Sturmgewehr 44

WATCH: The Sturmgewehr MP-44

The MP-43 (which is mechanically identical to the MP-44 and Sturmgewehr 44; the differences are the subject for another video later) is a tilting bolt rifle with a long stroke gas piston. It was manufactured primarily from complex sheet steel stampings, as a way to minimize the amount of high-quality and thus difficult to acquire steels needed for its construction. The rifle is heavy by today’s standards, but remarkably ergonomic (except for the metal handguard, when heats up quickly). Its sights come right up to the eye when shouldering the rifle, and it disassembles quickly and easily.

It really is one of the best small arms developed during World War II.

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The Sturmgewehr was the result of a German intermediate cartridge development program that began in the mid-1930s. It was sidelined for a period as the focus of German Ordnance shifted to full-power rifles in 8x57mm with telescopic sights, but as the German fighting in Russia became more desperate, many Ordnance officers realized that the greater firepower offered by the Sturmgewehr concept was one of the few options that might be able to allow depleted German units to effectively hold ground against Russian attacks.

To this end, the guns were issued primarily in the East, with whole companies being equipped in order to focus a maximum amount of firepower, rather than spreading the new rifles piecemeal across all units. Ultimately, of course, this was insufficient to prevent the growing Soviet advance – but for the individual German soldier, an MP-43/44/StG-44 would have been a much more comforting weapon than a Kar98k Mauser!