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GUNS Magazine August 2011 Digital Edition - Page 52

Brass flies as Duke shoots the 7.92x33mm Kurz MP44 Sturmgewehr. Battle Battle against against the the Russians, Russians, which which was was often often conducted conducted at at ranges ranges within within 400 400 meters, meters, led led to to the the development development of of the the first first “assault “assault rifle”—the rifle”—the German German MP44. MP44. In In addition addition to to the the MP44, MP44, a a P38 P38 pistol, pistol, stick stick grenade grenade (fake, (fake, of of course) course) and and extra extra mags mags are are the the weapons weapons a a well-armed well-armed German German “Landser” “Landser” (infantryman) (infantryman) might might have have carried carried on on the the Eastern Eastern front front circa circa 1944. 1944. Mike “Duke” venturino photos: yvonne venturino hen the russians overran the eastern part of germany at the end of World War II, hundreds of thousands of its citizens were taken in captivity back to the Soviet union. not all of these captives were soldiers. Many were civilians with special talents or knowledge. One such was hugo Schmeisser, who was director of the weapons manufacturing plant named C.h. haenel located in Suhl, germany. he was also the firm’s chief designer. W One bit of irony is that Schmeisser’s name has been forever connected with the German MP38 and MP40 9mm submachine guns, with which he had little or no part in designing. On the other hand he was the father of the entire assault rifle concept and gets little credit for it. His design evolved through many names but most firearms enthusiasts today prefer the last one bestowed on it by Germany’s military—the Sturmgewehr. That’s German for “storm rifle” or “assault rifle.” Germany’s Wehrmacht began hostilities in 1939 with two basic shoulder-fired personal weapons for its front line units. They were the MP38 9mm submachine gun and the K98k 7.92x57mm (8mm Mauser to Americans) bolt-action rifle. Shortly thereafter German ordnance officers recognized most infantry rifle combat occurred at ranges within 400 meters. Therefore, the 1,000 meter-plus effective range of the standard 7.92x57mm as fired from bolt-action rifles was unnecessary. On the other hand, the 100-yard effective range of the 9x19mm pistol cartridge in submachine guns wasn’t enough. Therefore, a compromise round was developed. Bullets remained 7.92mm (.323") but weighed only 125 grains 52 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • AUGUST 2011

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