By Christopher R. Bartocci
Anyone who is a student of modern military small arms has heard of the father of the modern day assault rifle, the Nazi StG44 or Sturm Gewher which translates into Storm Rifle or proper English translation- assault rifle. It was the first intermediate cartridge, selective-fire rifle that had a high capacity 30-round magazine and had mild, controllable recoil. This rifle was chambered in the 7.92×33 Kurz cartridge. Some were brought back to the U.S. from the war and after the fall of the Third Reich, the rifle and caliber dissolved. No further production of rifles was ever made yet some companies actually produced a limited number of rounds including former East Germany, FNM out of Portugal, Privi Partizan out of Serbia and even Hornady made a run.
For the average gun enthusiast, he would be lucky to see, let alone fire, one of the pieces of modern military history.
In 2011 the prayers were answered with compromise. How about an StG44 that would fire a common cartridge? Say the ever popular .22 Long Rifle? That is just what ATI and German Sport Guns GmbH did with the introduction of their GSG-StG44. The service and distribution of this new rifle belonged to American Tactical Imports, Inc. (ATI) out of Rochester, New York. The unveiling was at the 2012 SHOT Show.
SAR obtained a test and evaluation rifle. It was received packaged in a very well made wooden crate. The rifle was broken down into the receiver, pistol grip assembly and stock all wrapped in plastic and held in place by wood planks screwed into support beams. After unscrewing the planks and retrieving the parts it was noticed immediately the incredible detail of this rifle and even the way it was assembled. This author has had significant trigger time on the World War II German StG44 and is quite familiar down to the last detail. The rifle assembled in the exact same way with the main difference being the provision that made the rifle a blow back operated .22 Long Rifle caliber. After it was assembled it had the exact fit and feel of grand daddy. One very unique fact about the StG44 is the trigger; it has a springy draw until it reaches the hammer. The GSG rifle had that exact same trigger. To someone not familiar with the actual rifle, you may not appreciate that terrible trigger. But GSG wanted to build an exact replica and that is what they did.
When looking at the data of overall length of 37.3 inches, barrel length of 16.3 inches and weight without magazine of 9.15 pounds, these are all within the specifications of the original rifle. The safety is on the left side of the pistol grip assembly and is a flip lever. The original being selective fire had a separate cross bolt selector that went from semi to fully automatic fire. Due to the GSG-StG44 being semiautomatic only there is no need for this provision so it is just molded into the receiver and does not move. The cocking handle locks open the same way by pulling all the way to the rear and engaging the stop notch. The stock is made of a very nice wood and retains the metal butt strap as well as the oil bottle hole in the top of the stock.
Disassembly is the exact same down to the removable aluminum handguard. The rear takedown pin is pushed out of the receiver and the stock comes directly off of the receiver. At this point the trigger group pivots downward out of engagement with the rear of the receiver. Now the springs and the bolt are exposed. In the case of the GSG-StG44, you remove the receiver cap spring, damping devise and breech block. You may remove the trigger group pin as well and separate that from the receiver. The last thing to remove is the metal handguard.
The rifle was taken to the range. The ammunition used to test the GSG-StG44 was ATI Scorpion ammunition. This is custom ammunition made for ATI by ARMSCOR in the Philippines that has been over a year in the making. ATI had very specific instructions to how they wanted this ammunition loaded – that is to function in semiautomatic firearms and the load was developed to do just that. The projectile is a 40 grain copper plated lead round nose. The projectile has ever so slight ogive to it with a perfectly rounded nose. The nominal velocity is 1,260 feet per second. The headstamp is the ATI logo.
More than 200 rounds of Scorpion .22 Long Rifle ammunition were fired at a 25 yard range with no malfunctions. Quite unusual for a .22 Long Rifle given some of my resent research. Both rifle and ammunition were in sync and worked well. Accuracy was within 2 inches off hand. There was no bench available. With support the groups might have been that much more tighter. The rifle felt solid and robust like its grand daddy. The thumb assist on the magazine made it easy to load, much less punishing on the thumb.
Due to the lack of availability of the real thing, the GSG-StG44 is the next best option. The attention to detail in design and manufacturing makes the rifle feel just like the original. The StG44 is truly a piece of military history that was a game changer in how future wars were to be fought. This is living history of the modern day assault rifle. The MSRP is $499.95 for the rifle without the wood crate.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V18N4 (August 2014)