Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian, I’m here today at the James Julia auction house. I’m taking a look at a couple of the guns that
they’re going to be selling in their October of 2016 firearms auction. And specifically what I want
to talk about today is actually these two models of firearm, more than these two specific examples
themselves (although these are both really excellent examples of these guns), they are the MP44,
or Sturmgewehr, and the AK-47, or AKM. In this case a type 56 Chinese milled AK.
These really are the two most iconic assault rifles of the 20th century. The MP44 here is
really the gun that developed the concept as a truly practical and widespread thing, and the AK is the gun that took that concept and spread it to the whole world. So, what the basic concept here is, is a
reduction in power from a full-size rifle cartridge (which you’re looking at a 150 to 200 grain bullet
travelling at 2,600 to 2,800 feet per second) and reducing both the velocity and the bullet weight.
So the bullet weight goes down to, in the case of both of these, about 125 grains,
and the velocity drops to 2,300 to 2,400 feet per second (maybe 2,200 to 2,400).
And what you do in that trade-off is you get rid of effective range. The maximum range for these rifles
drops to about 300 yards, give or take. And in return you get controllability in full-auto.
One of the problems with fully automatic, rifle calibre guns is that when fired from the shoulder
they typically have too much recoil to be practical. Now, yeah, if you spend a lot of
time practicing and decided to become an expert, absolutely, people can control those guns. But it takes a lot of mental bandwidth to do that. It’s not something you can do very easily and certainly not something you can do without practice. With one of these rifles, with a full-auto assault rifle, a fully automatic rifle in one of these intermediate smaller cartridges, you really can fire this fully automatic and control it, and control where it’s firing and where you’re hitting without an incredible amount of practice. That’s what makes them … what made them really the next step in firearms development from a military perspective. Now, when it comes down to a comparison
between these two guns, I will contend that the Sturmgewehr is the nicer of the two to actually
use. The Sturmgewehr is a little bit heavier, by a pound or two. It fires a slightly less powerful cartridge,
goes a little bit slower than the AK cartridge. And the gun has a slightly slower rate of fire.
And all these things combine to make this a very controllable gun. When you put your face,
your cheek, on the stock of these rifles the sights just drop right into alignment.
It’s easy to hold the gun down under recoil because it is a heavy gun, firing a slightly
weaker cartridge. And the slow rate of fire allows you to really effectively control
where the rounds are going. And you can see that in firing footage, that these
guns don’t move as much as AKs do. Now, the AK on the other hand, is a little more powerful, it’s a little bit lighter, it’s not quite as ergonomic. And when you fire it there’s more movement to the gun. It takes a little more effort to control it.
Because of the faster rate of fire you’re going to run out of ammunition
faster in general. However, the AK gives … the AK brought to the table a level of durability and complete lack of maintenance really, that the Sturmgewehr doesn’t have. The Sturmgewehr is a fully stamped rifle,
most of the main components on this thing are stamped sheet metal and they were actually
deliberately made with a service life. It was understood that these guns will not run forever,
eventually they will wear out. And the idea in Germany when these were
being manufactured was that the service life was frankly longer than the expected length of the war.
You know, if someone actually fired enough ammunition through
one of the Sturmgewehrs to wear it out, well fantastic, it’s amazing that they
survived that long and were in that much combat. We’ll just give them another rifle, problem solved. The AK kind of takes the opposite perspective,
especially the milled AKs, really are guns that will pretty much run until the
end of time. They have very chunky parts, there’s not very much to go wrong on them at all.
And they don’t require any real attention to maintain. You shoot it and lean it up on the wall.
And really the only thing you need to pay attention to is if you’re using corrosive ammo make sure you clean it, because otherwise you’ll erode the bore out. The Sturmgewehrs were fired during the war
with exclusively quite corrosive ammunition and need to be cleaned, unless of course you’re not going to survive the rest of the week. In which case, who cares? However, … the sheet metal stamped
receivers of the Sturmgewehrs do wear out. It’s not uncommon to find them damaged
sometimes and in need of repair in a way that you just don’t often find, certainly not on milled AKs. Now, it’s also interesting to look at the perspective under which both of these guns were adopted by their militaries.
With the Sturmgewehr, the idea was kind of to turn every rifleman into both a
riflemen and a light machine gunner. There’s a very interesting (I find fascinating),
early trials report, a combat report, from one of the very first units to get Sturmgewehrs.
And what they reported is, they had gone from a group (they had 86 men
I believe in the unit) with I think 12 MG42s and the rest of the men armed with Mausers.
And they refitted with their new Sturmgewehrs and they drop down to
4 MG42s and everybody else in the unit got an StG (or an MP43 at that point).
And they went into combat, they were fighting day in day out in Russia. And what they
found was on the attack, when they’re moving forward, they specifically detail
an advance of about a hundred yards (or a hundred meters), that they conducted onto a
Russian position and what they noted was they never had to stop. The German
troops were able to keep moving through the entire attack, all hundred yards, and take the enemy position. Where with their old Mausers they would
have had to stop a couple times to reload, because they only had five rounds.
With a 30-round magazine in a …, in this case it would have been used primarily on semi-automatic,
they were able to maintain fire while moving all the way to this objective.
Which led to far fewer casualties because they were able to get there faster, they were able to keep the enemy’s head down more effectively. And then on the retreat when they had been … if you were retreating under fire in a
typical German unit in World War Two with Mauser rifles and MG42 or 34
mounted machine guns, the machine guns would cover the riflemen. And then at some point,
the machine guns had to pick up and move backwards, relocate to a new
position rearward. When they packed up a substantial, in fact … the majority,
of the unit’s firepower was unavailable, and it left everyone vulnerable.
With the Sturmgewehrs this report specifically mentions that it effectively turned every
rifleman into a light machine gunner. There was no vulnerable period during a
combat retreat. They were … you know, you can do fire and movement where
a couple guys are moving while a couple guys are covering them, and
the guys covering have the same firepower capacity as if they had machine guns. So, the Germans really saw this as a rifle
made more effective in semi-auto. Where the Russians, on the other hand,
developed the AK as a submachine gun in tactical terms, really. The Russians had
transitioned largely to submachine guns at the end of World War Two. They had the
PPS-43, which was an extremely fast and cheap to manufacture submachine gun,
which is actually a far better submachine gun than you would expect just looking at it.
And when they developed the 7.62×39 cartridge, they recognized that this was a more
powerful cartridge than a pistol round, but they were developing a replacement
for the PPS-43. That’s what the AK was supposed to do. And in that guise
what it was intended for was close range combat, primarily in full-auto firing
bursts. Full-auto was more important than semi-auto on the AK, in terms of Soviet doctrine. And the AK does really well at that, that’s …
it’s higher rate of fire is more suited to that. Could it have been a smaller
cartridge, more like what the StG used? Sure, it could have been, but they opted not to.
And it’s interesting that the Soviets had adopted the SKS right at the same time,
as a new rifle to replace the Mosin-Nagant and the SVT. And the SKS … as soon as
the stamped receiver AKs were figured out and in production, the SKS was cut off.
They were deemed obsolete, they stopped producing them and realised that the AK which
they developed as a submachine-gun concept, really could do everything that the SKS
could and would stand in as a rifle. So, the two countries came at this approach,
kind of from opposite directions. The Germans developed a lighter, handier, …
rifle that had more volume of fire than a bolt-action. Where the Russians were
adopting a submachine gun that had a heavier cartridge than their 9mm, or … well,
than their 7.62 Tokarev submachine guns. So, it’s very interesting to consider these two
from those two different perspectives. And ultimately, obviously, the AK is …
time has proven the AK is the better of the two guns, but it did also come with the advantage
of seeing what the Germans were doing first and improving on those
things that needed improvement. We are fortunate in this country that,
while there may not be a lot of them and they may be quite expensive, guns like these
are still available to the general population. Anyone who sets their mind to really wanting
one, either one, or I suppose both, of this type of firearm really can purchase
one today. There are substantial numbers of these guns available. Obviously the
semi-automatic AKs are widely available and widely manufactured. Hopefully we’ll
see, before too much longer, semi-auto Sturmgewehrs available.
But the full-auto really does give you that full experience of what the design
was intended to do and how these guns were meant to be used. So if you ever have
the chance to fire one or both of these, I would strongly encourage you to do so.
And I would say go in to doing that, do some research, do some reading,
learn what the intention was behind the development of these guns. And try to …
that’ll allow you when you fire them to really appreciate what the designers
were trying to get. And you can make your own assessment of how well
or how poorly they succeeded at those goals. Of course, these two particular guns are both coming up for sale here. I’m sure this video will be watched well after
this auction is over. And the Julia company does regularly get machine guns,
transferable machine guns, like these two. So, definitely if you’re watching this later
than October of 2016, hey, you know, and you want to get some of these and you
are willing to make the financial commitment to owning one of them (they’re not super cheap).
Well, check out the Julia catalogue. There are links, for the time being, to these two particular guns and if you’re watching later, check out
jamesdjulia.com and take a look at their current auction, and see what they
are going to have coming available. Thanks for watching.