|This weapon, known as a worlds first assault rifle, was developed in Hitlers' Germany during the World War Two. Initial development took place under the designation of MKb.42 - MachinenKarabine, 1942. The experimental MKb's were developed by two german companies, Karl Walther (MKb.42(W)) and C.G.Haenel (MKb.42(H)). Both guns were intended as a replacement for submachine guns, bolt action rifles and, partly, light machineguns for front troops. Both guns were designed to fire intermediate (between rifle and pistol) cartridge, and have effective range of 600 meters or so. The 7.92mm Kurz cartridge, developed by Polte company, propelled 8.1 g (125 grains) bullet to rougly 680 meters per second.
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After initial trials the MKb.42(H), designed by Hugo Schmeisser, was found superior of two, and further development took place under the name of MP-43 (MachinenPistole, 1943, to avoid Hitlers opposition to made anything but SMGs). Some MP-43s were issued to troops at western front, and field reports were very promising. Final version appeared under the designation of Mp-44, and then Hitler finally approved it, but the new gun received also a new designation - SturmGevehr-44, which stands for no more than "Assult Rifle" in german language. This was pure act of propaganda, but the name stuck not only to that gun, but to the whole new class of automatic weapons, designed to fire intermediate cartridges. Total number of MP-43s, MP-44s and StG.44s produced was about 500 000, and these guns proved itself as wery effective, but not withouth some flaws. After end of the war the direct development of the Stg.44 was stopped, but some remained guns were used by East Germany.
The StG.44 is a gas operated, selective fire weapon. The receiver and trigger housing with pistol grip are made from steel stampings. Trigger housing with pistol grip is hinged to the receiver and folds town for disassembly. Gas drive utilises long piston stroke, and bolt is tipped down to lock into the receiver. Gun is fired from the closed bolt (unlike the early Mkb.42(H) which fired from the open bolt). Also, MP-43 and further versions all were hammer-fired, while MKb.42(H) was striker-fired. Charging handle is attached to the gas piston rod, ejection port has a dust cover. Recoil spring is located inside the wooden butt. Handguard were made of stamping.
By the modern standards, the StG.44 was too heavy, it was not too comfortable to fire from prone positions, the butt attachment was not too strong and could be easily damaged in hands-to-hands combat, but it was the FIRST gun of its class, and it was more effective than SMG.
Haenel & Co OR Ermawerke
Gas operated, tilting bolt
7.92 x 33 mm (7.92 mm Kurz)
4 grooves, rh
Rate of fire:
Manual safty catch on left side of receiver, above the pistol grip. Up for safe, down for fire. There is also a push-button, just behind and above the safety catch, which selects single shots or automatic fire.