Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Influence of the StG 44

Nathaniel F. at The Firearms Blog has posted a couple of article questioning whether the StG 44 was as influential as commonly argued (see "7 Reasons I Don’t Like The MP-44 Sturmgewehr," "Rebuttal for TFB’s Sturmgewehr Article," and "Putting Things In Context: The RSC 1917 And The MP.44 Sturmgewehr"). I tend to agree with Nathaniel's viewpoint, especially from the perspective of the West.

The StG 44 was the rifle that Hitler famously named "Sturmgewehr" (assault rifle), and thus is generally remembered as the first assault rifle. Except, as Nathaniel notes, it wasn't. It also didn't establish a trend of putting automatic fire into the hands of the average infantryman, or changing tactics. Most of the combatants in WWII already employed large numbers of submachine guns--especially the Soviets, who were known to have outfitted entire platoons or companies with submachine guns.

Boiling it down to its essence, the influence of the StG-44 can be seen merely by looking at who copied it or adopted it: no one. Yes, the Soviets were favorably impressed by the idea it represented; enough so to adopt their own intermediate cartridge, which eventually was used for the AK-47 and AKM. But there is scant evidence that Kalashnikov was otherwise greatly influenced by the StG-44, mechanically or conceptually. The Western military (okay, the U.S.) were unimpressed with the weapon, believing it too heavy for what it offered, and followed a different path entirely, retaining a "full power" rifle cartridge--the 7.62x51mm--until the move to the small, 5.56 mm, round.

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