MP44 / StG44 article


Historical background of MP44/Sturmgewehr 44

Initial experiences in World War II suggested to the Germans that the firepower from the bolt-action rifle (primarily the Mauser Kar 98k) was insufficient. Studies of World War I had already pointed out that distances of typical small arms action were between 50 and 300 meters, which meant, in practice, that traditional single-shot service rifles were unnecessary. These studies had not gone unnoticed, as development work had begun in the mid-1930s to produce a new shortened cartridge which could be used as a base to manufacture new service rifles. All this lead to the fact that, by 1942, Germans already had a working assault rifle design, Mkb42 (H), that had passed required field trials. Germans hurriedly produced about 8,000 MkB42 (H) models that went into combat trials at the Eastern Front with the 5.SS-Division, "Wiking". Before this promising new weapon system could go to mass production, it needed design refinements as well as Hitler's final approval. However, measures were taken to conceal the true nature of the weapon in fear that resources would not be allocated to its production during such a critical time of the war. As a result, a new "machine pistol" designation, the Maschinen Pistol 43 (MP43), had been issued in order to pass the program as a more traditional submachine gun project. This cover up would not last long as glowing combat reports and numerous requests for the MP43/MP44 from field commanders made their way to the top. The MP43/44 rifles could not be kept hidden anymore and, subsequently, the program received high priority status. In late 1944, the MP44 was renamed the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44), or Assault Weapon 44 in English, by Hitler himself.

Although some very limited numbers of StG 44s were present in France when Operation Overlord began on June 6th, 1944, the MP43, MP44 and StG 44 were mostly used in the Eastern Front until the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. It appeared that Waffen-SS was able to scrounge the best of the production, leaving little to the Wehrmacht. But during the course of the war, the StG44 appeared even in remote battlefields like the Kurland "bridgehead". Some sources state that the priority of StG 44 distribution went to Volksgrenadier divisions that had been created in late 1944, after the assassination attempt of Hitler. As expected, ammunition was in short supply because the 7.92 x 33mm Kurz cartridges had not been used before in other weapons.

MP44/StG44 with telescopic sight, the Gewehr-Zielfernrohr 4-Fach Field reports indicated that the increased firepower of individual soldiers helped Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS units to fight off superior enemy forces. However, many of the 400,000+ MP43/MP44/StG44s never made it to frontline units as the Third Reich infrastructure was collapsing under the weight of the Allied strategic air offensive, just as production had started to reach significant numbers. Regardless, the StG44 assault rifle proved to be an invaluable weapon, especially on the Eastern Front, where it was first deployed. A properly trained soldier with an StG44 had a more significant tactical repertoire. He could effectively engage targets at longer ranges than with an MP40, and he was also much more useful in close range urban fighting than with the K98k. Likewise, he could provide light cover fire better with the StG44, similar to a light machine gun, such as the American M1918 BAR.

Operating techniques & firing
It appears that the most common way to shoot the StG44 was from a kneeling or standing position. The prone position was not common because of the long banana-shaped magazine. Official German techniques for prone position shooting is reported to have been the act of digging a small hole in the ground to accommodate the magazine - not very practical in combat conditions.

Short bursts are very controllable because of the heavy weight of the gun and the relatively low powered ammunition, as well as the manageable rate of fire and front-heavy weight balance. Other contributing factors to manageable recoil include the linear recoiling mass with the gas system positioned over the barrel, as well as the configuration of the pistol grip and butt stock.

* Telescopic Sight, the Gewehr-Zielfernrohr 4-Fach (as seen in photo at upper part of this article). x4 powered optic for sniping.
* Infra-Red Night Sight, Zielgeraet 1229 "Vampire". 310 units were delivered to Wehrmacht at the final stages of the war.
* Curved Barrel Attachment, Gebogener Lauf J/Krummlauf. This attachment was a rather strange device for shooting around corners without exposing the shooter that was also envisioned to be used by buttoned armored vehicle crews, giving them an advantage against assaulting Soviet infantry.
* Grenade Launcher, MP Gewehrgranatgeraet 43. Rifle grenade launcher.
* Canvas and leather pouch for three magazines and stripper clip.

Real MP44/Stg44 and its replica counterpart
Since the MP44/StG44 is an extremely rare gun in modern days, few people have had the opportunity to experience one in person. Our extremely well made replica StG44 allows you to grasp the concept and feeling of the gun. Its full 1:1 size, solid metal and wood parts, German serial numbering, and many other details can be found on the replica StG44/MP44, giving it an authentic look and feel.

Introduction of replica MP44

Manufactured the same way as the real MP44, our MP44 version not only looks exactly like the real thing, it also has the same basic functions. It can be operated just like the real MP44 with the use of dummy 7.92mm x 33mm Kurz cartridges and realistic MP44 magazines. Details of this museum quality replica have been painstakingly perfected over and over again, and even its disassembly is similar to the real German made StG44/MP44 assault rifle. Disassembling the replica MP44 makes you realize how simple and robust the original StG44/MP44 weapon system was. The photo series in this article demonstrates the realism of thereplica MP44 disassembly as well as the detail of its internal construction.

MP44 photo series

In the following photos, we examine the cosmetic details of the replica MP44. The impeccable details and overall quality make this replica suitable enough for war museum display, not to mention movie propping and other specialized uses. The good news is that the replica MP44s in our selection are also available for private customers.

Side profile

Hand guard

Angled side profile

Close up of some of the receiver stamps. Note that in this photo receiver has been already partially opened during disassembly.

Stock, upper side

Stock, rear profile

Stock, side profile

Shell port, closed

Shell port, open

Rear sights

Receiver, side profile

Receiver, side profile, note the serial numbering and other stamps

Magazine, top view

7.92mm x 33mm dummy cartridges


Magazine, two cartridges loaded

Disassembly Process

1. 1. Remove the magazine, pull the bolt back to clear the chamber, and then return it to a forward position. Push the stock retaining pin through the right side of the receiver.

2. Start pulling the stock out, and cautiously let the recoil spring expand; then remove the spring completely.

3. Let the trigger housing group hinge down.

4. Pull the operating rod and bolt assembly out the rear of the receiver, taking care to catch the bolt as it emerges.

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