CE: G43 – MP44 Collectors Service
MP 44's
 

Note: This part of the webpage is only a supplement or an addition to the excellent book: Sturmgewehr, 2004, by Hans-Dieter Handrich and to Peter Senichs book: The German Assault rifle. The book is from 1987, interesting but not quite updated.

The MP44 / StG44
The MP43 / MP44 / StG44 are essentially the same gun. For some unknown reason the MP43 was officially renamed to the MP44, April 25, 1944, and the MP44 was again renamed to the StG44, October 22, 1944. StG means "Sturmgewehr" - "Stormrifle" or "Assaultrifle". This last designation must have been made in propaganda considerations. The new names weren't effective until much later. The MP43 was produced from Dec. 1943 to 1945, and the MP44 was produced from 1944 until the end of the war. The StG44 was produced in 1945 only. Which name is correct? One could argue that the StG44 was the last used - and then the correct one, and other could say that the majority of these gun were marked MP44, so the common name should be MP44. One of the four producers used only the designation: MP44. (In fact there exist a few MP45. One quick-witted person may have thought: We have made MP43, last year we made MP44, and now here in 1945 it must be MP45).
German army studies had shown that few combat engagements occured at more than 300 m and the majority within 200 m. The German standard ammunition - 8x57JS - was capable to kill beyond 1500 m. A rifle fired that ammo in shot bursts was impossible to control - a lesson taught also with the AVT40, FN FAL, HK G3 etc. The MP40 - using 9 mm parabellum ammo - was easy to control, but only effective at shorter distances; perhaps 20 m and indeed not 200 m. So the Germans invented a new cartridge: 8 mm kurz. Same diameter as the 8x57JS but much shorter, 48.0 versus 80.6 mm. This new ammo was the vital part of the succes of the MP44 / StG44. See more about the "kurz" here.

Generally accepted as the world's first assault rifle, the StG44's effect on post-war arms design was wide-ranging, as seen with the Russian AK47, and more than 15 years later in the U.S. M16 and other rifles in cal. 5.56 mm.
One can ask the question: What about the "war baby" born at the same time on the other side of the ocean - the U.S. M1 carbine cal. .30? More than 6 million made. Didn't it inspire weapons constructors. The answer is: not much. The problem was the ammunition:

Energy/Joule:          9mm para MP      U.S. M1 carbine   8mm kurz             7.62x39mm Rus.   5.56mm Nato        7.62mm Nato       8x57JS / sS - K98k
     0 meter 556 1324 1877 1991 1867 3292 3648
100 meters 399 848 1328 1417 1503 2763 3190
200 meters 286 541 919 1009 1204 2291 2791
300 meters 205 377 634 718 954 1882 2428
The carbine didn't have much power beyond 100 - 200 m, so it couldn't be used as a "stormrifle" - only as a weapon for personal defence.

The whole concept was born as MKb42 - Maschinenkarabiner 42. Both Walther and Haenel made prototypes but the Haenel design was preferred. After some minor changes - such as change to closed bolt firing - the new MKb42(H) was sent to the field late in 1942, where it was well received by the users. The troop trials resulted in the new MP43/1. It fired from a closed bolt, had a dustcover, a longer handguard and no bayonet lug. Hitler rejected the project several times in 1942 - one of the reasons was the use a new type ammunition. In Feb. 1943 the MP43/1 was demonstrated for Hitler. He turned pale when he saw it: "Now you come with the same stuff again which I don't want to see anymore, even though you gave your baby a new name." However, Hitler's ban was ignored by the Supreme Command of the Army - and troop trials continued. (this and other information are partly taken from H-D Handrich's book).
Finally in Oct. 1943 Hitler agreed that the MP40 should be replaced by the MP43. The change has to occur expeditiously. Note the name change: MP43 - the final production version. It had no rails for a scope mount and a slightly different barrel at the muzzle - see further below. The MP43 should only replace the MP40. The switching from K98k to G43 production should continue with emphasis on the scoped version.
Haenel was the only factory to produce the MKb42(H) (about 10,700 made) and the MP43/1 (about 24,600 made). Late in 1943 Haenel began to produce the MP43. The MP43 production was followed by Erma and Sauer in 1944. The fourth producer - that means final assembler - was Steyr. The designation used by Steyr all the time was MP44. Haenel, Erma and Sauer gradually change the name to MP44 during 1944. And Haenel, Erma and Sauer started to mark the guns StG44 in early 1945. The lugs for mounting a standard K98k bayonet disappeared with the MKb42 - (who could imagine bayonet fighting with an assaultrifle?). The scopemount-rails were last seen on the MP43/1 and the early MP43, because the G43 was given prority as sniperrifle with the the ZF4. Tests had shown that the MP44 was not usable for sharpshooting. Finally about October 22, 1944 Herr Hitler resolved that the MP44 - now named the StG44 - in the future should replace the K98k (and also the MP40) as the weapon of German infantery.

As said above the MP43, the MP44 and the StG44 were essentially the same. Some minor modifications happened during the short production run from Dec. 1943 to May 1945 such as omission of the threaded muzzle and a not so high stock (Einheitskolben - standardstock).
The rifle was rather heavy, 4.6 kg incl. an empty magazine, compared to the weight of a K98k: 3.9 kg. The weight wasn't much appreciated by the soldiers - especially with all the ammunition, but it made the gun rather easy to control during rapid fire. The reason for the high weight was the needs of the war which dictated the use of available non-priority steels so the rifle was made of heavy stamped and welded steel.
 
The good news was that it was easy to maintain, lubricate and assemble. In sharp contrast to the G43 with it's many pins, washers and springs - and an impossible to assemble extractor. The disassembly of the German G3 was directly copied from the StG44. The crossbolt was removed, so the trigger-housing could swing down. The buttstock was removed backwards incl. the recoil spring.
Official papers indicate that the line of sight was about the same as for a K98k. It's difficult to understand seeing this photo, where the firer's head is much exposed, when the magazine is resting on the ground. Note that both the muzzle nut and the scope mount are very unusual - presumed prototypes.
If single shots were to be used, the selector should be pressed to the left side so "E" was visible - and to the right side so "D" was visible if the shooter wanted to fire in bursts. Fire discipline was mandatory. "On priciple individual fire is to apply to individual targets. However, if a decision is necessary, e.g. in defending against an enemy attack at close range, the highest rate of fire in the form of burst fire is necessary. Burst are to be restricted to 3-4 rounds. Continuous fire is not allowed and would only mean a waste of ammunition. The gunner must be trained so that he fires only deliberate individual fire at favourable moving targets."
 
See above a pair of photos from the beginning of "the Battle of Bulge" in Dec. 1944. It appears as the "press coverage" on that occasion was better than on the Eastern front.
Production began with the first batches of the new rifle being shipped to troops on the Eastern Front. By the end of the war, a total of 425,977 (440,000? incl. April 1945) StG44 variants of all types were produced. The assault rifle proved a valuable weapon, especially on the Eastern front. A properly trained soldier with an StG44 had an improved tactical repertoire, in that he could effectively engage targets at longer ranges than with an MP40, but be much more useful than the Kar 98k in close combat, as well as provide covering fire like a light machine gun. It was also found to be exceptionally reliable in the extreme cold of the Russian winter. The allied could count themselves lucky that the StG44 wasn't more used by the Germans. This would have cost many lives.
Specifications: Weight: 4.6 kg (10.2 lb) unloaded with magazine, 5.1 kg (11.3 lb) loaded, Length: 940 mm (37"), Barrel length: 419 mm (16.5"), Cartridge: 7.92x33 Kurz (aka 7.9mm Kurz or Pistolenpatrone 43), Action: gas-operated, tilting bolt - full auto or semi auto, Rate of fire: 550 - 600 rounds/min., Velocity: 685 m/s (2.247 ft/s), Feed system: 30 rounds detachable magazine, Sights: rear adjustable sight, V-notch up to 800m, front: hooded post.

MKb42(H)
Below a fine MKb42(H). Only 10,700 were made and most were lost on the Eastern Front. This example here - with a rather high production number - doesn't have a bayo-mount. The magazine is marked MKb42.

Shooting a fully functioning MKb42   A 15-round magazine is used. Note it's possible to control it during the burst. That wouldn't have been possible with a 7.62 Nato cal. rifle.

MP44 scopes
Two different scopes and mounts were tested for the MP44 series of guns but none of these were actually produced because these guns had a shot dispersion which was so great that they couldn't replace the G43 as a sniper rifle:
MKb42, MP43/1: Had integral scope mounting rails at each side of the rear sight. A scope mount like the mount on a G41 was intended for use but was never produced. A prototype MKb42 is seen with a ZF41 - see below. See also a MP43/1 with integral scope mount (with a notch - the later models didn't have this notch)


MP43/1, MP43: A few had a scope rail spot-welded to the right side of the main housing. The steel base was almost identical to the integral G43 / K43 scope rail, but the MP43/1 wasn't found usable for sharpshooting. The main reason was that the fastening of the mount rail on the right side of the receiver caused irregular vibrations. Only the affixing of the mount rail on a more solid part would have brought improvements. Another thing was that the "kurz" ammo wasn't especially suited for sniping.
The scope rail was later used with the "Vampir" infra red setup. 
See two pictures below of a MP43 produced in 1944:


A ZF4 marked for use with kurz round. I am not sure about the origin of the mount. A special ZF4 was used for the "kurz Patrone" (because of different trajectory). See below two photos of a "P" scope. Note that the elevation knob has a maximum of 600m versus the normal 800m.




MP43/1
Note the scope rail below the rear sight. The scope rail had no notch. Some MP43/1 (the first) had scope rails with notch and the last didn't have scope rails at all. The MP43/1 had a special long muzzle nut.
 

MP44 magazine loader

The upper magazine loader is original. The lower is a repro. Note it's bent incorrectly so it's impossible to press the ammo down into the magazine.
 


The original loader to the left


Take down tool
The lower is original. It's difficult to tell the difference.

Spare parts bag
Made of rubberized fabric - original.
Contains: firing pin, extractor, extractor pin and extractor spring.

A bag presumed to be postwar Yugo



A MP43 made in 1945
Note here: no muzzle nut and no blueing at all. The first Sturmgewehrs were completely blued. Later some parts weren't blued - that depended on what the subcontractors delivered. The last weren't blued at all. Instead a cellulose spray was used. In the beginning it was grey - later transparent as on wood. This here has hardly any spray.

One of the last MP44 made
Three finishes: 1. Blueing, 2. Phosphorus, 3. Bare - nothing on the steel.
This weapon was taken from a German factory in the area of Aachen in 1945, from a crate with many others, it was never issued. Like new!!


A unique MP45
I have only heard of two MP45's - a misprint just as the MP45 marked magazine you can see further down

Different stocks
A MP43/1 to the left. A late MP44 to the right. The hole for the recoil spring is 1 cm deeper in the MP43/1 stock + the spring is longer and has 3 coils more.
 

From left to right: MP43/1, unknown model and late MP44. The "Einheitskolben" - on the right side - was made as standard after the summer of 1944. The "Einheitskolben" maybe fitted to the same hardware in vehicles as the normal Karabiner98. See on the right side a photo of late war stocks - some without ribs; all of these are laminated.
 

Stocks without spare parts compartment
A few "Einheitskolben" are seen without the trapdoor. These stocks have a number at the bottom (most probably added after the war) and the letters "JC" or "ac" - or more probable reversed "ce" on the left side in front of the sling slot.
The next photo shows the normal stock with the small booklet and tool.
 


The stock above is serial numbered - not original Wehrmacht made. The stock is marked "TG2". Some say this means: Tschekisches Gewehr fabrik (Czech rifle factory) - the code can also be: "tgf" - but it isn't easy to understand why the Czechs should use a German name after the war.

Improved bolt
The improved bolt - left - has a large diagonal relief beneath the exactor (removed here) to accumulate residue.


Magazine release button
The checkered type of button was used in the beginning - later appeared the raised ring version - simpler to produce.
 

A StG44 magazine with an U-construction
It's marked: STG44, qlw and WaA892.
The type is seen with Czech post war markings: E46 - in some cases E46 over stamped the German marking but this here has only the Wehrmacht codes.
Note here the U-construction instead of the normal pattern with two half stampings.



Another special magazine
It's marked MP45 to one side and gqm WaAA98 to the other. I guess such a magazine is produced at the beginning of 1945. They have perhaps thought: We have had MP43 magazines, last year we produced MP44 magazines; now we are in 1945 - so this must be a MP45 magazine ? MP45 magazines are only known with the code gqm.

  


A 10 round magazine
One would be inclined to think that a 10 round MP44 magazine with only a production code on the floor plate is a post war fake. But something indicates that such a magazine was made in a limited quantity during the war - perhaps for the Mauser made Stg45M (Gerät 06), which never came in production and always is pictured with a 10 round magazine - (or the soldiers themself shortened 30 round magazines to avoid a high shooting position).
I got the first 3 photos from a well-known MP44 magazine collector. He bought it in 1990 for 150 $. It was the only one in a batch of several hundred magazines. The only marking is "CHN" on the floor plate.
   

The next photo is a "Bodenfunde" (grounddug) from Poland. It looks like it has been in the earth for several decades.


Again next a complete MP44 with a short magazine.


Then you see two photos of 100 % relic from the battle of Bulge - found in a barn there. This magazine appears to be very short. I think it's front-made modification.
 

The last 2 photos are taken from a very "creative" eBay description of a 10 round magazine in the summer of 2006. (the magazine was produced for the Stg45M - of which only 4 were made - Mauser tried to salvage the Stg45M, but they were bombed in a train in Austria the last days of the war etc. - etc.).
 

Does a special MP44 sling really exist ?
See more on the "Sling section"

A special late MP44 sling?
This Steyr produced MP44 was found with a dead German soldier near Besançon. It seems as he had improvised gas mask straps and a D-ring also from a gas mask.
See pictures below: (Collection E.F.W.)
Comments are welcome, as I am not a gas mask expert.





A MP44 flashider
Most probably made after the war (Etzel sold them in the early nineties for 150 DM). Some have nazi eagles and a WaA63.

A flashider seen on a Hungarian auction


CB51 - made in Spain
A semi-automatic rifle in cal. 8x33.


 


CAM 1 - The Argentinian MP44 copy
Produced only as a prototype.


   

BD44 / PTR44 made by Sport Systeme Dittrich
200 PTR44 were imported to USA by SSD in Germany. The gun was / is labeled as BD44 in all other countries. I understand that the PTR44 was assembled in USA with some US made parts - and not all were heat treated properly, which has caused some problems. The BD44 works quite well; a problem could be the magazine which should be substituted by an original one.

The main problem is the "fodder": No one makes a perfect 8mm kurz round. Hornady and Prvi are the only commercial manufactures and even if one hand loads, there are no powders identical to the WWII 8mm kurz powder.


BD44



PTR44
See below a PTR44 - a pretty close copy of the ancestor - here with a rail for the ZF4 scope mount. On the underside of the receiver: fxo and cos but no Nazi chicken!




     

StG44 in cal .22
Produced by German Sporting Guns (in Germany of course) in cal. 22LR. It's said it's very well made and it shoots good also. The magazines have 2, 10, 15 or 25 rounds.


Differences between the 4 factories which made the final assembly:

Haenel - code fxo, WaA37
Haenel developed the whole concept and produced all versions right from the beginning - Mkb42(H), MP43/1, MP43, MP44 and Stg44. About 185,000 were produced.
Haenel serial number letters are German Gothic type - sometimes 2 letters. (NB a "x" looks very much like "H" or "ae"). Haenel barrels are marked with fxo and some have a kind of serial number on them that has nothing to do with the serial number of the gun.
The underside of the receiver is marked: cos / WaAA44 (Merz Werke), fxo (Haenel), WaA37 - twice (Haenel/Sauer) and a Nazi-eagle (German army proof).
 

Steyr - codes bnz / swj, WaA623
The whole Steyr production is designated MP44. 80,000 were made. The MP's have a muzzle nut and no scope mount. The last were crudely made. Steyr produced most of the parts themself incl. the receivers.
Steyr serial number letters are capital letters (966 I/XE can be misread as 9661/XE). XE means 1945. Steyr barrels always have a Steyr "bnz" shield.
Note here below a simplified Steyr main housing - below further again two "normal" receivers.
The underside of the receiver is marked: swj - or bnz (Steyr), WaA623 (Steyr) and a Nazi-eagle (German army proof).
 

Erma - codes ayf / qlv, WaA280
Erma produced MP43, MP44 and Stg44. 104,000 were made.
Erma serial number letters are regular small letters - at last 2 letters. Erma barrels will have nothing more than a letter such as "Q" or "S" and also have "ayf" or "qlv".
The underside of the receiver is marked: cos / WaAA44 (Merz Werke), qlv or ayf (Erma), WaA280 (Erma) and a Nazi-eagle (German army proof).
 

Sauer - code ce, WaA37
Sauer produced MP43, MP44 and Stg44. 55,000 were made.
Sauer serial number letters are regular small letters - at last 2 letters. Sauer barrels are always marked "ce".
The underside of the receiver is marked: cos / WaAA44 (Merz Werke), ce (Sauer), WaA37 (Haenel/Sauer) and a Nazi-eagle (German army proof).
 

Mauser - code byf / svw, WaA135
Mauser produced receivers for Haenel, Erma and Sauer but did not assemble the guns. Mauser made receivers are marked with the code "byf" or "svw". Mauser receivers are seen with small letters - sometimes capital letters in Gothic style. (Who numbered the receivers - and how was it ensured that the same number wasn't reused?)  The underside of this receiver is marked: byf (Mauser), WaA135 (Mauser), fxo (Haenel), WaA37 (Haenel/Sauer) and a Nazi-eagle (German army proof).


Letters in the serial numbers:
Haenel: nothing, a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, k, m, n, q, s, u, v, x, y, ai, aj
Erma: i, k, l, n, o, r, s, z, aa, ab, af
Sauer: p, u, y, ab, ac, ad, ae, ai, al
Steyr: nothing, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J (I not so tall)

See a picture of a large collection
I presume from USA - everything is so vast there !

Who used the Sturmgewehrs? Where did they end?
The Eastern front
The top photo shows the first unauthorized use of German hardware. When the German troops advanced in Russia they used to some extent Russian weapons such as the SVT40. The guns and ammunition was readlily available. The same happened for the long trail for the Russians westward - they used German MP and StG. The partisans in Poland and Ukraine used what they could get.
Next is a postcard to the family. I read on the backside: We have a peaceful time here at the front. We play accordion and on the Sundays we shoot for fun our super rare MKb42(H).

   


After the war
About 440,000 Mkb42 / MP43/1 / MP43 / MP44 / StG44 were produced and a great proportion of them were destroyed in combat. In Denmark for example were all previously German weapons British property. They had no use for such weapons - they had plenty of their own weapons - (albeit not in the same quality, think of German tanks, submarines and Sturmgewehrs), so all weapons were destroyed quickly. I presume the same happened all over the Western front and Italy. But not in Norway. Norway reused all kinds of German handguns such as K98, P08, P38, MG34, MG42 and to some extent the G43. But I don't think that the MP44 was used by any troops. The ammunition was problematic and they had too few MP44 because Norway wasn't given priority for the Wehrmacht to the most modern handguns.
The Russians could use such hand weapons, so they confiscated weapons and spare parts, this concerned also G43, K98 and pistols, they were renovated and stored. They didn't use the MP/StG44's themself but handed them over to other East Bloc states such as DDR and perhaps also to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
The guess is that more than 100,000 MP44 existed in the Eastern block in the late forties. Where did these end up?

Czechoslovakia to the early fifties
The Czech's had many MP/StG44 left over from the more than 800,000 troops ended there by the armistice in May 1945. They made ammo for them from 1945 to 1946. The guns were still in service at the time of the State Funeral of Masaryk in 1948, just about the time of the communist take over.
After that, with the adoption of the VZ52 and VZ58, the Sturmgewehrs (Samopal in Czech) were relegated to reserve and training use or export to "friendly states in Africa and the Middle East". The Libanese Forces indicate for example they had used the MP44/Stg44 rifles.The Czechs supplied a lot of either reconditioned or new ex-WW2 firearms to DDR from 1950 to about 1960 + ammo to match.

DDR to the early sixties
A systematic use of the MP44 was in Eastern Germany, where die Volkspolizei (the People's Police) used the MP44; The VoPo-name was used from 1946 and consisted of former Wehrmacht soldiers converted to communism. By Nov. 1946 the VoPo had more than 45,000 men, and in the same month the border police was created with 3,000 men. In Dec. 1946 the transportpolizei was established. The forces were organized and equipped as light infantery. Later the regular army was equipped with MP44's. DDR produced kurz up to 1961 so it must be presumed that they also used the guns up to the beginning of the sixties. See below a photo from DDR - Barracked People's Police - this force preceded the "People's Army" created on March 1, 1956.

Yugoslavia to the early eighties
One of the more extensively and systematic uses of the MP44 after the war, was in the Yugoslavian army, where it's said that 63rd paratroop battalion used the MP44 as the main handgun up to 1983. I am told that Tito gave Mr. Gadaffi (Libya) 40,000 MP44´s which trickled out to other countries.
Perhaps not much used in the last years. They used German made ammo - so they didn't produce normal kurz themself, but Yugoslavian made blank cartridges and rifle grenade cartridges are seen. - made in 1983. Dr. Dieter Kapell mentions this in his book "Die Patrone 8x33".





The middle East
Recent rumors tell that the Syrian rebels have captured 4000 or 5000 MP44 with all accessories, magazines etc. but NO ammo. They should be reworked DDR stuff. The ammo has always have been the problem with the MP44, as the kurz hasn't been made since 1961 and up to about 10 years ago. Even the Wehrmacht was constantly in short supply with ammo on the Eastern front.
You can see a video-clip from Syria here
Cop saves a StG44
A description of the StG44 - I think from Discovery Channel
I can't resist to bring this here too
Shooting a fully functioning MKb42

Northern Africa
This interesting picture shows MP44's captured by the French Army during the Algerian war (1954 - 62). Most of these weapons were shipped from Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia. Normally not blued but phosphated. My "correspondent" has also seen fine MP44's in Syria and Lebanon and some very bad in Somalia. The last brand new he saw, in original wooden box with Nazi eagle marked on the box, never used, was in Burkina Faso. Earlier called: République de Haute-Volta (we all know where this is? (humph!))



Somalia
Women of the West Somali liberation front express their support for Somalia during the war against Ethiopia for the border territory of the Ogaden 1977 - 78. Was the gun really loaded? If it had been today, she could have bought a AK47, 3 goats and a new man for her MP44.