A COMBINATION OF A SUBMACHINE GUN’S FIREPOWER, WITH ALL THE ACCURACY OF A RIFLE
The StG 44 was a German assault rifl e produced at the tail end of World War Two. If it were produced earlier, it would arguably have had a drastic affect on the fortunes of the Third Reich – that’s how advanced it was. Combining the best qualities of a submachine gun and a rifle, it was one neat package of destruction. The Allies needed an answer – it came in 1947 in the form of the AK-47. Created in the USSR by inventor and engineer Mikhail Kalashnikov, the weapon’s ability to fi re intermediate power cartridges at a rapid rate put it head and shoulders above the competition and paved the way for a wave of assault rifl es such as the M16 and FAMAS. It saw widespread action in the Korean War and was only upstaged in the Russian military by the mid-1970s with the development of the AK-74. There have even been stories that during the Vietnam War, US GIs stole AK-47s from the Viet Cong as they were still superior to the American equivalents. Currently, it’s the weapon of choice for militant groups the world over due to its low cost and general all round effectiveness. More AK rifles have been produced than all the other assault rifles combined and it remains a key player in warfare.
The AK-47 was a phenomenon in so many ways and raised the bar in land warfare. The next stage of assault rifle evolution after the StG 44 took the first steps – its selective fire enabled it to be used in all areas of war, from street-to-street skirmishes to raids on fortified positions. An incredibly basic weapon for all its advances, the rifle only eights four kilograms (9lbs). It can be stripped and cleaned in under a minute, making it invaluable for tense battlefield situations.