN MAG as the Ksp 58.
The m/21 and m/37 remained in limited service with artillery and reserve units until the early 1970s.