Friday, February 20, 2015

STG-44 and Semi-Auto Reproductions (STG-44/22 and PTR-44)

by Mishaco (and wikipedia)

Alright, this week I've been very pressed for time, so I am phoning this one in a bit. Specifically, i lifted the History section from wikipedia, with some changes and additions from myself. I have my own comments and opinions below though. Just this week I've had a lot of things at work to occupy my time, but I had to celebrate my new (to me) German PTR44 semi-auto rifle. I am also doing a look back at the GSG STG44-22, and comparing both to original WWII rifles.

MP 43, MP 44, and StG 44 were different designations for what was essentially the same rifle with minor updates in production. The variety in nomenclatures resulted from the complicated bureaucracy in Nazi Germany. Developed from the Mkb 42(H) "machine carbine," the StG44 combined the characteristics of a carbine, submachine gun, and automatic rifle. StG is an abbreviation of Sturmgewehr. According to the legend, the name was chosen personally by Adolf Hitler for propaganda reasons and literally means "storm rifle" as in "to storm (i.e. "assault") an enemy position," although some sources dispute that Hitler had much to do with coining the new name besides signing the order. After the adoption of the StG 44, the English translation "assault rifle" became the accepted designation for this type of infantry small arm. Over the course of its production, there were minor changes to the butt stock, muzzle nut, shape of the front sight base and stepping of the barrel.

The rifle was chambered for the 7.92×33mm Kurz cartridge. This shorter version of the German standard (7.92x57mm) rifle round, in combination with the weapon's selective-fire design, provided a compromise between the controllable firepower of a submachine gun at close quarters with the accuracy and power of a Karabiner 98k bolt action rifle at intermediate ranges. While the StG44 had less range and power than the more powerful infantry rifles of the day, Army studies had shown that few combat engagements occurred at more than 300 m and the majority within 200 m. Full-power rifle cartridges were excessive for the vast majority of uses for the average soldier. Only a trained specialist, such as a sniper, or soldiers equipped with machine guns which fired multiple rounds at a known or suspected target could make full use of the standard rifle round's range and power.

The British were critical of the weapon, saying that the receiver could be bent and the bolt locked up by the mere act of knocking a leaning rifle onto a hard floor. A late-war U.S. assessment derided the weapon as "bulky" and "unhandy", prone to jamming, and meant to be thrown away if the soldier could not maintain it.[12] Many of these criticisms are more a testimonial of the Allied aversion rather than an accurate view of the weapon's characteristics, which were proven highly effective during combat in the war.[13]

Development History:
In the late 19th century, small-arms cartridges had become able to fire accurately at long distances. Smokeless powder propelling small jacketed bullets were lethal out to 2,000 metres (2,200 yd). This was beyond the range a shooter could engage a target with open sights, as a man-sized target would be completely blocked by the front sight blade. Only units of riflemen firing in salvos could hit grouped soft targets at those ranges. That fighting style was taken over by the widespread introduction of machine guns to make use of the powerful cartridges to suppress the enemy at long range. Weapons for short range were semi-automatic pistols, and later automatic submachine guns, firing small pistol rounds. The gap in cartridge ranges caused research into creating an intermediate round. This type of ammunition was being considered as early as 1892, but militaries at the time were still fixated on increasing the maximum range and velocity of bullets from their rifles.

In the spring of 1918, Hauptmann (Capt.) Piderit, part of the Gewehrprüfungskommission (Small Arms Proofing Committee) of the German General Staff in Berlin, submitted a paper arguing for the introduction of an intermediate round in the German Army with a suitable firearm. He pointed out that firefights rarely took place beyond 800 metres (870 yd), about half the 2 km (1.2 mi) range of the 7.92×57mm round from a Mauser Model 1898 or Maxim MG 08. A smaller, shorter, and less powerful round would save materials, allow soldiers to carry more ammunition, and increase firepower. Less recoil would allow semi-automatic or even fully automatic select-fire rifles, although in his paper he called it a 'Maschinenpistole.' The German Army showed no interest, as it already had the MP 18 to fire 9 mm pistol rounds and did not want to create a new cartridge.

In 1923, the German Army set out requirements for a Mauser 98 replacement. It had to be smaller and lighter than the Mauser, have similar performance out to 400 metres (440 yd), and have a magazine with a 20 or 30 round capacity. Bavarian company Rheinisch-Westfälische Sprengstoff (RWS) experimented with rounds in the 1920s, and German companies developing intermediate ammunition for aerial machine guns showed interest. Development of the future infantry rifle did not start until the 1930s. RWS offered two rounds, one with a 7 mm bullet and one with an 8 mm bullet, both in a 46 mm case. German company Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken had the 7×39.1mm round, and Gustav Genschow & Co (Geco) proposed a 7.75×39.5mm round. Geco's automatic carbine was the Model A35, a further development of the SG29 semi-automatic rifle. The weapon was complicated and unsafe to handle.

The German Government started its own intermediate round and weapon program soon after. German ammunition maker Polte of Magdeburg was commissioned to develop the rounds in April 1938 and signed a contract with the Heereswaffenamt (HWA). At the same time, the HWA contracted C.G. Haenel of Suhl to create a weapon for the round. HWA requirements were for a rifle that was shorter and with equal or less weight to the Kar 98k and as accurate out to 400 metres (440 yd); and be select-fire with a rate of fire under 450 rpm. It should be rifle grenade compatible, reliable, maintainable, and have a "straightforward design". Fifty rifles were to be delivered for field testing in early 1942.

At the start of the Second World War, German infantry were equipped with weapons comparable to those of most other military forces. A typical infantry unit was equipped with a mix of bolt action rifles and some form of light or medium machine guns. One difference from other armies was the emphasis on the machine gun as the primary infantry weapon. In contrast, allied doctrine centered around the rifleman, with machine guns employed as support and point-defense weapons. German units tended to be machine gun "heavy"; carrying more ammunition for the machine gun than for the rifles; using belt ammunition for their more modern section-level weapons to maintain a higher rate of fire; and generally thinking of the rifle as a support weapon. Although newer rifle designs had been studied on several occasions, the infantry squad primarily centered around the machine gun.

One problem with this mix was that the standard rifles were too large to be effectively used by mechanized and armored forces, where they were difficult to maneuver in the cramped spaces of an armored vehicle. Submachine guns such as the MP 28, MP 38, and MP 40 were issued to augment infantry rifle use and increase individual soldiers' firepower, but suffered from a distinct lack of range and accuracy beyond 100 metres (110 yd). A small fast-firing weapon would have been useful in this role, but again the need did not seem pressing.

The issue arose once again during the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Red Army had been in the process of replacing its own bolt action rifles in the immediate pre–war era. Increasing numbers of semi-automatic Tokarev SVT-38 and SVT-40s were reaching Red Army units, though issue was generally restricted to elite units and non-commissioned officers. Submachine guns were extremely widespread, and issued on a far larger scale; some Soviet rifle companies were completely equipped with PPSh-41 submachine guns.

This experience with high volumes of hand-held automatic 'assault' fire forced German commanders to rethink their small arms requirements. The German army had been attempting to introduce semi-automatic weapons of its own, notably the Gewehr 41, but these early rifles proved troublesome in service, and production was insufficient to meet forecasted requirements. Several attempts had been made to introduce lightweight machine guns or automatic rifles for these roles, but invariably recoil from the powerful 7.92x57mm round made them too difficult to control in automatic fire.

The German solution was to use a round of intermediate power, between that of a full-power rifle cartridge and pistol ammunition. Experiments with several such intermediate rounds had been going on since the 1930s, but had been constantly rejected for use by the army. By 1941, it was becoming clear that action needed to be taken, and one of the experimental rounds, the Polte 8x33mm Kurzpatrone ("short cartridge") was selected. To minimize logistical problems, the Mauser 8 mm rifle cartridge was used as the basis for the final 7.92x33mm intermediate round, which also utilized an aerodynamic spitzer rifle bullet design.

the MKB.42(h):
Contracts for rifles firing the 7.92x33mm round were sent to both Walther and Haenel (whose design group was headed by Hugo Schmeisser), who were asked to submit prototype weapons under the name Maschinenkarabiner 1942 (MKb 42, literally "machine (ie. fully automatic) carbine"). Both designs were similar, using a gas-operated action, with both semi-automatic and fully automatic firing modes.

In December 1940, a prototype rifle from Haenel and Walther was tested by the HWA at Kummersdorf. It had multiple jams, several barrels got bulged, and one had a catastrophic failure. Testers blamed the results on poor quality ammunition. In February 1942, 10 million 7.92 mm rounds were ordered for field testing. On 9 July 1942, field and comparative tests were conducted with the ammunition and Haenel MKb 42(H) rifle. 3,654 shots were fired; 11 cases were separated, 67 rounds were duds (56 fired on second trial), and many other rounds stovepipe jammed. Failures were blamed on the prototype stage of the weapon's design.[14]

The original prototype of Haenel's design, the MKb 42(H), fired from an open bolt and used a striker for firing. The receiver and trigger housing with pistol grip were made from steel stampings, which were attached to the barrel assembly on a hinge, allowing the weapon to be folded open for quick disassembly and cleaning. The Haenel design proved superior to Walther's MKb 42(W), and the army then asked Haenel for another version incorporating a list of minor changes designated MKb 42(H). One was to include lugs for mounting a standard bayonet, another to change the pitch of the rifling. A production run of these modified versions was sent to the field in November 1942, and the users appreciated it with a few reservations. Another set of modifications added a hinged cover over the ejection port to keep it clean in combat, and rails to mount a telescopic sight. A run of these modified MKb 42(H)s in late 1942 and early 1943 produced 11,833 guns.

Ultimately it was recommended that a hammer firing system operating from a closed bolt similar to Walther's design be incorporated. The gas expansion chamber over the barrel was deemed unnecessary, and was removed from successive designs, as was the underbarrel bayonet lug.

By March 1943, 2734 MKb 42(H) were accepted into service, followed by 2179 in April alone and 3044 in May; these numbers correlate well with the Haenel estimates for these months (2000 and respectively 3000). Additionally, Haenel estimated that 3,000 were made in June and 1,000 in July, resulting in a high estimate of 12,000 units for the MKb 42(H). However, the Haenel production figures from June 1943 onward do not differentiate between the last batches of MKb 42(H) and the first batches of MP 43/1. Other sources seem to accept only the more conservative estimate of 8,000 units. How many Walther MKb 42(W) were produced is even more uncertain. Some sources suggested as many as 8,000, but conservative estimates put the number at about 200, and say that most of these remained in the Walther factory until the end of the war. Production began in November 1942 and was to reach 10,000 per month by March 1943. The total number of MKb42(H)s manufactured between November 1942 and September 1943 was 12,000 rifles, with only about 1,000 produced per month.

The MKb 42(H) was mostly used on the Eastern front. By one account, the gun saw action as early as April 1942 when 35 of the only 50 prototypes then in existence were parachuted into the Kholm Pocket.

the MP 43, MP 44, & StG 44
(an early standard production rifle marked MP.43)
As work moved forward to incorporate the new firing system, development of the MKB.42(h) halted when Hitler suspended all new rifle programs due to administrative infighting within the Third Reich. Hitler ordered that newer submachine guns were to be built, and he strongly disagreed with the use of the Kurz ammunition. In Feb. 1943 the MP43/1 was demonstrated for Hitler. Reports claim he turned pale when he saw it, and remarked "Now you come with the same stuff again which I don't want to see anymore, even though you gave your baby a new name." However, the rebuke was ignored by the Supreme Command of the Army - and troop trials continued. To keep the MKb 42(H) development program alive, the Waffen Amt (Armament Office) re-designated the weapon as the Maschinenpistole 43 (MP 43) and, making a few improvements, billed the weapon as an upgrade to existing submachine guns.

Much time was wasted trying to make the MP 43 a replacement for the Kar 98k rifle. This goal was eventually realized to be impossible for several reasons: the MP 43 cartridge was too weak to fire rifle grenades; the MP 43 was too inaccurate for sniping; and the MP 43 was too short for bayonet fighting. In September 1943, it was decided that the MP 43 would supplement rather than replace the Kar 98k. As a result, the optical sight base, grenade-launching extended muzzle thread, and bayonet lug were removed from the design.

Adolf Hitler eventually discovered the designation deception and halted the program again. In March 1943, he permitted it to recommence for evaluation purposes only. Running for six months until September 1943, the evaluation produced positive results, and Hitler allowed the MP 43 program to continue in order to make mass production possible. Finally in Oct. 1943 Hitler agreed that the MP40 should be replaced by the MP43. "The change has to occur expeditiously," he ordered. However, he also made it clear that the full power semi-auto G.43 was still the weapon that should replace the K98k as the general issue rifle of Germany.

The first MP 43s were distributed to the Waffen-SS; in October 1943, some were issued to the 93rd Infantry Division on the Eastern Front. Production and distribution continued to different units. In April 1944, Hitler took some interest in the weapon tests and ordered the weapon (with some minor updates) to be re-designated as the MP 44. In July 1944, at a meeting of the various army heads about the Eastern Front, when Hitler asked what they needed, a general exclaimed, "More of these new rifles!". The exclamation caused some confusion (Hitler's response is reputed to have been "What new rifle?"), but once Hitler saw the MP 44 being demonstrated, he was impressed and gave it the title Sturmgewehr. Seeing the possibility of a propaganda gain, the rifle was again renamed as the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44), to highlight the new class of weapon it represented. The designation translates to "Storm (Assault) rifle, model 1944", thereby introducing the term "assault rifle".

A common belief of Hitler's influence over the Sturmgewehr was that he was against an intermediate rifle round. In reality, he could have ordered the project to be cancelled entirely if he had wanted to, especially if it had actually been hidden from him. Numerous reports and company correspondence reveal frequent presentation of the rifle's stages of development to Hitler. Rather than being opposed to the entire idea, his apprehension seemed to be from reluctance to send a new weapon to the front in too small numbers. Industry would not be able to replace some 12 million Kar 98k rifles in a short time, and the already strained logistics structure would have to support another cartridge. The Sturmgewehr was faster, easier, and less material consuming to make than a Kar 98k, but required more complicated machinery. Without sub-suppliers to quickly produce components, companies could not manufacture sufficient numbers to replace the Kar 98k quickly. Introducing the new assault rifle in small amounts that would not make an impression on the front would be counter-productive. Hitler instead wanted to introduce it on the largest scale possible, which has been misinterpreted as his resistance to new technology.
(A partially disassembled MP.44)
Production soon began with the first batches of the new rifle being shipped to troops on the Eastern Front. By the end of the war, a total of 425,977 StG 44 variants of all types had been produced and work had commenced on a successor rifle, the StG45(m). The assault rifle proved a valuable weapon, especially on the Eastern front, where it was first deployed. A properly trained soldier with a StG 44 had an improved tactical repertoire, in that he could effectively engage targets at longer ranges than with an MP 40, but be much more useful than the Kar 98k in close combat, as well as provide covering fire like a light machine gun. It was also found to be exceptionally reliable in the extreme cold of the Russian winter. The StG 44's rate of fire varied between 550 and 600 rpm.

The 1st Infantry Division of Army Group South and 32nd Infantry Division of Army Group North were selected to be issued the rifle, both being refitted from heavy losses on the Eastern Front. Ammunition shortages meant the 1st ID was the only division fully equipped with it. The Kar 98k was retained as a specialist weapon for sniping and launching rifle grenades. MP 40s were used by vehicle and artillery crews and officers. The StG 44 was issued to all infantry soldiers.

A primary use of the MP44/StG44 was to counter the Soviet PPS and PPSh-41 submachine guns, which used the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round. These cheap, mass-produced weapons used a 71-round drum magazine or 35-round box magazine and though shorter-ranged than the Kar98k rifle, were more effective weapons in close-quarter engagements. The StG 44, while lacking the range of the Kar 98k, had a considerably longer range than the PPS/PPSh submachine guns, a comparable rate of fire, an ability to switch between a fully automatic and a default semi-automatic fire mode and surprising accuracy. The StG 44 was an intermediate weapon for the period; the muzzle velocity from its 419 mm (16.5 in) barrel was 685 m/s (2,247.4 ft/s), compared to 760 m/s (2,493 ft/s) of the Karabiner 98k, 744 m/s (2,440.9 ft/s) of the British Bren, 600 m/s (1,968.5 ft/s) of the M1 carbine, and 365 m/s (1,197.5 ft/s) achieved by the MP40. Furthermore, the StG44's inline design gave it controllability even on full-auto. In short the StG44 provided the individual user with unparalleled firepower compared to that of all earlier handheld firearms, warranting other countries to soon embrace the assault rifle concept.

The StG 44 was employed for accurate short-range rapid-fire shooting (similar to how the MP 18 was used when it went into service). The assault rifles in a squad added firepower when the machine gun had to cease fire or move. When attacking a position, Kar 98k riflemen would use grenades against it at close-range, while StG 44 riflemen would fire in rapid semi-automatic or automatic bursts to keep the defenders suppressed.

The magazine follower spring had a short service life, so soldiers were ordered to load no more than 25 rounds to extend the reloadable life of the spring. In January 1945, a magazine was introduced fitted with a fixed plug to restrict its capacity to 25 rounds.
(A late production rifle marked STG.44)
One unusual addition to the design was the Krummlauf; a bent barrel attachment for rifles with a periscope sighting device for shooting around corners from a safe position. It was produced in several variants: an "I" version for infantry use, a "P" version for use in tanks (to cover the dead areas in the close range around the tank, to defend against assaulting infantry), versions with 30°, 45°, 60° and 90° bends, a version for the StG 44 and one for the MG 42. Only the 30° "I" version for the StG 44 was produced in any numbers. The bent barrel attachments had very short lifespans – approx. 300 rounds for the 30° version, and 160 rounds for the 45° variant. The 30° model was able to achieve a 35x35 cm grouping at 100 m.

The Sturmgewehr was also at times fitted with the Zielgerät 1229 infrared aiming device, also known by its codename Vampir ("vampire"). This device consisted of a large scope, rather like modern starlight scopes, and a large infra-red lamp on top, the scope being able to pick up the infra-red that would be invisible to the naked eye. The user had to carry a transformer backpack powered by a battery fitted inside the gas mask canister. Electric cables connected the power unit with the IR reflector, with the cathode ray tube mounted on the rifle imaging IR from the spotlight. The Vampyr had only 15 minutes of battery life, but was able to sight within 200 meters in total darkness. A conical flash hider was added to the barrel to keep the muzzle blast from blinding the shooter.

There really were no clear distinctions between the MP.43, MP.44, and STG.44. Production changes and updates occurred, but were not associated with anydesignation changes. Officially, the MP.43 was renamed to MP.44 on April 25, 1944, and it in turn became the STG.44 on October 22 of the same year. However, the new names were only on paper, and did not begin appearing on the weapons themselves until later. In fact, all 3 names would continue to be used until the end of the war. Ones marked MP.44 started showing up in late 1944, and the STG.44 rollmarking would only appear on rifles built in 1945. Even a small unknown number were built late in the war with MP.45 stamped on them. In the end, the majority would be marked MP.44. All were the same model of select fire rifle.

After the war, Hugo Schmeisser claimed that 424,000 MP 43/MP 44/StG 44 rifles were built between June 1943 and April 1945 in four plants: 185,000 by C.G. Haenel in Suhl; 55,000 by J.P. Sauer & Sohn in Suhl; 104,000 in Erfurt; and 80,000 by Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG in Steyr, Austria. This was less than the 1.5 million ordered (hey people on wikipedia can do basic math afterall!), and far less than the 4 million planned.

Post-war use:
The Sturmgewehr remained in use with the East German Nationale Volksarmee with the designation MPi.44 until it was eventually replaced with variants of the AK-47 assault rifle. The Volkspolizei used it until approximately 1962 when it was replaced by the PPSh-41. Other countries to use the StG 44 after World War II included the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, where it was used until being replaced first by the self-loading Vz.52 and later the select fire Vz.58. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia used it for decades, finally replacing it with domestic AK47 variants in the 1970s.  Actually though, units of the Yugoslavian 63rd Paratroop Battalion were equipped with it until the 1980s, possibly keeping the STG.44 in active service longer than any other professional military unit. Even after it had been retired from all standard militaries, the old Sturmgewehr would appear in the hands of rebels and guerillas all over the world, but most notably in Africa and the Middle East. In the end, the only reason some aren't still being used is the fact that there is virtually no surplus ammunition left for them anywhere in the world. Argentina manufactured their own trial versions of the StG 44 made by CITEFA in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but instead adopted the FN FAL in 1955, because it used the then more common and powerful 7.62x51mm NATO round, which also lacked connections with the Third Reich.

Of course, the STG.44's largest post-war role was its influence and legacy. Its very name "assault rifle" has been used to represent a whole class of military smallarm; a class the STG.44 was itself the sole pioneering member of. Its general specs of a select fire infantry weapon, firing an intermediate caliber round, feeding from a detachable magazine, air cooled, closed bolt, pistol gripped, and with a medium length barrel...all of those could be used to define dozens of military rifles from the latter half of the 20th century. The AK47 and G3 most directly show how they were influenced by the STG; however rifles like the FAL, Vz.58, and even the M16 all owe their existance to it as well. Today, the Sturmgewehr's historical importance really can not be overstated.

the Sturmgewehr in the field
The MP/STG44 was issued with 6 30 round magazines, carried in two sets of magazine pouches made of  canvis and leather. Late in the war, these pouches were sometimes made from burlap instead. Ammunition came in boxes of 15 rounds each. A special leather sling was designed for the rifle, however it could accept a standard K98 or MP.40 sling as well. The buttstock had a vertical compartment carved into it, which was closed with a spring loaded trap door. Typically, several items were stored there. These included a tool which could remove both the gas plug and steel handguard, a compact magazine loading tool, a pull-through cleaning rope, and a rolled up instruction manual for soldiers in the field. It is a rather small compartment, and it is quite amazing so many items managed to fit in there. Most of the time, the weapon's threaded barrel was covered by a simple muzzle nut, though several accessories were made to screw on in its place. Also, some STG.44s made towards the end of the war lacked threading altogether.

The MP/STG was constructed of mostly stamped and welded steel, which was made very thick, so lower quality metal could be used. Because of this, it was quite heavy at 11.5 lbs with an empty magazine. This meant it weighed overa pound more than the K98 short rifle. The flip side to this fact however, was that it was quite controllable in full-auto thanks to its weight. It used a long-stroke gas piston, which was fixed to the bolt carrier (i.e. op-rod). The charging handle was also part of this assembly. The bolt itself was quite heavy and locked into the receiver with a tilting action like many other self-loading rifles of the period. The weapon used a single long, massive return spring; which was housed inside the buttstock. The buttstock itself was made of wood and the pistol grip panels were made of either bakelite or wood also. The handguard was made from a single sheet of stamped and curled sheet steel. The front sight was drift adjustable for windage and protected by a removable hood. The rear sight was slide adjustable for elevation out to 800 meters. The dustcover was spring loaded, and therefore automatic. There were separate controls for safe/ready and single shot/automatic fire. There was no bolt hold open feature of any kind built into either the receiver or magazine itself, so the bolt would close on an empty chamber when the magazine was exhausted. The weapon was far less complicated than the G.43 rifle, with fewer pins, springs, and assemblies. It was easier to disassemble and maintain too. The whole thing came apart with the press of a single push pin, which would later inspire the West German G3 battle rifle.

demilled WWII MP.44
This is an original MP.44 demilled to current BATF requirements. I have been using it to compare various parts with those of my PTR44.

the PTR SSD PTR.44
This is my very own PTR44, manufactured in Germany by SSD and imported into the USA by PTR Inc.

PTR imported 200 of these rifles back in 2009. Of those 150 were sold to the public, with the remaining 50 either broken down for parts or given away as test guns to firearms reviewers. Many of the stripped receivers were later sold off by Recon-Ordnance for people to use with their original WWII MP.44 parts kits to make legal semi-autos. I remember my friend reading the ad for these back then, and lusting after one so hard that i felt like i had a case of blue balls. They were $4,299.95 back then, factory new, with 1 - 30 rd SSD magazine. They also advertised MP.38s, which never materialized.

The PTR44 is chambered for the original 8mm Kurz round, and there was a time when i thought an STG.44 would be neat chambered in something else such as 7.62x39mm, 7.62x33mm M1 Carbine, or even 9x19mm Parabellum. However, after reading how closely linked the Sturmgewehr's development was to the 7.92x33mm round itself; i understand now that you really can not have one without the other. Plus it really is a really nifty looking bullet; so wide and short. Plus, the skinny and long mags it feeds from are definitely unique. So even though its expensive and relatively hard to find, I agree SSD made the right call.

Honestly, this is a firearm i never ever thought I would be able to own. Recently though, I found one with a very motivated seller. We chatted and got on just fine, but all of the issues associated with the PTR44 scared me. So I gave him a pretty low-ball offer. Much to my surprise, he accepted it and even picked up shipping. Less than a week later, it was in my hands! He sent it with 7 magazines, an original sling, takedown tool, the original PTR manual, a reprint German buttstock manual, blank fire adapter, several boxes of blank ammo, and a single box of what turned out to be original Nazi-German 8mm Kurz dated 1945. He shipped it quickly and well packaged. It is in great condition, well oiled, and witha clean gas system. It has been fired, this I knew before buying it. The dealer I bought it from told me its former owner was a big-time German collector and reinactor.

After comparing the various parts on the PTR44 with those in my MP.44 parts kit, I have to say I am extremely impressed with how closely SSD replicated the whole thing. Not just the outside, but even the internals are the same down to the bolt group and fire control parts. It weighs 11.5 lbs just as an original would, and has the same dimentions and specs. It has an authentic buttstock and pistol grips, even though these are US made as part of its 922(r) count. It takes original WWII magazines, and in fact all the original parts that I've tried in it drop right on. It has a very nice feeling trigger and even has a real selector switch, which is perminantly fixed in the single shot position (internally, the FCG is missing all of the parts associated with full-auto though, so its perfectly legal). So as far as being a replica, the PTR44 knocks it out of the park. It really is made to original specs, except for again, lacking the FA feature. Well, that and the scope rail on the side. That isn't original spec. for a production MP.44, though it will take a ZF4 scope and i understand why they included it for modern shooters.

However, as most of us know by now, there have been serious issues with these firearms. Probably the biggest one is reports of the bolt carrier (op-rod) breaking. This is followed by some bolts cracking. Both issues have been attributed to incorrect heat treatment. Other issues include increased wear on the underside of the receiver where the hammer comes through, poorly fitted FCG parts, and shitty magazines that don't fit or feed properly. Really all of these issues can be attributed to American made parts PTR was forced to install to make the rifle comply with 922(r). These include the buttstock, grip panels, hammer, disconnector, trigger, magazine follower and magazine floorplate. Though many problems have appeared, other owners insist that their PTR44s have fired hundreds of rounds without issue. I tried installing the bolt group from my kit into my PTR44, and I was happy to find out that mine is one of the ones that does not have the smaller end section. It seems that some of them had this done, so an original full-auto bolt carrier could not be installed. So worst case, I will just start using an original bolt group if my carrier or bolt give problems. The 2 original SSD mags mine came with do fit loosely, but the other 5 seem higher quality reproductions and fit much more securely. I am hoping this means they at least will feed reliably. I asked the seller if he could contact the former owner to ask if he had had any work done to this rifle or if he knew of any issues I should be aware of. I was saddened to learn the owner had died last October, and this dealer was selling off his guns for his estate. He did say the owner took very good care of his guns, and often took them to gunsmiths for upgrades. So I won't be learning anything more than I already know. I would like to think that guy, since he was a serious collector and history buff, would be happy that one of his prized guns will be well cared for and loved in its new home. In the end, for what I paid, even if I have to replace something, I will still come out ahead.

For a closer look at the PTR44, checkout Forgotten Weapons's review

...And one more PTR44 video

the ATI GSG STG44-22
These are photos of a factory new STG44-22, which is built in Germany by GSG and imported into the USA by ATI.

The STG44-22 is quite a nice replica, especially for the money. When these first came out, they were $550 but now days, CDNN has them for around $350 new. It is weighted close to an original at just at 10 lbs, but despite GSG's attempt to weight it, it is still about 1.5 lbs lighter than either an original or PTR44. Good try though, and they put a very nice wood stock on it, which is made very close to an original, right down to the trap door and steel brackets. The receiver is a cast zinc alloy, and so its details aren't quite as sharp and exact as they could be. It does have a spring loaded dustcover and henged trigger frame, even a faux fire selector; so again, good effort on GSG's part. The rear sight isn't the same as original, and the bolt notch is entirely a modern thing. The front end is a single cast piece sleaved around a small diameter barrel. I wish they had at least made actual muzzle threads for those with .22 LR suppressors and to make it that much more authentic, but you can't have everything i suppose. The handguard is stamped steel and it does have realistic sling swivels. The .22 magazine is roughly the same dimentions as a real one, but it is made of polymer and has that goofy loading button on the side I really could have done without. It holds 24 rounds as standard.

For more info, checkout My review of the STG44-22

Military Arms Channel's look at the STG44-22

...And a comparison of the STG44-22 with an original STG.44

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