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A semiautomatic MP44? Yes, and Kokalis says it's well worth the price if you've always lusted after a Sturmgewehr. Numbers are limited so get out the checkbook!

Interest in World War II-era German small arms and militaria has never waned, not for an instant. It does not appear that the value of these items will ever stabilize. There is no end in sight.

Scare variants of the K98k bolt-action rifle, if they have matching serial numbers, have stocks that have not been sanded, and are in excellent collector-grade condition, command prices up to and beyond $5,000. Authenticated (many are totally counterfeit) K98k sniper rifles sell for $10,000 and more.

But the most fascinating and desirable of all the Wehrmacht rifles to collectors, reenactors and shooters is, without doubt, the MP43/MP44/StG44 Sturmgewehr. Although it was entirely too little and too late to affect the outcome of World War II, its conceptual effect on subsequent ground warfare has been staggering.

The problems with regard to its private ownership have always been that it's relatively rare and that as a function of its full-auto capability, it is subject to restrictions and a substantial amount of paperwork that some do not qualify for, perhaps because of the state in which they live, or will not personally tolerate. Further, they are expensive, as transferable specimens of the selective-fire Sturmgewehr, in excellent condition, now sell for $15,000 to $25,000.

A semiautomatic-only MP43/MP44/StG44 Sturmgewehr has been in the rumor mills for several years. And, in truth, the original importer was to be I.O., Inc. in North Carolina. They terminated their participation in this project and the total quantity manufactured were imported by PTR 91, Inc. in Connecticut for Recon Ordnance Company (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 829, Fond du Lac, WI 54936; phone: 920-922-1515; fax: 920-922-0737). A total of 200 semiautomatic-only Sturmgewehr were manufactured in Germany.

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They are externally very precise duplicates of the original, as I very carefully compared the one sent to SHOTGUN NEWS for test and evaluation with the transferable, selective-fire MP44 in my personal collection. Each rifle is gone over and fine-tuned by John Andrewski, the son of the well known and highly respected Class 3 armorer, Stan Andrewski.

Then, several hundred rounds are test fired to make sure that the rifle operates and functions perfectly. Packaged with two newly made 30-round magazines that are also exact duplicates of the original and correctly marked "MP44" on the left side of the body, the semiautomatic MP43/MP44/StG44 Sturmgewehr sells for $4,995. About half are already sold. No more will ever be made.

Let me repeat, this is it, no more than 200 semiautomatic-only Sturmgewehr will ever be produced. I have purchased the rifle sent to SHOTGUN NEWS for test and evaluation, as it represents an opportunity that will never again be repeated. Let me provide a different perspective: there are actually more selective-fire Sturmgewehr registered on the National Firearms Act (NFA) logbook than there are, or ever will be, of their new semiautomatic-only equivalents.

The MP43/MP44/StG44 and the new semiautomatic-only Sturmgewehr are gas-operated and fire from the closed bolt position. The cyclic rate of the selective-fire World-War-II-era rifles in this series is approximately 500 rpm.

After the projectile passes the gas port in the barrel (6.75 inches back of the muzzle), propellant gases move through the vent and strike the head of the piston. After a short amount of free travel (.4375"), the bolt carrier's distinctive hook (or claw cam) engages a matching cam on the bolt body and pulls it rearward and then lifts it up and out of a locking shoulder in the receiver.

As the piston and bolt continue rearward, the empty case is extracted and ejected and the hammer is re-cocked. The rearward movement compresses the recoil spring, which is partially housed in the flat-sided buttstock.

When it has been fully compressed, the recoil spring forces the piston and bolt forward and the breech face strips a loaded round from the magazine and chambers it. When the bolt reaches its battery position, the piston continues forward another .4375", camming the rear end of the bolt body down against the locking shoulder.

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The retracting handle is on the left side and reciprocates with the bolt group in a slot in the left side of the sheet metal receiver body. The ejection port, located on the right side of the receiver, has a spring-loaded dust cover that flies open when the bolt group starts to travel rearward.

The Sturmgewehr weighs 11.51 pounds (5.22kg), empty. The overall length is 37.0 inches (940mm). The barrel length is 16.5 inches (419mm). The four-groove barrel features a right-hand twist.

A lever on the left side of the trigger group is rotated down to fire and up to block the trigger and place the rifle on safe. The selector is a crossbolt located to the rear of the trigger group. It is completely inoperative on the semiautomatic-only Sturmgewehr and is present only for cosmetic purposes.

On the selective-fire Sturmgewehr, pressing the cross-bolt all the way to the left exposes an "E" on top of the bolt for Einzelfeuer ("single", or semiautomatic fire). Pushing the crossbolt all the way to the right exposes a "D" for Dauerfeuer and produces full-auto fire. On the semiautomatic-only variant the selector crossbolt is frozen to the left, exposing only the "E".

The semiautomatic-only MP44 from Recon Ordnance Company has been specifically designed so that it cannot be converted to full-auto configuration, nor can original selective-fire components be installed. The full-auto MP44 bolt body has a lobe at the rear end on its underside that activates the sear trip when the bolt travels forward in counter-recoil.

This lobe is missing on the semiautomatic-only bolt body and furthermore, the full-auto bolt body cannot be installed in the new receiver. The left side of the full auto bolt carrier is machined so that it will clear the sear trip for full-auto operation. This cutout is missing on the semiautomatic-only bolt carrier. The semiautomatic-only bolt body and piston are serial numbered to the Recon Ordnance receiver.

In selective-fire operation, a lever at the rear end of the sear trip, which engages a rectangular notch in the front face of the crossbolt selector, moves to the right, under the secondary sear when the crossbolt is pushed to the right for Dauerfeuer, allowing full-auto fire. This lever is missing on the semiautomatic-only variant.

Both the selective-fire and semiautomatic-only versions have a safety sear on the right side of the trigger mechanism that is rotated forward by the bolt carrier to permit release of the hammer, which in turn rotates forward to strike against the free-floating, non-spring-loaded, triangular firing pin.

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In conformance with Federal statute 922(r), the following components of the Recon Ordnance MP44 were manufactured in the United States: buttstock, grip panels, hammer, disconnector, trigger, magazine follower and magazine floorplate.

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Because of the stock design, the sights are high profile. The rear sight is attached to a sheet metal base riveted to the top of the receiver. It's a tangent type with an open V-notch, and can be adjusted for elevation only in 100-meter increments from 100 to 800 meters.

Here we see a cosmetic difference between the World-War-II-era selective-fire Sturmgewehr and the new semiautomatic-only version. The face of the elevation scale on World War II Sturmgewehr rifles is in the white. It has been blued on the new semiautomatic-only variant. During World War II, attempts to add 50-meter increments to the rear sight were never implemented.

The front sight, attached to a forged base, which is pinned to the barrel directly in back of the muzzle nut, is a blade exactly like that of the K98k, and equipped with a muzzle thread protector. It can be adjusted for windage zero.

The 30-round magazine is a two-position-feed, staggered-column, detachable box. Initially, there were problems with the follower spring's compression strength and soldiers were finally instructed to load only 25 rounds.

The Recon Ordnance instruction manual cautions users to load only 20 rounds, but test and evaluation demonstrated that the two magazines provided function flawlessly when loaded to 30 rounds. There is no hold-open mechanism on the Sturmgewehr series, and the bolt group will travel forward after the last round in the magazine has been fired.

The round, spring-loaded magazine catch/release button, positioned on the left side at the rear of the magazine well, has a series of concentric serrations. The magazine well is flared outward at the front end to ease the insertion of magazines. Ammunition was provided in five-round stripper clips, three to a box and a loading tool was available. The Sturmgewehr was issued with six magazines in two three-cell pouches.

A linen bag stored in a butt trap compartment in the top of the buttstock contained the magazine loading tool, gas plug tool, pull-through bore brush, disposable muzzle caps, a small instruction manual, and spare parts consisting of a firing pin, extractor, extractor coil spring and extractor retaining pin.

Starting in mid-1944, the buttstock was reduced in size to accommodate the rifle holders in German military vehicles. The buttstocks were mostly of solid wood, although laminated types have been observed. There are protective sheet metal caps wrapped around the top and bottom of the buttstock at the rear. Horizontal gripping serrations were cut into the rear of the buttstock.

The sling is attached to the left side in the same manner as the K98k's. The front sling swivel is attached to the gas port forging. There is a slot through the buttstock and although it has been cut out to accept a sling designed specifically for the Sturmgewehr, I have never observed anything other than K98k slings attached to these weapons.

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A Brief History of the Sturmgewehr

From a strict historical perspective, the German World-War-II-era MKb42/MP43/MP44/StG44 rifles were not the world's first assault rifles. That distinction rightfully belongs to the Russian Fedorov Avtomat, designed by Vladimir Fedorov, who began work on his rifle in 1908. Tsar Nicholas II was opposed to automatic weapons, believing they wasted ammunition.

However, about 3,000 of the Fedorov Avtomat were produced. It had a 25-round box-type magazine, was chambered for the 6.5x50SR Japanese Arisaka cartridge and had a cyclic rate of approximately 400 rpm. It saw service in the War of the Revolution, but was not successful.

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Thus it can be relegated to footnote status, along with the Model 1936 Simonov rifle (AVS-36), which was capable of full-auto fire and of which 65,800 were produced. However, the AVS-36 was chambered for the standard Russian 7.62x54R service rifle cartridge, not an intermediate-size round.

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Germany's search for the Sturmgewehr, the world's first mass-produced assault rifle was lengthy and convoluted. During World War I, the Germans had determined that the historical role of the infantry rifle had been mostly taken over by the ascendancy of the machine gun. Very rarely did soldiers engage targets at more than 400 meters with their rifles.

It appeared then, that the 7.92x57mm cartridge was unnecessarily powerful. In addition, the Gewehr 98 rifle had many deficiencies. The rifle was cumbersome, considerable strength was required to chamber a round, and the magazine capacity was only five.

What was needed was a rifle capable of a high rate of fire and a smaller cartridge with an effective range no greater than 800 meters. By 1923, the Inspektion der In-fanterie produced a memorandum actually describing the attributes of the eventual Sturmgewehr.

During the 1920s and 1930s, a substantial number of designers and firms developed a wide range of prototypes. Some companies produced rifles chambered for the 7.92x57mm cartridge, while others focused on developing smaller, intermediate-size cartridges.

By 1940, Haenel had designed a rifle with a new locking system and the company of Merz-Werke in Frankfurt had developed a sheet metal receiver using this system. By 1941, Haenel had received an order for 50 of this prototype for testing.

Meanwhile, Walther in Zella-Mehlis, which started experimenting with self-loading rifles in the late 1930s, heard about the new project and subsequently received an order from the Waffenamt for 200 samples. Although Hitler disapproved, 25 samples of the Haenel design were sent to the Infantry School in Doberitz for testing.

Overall, the Infantry School was enthusiastic' over the so-called Maschinenkarabiner concept, albeit with grave reservations about its execution. Most importantly, the accuracy potential was unacceptable, as the rifles fired from the open-bolt position.

After modifications, the Haenel and Walther entries were proposed for large-scale troop trials. Hitler remained opposed and ordered trials of self-loading, selective-fire rifles chambered for the standard 7.92x57mm service round. The Wehrmacht continued to chart its own course.

The Haenel design was favored, while the Walther entry was considered to be too complicated and unreliable. In order to deceive Hitler, the improved MKb42 was renamed Maschinenpistole 43 ("Machine Pistol"--submachine gun 1943). Hitler remained adamantly opposed, and pressed for adoption of the semiautomatic G43 in caliber 7.92x57mm. The Wehrmacht continued to ignore Hitler and 2,000 MKb42 assault rifles, firing from the open-bolt position, were sent to the front at Army Group North.

By the first of October 1943, Hitler, fueled by optimistic reports of its deployment at the front, finally gave his approval to the production of the MP43 as a replacement of the MP40 submachine gun. However, there were already serious shortages of 7.92x33mm ammunition. Further, the Wehrmacht wanted to replace the K98k bolt-action rifle with the MP43 as well.

By the beginning of 1944, the name was again changed for unknown reasons to MP44. As the MP44 at that time lacked both a rifle grenade launcher and suitable optical sight, the K98k could not be completely withdrawn from service. In general, the troops, with only minor criticisms, were very enthusiastic about the MP44.

But, there was still one problem that was to dog the MP44 right to the end of the war: insufficient ammunition. In his book, In Deadly Combat--A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front, Gottlob Herbert Bidermann states, "Our latest assault rifles, newly developed and distributed in the final months of the war, were sometimes rendered useless when the initial allocation of intermediate-sized ammunition was expended."

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Wherever possible, stamped sheet metal was used to fabricate the Sturmgewehr. There were four firms that assembled the weapons and at least four dozen subcontractors supplied components during World War II. It has been estimated that no more than 424,000 were produced. In comparison, it has been estimated that more than 14 million K98k bolt-action rifles were manufactured in Germany during the war.

The four Sturmgewehr manufacturers were C.G Haenel Waffen- u. Fahrrad-Fabrik in Suhl (manufacturer's code "fxo") which assembled 185,000; Erma (code "qlv") responsible for 104,000; Steyr-Daimler-Puch A.-G., Werk Steyr, Austria (code "bnz") which made 80,000; and J.P. Sauer & Sohn, Gewehrfabrik, Suhl (code "ce") which assembled 55,000.

Except for those assembled by Steyr, . most Sturmgewehr receivers apparently were fabricated by Merz-Werke (code "cos") in Frankfurt. Because there were four principal manufacturers (or probably more accurately, "assemblers"), dozens of subcontractors, the German industrial machine was imploding and the Allied Forces were approaching ever closer to the German borders, it's not at all surprising that the Sturmgewehr, especially the last variants, exhibited a mixture of finishes.

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Originally entirely salt blued, some were partially or completely phosphated and at the very end some rifles were provided with only a clear lacquer-like coating. I once owned an StG44 that was completely phosphated (the Germans usually referred to zinc phosphating as "bonderizing").

My current selective-fire MP44 is several different shades of salt blue. The Recon Ordnance MP44 has a modern black oxide finish that closely approximates German World War II-era salt bluing.

ZF4 Scope and the Recon Ordnance MP44

All MKb42 (H) rifles were equipped with scope rails. However, the MKb42 fired from the open bolt position and thus lacked the inherent accuracy required for satisfactory performance with an optical sight. Further, the ZF41 scope available in November 1942 for trials was a dreadful piece of optics with only 1.5X magnification and very long eye relief of about 30 centimeters.

Most of the early MP43 rifles were given the designation "MP43/1." While this nomenclature remains somewhat of an enigma, many authorities now feel that this designation arose when barrels already available that were supposed to be for the MKb42 were installed on early MP43 rifles. When these barrels were used up, the designation reverted back to MP43. Many of the MP43/1 Sturmgewehr had provision for mounting a scope--a holdover feature from the MKb42.

In the early years of the war, most of the scopes procured for the Wehrmacht, mainly for installation on K98k sniper rifles, were obtained from commercial sources, including confiscated civilian hunting rifles. Eventually, in parallel to the development of the semiautomatic 7.92x57mm G43 rifle, the Waffenamt pushed to develop an optical sight specifically designed for military applications.

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In the spring of 1943, the optical firm of Voigtlander und Sohn (manufacturer's code "ddx") in Braunschweig offered the Wehrmacht Germany's first attempt at a series production military small arms optical sight--the Gewehr Zielfernrohr 4-fach (Rifle Telescope 4 power, or ZF4). As indicated, the magnification of this optical sight was supposedly 4X.

It was closely based on the Soviet PU scopes used on the Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 sniper rifles, with which the Germans were justifiably impressed. However, subsequent testing after the war revealed the ZF4 scope's magnification to be only 2.64X. Unlike the Soviet PU scopes, the ZF4 body was fabricated from one piece of extruded and die-formed sheet metal. This totally eliminated the requirement for expensive drawing, turning and machining operations.

This was quite revolutionary at the time and was exceptionally cost-effective, yielding an optical sight that could be utilized on a fairly substantial range of small arms. The "ddx" ZF4 scope came equipped with a rubber eyecup and lens protection consisting of a leather objective cap connected by a leather strap to ocular protection in the form of a peculiar wooden stopper plug--all of which are today considerably more difficult to locate than even the scope itself.

ZF4 production commenced at the Opticotechna GmbH factory (manufacturer's code "dow") in Prerov, Czechoslovakia in 1944. Many of these ZF4 scopes never made it to Germany before the war ended, and a substantial number were either captured within Czechoslovakia or assembled after the war from leftover and perhaps newly-manufactured parts by the communists then controlling the country. Some of these were turned into counterfeit ZF4 scopes for installation on G43/K43 rifles by collectors.

The ZF4 reticle pattern consists of a single pointed or blunt post at 6 o'clock in the field of view and a horizontal bar on each side of the vertical post. Windage and elevation can be adjusted by drums located on the right and top of the scope body, respectively. Elevation adjustment is in 50-meter increments from 100 to 800 meters.

The lever-operated quick-release mount for attaching the ZF4 scope to the G43/K43 was developed and produced by Hermann Weihrauch Gewehr und Fahrrad Tellefabrik in Zella-Mehlis, close to the Walther factory. These mounts have also been counterfeited.

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In October 1943, the MP43 was tested in comparison with the G43 rifle using the relatively new ZF4 scope developed for the G43. The tests were decidedly unsuccessful. After 30 rounds were fired in the full-auto mode, the ZF4 scope self-destructed. Subsequently, five shots fired in the semiautomatic mode did not even impact on the target. Further tests in September 1944 were also unsatisfactory. There might have eventually been a solution, but the war ended before it could be found.

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The Recon Ordnance semiautomatic-only Sturmgewehr comes equipped with a scope rail, punch-welded to the right side of the receiver, aft of the ejection port (which like the selective-fire original has a spring-loaded dust cover). This rail is designed to accept a ZF4-type scope and Recon Ordnance Company is importing ZF4-type scopes from Opticotechna.

Disassembly procedures

The Sturmgewehr series is relatively easy to disassemble. Remove the magazine and clear the weapon. Pull the spring-loaded stock retaining pin out of the side of the sheet metal stock extension and withdraw the stock from the receiver. Pull back on the trigger and rotate the hinged trigger group down on its axis pin.

Pull the bolt handle to the rear, withdrawing the bolt, piston and recoil spring out the rear of the receiver. Separate the bolt body from the piston's extension (bolt carrier). The firing pin, extractor, extractor spring and the extractor's retaining pin are easily removed from the bolt body.

To remove the gas cylinder plug, insert the gas plug tool through the hole in the gas cap and unscrew it. This same tool is used to pry off the sheet metal bottom handguard. After cleaning and lubrication (do not use lubricants on the gas system) reassemble in the reverse order. The spring-loaded stock retaining pin, which was subsequently used on the CETME and Heckler & Koch G3 rifles, should be inserted from the left side for right-handed personnel.

Sturmgewehr Accessories and Oddities

There were all manner of accessories proposed for the Sturmgewehr, most of which never got past the experimental stage, but should you be fortunate to locate any of them, they could most certainly be employed on the Recon Ordnance Company's semiautomatic-only MP44.

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Unfortunately, most of the examples of these sometimes odd devices exist today only in museums. Most fascinating of all were the two different curved barrel devices.

The Vorsatz J had a 30[degrees] curve and was intended to be deployed from trenches and around corners by infantry personnel. The Vorsatz Pz (Panzer) had a 90[degrees] curve and was designed for use in tanks and armored fighting vehicles. The first curved barrel devices were made for the MG34 machine gun and the 7.92x57mm cartridge. They were tested in 1943 and self-destructed in less 100 rounds, as the cartridge was too powerful.

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In July 1944, an MP44 with a 90[degrees] curved barrel was demonstrated with excellent results. All single shots fired at 100 meters impacted within a 30-centimeter square. The barrel was estimated to have a service life of 2,000 rounds. In October 1944 six 30[degrees] barrels with two sets of three different types of aiming devices were sent to the Infantry School Doberitz for further testing.

By November it was reported that none of the various combinations were satisfactory. Barrels with 30[degrees] and 45[degrees] curves were tested again in December with poor results again. Ultimately, the manufacturer, Rheinmetall, made only 100 devices. The war ended prior to completion of the curved barrel project.

Another accessory, designed to permit the Sturmgewehr to be fired from complete cover, was the Deck-ungszielgerat 45. This bizarre device consisted of a holder to which the weapon was retained with two metal clips. In addition, there was an extra metal stock with wooden grip, a trigger transfer mechanism and two mirrors, placed at 45[degrees] to the bore's axis. It was never fielded in combat and probably less that 20 pieces were ever made.

The search for a grenade launcher was only slightly more successful. It was eventually decided to use the Gewehrgranatgerat for the K98k. For that reason, by August 1943 the MP43 barrel was stepped. As the MP43 was gas-operated, blank cartridges had to be developed for launching grenades.

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Further, the gas plug had to be altered to turn the rifle into a single-shot weapon. A so-called Bergmann sight developed for grenade launching proved to provide accurate fire out to only 300 meters. Successful tests were conducted in April 1945. One month later, the war was over.

Early in its development a BFA (blank firing device) was developed for the MP43/MP44, and for this reason the muzzles were threaded and protected by a thread protector, which is present on the Recon Ordnance Company's semiautomatic-only MP44. These threads were eliminated during cost-saving efforts, and then later reinstated. However, I have never encountered blank ammunition of any caliber on any battlefield. The need for ball ammunition was far more dire and satisfactory blank ammunition was never really developed.

A sound suppressor (schalldampfer) was designed for the MP44. However, it required subsonic ammunition and manufacture of 7.92x33mm cartridge types other than ball was forbidden by the autumn of 1944.

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A most interesting development was the infrared night-vision sight (Bildwandler-Zielgerat) developed for the MP44. Codenamed Vampir (Vampire), the device consisted of two components: the power supply unit, which comprised a voltage intensifier inside a gas mask canister and a battery pack stored inside a wooden chest, and the sighting system itself, comprising an infrared transmitting lamp mounted on top of a receiving telescope.

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It provided a brilliant image with excellent contrast and moving soldiers could be discerned at distances of more than 70 meters. At least 200 were manufactured. Experimental muzzle brakes and flash suppressors were also developed.

History of the 7.92x33mm Kurz Cartridge

The history of the 7.92x33mm (aka Pistolenpatrone 43) cartridge is every bit as confusing and shrouded in mystery as the rifle for which it was developed. Describing the 7.92x33mm is easy enough. German World-War-II-era ammunition has a bottlenecked lacquered steel case, which usually carries a blue primer annulus and is Berdan primed with zinc-coated, non-corrosive steel primer cups (designated as Zdh 30/40).

Originally, two primer holes were drilled on either side of the integral anvil. By 1944, this was simplified to a single offset primer hole. The case length is 33.00mm and the overall length of the loaded round is 48.00mm. Overall weight of the cartridge is 262.4 grains, nominal.

Although the bullet changed over time, it was most often boattailed with a mild steel core inside a steel jacket coated with gilding metal, a type of fabrication that yielded slight armor-piercing properties. Weighing about 125 grains with a diameter of 8.23mm and length of 26mm, the projectile left the Sturmgewehr's muzzle at about 2264 fps. The propellant charge weight is 24.22 grains, nominal, of nitrocellulose tubular powder.

Most of the ammunition was manufactured at Polte Werke, Magdeburg (manufacturer's code "aux"). However it was also produced by at least nine other munitions works to greater or lesser extent. I have three original crates (over 3,000 rounds) of 7.92x33mm ammunition in German battle packs with the lacquered steel cartridge cases carrying the headstamp, "hla St 15 44", indicating manufacture by Metallwarenfabrik Treuen-brietzen GmbH, Selterhof, Germany in 1944.

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This ammunition was sent to Argentina in early 1945 together with a quantity of MP43/MP44/StG44 rifles via submarine and then subsequently found their way to the United States by unknown means. The rifles, never registered, were sold as parts kits and the receivers destroyed.

But, where did the 7.92x33mm cartridge originally come from? There is no doubt that the Swiss experimented with intermediate-size cartridges as early as the end of the 19th century. However, there can equally be no doubt that Germany first took the intermediate-size cartridge concept and actually put it on the battlefield.

It was Germany's military theoreticians who first realized, as a consequence of their experience during World War I, that' in future wars the infantry rifle would be deployed at short and medium distances and in brief firefights demanding the highest possible concentration of firepower. This was not possible with the conventional rifle of that era firing the standard 7.92x57mm service round.

Polte of Magdeburg developed a 7x45mm round before World War II. But the Waffen Amt wanted a cartridge that could be produced with as much of the pre-existing machinery and gauges as possible. Polte's earliest known drawing of the 7.92x33mm round dates from 5 July 1939. It retained the 11.95mm rim diameter and extraction groove of the 7.92x57mm service cartridge.

On 8 September 1939, Polte was instructed to develop a spitzer-type bullet with an iron core for what was then designated as the Pistolenpatrone 7,9. The first attempts were totally unacceptable. But, the almost simultaneous commencement of the war forced attention upon the increased production of 7.92x57mm ammunition.

By the end of December 1941, it had been decided to manufacture the 7.92x33mm Kurz case out of steel. Polte received the first series production order to produce 10 million rounds on 12 February 1942. Production shortages plagued the entire Sturmgewehr program until the very end of the war. Germany's 7.92x33mm cartridge was every bit as innovative and brilliant as the rifle for which it was chambered.

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After World War II, the Nationale Volksarmee and Ministry of Interior of the government of East Germany fielded a number of small arms of the German Wehrmacht, including the P.08 Luger and Walther P.38 pistols and the MP43/MP44/StG44 Sturmgewehr.

I have approximately 1,000 rounds of East German caliber 7.92x33mm ammunition, with lacquered steel cases that are headstamped, "04 61", which probably means manufacture at Polte Werke, Magdeburg in 1961. This ammunition duplicates in every characteristic the ammunition made in this caliber at that factory during the war.

Until quite recently, it has been difficult to locate 7.92x33mm ammunition for use in the numerous Sturmgewehr registered as title II selective-fire machine guns.

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Then, about four years ago, using Boxer-primed brass cases made by Prvi Partizan in Serbia and a quantity of original ammunition supplied by me, Hornady Manufacturing Company (Dept. SGN, 3625 West Old Potash Hwy, Grand Island, NE 68803; phone: 800-338-3220; fax: 308-382-5761; website: www.hornady.com) developed and manufactured a substantial quantity of 7.92x33mm ammunition.

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Hornady's 7.92x33mm Kurz round features a 125-grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2266 fps. This is almost identical to that of the original German round, except for the hollow-point configuration. It operates flawlessly in my selective-fire MP44 and the new semiautomatic-only StG44. Unfortunately, it's no longer listed on Hornady's website and I have no indication they plan to produce any more anytime within the foreseeable future.

However, 7.92x33mm ammunition manufactured by Prvi Partizan (PPU) in Uzice, Serbia is currently being imported by TR&Z USA Trading Corporation, Inc. (Dept. SGN, 2499 Main Street, Stratford, CT 06517; phone: 203-375-8544; fax: 203-375-8547; e-mail: info@ppu-usa.com; website: www.ppu-usa.com), which is the exclusive importer in North America for PPU ammunition in all available calibers.

Loaded in Boxer-primed, brass cases and both non-corrosive and easily reloadable, this ammunition (catalog number PP7.8) features a 124-grain, FMJ projectile with a muzzle velocity of 2250 fps. Prvi Partizan, established in 1928, employs more than 1,000 skilled workers and has a well-deserved reputation for small arms ammunition of the highest quality.

Prices for this PPU 7.92x33mm ammunition range from $11.50 to $13.99 per box of 20 cartridges (58-70cents a round). While this is not inexpensive, it must be remembered that these are Boxer-primed, brass cases that can be reloaded many times.

I recently found that Cole Distributing, Box 247, Dept. SGN, Scottsville KY 42164 (270) 622-3569 is offering Boxer-primed, brass-cased ammo at $12.50 for 20 rounds. This is marked "FNM," designating the Portuguese national armory at Chelas, but actually was made at Prvi Partizan. One can only speculate on the reason for the bogus markings.

ON THE COVER

Always wanted a Sturmgewehr but can't come up with the five-figure price? Recon Ordnance answers your prayer with the semi-auto PTR44. It's a limited edition and isn't cheap, but closely duplicates the original. Photo by Mike Anschuetz.

REQUIRED READING

John A. Baum (Dept. SGN, 5678 State Route 454, Lisbon, Ohio 44432; website: www.GermanManuals.com) has painstakingly and precisely translated 95 German manuals about rifles, pistols, machine guns and accessories, covering topics ranging from the World-War-1 Maxim '08 water-cooled machine gun through the German small arms of World War II and shortly thereafter. Three of them pertain specifically to the Sturmgewehr: MP43/1 Operator's Manual, from 31 August 1943 for $8; MP44 Operator's Manual, dated 1950 and intended for the German People's Police of East Germany for $15; and MP44 Buttstock Manual, English or German for only $3. All three of these manuals are absolutely mandatory for those who own an MP43/MP44/StG44 Sturmgewehr, whether it be a selective-fire version from World War II or the Recon Ordnance Company's semiautomatic-only MP44.

RECOMMENDED READING

The World's Assault Rifles.

By Gary Paul Johnston and Thomas B. Nelson. Published by Ironside International Publishers, Inc., Dept. 66. P.O. Box 1050, Lorton, VA 22199-1050; phone: 703-493-9120; fax: 703-493-9424; website: www.ironsidepublishers.com; e-mail: info@ironsidepub.com. Copyright 2010. ISBN 9780935554007. 1,228 pages, 2,000 illustrations. $69.95.

The MKb 42, MP43, MP44 and the Sturmgewehr 44,

Propaganda Photo Series, Volume IV. By G. de Vries and B.J. Martens. Distributed by Ironside International Publishers, Inc., Dept. 66. P.O. Box 1050, Lorton, VA 22199-1050; phone: 703-493-9120; fax: 703-493-9424; website: www.ironsidepublishers.com; e-mail: info@ironsidepub.com. Copyright 2003. ISBN 90-805583-6-2. 152 pages with numerous technical and archival black and white photographs.

Sturmgewehr--From Firepower to Striking Power.

By Hans-Dieter Handrich. Collector Grade Publications, Inc. P.O. Box 1046, Cobourg, Ont K9A 4W5, Canada, Phone: 905-342-3434; fax: 905-342-3688; email: info@collectorgrade.com; website: www.collectorgrade.com. Copyright 2004. ISBN 0-88935-356-5. 600 pages, 392 illustrations. $79.95.

Hitler's Garands--German Self-Loading Rifles of World War II.

By W. Darrin Weaver, Collector Grade Publications, P.O. Box 1046 Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, K9A 4W5; phone: 905-342-3434, fax: 905-342-3688, website: www.collectorgrade.com; Copyright 2001, ISBN 0-88935-275-5, 392 pages, 590 illustrations, $69.95.

Semiautomatic-only

MP43/MP44/StG44 Sturmgewehr

SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber: 7.92x33mm Kurz (aka Pistolenpatrone 43).

Method of operation: Gas operated, fires from the closed-bolt position, semiautomatic-only, locked breech operation by means of a locking shoulder at the bottom of the receiver into which the bottom rear end of the bolt body engages.

Feed mechanism: 30-round, staggered-column, two-position-feed, detachable, box magazines.

Weight, empty: 11.51 pounds (5.22 kg).

Overall length: 37.0 inches (940mm).

Barrel: Four grooves with a right-hand twist.

Barrel length: 16.5 inches (419mm).

Furniture: Flat-sided, wood buttstock.

Sights: Tangent-type rear sight with open V-notch, adjustable for elevation only in 100-meter increments from 100 to 800 meters; blade-type front sight adjustable for windage zero, exactly like that of the K98k.

Finish: Black oxide approximating the original salt blue.

Manufacturer/importer/distributor: Manufactured by SSD, Germany; Imported by PTR 91, Inc. for Recon Ordnance Company, Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 829, Fond du Lac, WI 54936; phone: 920-922-1515; fax: 920-922-0737.

Status: No longer in service. A total of 200 semiautomatic variants produced--no more ever to be manufactured.

Price: $4,995, complete with two 30-round magazines.

T&E summary: The most revolutionary small arm to come out of World War II. Set the criteria for the assault rifle concept (relatively lightweight, chambered for an intermediate-size cartridge and with selective-fire capability) that has monopolized military small arms ever since. Highly prized by collectors, shooters and reenactors. A unique semiautomatic-only variant that has been precision fine-tuned for guaranteed flawless operation and absolute reliability.

Text and photos by Peter G. Kokalis

Lead Photo by Mike Anschuetz
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Title Annotation:Sturmgewehr 44
Author:Kokalis, Peter G.
Publication:Shotgun News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 20, 2010
Words:5887
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