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Discussion Starter #1
Re-reading The Gun By C.J. Chivers which is an interesting book. There's some really good information about the design and development teams. The opinion of the writer with supporting evidence is that the story of Kalashnikov, an army Sargeant being the "designer" of the AK-47 is mostly propaganda. Kind of a perfect class struggle success story, the humble sergeant beating out the well educated engineers.

During the design process, periodically they would all meet up for "competitions" to see where everyone was at in their designs. Design teams were encouraged to incorporate advantageous design features they saw on the arms of competing teams. Chivers uses this as an example of how a nation builds a rifle, and the M16 as an example of a rifle design accepted somewhat by default.

But one very interesting thing that was mentioned in the book was the fact that Hugo Schmeisser was held as a prisoner of war in Izhevsk where the design teams were working. I tend to think it's highly unlikely that they didn't involve Schmeisser at some point during the process. The AK-47 is very similar in appearance to the Schmeisser designed Mp-44, with additional influence obviously from the Garand (rotating bolt, long gas piston, clearly the fire control group).

I've had the opportunity to handle, disassemble and fire the Mp-44 and I have to say I was very favorably impressed, it was a very well thought out weapon.
 

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>>>>>>>

I've had the opportunity to handle, disassemble and fire the Mp-44 and I have to say I was very favorably impressed, it was a very well thought out weapon.
It was a game changer. That's awesome that you got to handle one.
 

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There was some info out recently that apparently Kalashnikov recently made a statement that more or less admitted that Schmeisser did have input in the design of the AK.

As I recall, the book mentioned that Schmeisser was held in the same town were Kalashnikov and Izhmash were and what he was doing was never mentioned by the Russians.
I'd think it stretches credibility to suggest the Russians were working all other German arms designers they got their hands on like dogs to develop arms, but did NOT use Schmeisser the then worlds expert on the design of stamped steel firearms and who designed exactly the type of rifle they were looking for.
 

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Sounds to me like you're talking about the same book.
 

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The MP44/SG44 apparently had a much longer service life than commonly thought. I've got a few empties loaded in what was then the DDR (East Gernmany) in the mid 1970s. Considering that the state owned all the ammo companies there & then, there had to have been some official use for the ammo. Perhaps as shoulder arms for the Volkspoletzei.

Nice to have some confirmation about what a whole lot of folks thought of the official "parallel development to meet a need" explanation of the similarities between the two arms.
 

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After the war a LOT of MP44's wound up in Africa, where many of them are still in daily use, mostly by child soldiers.

The Soviets and their subjects like East Germany supplied the revolutionary movements with both AK's and ammo for many other weapons, including the MP44.
 

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I've also seen photos of MP44s from the recent Libyan revolt.
 

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I see someone is now offering a .22LR MP44 lookalike. How I wish I could afford one!
 

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I see someone is now offering a .22LR MP44 lookalike. How I wish I could afford one!
I believe they are the same ones offering a .22 PPSh copy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It was a game changer. That's awesome that you got to handle one.
So I worked for a big small arms importer in the '80's and I almost cry when I say that I got to more than handle one… I destroyed 3 of them, turning them into parts kits; which is what we did with class 3 weapons that didn't make the import list at that time. There was one in the official company collection and IIRC it was an ERMA and it had 100% of the bluing and the wood was just shy of mint condition (which is to say, no marks, but roughly finished). We were allowed to shoot most any weapon we had in the collection provided you buy the ammo. I scraped together about $45.00 worth of 7.92x33, which in 1982 was around 23 rounds. I didn't want to fire it full auto, I wanted to savor all 23 rounds and I did. I thought it shot and handled very well. Certainly the weight and ergonomics could be improved upon, but for 1945 they CLEARLY had everyone else beat all to hell. The closest competitor was the M2 Carbine, which was about as reliable, but a bit less oomph.

I've always been a big proponent of the M1 Carbine as I always thought it was one of the most advanced arms of WW II. I remember thinking if I were a soldier in WW II which one would I want, MP-44 or M1/M2 Carbine. I eventually came down on the side of the Carbine because both the weapon and it's ammunition were considerably lighter. But I'm betting most others would opt for the Mp-44. Myself, I've had a lot of experience humping with a pack and rifle, so the lighter weight won out.

I kinda think differently than most. In a recent discussion of battle rifles, I told a guy that if I were in a war I'd rather have an SKS over a Garand; he looked at me like I had just blasphemed. But the SKS is lighter, more reliable, has a higher capacity, ammunition is lighter, etc.
 

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I guess it's a matter of the practical range you think you'll need.
 

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I've been watching reruns of The Office lately and was quite surprised last week when the MP44 was mentioned in an episode (from I think the third season, or maybe the fourth). Pretty cool, though! ;)
 

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A lot of younger people know a lot about this stuff, often from computer games.

There is a whole market out there I think, if the Hughes act went away. Especially computer professionals who are stable and have the income to really get into shooting automatic weapons.
 

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I think there is a tendency in the West to want to credit ANYBODY except the Russians for inventions. Remember in the USSR there was no intellectual property. Design bureaus were encouraged to share ideas. They could have used Hugo Schmeisser.

Kalashnikov ran a successful team, however he did it, it worked and produced a weapon which met the needs of the USSR for 60+ years, and counting.

Geoff
Who notes the Israeli / Finn version was not highly successful, I suspect a committee was involved.
 
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