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Sunday, March 12, 2017

guest article

Guest Article

STG vs AK: What's the Relation, if any, and is the STG-44 Truly the First Assault Rifle?
J N Morgan

The STG-44 started out as the Mkb.42(H) back in 1942, and was the prototype of what would later become the MP43, MP44, and ultimately the STG44. The Mkb.42(H) was an open-bolt firearm, like a typical STG of the time. Chambering a round is the same action as firing one, so you couldn't go 30+1 in spite of what can be done in the videogame Red Orchestra II, but is probably the most realistic WWII FPS I've ever personally played, but that's another story. As the design was improved they ended up removing the bayonet lug, made it a closed-bolt design to improve accuracy, though seemed to have maintained the scope mount for optics however I think they used the 1.5-2.5x scope more than anything, I can't remember exactly which magnification it was, but it wasn't very much.

The 7.92x33 cartridge that the STG fires  is actually not quite as potent as the 7.62x39 which came about around 1943 just one year later. If memory serves, 125gr at 2250 ft/s for the STG vs 123gr at 2350 ft/s for the AK-47 or AKM, even though the designs have very similar barrel lengths, and the barrel length is one of the few similarities these designs share. The STG's select-fire switch is separate from the safety, so whether set to fire or safe, you can still change the fire mode. With the AK, it's all in one lever, and also on the opposite side of the receiver; right side instead of left. This difference is also present on the charging handles; left side for STG and right side for the AK. The STG's mag release is also push-button on the left side, while for the AK it's an ambidextrous paddle behind the magazine.

The STG does have less felt recoil, and for good reason. Firstly, it is a VERY heavy assault rifle tipping the scales at somewhere between 10-11lb unloaded while the AK-47 was more around the 9lb ballpark, so a cool 1lb lighter. The later stamped-receiver AKM from 1959 or so was a paltry 6.7lb or so, however that might be without its magazine. With a bakelite (a type of plastic) 30-rnd mag, I wager it to be around 7.25lb. Add 30 rounds of M43 7.62x39 and you're looking at about 8.35lb. Back to the recoil aspect though; heavier firearms do absorb recoil better than lighter firearms typically, and also slower-firing firearms help as well. The STG is around 550 RPM as I recall while the AK is given a cozy 10 shots per second at 600 RPM.

Couple the heavier design and the slightly slower RPM with a slightly weaker cartridge and you're looking at a firearm that is easier to control in full auto, however with training the AK-47 or even the much lighter AKM can be controlled in full auto pretty efficiently, as demonstrated on the Military Arms Channel in a video or two of his with a full-auto AKM. So in terms of functionality, there's some pros and cons either way. Let's look at the internals however, that's where the differences truly become apparent.

The STG has a tilting bolt like the SVT-40 or SKS-45, while the AK has a rotating bolt like an M1 Rifle. The methods of disassembly are FAR different from one another, with the AK having a dust cover removed from the top of the receiver, followed by the captive recoil spring, the bolt-caried with long-stroke gas piston attached, and of course the rotating bolt. With the STG-44, there are pins (non-captive as I recall, so don't lose them) which must be removed in order to take off the buttstock. With the buttstock taken off the spring and bolt/bolt-carrier are free to come out, and the STG's recoil spring is non-captive. As a side note, if one were to break the buttstock of an STG somehow or if an enemy of its owner managed to take it and bash it against something hard enough to break it, the recoil spring would lose its tention and so the STG would be rendered as a manually-operated straight-pull rifle, essentially.

So the AK and STG do have some similarities; long-stroke gas piston, detachable 30-rnd mag, short-radius tangent sights, semi/full auto capabilities, and roughly .30 cal cartridge which is bottle-necked... but those are some VERY bland similarities to choose from. Detachable 30-rnd mag? That's pretty much standard for all modern assault rifles, and SMGs have had those for decades. Short-radius tangent sights were the epitome of standard for bolt-action rifles of the day being used around the world. Semi/full auto capabilities are seen on a fair few SMGs during WWII and even some LMGs, while .30 cal bottle-necked cartridges were also all over the place. The controls on the designs, the bolt styles, the disassembly method, the position of the cleaning kit in the buttstocks... if the Russians tried to copy the STG, they did a VERY poor job.

Word is that people who designed the STG were either captured or otherwise went to Soviet Russia to help them work on the AK, and that might be true, however even if it is it's clear that they looked elsewhere than German engineering for the design. The gas tube of the AK is pretty much a blatant rip-off of the SKS-45, the safety lever looks quite similar to one that Browning made for one of his designs in America decades before WWII, the method of locking the hammer back and releasing it is very reminiscent of the M1 Rifle which was designed by Canadian-born John Cantius Garand, and so on. Even the method of locking a mag in is different; direct-insert for STG vs rocked-in for AK. If the AK copied any aspect of the STG, it didn't get much past the long-stroke gas piston.

As for the STG-44 being the first assault rifle? That's still debated. A design was made in WWI, either 1915 or 1916; the Federov Avtomat. Select fire for semi/full auto, detachable 25-rnd box magazine, and it fired a cartridge very similar ballistically to the modern 6.5 Grendel intermediate cartridge. 6.5 Arisaka. From the insane 31.5" barrel of the Type 38 Arisaka, which the 6.5 Arisaka cartridge was originally chambered in, it just might be a bit too hot to be considered an intermediate cartridge, but that also goes along with the 6.5 Grendel, potentially even 5.56x45. There are various limits that an intermediate cartridge has that, if crossed, it becomes a rifle round. Velocity, energy, bullet weight, etc. Well the Federov Avtomat's roughly 20" or so barrel REALLY cuts down on velocity and bullet weight, to the point that it might even be weaker than the 7.62x39.

The very definition of an assault rifle is a firearm that uses an intermediate cartridge, is select-fire, and uses a detachable magazine. The definition of a modern battle rifle is the same, but instead of an intermediate cartridge it uses a full sized rifle cartridge, like an M14, G3, FN SCAR-H, FN FAL, and so on. So what the Federov Avtomat is designated depends largely on whether you think 6.5 Arisaka qualifies as an intermediate cartridge or a rifle cartridge. From a 20" barrel, it most certainly has the ballistic qualities to be an intermediate cartridge, however from a 31.5" barrel it might be too hot, I can't quite recall the specific details. 140gr at 2200 ft/s from a 20" barrel? Might be around there, and if you recall the AK's and STG's bullet weights and velocities, you'll see it's quite similar, even though it's with shorter 16" or so barrels.

I think it's definitely worth checking out; do your own research if interested, and come to your own conclusions. For me, personally, I believe the Federov Avtomat was the first assault rifle in history, even though the term/definition for assault rifle wouldn't come about until decades later. Hope you enjoyed the read, and I hope I managed to keep it bias-free! Feel free to post questions or your own views down below; I'll keep track of this blog post for a while I imagine. Also, if you are something of a gun nut as well, perhaps you'll enjoy my zombie survival novel 'Living amongst the Dead'. I'll post a link to amazon so you can check it out, and down in the review section I'm very proud to say that Jim has already given me one, in fact my very first review. Quite blushingly favourable, but fair. I do include some, how do I say, 'smutty' sections, but I tried to make the 'gunplay' as it were as realistic and descriptive as possible. If you are at all a fan of the Lee Enfield rifles, then chances are both Jim and myself would both recommend the book to you. There's a 'Look Inside' feature on Amazon that lets you check out the first few pages for free if you want to take a peek before deciding to pick it up or not. Anyways, like I said, I hope you enjoyed this (not so) little rant of mine. Cheers! 

Living amongst the Dead [J. N. Morgan] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A rough, rugged, and nitty-gritty look at surviving in a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic world. Electricity? Running water? Stores with stocked shelves? Functioning gas stations? Nostalgic to think about

End Article


  1. Very interesting article, I knew the AK47 took features from other weapons, but here it is all put together in a clear fashion.

    You might be interested in W. Darrin Weaver's "Desperate Measures" comprehensive book about the last-ditch weapons designed for the Bolkssturm by the German MIC. Very interesting stuff.

    As for the history of the Assault Rifle, you may want to investigate the 1918 Ribeyrolle rifle, which used an almost exact clone of the .300 Blackout but 80 years prior to its invention.

    This was exactly the right tool for the job of trench clearing but the war ended before the weapon was further developped, and now that France was ruined and had enormous stockpiles of old weapons , it never went further.

    The 7,92 Kurz cartridge was contemplated for bolt-action emergency rifles (often single-shot), which is something that makes complete sense since the average Volkssturm militiaman (or the german army, at that stage...) did have little than a handful of cartridges on him at any time. But 7,92 Kurz production was already insufficient for STG use, so they also ditched that idea and instead chose the standard Mauser cartridge.

    In general it occurs to me that urban warfare is "one bridge too far" in terms of firearms : the adequate weapons in the tactical sense (SMGs, Assault rifles) burn up too much ammo and hence are really not optimal strategically (very complicated logistics in such a theater).

    In WW2 urban warfare sometimes went from "heavy ammo consumption" to "hand-to-hand combat / banzai charges" in mere moments. This as a reminder that warfare sucks but some sceanrios suck even more.

    J N, what do you think of the idea that 7,62x39 and .30-30 are somewhat comparable ballistically ? Could the .30-30 be an acceptable SKS substitute for the more frugal shooter ?

    1. 1/2

      I'm glad you enjoyed it, I think I might do more of these with Jim if he's alright with it. Give his fingers a break haha I've never heard of the 1918 Ribeyrolle but I've heard of the last-ditch German Volkssturm firearms. Another couple benefits of 7.92 Kurz/7.92x33 is that well firstly it's lighter so they could carry more but yeah those Volks people probably weren't given too many rounds, but also they had less recoil and less accuracy. They probably didn't need the big, punishing power of 8mm Mauser because they couldn't use its power to the best of their abilities.

      As for that Ribeyrolle, I looked it up and it had muzzle velocity of 570 m/s or 1870 ft/s, both of which are too fast for properly silenced/suppressed shooting, and also too slow to consider it intermediate to my knowledge. Pretty sure you need at least 2000 ft/s, which I guess is around 620 m/s or so. I agree though, that firearm sounds pretty damn sweet considering most soldiers had bolt-action rifles. The dimensions though, 8x35, sounds VERY much like an intermediate cartridge. Perhaps if they dialed down the bullet weight then its velocity and energy would increase to the point where it could very much be an intermediate cartridge. Though at 5kg unloaded, which is 11lb, it was certainly quite heavy. Then again, so was the STG-44. Around 10lb unloaded as I recall.

      Sounds VERY advanced for the time however even though it came after the Federov Avtomat. I wonder how things would have changed if the Russian Revolution didn't happen, which messed up production of said Federov Avtomat, and the war would have continued to let those experimental SMGs/Assault rifles be developed. Who knows how the world of small-arms would have changed. The French also had a semi-auto rifle in use since about 1917, but was reloaded quite strangely. It had an SKS-type mag baseplate that opened up, and that's how you inserted its 5-round en bloc clip. They issued these 1917 semi-auto rifles to whoever could best exploit it, to the best shots. It was likely a VERY complex design, and might have also been a source of inspiration for John Cantius Garand for the M1 Rifle.

      If I'm not mistaken, about those Volkssturm rifles, I think the single-shots used 8mm Mauser meanwhile they had very simple repeating bolt-actions in 8mm Kurz as well as very simple semi-auto rifles in 8mm Kurz that used STG mags. They did keep experimenting with the STG idea though. The STG-44 itself was a very complex and expensive design which used a lot of material. They developed an STG-45 which was an entirely different design. A gas-delayed blow-back, and was FAR cheaper to produce with a lot more simple stamped parts. In fact, when the factory they were being made at was captured, there was one in mid-production. They didn't get to make many.

      There was certainly a lot of bayonet charges, particularly in the Battle of Stalingrad, and the Japanese did enjoy their Bonzai charges. Well... 'enjoy'... they were largely unsuccessful in the face of all of America's semi-auto rifles, LMGs, and SMGs. The Japanese Government even falsified reports or even outright lied to try and make Bonzai charges sound more effective than they were to keep the Japanese soldiers from being too afraid to charge.

    2. 2/2

      I think the reason for all the bayonet charges in Stalingrad was, well firstly there was a lot of close-range action, but also most soldiers had mere bolt-actions. A shot per second at best, only 5 shots until you needed a reload, and I imagine usually took 3-5 seconds at least to get the ammo from your pouch and what not. So once you're out of ammo, if you're within throwing distance of the enemy, either he's already charging or you're already charging at him. I definitely would have preferred a Lee Enfield rather than a Kar98k or M91/30; smoother bolt for faster follow-up shots as well as twice as much capacity, and it in fact does NOT take twice as long to reload an empty Lee Enfield than a Mauser or Mosin. You only open the bolt once, close the bolt once, and if you grab 2 clips instead of 1 you only get ammo once out of your pouch/bandolier.

      Firearms were also heavier back then, well, for basically all examples except the STEN and PPS-43. even the M3 "Grease Gun" was in 230gr Ball .45 ACP which is almost just as heavy as M80 Ball 7.62 Nato. A 32-round mag of .45 would weigh around 2lb, no joke. So if you have just 5 mags, about 160 rounds, that's 10lb. The PPS-43 however is around 6lb or 6.5lb unloaded as I recall, the mags are cheaper/lighter than PPSh-41 35-rnd stick mags since it's dual-feed stamped feed lips instead of single-feed milled feed lips. The 35-round mags were... what was it... maybe 1.3lb? So 7 mags, 245 rounds, plus the SMG, is around 15-16lb or so which is FANTASTIC for that many rounds. Thompson is about 10-11lb unloaded, and 30-rnd mags are probably close to 2lb, which means 16lb is only going to get you maybe 60 rounds. No thanks! lol

      Warfare definitely sucks; I don't have to experience it to know that. As for 7.62x39 vs .30-30, I do believe .30-30 is more potent, but really not by much. I'd be just as happy using an SKS on a deer as I would be a .30-30 lever action, and being able to shoot in semi-auto has NOTHING to do with it. One shot, make it count. You can get a 123gr bullet going about 2400-2450 ft/s, and that's no slouch. Make it 150gr, and you will probably still have around 2100-2200 ft/s from a 20" barrel. .30-30 would probably get more, but that's fine. .30-30 can and has taken moose down, and I have zero question that soft point 7.62x39 can do it as well, even in one shot if you're close and got the shot dialed in perfectly.

    3. You gun nerds! Happy to have any and all guest articles, from you or others. It won't replace my writing, just add to it. More love for the minions to wallow in. Thanks.

    4. Haha right on! 'Minion', I rather like the sound of that. Well I've been keeping updated on your blog and commenting fairly frequently so I definitely qualify as one!

    5. I had a few ideas for a new post-apocalyptic of mine (visit http://solsysbooks.blogspot.fr/2013/04/e-reader-formats.html to read Glasses & Pulleys ) called "Last Model Army" That would indeed wallow with much delight in this (and also in other stuff like lightened cars)

      In search of a story to justify this madness I came up with an interesting setting that... didn't leave any room for gun porn.

      So maybe I can make a series of post-apocalyptic gun porn articles ?

      Stop drooling already


    6. You know I love guest articles. What is the worse thing to happen? People hate you instead of me :)

    7. Haha smooth, Jim. I have to admit though Ave, I don't really understand what I'm looking at in that link. It's also confusing that all the buttons are in French and it's dated lundi 15 Avril 2013. I mean, I'm Canadian; I understand some French, certainly enough to get by on a page like this, but I just find it odd that it's in French. Which of the many links am I supposed to click on? Also, if you want a hand with some gun porn, I might be able to help. If it's with designs I know very little about however then my help would be limited.

  2. http://www.adfjournal.adc.edu.au/UserFiles/issues/182%202010%20Jul_Aug.pdf

    Pages 44-55 : "Lasers or Longbows? A Paradox of Military Technology "

    This is a very well written article about the kind of issues raised here in the last few articles.

    1. Thank you-I just linked and am going to read that section now.

    2. Thank VERY good analysis- now to see how well any institution can find a way to implement any of the ideas.
      Here is my idea for a local version - if you are a member of a gun or hunting club start or join an archery club and try to get the two to be associate organizations. If you are volunteer emergency responder try to get your fellow volunteers involved in long duration emergency response with minimal supplies and technologies.
      Etc. Have in place the concepts, knowledges, and basic tools/supplies to implement a 'gearing down' scenario.
      During the collapse organizations that have the higher tech during a conflict will have a short term advantage. BUT long term, the organizations that can 'gear down' most effectively to the highest sustainable technologies will be the ones able to maintain military (and probably economic) dominance.
      Most of the major cities cannot gear down enough (detroit may be an exception as it has already been gearing down economically/socially quite a ways even implementing urban agriculture both food and pharmaceuticals(illegal) and having tribal structures aka gangs, including the cops, that run things.).
      Smaller towns have various social clubs and churches - it probably behooves a survivalist to see which of these your local political establishment, LEO's, and emergency responders belong to. And if so inclined either join or contribute to while ever so gently steering toward an exploration of 'historic' tools and procedures that can help them 'gear down' when they have to.
      Of course most of us here are probably rather individualist, insular, and irascible like Jim himself; but even the slightest nod in that direction may payoff excellent dividends.
      I personally make a point to educate the child with the local museums frequently and have the child discuss with adults what he has learned (especially the elders of the area).

    3. Another idea is a reenactment group, such as Civil War or even SCA if they are still around ( society of creative anachronism ). They groove on authentic period tech.

    4. Mormons have their wheelbarrow cart march, around here we have our annual pioneer days, many other places have similar historic recreations and celebrations, unfortunately much of the US west was developed via fossil fuel so much of the historic celebration is about those times, but even so the tech is simpler and more rugged than what we have now.

    5. Except the tech is not replicable from the ground up due to resource depletion.


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