The Sturmgewehr 45 (aka Gerat 06H) was the first functional roller-delayed blowback rifle developed, and it was slated to replace the StG44 as Germany’s primary combat rifle when WWII ended. We have a reproduction of one made exactly to original spec, and we wanted to see how it would have fared as a combat rifle. As much as we like doing this sort of thing, we don’t want to actually go into a combat zone for a review video, so we did the next best (and available) thing: we took it to an IPSC 3-Gun match. For those who aren’t familiar with ISPC, it is a style of shooting competition using full-power ammunition and firing at multiple paper and steel targets from different positions.
Fair warning, I’m not the world’s greatest shooter. In fact, compared to the other folks competing, I’m pretty damn terrible. But I sure had a good time, and I think that my conclusions remain valid without having to win the match. Also, I had testing our magazines with 10 rounds each, and they worked fine. But when I loaded them up to 25 each for the match, I had a bunch of failures to feed. Not the fault of the rifle, but my fault for not proofing the magazines more carefully (they are all original MP44 mags dating form 1943 and 1944).
Like I said at the end of the video there, my conclusion is that the StG45 would have been a fantastic combat rifle. It has wonderfully light recoil and minimal muzzle climb, combined with good ergonomics. The stock and sights are set up just perfectly. The safety is in a good place (for a righty), and only the mag release really needs to be closer to the firing hand for faster magazine changes. Somehow when the guys responsible for this rifle moved to Spain and built the CETME and then came back to work for H&K, they lost all the ergonomic qualities that had been in this first design.
The 8x33mm Kurz cartridge strikes an excellent balance between power and shootability, and it’s an excellent round for a roller-locked (actually roller-delayed blowback, as the gun it not technically locked upon firing) action. While it is on paper very similar to the Soviet 7.62×39 (125gr @ 2250fps, compared to the Soviet 123gr @ 2400fps), the 8×33 in the StG45 is a far smoother rifle than an AKM. There was a significant amount of experimentation with the Kurz round in the aftermath of WWII, and it’s a shame that only the Soviets chose to really pursue it.