Kalashnikov vs Sturmgewehr

The German Sturmgewehr and the Soviet Kalashnikov are widely and rightly considered the two most influential and iconic of the modern military rifles. While the German rifle certainly influenced the Soviet design, the two were designed with different intentions and goals. The Sturmgewehr was an attempt to blend the roles of rifle and light machine gun, while the Kalashnikov was intended to bland the roles of rifle and submachine gun – and yet they both reached largely the same practical reality.

Which do you think was the better system?

86 Comments

  1. You mistakenly typed in “bland” for Kalashnikov.

    In any case, we seem to be comparing apples and oranges. The AK, developed for rifle and SMG ranges, seems more suited for brawling given its tough and rugged construction. The STG-44 is a bit fragile in contrast (intentionally slamming it against a wall puts the receiver out of action), but it was intended to engage just far enough so that PPSh-41s couldn’t shoot back effectively and just close enough to counter (and perhaps perforate)snipers armed with scoped bolt-action rifles. Unlike the AK, the STG-44 cannot have a bayonet fixed nor can it shoot rifle grenades, but it can take a low power scope. In contrast, the AK wasn’t intended take a scope, but it could stab with bayonet and potentially grenade you.

    Did I mess up?

    • The AK was subsequently able to take a scope with the introduction of the now well-known side rail on the left side of the receiver. Currently, both stamped and milled receiver AK’s of virtually every manufacturer are side rail compatible, and most come standard with the rail already fitted. A wide variety of matching scope mounts, usually of the Picatinny type, are also readily available.

      Looking closely at the AK receiver, the original design team may have anticipated an eventual need for mounting optics on the rifle, and left room accordingly for a retrofit.

    • the Stg44 could shoot rifle grenades, using the same launcher as the K98. But it needed an adjustable gas valve, which were made in limited quantities.

  2. You can make the case that the two are the 1st and 2nd generations of the same class of rifle/carbine. The AK is simpler and more rugged, improvements you would expect to see in a subsequent design stage. Both were brilliant achievements, the StG for the sheer design novelty and manufacturing prowess involved (especially during the stress of wartime), and the AK for its genius level simplicity, ease of carry and use, and sheer, brutal reliability.

    John Browning or Paul Mauser would have been impressed with both of them.

    • There was a huge amount of John Moses Browning’s thought, picked up and used in the AK.

      The fire control is Browning either directly from the FN Browning 1900 / Remington model 8 (It’s the same basic gun, but arguably the FN was better made), or via Garand,

      and the appearance is Browning too, with the combined dust cover, safety and fire selector from the FN / Remington.

      Arguably, with aftermarket modifications to allow interchangeable magazines to be used, and chambered in .30 Remington or .25 Remington, Browning was almost there before Fyoderov’s Avtomat and forty years before the Surmgewehr.

      • What I consider, part of general layout, the essence of AK success are following points:

        – long stroke piston operation without fancy gas adjustments
        – rotary lockup with simple 2 strong lugs and beefy extractor
        – recesses made into trunion and barrel pinned in place

        No barrel threading, angular timing or any similar laborious ideas…. nothing can be simpler.

        • long stroke piston, no adjustments: M1 Garand. Of course, he was mightily influenced by the French self-loader of 1917…
          rotar lockup with 2 front mounted locking lugs and “beefy extractor” well cue Mauser I suppose… But in a self-loader, see John Cantius Garand as above.
          Trunion mounted locking recesses and pinned barrel? I’ll defer to those more expert than I. Still, I’m thinking pinned and pressed barrels were a German thing during WWI, yes?

          • Long stroke should refer for getting the gas push effect all along the backward travel of operating piston like M1 Garand. Pistons carrying out this travel by the initial momentum taken from gas push within a short travel and loosing it as exhausted through gas vent holes should be named as short stroke like AK47 and most of current shotguns like Remington 1100. The long tube in which the piston travels after gas vent holes should not be called as gas cylinder but, simply as piston guide. IMHO.

  3. Stephen Bull, _World War II Infantry Tactics: Squad and Platoon Level_ (Oxford: Osprey Pubs., 2004), claimed that early in WWII an infantry “Gruppe” of ten men. An NCO–often armed with an SMG, his assistant, a Machine gunner with a GPMG with an assistant MG man, and a “head bearer” lugging additional ammunition and spare barrels. Then there were five Kar98k armed riflemen. The NCO and two of the three men with the squad’s MG had pistols too. The riflemen had the tripod for the GPMG and hand grenades and other extras.

    By early 1944 there would ideally be nine men, with six rifles, two SMGs, the GPMG and a pistol. Later still, the Volksgrenadier had “rifle squads” and “SMG squads.” The rifle squad followed the above nine-man scheme, while the latter was to have SMGs instead, although one per platoon was to have three rifles, five SMGs and the LMG and pistol.

    Enter the Sturmgewehr: the, erm, Heer’s intention or Nazi aspiration if you will, was for half of the infantry armed with StGs, the LMGs would stay. So in that light it really was intended to replace 9mm SMGs and turn-bolt rifles, which puts developments in Soviet small arms circles a similar light.

    The StG did not really “lose out” to the Kalashnikov, since it simply ceased being manufactured. It was used post-war by a handful of insurgent movements in very small numbers, primarily the Viet Minh and Algerian ALN. It was used by Yugoslav paratroops. It was used by the, erm, “security organs” of the nascent DDR and Czechoslovakia. The Kalashnikov was built in continuous enormous quantities and widely distributed during the all to many “hot wars” of the Cold War. I sometimes wonder to what degree decolonization was a symptom of the “age of the assault rifle.” Gone was the pithy dictum of Hilaire Belloc: “Whatever happens we have got the Maxim gun and they have naught.” Musketry relied on a superior rate of fire by a regiment capable of touching off three volleys with inaccurate smooth bores. By the 21st century, any 14-year old child soldier could rattle off a thirty round magazine. The combatant eminently more “disposable” than the weapon issued…

  4. Overall, the STG is heavier and more complex than the AK, and fires a cartridge which has lower MV and overall less range and delivered energy.

    This is surprising in that the AK’s 7.62 x 39 round was originally the German 7.9 x 38.5 round developed by the Polte company in Magdeburg, for hunting musk deer with a small-ring Mauser bolt-action. Apparently, the 7.9 x 33 Kurz was adopted over it by the HWA because it could be produced on existing machinery with minor alterations to same.

    Kalashnikov himself stated that the 7.62 x 39 round was presented to him, Simonov, and etc., in late 1942, and they were told to build rifles around it. Said presentation being made by the NKVD. To Mikhail Timofeyevich, this translated to “industrial espionage, probably in Germany”, but of course you didn’t say things like that out loud.

    The AK feeds more reliably than the StG, is more resistant to abuse and damage, is certainly easier to clean and maintain, and is physically somewhat smaller, notably in the vertical length of its 30-round magazine. You don’t generally have to dig a pit for it when firing prone as you do with the StG magazine.

    It is also easier and cheaper to make, especially in mass production. Note that the AK started with a machined-from-solid receiver, and changed to a stamped receiver with the AKM. Either one is tougher than the StG receiver stamping.

    Both are technically “second generation” assault rifles. The first generation consists of the Russian Federov (Fyoderov?)(6.5mm Arisaka), the Italian Breda M1935/37 (6.5mm Carcano/7 x 57 Mauser), and the very early proposal for the Garand in .276 Pedersen with a detachable magazine (only ten rounds, but a twenty or thirty-round wasn’t outside of the conception).

    The first generation were “orthodox” self-loading rifles, with wooden stocks, with or without selective-fire capability, and with detachable magazines. The second generation introduced selective-fire as standard, high-capacity magazines, and a two-piece (or in the StG’s case, buttstock-only) stock plus a full pistol grip.

    The AK is a more developed and “user-friendly” arm than the StG, in spite of being introduced less than five years after the StG’s debut. It shows rather conclusively that not all Russian inventors were named “Regus Patoff”.

    Hands down, the AK is the better of the two. I know- I’ve used both.

    cheers

    eon

    • “This is surprising in that the AK’s 7.62 x 39 round was originally the German 7.9 x 38.5 round”
      Can you prove that? It is clear that development of 7.62 was done after capturing 7.9×33 weapons, but there is no evidence to join it to other German cartridges.

      “7.62 x 39 round was presented to him, Simonov, and etc., in late 1942”
      This is impossible – People’s Commissariat of Arms of the USSR do decision about developing own intermediate cartridge, after testing German 7.92×33 and American M1 Carbine cartridge in July 1943.

      “AK started with a machined-from-solid receiver, and changed to a stamped receiver with the AKM.”
      AK-early (AK Type 1 in West parlance) is stamped, it was changed to machined in 1953 due to technical problems and also made lighter and bayonet mount was added and magazine was changed (AK-early magazine has smooth walls). AKM (AK Modernised) introduced in 1959 was stamped.

      “Federov (Fyoderov?)”
      Fyodorov (Фёдоров)

      “AK is the better of the two”
      This design won to many other competitors for avtomat.

    • Weren’t the first AKs actually stamped?
      Type 1A/B Original stamped receiver for AK-47. -1B modified for underfolding stock. A large hole is present on each side to accommodate the hardware for the underfolding stock.
      (this naming convention continues with all types)

      I understood the Soviets went back to milled as they had huge amounts of milling machines ( and perhaps stamping technology wasn’t quite developed enough).

  5. As to which was the “better system” I’d agree with Bill up post. These were two kindred and similar approaches, sort of a Mk.I and Mk.I* development of intermediate-caliber, automatic carbines, aka. Hitler’s “assault rifle.”

    Belgium put out the FAL initially in 8x33mm kurz patrone, and the UK worked up the different iterations of the 7×44/7×43 no, wait .280/30 along the same lines while the U.S. simply dismissed the concept as a sort of warmed over SMG. The U.S. 12 man squad with M1 Garands and two BARs won the war. Possessed of all of Mr. John C. Garand’s exquisite machine tooling and manufacturing equipment for the M!, all we ‘Mericans needed was a “product improved” M1: “I know, weren’t we gonna hit the beach in Operations Coronet and Olympus on the Japanese home islands with a select-fire Garand with 20 round box magazines?” “Yeah?” Well then. On with the M14! The Soviets think they are slick eliminating the PPSh41 Shpagin and Mosin/SKS carbines with their new-fangled SMG? Why, we’ll eliminate the M3A1, the M2, the M1 and the BAR in one fell swoop with our new battle rifle! So there!

    • And what the M14 failed to do was a controlled automatic burst at anything not tied to a tree! The stock was more or less the same M1, whose semi-pistol grip was hardly ideal for coping with recoil and muzzle rise.

    • “M14”
      Soviet Union introduced AVS-36 in 1936, it was found to have some own faults, but also proved that full-power-caliber full-automatic rifle-sized weapon, make no sense as a default infantry weapon and later SVT was introduced, however it also have full-auto version (AVT-40) used in small quantity.

      • What it boils down to is that Russians were 30-40 years ahead – and still are. Even recently, with adoption of M4 (and thus dumping potential of 5.56 cartridge as originally intended) is sign of admission, that AK had it right.

        • Notice that after the Cold War ended, the U.S. and Nato decided there was a need for an SVD, uh, make that a “designated marksman’s rifle” or DMR.

          The USMC decided there just might be something to its WWII organization around three automatic rifles and so the M27 IAR is born… Just like the RPK.

          Your point about M4A1 and Kalshnikov is well taken.

          SMAW and Carl Gustav vs. RPG and so on…

    • The 7.62 X 51 was smaller than the 30 caliber cartridge, but with better powder it had about the same performance. The US Army seemed to want to keep the 30 caliber as the performance baseline for a serious rifle. One thing that could have influenced that, and I have never seen much written about it, was in WWII didn’t the Japanese field an intermediate round and had mixed results from it?

      The other thing that could have influenced the decision to stick to a rifle using a battle rifle round was that the US already had an assault rifle of sorts: the M1 Carbine, that had been produced in greater numbers than the M1 Garand. The later models had a full-auto mode and it had a detachable box magazine from he start. There were even some folding stock variations.

      The temptation to try to merge the M1 Garand and the BAR was greater than the temptation to merge the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and the Grease Gun. Cloning the MG42 and going with a rifle that fired the 280 British, and was sized accordingly (thus replacing the M1 rifle and carbine; leaving the Grease Guns for tank crews), would have been a good path in retrospect.

      • Do you mean 6.5×50mm Arisaka by the Japanese “intermediate” round? While less powerful than the various .30 cal and 8mm military rifle cartridges, the 6.5mm Arisaka or any of the other 6.5mm military cartridges (6.5×52 Carcano, 6.5×55 Swedish etc.) weren’t really intermediate in the same sense as 7.92×33 or 7.62×39. The 6.5mm cartridges were designed to have a good effective range with less recoil and weight than larger cartridges of the day (1890s). So, their design goals were somewhat similar but not identical to the later true intermediate cartridges. The famous Fedorov Avtomat of 1916 was chambered for the 6.5×50 Arisaka, but the chambering was more due to circumstance rather than any deliberate desire to use an “intermediate” cartridge.

        The M2 select-fire carbine didn’t see service in WW2. It was used in Korea, but by the time combat reports from there were available and being analyzed, the project that would lead to the M14 was well on its way. Unlike the true intermediate cartridges, .30 Carbine also isn’t really a 300 meter cartridge. It was designed to be effective up to 300 yards (270 meters), but even that it is somewhat optimistic. In practice it is at best a 250 meters cartridge in combat conditions.

        • There are all sorts of hideous battle wound studies available from the Second World War and after. The pre-war shooting of hogs and goats and so on suggested to U.S. ballisticians that 6.5mm bullets/ .256″ were more fearsome at common ranges but that the .276/7mm was worse, and therefore “better” to ballisticians and ordnance officials at longer ranges than the .30 cal. Japanese firing from jungle cover with the long barrel of the 6.5mm Arisaka were hard to spot. The powder was burned up in the long barrel, the report was somewhat less, and there was less blast and “signature” from the thickets. The ascribed “inferiority” of the 6.5mm at longer ranges did not apply in settings where combat ranges were comparatively short. It was discovered by doctors that the 6.5mm bullet separated from its jacket and that two wound tracks frequently resulted, and that the long bullet itself exhibited a tendency to “tumble” end over end in human tissue. so those may be some of the aspects of the Japanese rifle cartridge thought obsolete by the IJA (bring on the UK’s .303 in the form of the 7.7x58mm Japanese MG/rifle cartridge in a shorter rifle) that you may have read about.

        • If one takes our friend Nathaniel F at TFB points about the .32 WCF varmint cartridge/ .30 U.S. carbine Winchester cartridge and includes Ian’s points about the Bendix-Hyde carbine–which was favored prior to Winchester’s prototype “light rifle”–then a pistol-grip, detachable magazine, reduced-caliber, select-fire automatic carbine aka. “assault rifle” was in the works in U.S. Ordnance circles as WWII began. Then there was the odd attempt to study prototypes that might, perhaps, replace .45 SMGs with full-auto .30 carbine firing weapons with replacement barrels modeled on the MG42! Lots of odd paths left un-tried, that much is certain.

        • I never could understand why the M1 carbine was not chambered in the 300 Savage Cartridge as it would have been an ideal carbine cartridge. Even the .30×1.5 Barnes(?) would have been a lot better and would have made an excellent Assault rifle cartridge. A M2 carbine in either of those rounds would have been a game winner even against the AK—just look at Ruger’s Mini 14 and all its chamberings

          • “M1 carbine was not chambered in the 300 Savage”
            This is too big for M1 Carbine, not to mention that M1 Carbine was effect of program calling for weapon chambered for .30 Carbine cartridge.

    • That invasion of Japan was even considered,

      is proof of how little regard the united state leadership had for human lives of any race.

      There was total air and naval supremacy, The Japanese islands were without fuel and other basic resources, there was absolutely no chance of a breakout, and it was clear at the German surrender, that Axis plans for a nuke were years or even decades behind.

      The Japanese leadership had been seeking a negotiated surrender since at least January 1945, with overtures made via Portugal, Switzerland, the Soviet Union and the Vatican.

      – As a slight aside, a friend’s work used to bring them into direct contact with Britain’s two most notorious female serial killers. both were in the same prison. Neither one would acknowledge the other’s existence, if they met in a corridor, each looked straight ahead and studiously ignored the other.

      Were FDR, Truman and Churchill perhaps like that? each wanting to be queen bee and top psychopath?

      • If I am reading you correctly, you are way off base, from an American point of view (I realize you are English). The American attitude toward Japan just prior to the dropping of the bombs was just as hostile as it had been 8 December 1941, if not more so. It was obvious the Japanese were going to hold out until the last round was fired, and the expected loss of a million US casualties invading the home islands was SOP here. This is in addition to the widely proven fact that the Japanese in combat were utterly merciless, with no concept of the word surrender. The Japanese atrocities in China and elsewhere were also well known by that time.
        Expecting Truman et al to forego using a weapon they were virtually certain would end the War would have been utterly unreasonable. Not to mention the Brits were solidly behind it as well.

      • Sure, but did you know that some radical elements in the IJA attempted to kidnap Hirohito when they heard he was taping his surrender speech? Not everyone was in favor of surrender, no matter how bad the situation looked! Several Japanese commanding officers at the frontlines ordered an all out attack, believing that the surrender was nothing more than American defeatist propaganda to trick the Japanese into getting slaughtered. Others went into hiding, refusing to believe the war was finished (several hold-outs were found up to 1980 or so). Sure, the Emperor and his ministry asked for a negotiated surrender, but Tojo and all of the radicals in both Army and Navy refused to comply (tons of good officers were literally stabbed in the back for mentioning the hopelessness of facing America, China, Britain, and the USSR all at once). So perhaps the only way for Japan to surrender without nukes dropping would have been for Hirohito to broadcast a surrender speech to all military units and to diplomats. Given that the Emperor’s orders could not be disobeyed (thanks to the culture already in place), would that have satisfied America’s demands for giving up war WITHOUT invasion or nukes?

        • The Japanese had signaled a desire for a negotiated settlement. The United States demanded unconditional surrender. As the war came ever closer to the Japanese home islands, there was a pattern of increasing Japanese defense in depth and ever greater desperation and willingness to counter U.S. offensives with suicidal “special operations.” The decision to “use the bomb” when it came available was taken long before Harry S. Truman became the actual Missouri haberdasher-turned-senator-become-POTUS.

          U.S. air attacks and unrestricted submarine warfare and the massive laying of mines in the approaches to the Japanese islands had rendered the nation prostrate. Starvation stalked the land, and it is certainly frightening indeed to contemplate, as historian Lizzie Collingham has in _Taste of War_ the entire Japanese population being subjected to the “starvation island” Guadalcanal treatment: From an IJA and IJN that had some of the most calorie-rich foods in the 1930s, to put some muscle on peasant lads showing signs of growing up malnourished, to literally nothing. Corpse eating and even outright cannibalism in New Guinea, and at Leyte and elsewhere.

          Japan would not surrender without guarantees about the status of the emperor. The U.S. refused to contemplate allowing conditions for a Japanese surrender, but then turned around volte face and allowed Hirohito to remain. Supposedly he knew Japan had lost the war after 9 March 1945 Operation Meetinghouse and the incineration of Tokyo. Too bad he dithered an additional five to six months for all concerned… The Soviet entrance into the war led to the Soviets advancing into Manchuria, handing it over to Mao’s forces, setting up the future DPRK/KPA in North Korea, and could have led to Soviet occupation of Hokkaido and perhaps even the Tohoku region of northern Honshu presently site of the whole Fukushima disaster and its ongoing issues…

          Perhaps the bomb might have been used first as a “demonstration” and perhaps the second plutonium “Fat man” bomb might have been withheld a bit longer… But the prospect of continued air attack, naval bombardment, and blockade of the isolated home islands might well have exerted a fearful toll of civilians too. Certainly Eisenhower, Nimitz, and others were appalled by the decision to use nukes to end the war through threat of prompt and utter destruction.

  6. The still photograph at the beginning of the video was probably inadvertantly reversed. It shows the AK with the safety lever on the left side of the receiver rather than on the right side as it should be.

      • Good grief… That aside Earl, the AK can still be reloaded without taking your dominant hand away from the trigger. For a right handed person, it is probably a good habit to rock in the magazine and then reach over/under the rifle to pull the charging handle with the left hand. Tactical reloading like that can be the difference between stopping a charging enemy before he gets within bad breath range and getting too personal with said enemy in a bayonet duel… Or am I wrong?

        • In Csl. army and probably Warsaw pact in general, the correct and the only conceivable way was to have charging handle of right side, just as controls and ejection port.

          Left hand would hold the weapon by foreguard during magazine changes and failure clearings. All the rest would be done by right hand. Left handers were not considered. To tell you truth, even after years of being exposed to different views, I still consider it to be right.

          • Okay, you have a point when it comes to training doctrine. The most basic procedures are often the best for teaching conscripts. Advanced tactical reloads are generally only done by experts (like special forces personnel), though I wonder how many armies teach the “Israeli Draw” for side arms…

            Magazines were carried at the right hand side of one’s equipment belt unless I’m completely wrong, since your procedure calls for the right hand to do all the fine mechanics. Therefore, the only way to change magazines would be “right hand off the trigger, whack out spent magazine, grab and then rock in new magazine, pull charging handle, and then continue shooting.”

            Did I mess up?

          • I am not kidding you Cherndog, there were detailed manuals for everything. If you read them and acted accordingly, you did not have to think about it; it became your second nature.

        • I know — I own six different AK variants, plus a couple of vz.58’s ( I am including the latter because of the similar control layout — with the exception of the safety lever, unless one is using a VEPR-12 ambidextrous safety lever or a Krebs Custom modified safety lever, or something similar ). I just happened to notice that the photographic image at the start of the video was probably reversed, that’s all.

          • You are right Earl, safety/ fire mode switch on vz.58 is on LH side – to be operated by thumb of right hand.
            This differs from mentioned AK.

    • I spotted that reversal too. Whilst I suspected “photoshop”, I was going to ignore that and congratulate Ian on having found a “left handed” version 🙂

  7. Germany had experimented with several short cartridge designs, among them a 7 mm DWM cartridge used in a Walther selfloading rifle and a 7.62 mm Geco used in the Vollmer machine carbine. The Geco cartridge looks very similar to the 7.62 M43. From this stems the idea that the M43 was, lets say, inspired by the Geco. I think the Russians were able to design it independently. But they saw it necessary to predate this obvious post-war adoption as model 1943.
    Keep in mind the the eventual Sturmgewehr 44 started as Maschinenkarabiner 42, firing from an open bolt, designed with burst fire in mind. Actually, a Mauser prototype in early 1942 was called schwere Maschinenpistole (sMP, heavy submachine-gun). Only after troop trials (from late 1942 onwards) it became obvious that well aimed single shots were required and should be the general mode of fire. The design was changed to a hammer fired closed bolt design.
    Also it should be noted that Hitler opposed the short cartridge and ordered to stop development (this is the reason behind renaming the gun MP43).

    An important difference between Russian and German view is in my mind that the Russians replaced the carbine 44 Mosins in the squad with SKS carbines and the submachine-guns with the AK. German view was that StG 44 should be the standard individual weapon for all in the squad, except the machine gunner. Due to lack of assault rifles and particularly ammunition this could only be implemented to a very limited degree.

  8. Watching the slow-motion videos of both rifles firing, I was surprised at how much the barrels flexed up and down with each shot. Yes the whole rifle moves under recoil, but the barrel flex is a separate action. Do all barrels flex like that ? Or just the thinner ones.

  9. The Germans started out with the idea that the MG team was the primary functional center of the squad; the point of the squad was to keep the MG in operation, protect it, and get it to where it was most effective. The riflemen were there to serve the gun, scout for it, and carry the massive amounts of ammo that the approach required.

    The Allies proceeded on different courses; the US, in particular, saw the individual rifleman as being the primary focus of the effort. There was no belt-fed MG in the squad; you had a BAR, which was an individual weapon conceived to fulfill the Automatic Rifle role envisaged by the French with their concept of “Marching Fire”. A great deal of US doctrine sprang from that same source, and the mentality of the individual rifleman’s primacy that was fostered by the NRA and the Camp Perry circle.

    Not a terrific amount of clear thinking about what actually happened in WWI combat went into the US conception of “how we’ll fight” for WWII. The Germans, on the other hand, having lost the war, did a great deal of “clear thinking”, and came up with the whole school of tactics that surrounded the MG34/42 family of guns. The late war effort to issue the StG series of weapons stemmed from an acknowledgment that more firepower was needed at the individual level, and, thus… The StG. If you look at the MTOE for a German squad, during that period, the MG team was separated out, and held at a higher level. Practically, however, the MG was still usually detached to the squad, and only concentrated when the higher command level needed it. Much of this change was due more to a loss of the highly skilled and laboriously trained troops that wrought such havoc on the various Allied armies with their MG34/42 gun systems. The Volksturm was not something they were able to lavish a lot of training time on, or ammo, which was key to making the early war system work well.

    Conceptually, the handwriting was on the wall well before WWII. The way forward was the assault-rifle armed individual soldier, working within a squad equipped with a belt-fed GPMG firing a heavier rifle caliber. The Soviets got there first, and the rest of the world followed after a detour into la-la land with the so-called “battle rifle” concept. Had anyone actually bothered to do the analysis, and honestly appraised things, the M14 would never have happened, and the 7.62X51 NATO cartridge would have been something developed off of the British .270/.280 family of cartridges, while the GPMG round would probably have been standardized on the 7.62X63 .30-06. Unfortunately, the various interlocking interests of the US Ordnance community conspired against any such rationality, and here we are.

    What is interesting to note is just how much convergence there was, across all the participating armies of WWII, when it came to actual “war as she is fought” armament down at the squad level: Nearly all had belt-fed MGs in the line squads, with semi-auto riflemen/full-auto submachinegunners in support. The early war German approach of sole reliance on the MG team for firepower was found to be flawed, for just the reasons Ian outlines, and the US emphasis of the individual rifleman was too found to be flawed; thus, the spectacle of the M1919A6. There were still vestiges of the early war attitudes, however, in that the German approach still saw the MG as being the essential center of the squad, while the US focused more on having the MG support the riflemen, rather than the other way ’round, as in German practice.

  10. If there is a hot subject in firearm enthusiast circles – this is it: how well does AK follow its predecessor. I believe (and Ian pointed it out), the base of conception is in originating thoughts. Even Russian word “avtomat” (and similarly Czech “samopal”) says that well.

    They are not really same way of conception. Sure, Russians had benefit of peace and unstrained production sources, but even then I’d consider AK to be better optimised for it role. What I hold against MP is lack of heat barrier in foreguard and its excessive weight and size. also, the stamp-mania goes little too far. In contrary, AK is as contained as possible into its basics.

    Any picture from current Iraq and Syria tell the story.

    • Denny,
      as far as I know the Czech word samopal is the exact equivalent of submachine gun, not of automat. East Germans called their AK versions a submachine gun (Maschinenpistole K, MPi-K), too.

  11. @ Cherndog & Denny :

    I think you are both correct as to the weapon handling methods you have described. Like Denny, I was inculcated with the “left hand supporting the handguard while the right hand does almost everything else” ( for right-handed users ) training doctrine when I was “in”. This applied to both service rifles of the time, the L1A1 SLR and the M-16 / M-4 variants. It works extremely efficiently with practice, like anything else. Left-handed users were taught to rotate the L1A1 slightly to the left so that the left hand could operate the charging handle while the right hand maintained control of the handguard, or for those who could manage the rifle’s weight, use the right hand to operate the charging handle while the left hand held firmly on the pistol grip ; on the M-16 and M-4, lefties learned to operate the left-side safety switch with their trigger finger ( much like right-handed users operating the vz.58’s right-side mounted safety with their trigger finger ), the centerline-mounted charging handle being equally accessible for both left and right-handed users.

    Whatever the method used, regardless of whether one is left-handed or right-handed, the key to maximum combat efficiency is practice and familiarity with the prescribed methodology.

    • I have seen first time charging handle on LH side on Cdn. version of FAL. I was pretty flabbergasted first; I realized that if I wanted to charge the action, I’d have to hold rifle with right hand at grip and stock firmly in shoulder. Even with that done, it seems like precarious act.

      Of course, lefties are in advantage here.

      • Hi, Denny :

        Please see my follow-up post to correct an accidental mix-up in Lines 4-7. I agree that an ergonomic weakness of the FAL / L1A1 platform for right-handed users is the left side charging handle. I think there are some kits available now that convert the rifle to right-side charging with left-side ejection.

    • In my previous comment, I inadvertantly crossed up what I meant to say in Lines 4-7. Regarding the L1A1 SLR, they should read as “Left-handed users were taught to rotate the L1A1 slightly to the right so that the left hand could operate the charging handle while the right hand maintained control of the hand guard, or for those ( right-handed users ) who could manage the rifle’s weight, use the left hand to operate the charging handle while the right hand held firmly on the pistol grip”.

      Sincere apologies to all concerned for any confusion this might have caused.

  12. regarding private/unlisted videos ….

    Does anyone know what the story is with these kind of private videos @ Forgotten Weapons?

    Sturmgewehr MP-44 Part I: Mechanics — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnXBshjGFo8

    Sturmgewehr MP-44 Part II: History & Implementation — /watch?v=8sRRn37PDaQ

    These YouTube videos are not listed in the Forgotten weapons channel and cannot be found by searching, either from within YouTube or using Google.

    a few questions:

    Are they also posted on Full30 in ‘private’ or ‘unlisted’ mode?

    Is a full list of them catalogued anywhere, perhaps as link somewhere in Patreon members-only logged in area?

    And lastly, is there a huge stockpile (perhaps going back years) of similar unlisted ForgottenWeapons videos sitting around somewhere?

    … Just curious, as these two are some excellent and very informative videos. I would hate to think that maybe the things of a more technical nature are being weeded out because *most* people find them boring (a perpetual complaint of mine regarding just about everything).

    • “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

      Ok, how about trying this again with the youtube links semi-removed. Begin test …

      Does anyone know what the story is with these kind of private/unlisted videos @ Forgotten Weapons?

      Sturmgewehr MP-44 Part I: Mechanics — (YouTube video) /watch?v=HnXBshjGFo8

      Sturmgewehr MP-44 Part II: History & Implementation — (YouTube video) /watch?v=8sRRn37PDaQ

  13. It seems that once you are tagged for moderation for making a triggering post, all subsequent posts automatically go into the moderation queue. This site is also coming in unusually slowly today, thought that’s probably not related.

      • The same thing happened to me too. Oh, the shame of it all :):).

        Seriously, though, I wonder if the terms “AK” and “vz.58” or something similar are triggering the moderation tags due to the recent and highly-emotional, um, “discussions” involving one l_c…….u?

  14. I find that the handling of the MP44 and the AK47/AKM to be close to each other. Recoil impulse and muzzle climb are almost identical. As far as how durable the MP44 is compared to the AK47/AKM family I’ll just have to take someone else’s word for it. I’m glad I had the chance to take the MP44 for a spin. It’s been one of the more interesting rifles I’ve had the pleasure to fire in my lifetime.

  15. I am not sure if this is good idea to mention, but I will try.

    What I have in mind is the evolution which has taken place since both mentioned weapons in the West and Russia/ China. We can see an effort culminating with something which in a way is iteration of Johnsons’ rifle – in form of HK416, just about being adopted by France as new service rifle. Russia of course keeps firmly on its time proven AK while adding some utility and improved ergonomy details to it.

    Does anyone dare to guess what will come next?

    • “Johnson’s rifle?” Well, insofar as there is a multi-lugged rotating bolt, I suppose that that is the case… I might say Eugene Stoner and the AR-18… A multi-lugged bolt, omission of the direct gas impingement, but the same ergonomics and “modular” approach as the AR/M16… The U.S. has used various iterations of the M16 now longer than any other service rifle. This would be the Plateau of which engineers talk about small arms design.

      As for what will come next, I think that sighting and targeting is where technological applications are increasingly focused. The weapons themselves pretty much seem to be cheap-to-produce warmed over AR18s, albeit with more polymer and less sheet metal. Grenade launchers like the recently halting attempts of France’s PAPOP, the Korean launcher system, and the cancelled XM25 appear to be where lots of small arms design efforts are going. With kinetic energy projectiles, i.e. bullet launchers, maybe telescoping ammunition, or polymer or some other kind of case might displace metallic cartridges. The guns themselves would appear to be “stuck” at gas operated, turning bolt firearms. Why the tipping bolt has gone by the wayside is a mystery to me, but perhaps you guys and gals know what the issues might be?

      • Thank you Dave for giving attention to my note. I know I little bit (and consciously) over-shot claiming Mr.Johnson as father of modern rifle. What I meant was that he was the prime advisor to Armalite group. Role of Mr.Stoner is undeniable however.

        Having been involved in industry for some time in past have grasp of AR concept and as much as I was its admirer before seeing it ‘in natura’ I cooled off considerably afterwards. In my sincere opinion it is a system not suitable to intense field assignments without risks to reliability. To put it simply, no match to AK.

        I am in line with your view of potential ammunition development direction. In addition I see role for type of ammunition which would cover different roles e.i. with different projectile configurations in one identical casing. When comes to launchers (rifles as we call them) it was some 30 years ago specifically stated that “hit probability” was number one objective, yet procurement system somehow magically forfeited this and quietly backed off.

        This particular point IMO remains the main challenge and source for improvement potential. As long as there is kick present, the potential of immediate second aimed shot is seriously impaired.

      • Hi, Dave :

        Good question. I personally don’t think either system is necessarily superior to the other from a mechanical and functional standpoint as long as proper manufacturing techniques and tolerances are adhered to. Having said that, the advantage of a gas-operated rotating bolt action that locks directly into the barrel appears to be that it is somewhat simpler to manufacture, and enables a lighter, less expensive ( often stamped ) receiver to be used if desired. Tilting-bolt actions ( eg., FAL and vz.58 ) as well as rotating-bolt actions ( I think the M14 is one of these ) that lock to the receiver require a more rigid milled receiver and more precise machining, with the attendant additional costs in time, materials and labor.

        Just my two pfennigs’ worth, of course. Someone like Keith with more firearms machining experience could probably provide a more in-depth answer.

      • Something to add on subject of “sighting and targeting”.

        I appreciate share of progress achieved by respective devices, but have a major reservation when comes to their survivability and usefulness under severe conditions. I cannot imagine usefulness of optical sight, which was splashed over with mud or clogged with blowing snow. The conventional “iron” sights have still their place.

        • “I appreciate share of progress achieved by respective devices, but have a major reservation when comes to their survivability and usefulness under severe conditions.”
          All depends on shroud/cover of said devices. What you think about sighting system of H&K G11?

          • Maybe in the not-too-distant future they will all have windshield wipers.

            It’s been a fairly common practice, going back decades, for users of high-end cameras to use clear glass “filters” over the lens as a protective measure — similar to a lens cap except that they don’t have to be removed and put back on constantly. They can also be easily removed if they get dirty and can’t be immediately cleaned.

            In contrast, firearm optics manufacturers seemed to be decades behind in taking that approach.

          • Not a chance. But I tell you this… I spoke with man who seen it up close. His assessment: “it looks like dog’s breakfast”. Apparently he meant gun upon disassembly.

            Just by appearance, it looks like sight is well protected though.

      • “Why the tipping bolt has gone by the wayside is a mystery to me, but perhaps you guys and gals know what the issues might be?”
        Locking by rotation give better reliability than locking by tilting.

  16. The reason that the MP44 ( and the Gerat rifles) rates of fire are lower and more controllable in full auto is that they
    have long “over-runs” of the bolt and carrier past the ejector so that the spring can slow down and return the bolt/carrier
    without it hitting the rear of the receiver. The AK carrier hits the rear of the receiver on every shot and jumps the gun
    upwards. The FN and M16 are worse for this. If you look at a slow-motion film from the right side of the actions you will
    see that which I describe. The MP44 carrier rarely hits the rear of the receiver,usually only when it is firing the last
    few rounds when the frictional force of the magazine on the underside of the bolt is less.
    One of the reasons the AK is so reliable is that the bolt is not trying to rotate during its travel because of the “dwell
    section of the camtrack.
    The 7.62 x39mm cartridge is identical except in geometry to the Kurz, even the gas ports are in the same position

  17. I think it unlikely that the NKVD stole the DWM or GECO intermediate cartridges, or even if they did, unlikely that the thefts had much effect on Russian development. The IDEA was certainly taken from the Germans, and also the detailss of convenient adaptation and manufacture: a shortened bullet and case that utilized current and familiar machinery, headspacing, bolt-head size, and rifling.

    And consistency of caliber and rifling as an economy measure has been an obsession of Russian arms manufacture since the Tsarist days: Mosin-Nagant rifle, Nagant revolver, Tokarev pistol, SVT-40, all the submachine guns, SKS, Dragunov, and AK: 7.62 caliber and the same rifling across the board regardless of barrel length or chamber size.

    I sometimes wonder if the US military’s determination to impose .308 on NATO wasn’t just to save the cost of new barrel-boring and rifling machines.

  18. As for the wear factor, is it in the relation to the mild steel Stg receiver, compared to the cromoly stamped and heat treated Akm one ???

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