In the world of military small arms, many would argue that the most significant one in the last century is the Sturmgewehr. Though it is not known as the first assault rifle (Federov Rifle) but, it is the first most practical assault rifle used by the Germans during WWII.
This baby shoots a 7.9mm and can shoot on semi and full automatic. The Sturmgewehr may be one of the best firearm to shoot on fully automatic (in burst), because it has better control of the muzzle compared to the Grease gun. The magazine holds 30 rounds, but advised to use only 25. Has a tendecy to malfunction due to the mag movement (sway front and back) with the round nose diving forward positioned while in the mag. However, for tactical usage it was the perfect weapon for the intermediate engagement ranges (50 – 200 yards).
This is one of Larry Vickers favorite classic weapon to test and fire. See the footage below.
Hey, Larry Vickers here and I’m gonna take you through one of my favorite weapons of all time: The Sturmgewehr. This particular one’s MP 43-marked, and it was made in 1944. It’s an all-matching transferrable Sturmgewehr. Now, technically speaking, the first assault rifle was the Federov, however for all intents and purposes, the assault rifle as we know it, the first practical one fielded, was this bad boy right here, by the germans, in the hundreds of thousands in World War Two.
The Sturmgewehr is chambered in 7.92 kurz. Otherwise known as 7.92×33, or 8mm short. It’s a true Intermediate assault rifle caliber, in-between a 9×19 and a 7.92×57 full-size rifle caliber. In addition, it’s select-fire, capable of safe, semi, and fully-automatic.
I’ve shot this gun quite a bit, I’ve taken it to different classes, matter of fact the most popular video on the Sturmgewehr on the Internet is one that we did way back in the day on Tactical Impact. So I’ve learned a few things about it, I’m gonna take you through it.
First off, in my opinion, you wanna use original magazines in a Sturmgewehr. This is a world-war-two era magazine, this particular one is an MP44-marked, I’ve tried one of the later reproduction magazines, and it hasn’t worked nearly as well. Also, thirty-round mag, but I only load mine to twenty five. The reason being, you get that little nose-dive situation with the follower in the spring combination, and combined with the fact the way the magazine is held in the gun; in an M16-style mag-release, means you get this forward-and-back rocking situation right here. That combined with that nosedive situation I alluded to, and that means above twenty-five rounds the gun can shut down on you. May be the byproduct of the fact that it’s an old magazine and needs fresh springs, but I tend to believe it’s kinda inherent in the design.
Also, you notice how long the magazine is, so when you go prone, you can see why toward the end of the war when the germans were looking at the STG45, they went with a much lower 15-round magazine.
Dust cover right here is the one that the M16 copied; of course the M16 copy flips down verses flips up on the Sturmgewehr. One plus that this gun would have is if the sight radius was much longer, they bring the sight to the rear, make it a peep sight, you do that, and that would change the game on this thing. Also if you had any kind of a rail interface on the top like the FG42 did in WW2, and you have the ability to mount an optic on the top, would make a big difference. They did have an optic rail on some Sturmgewehrs that mounted on the side like a G43, but those are relatively rare.
Now, I’m gonna take you through some features of the design. First off, make sure the gun’s clear. It has an HK-style pushpin right here to rear. Matter of fact, that’s where the HK got it, was the Sturmgewehr. You push it to the side -just kinda set it over here- and now you just wiggle the buttstock off and the spring is in the buttstock. That was one of the weaknesses of the design. The spring is in the buttstock, so if the buttstock got damaged, or whatever the case may be, it’d shut the gun down. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen pictures late in the war of GIs and Soviets who wanted to deactivate Sturmgewehrs by breaking the buttstock, and the gun is out of commission.
Take the spring out, take off the buttstock, notice the trigger-group pivots down. And it’s riveted in place, so a gunsmith would have to take it off, unlike later with HK where they took the exact same concept, but they put a pushpin on it. Now trigger mechanism-wise, it has a real unique feature that really was largely lost after the war. Not many guns incorporated it at all. The safety selector’s on this side, and pivots down to allow you to fire the gun, but you select semi-automatic vs. fully-automatic with a cross-bolt. Actually, from an end-user point of view, pretty slick design. However, it did make for a more complex trigger mechanism, and if you shoot ’em a lot, these things have a tendency to break on you, like our good friends out at Battlefield Vegas found out.
Alright, now, the Trunnion, where the bolt locks into, is in this portion of the receiver right here, and it’s actually pinned in place, and the sheet metal is stamped and rolled around it. It’s entirely different than what the soviets did later with the AK series where the rotating bolt locked into a trunnion up front. In this case this is critical because the tilting bolt locks into the trunnion right here.
Now you’ll notice right here, you have some gas vents on the gas tube; that’s one of the reasons in combination with the fact that the hand guard is made out of metal, one of the reasons why when you shoot a Sturmgewehr, you really need gloves, because in the course of just one magazine, the gun gets very hot. And that’s why you’ll see guys shooting them, or even videos of World War Two soldiers grabbing them by the magazine. Nowhere near as controllable than grabbing the gun around the forend, but this puppy gets really hot on you, fast.
…Pushpin back in… Alright, getting ready to go hot here. Now, the gun’s kind of a mix of left-handed and right-handed friendly. The charging handle and the mag release are right-hander friendly, not really left-hander friendly at all; however, I would argue the trigger mechanism is left-hander friendly. It’s easy for a left-hander to manipulate the fire control, and then the mode selector, the push selector, on this, very easy for a left-hander to manipulate. So, right-hander friendly charging handle, mag release; left-hander friendly safety selector, fire mode selector. Alright, put on my eyes and ears, it’s time to go hot.
Alright, remember you wanna do your push-pull, make sure that magazine’s all the way in, we’re ready to go hot here.
Full auto, baby.
No bullet-hold-open device, of course, time to reload this thing and do a little bit more full-auto for you. Great gun to shoot, real soft shootin’ regardless, especially in this caliber and this weight of a gun, but on full-auto it is a pussycat to shoot. One of the most controllable assault rifles I’ve shot, bar none.
You would have to say, that in the world of military small arms, I would argue the most significant one in the last century is the Sturmgewehr. After WWII, all major nations adopted an assault rifle. Now the US was fairly late to it, many kinda beat us to the punch, but eventually we picked up the M16, which is a classic assault rifle, we’ve been running with it ever since. The Soviets learned a lesson real quick, ‘cuz they faced these on the eastern front, and they adopted the AK47, and they adopted the Kalashnikov ever since. In terms of significant military small arms, it’s hard to think of one that tops the Sturmgewehr. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.