The American Tactical Imports version of the famous Stg-44 “assault rifle” is made in Germany by GSG, the company that makes several of the ATI replica guns. It is really just a movie gun with a .22LR rifle embedded in the skin, but if you want a functional copy, the GSG STG-44 is a great looking copy of the correct weight and feel, and any World War II buff would be proud to own one. It comes in this custom made wooden case just like the original.
This is the inside of the box as it comes from the factory. You need a phillips head screwdriver to get the gun out.
The stamped steel buttstock sleeve connects to the main receiver with one pin. This is also how you take it down for cleaning.
The magazine is plastic and loads 25 rounds easily with this side thumb slider. There is also a California legal 10 round version.
Most of the design detail on the GSG STG-44 is for show. The safety works, as does the magazine release and bolt handle, but all of the other buttons, bolts and coverplates are nonfunctional.
The dustcover door is also functional and works perfectly, as does the last round holdopen on the magazine, but you should expect an occasional jam, probably due to that big thumb slider plastic on plastic dragging as you empty the magazine.
The sights are fantastic on the STG-44. You can adjust windage with that wheel on the side which is spring loaded, and the gun hit point of aim at 50 yards on about the 400 yard elevation mark on the rear sight, as seen here.
The entire forend assembly of the gun is a fake gas system and little more than movie gun parts, but the front sight is solid and the pointy blade provides a nice sight picture.
If you plan to load up the mag and empty the gun, as most plinkers do, this is what you can expect with rested carefully aimed fire at 50 yards. It is initially a fairly accurate gun but the shots walk down as the gun heats up.
As a replica, it comes in close to the weight of the beastly 11.5 lb. original Stg-44 at just under 10 lbs.
Hold the silver piece when you unfold it or it will go flying across the room with other parts you will have to guess how to put back together.
But instead of including some rug squares or something to stop the jiggling, some genius decided to squirt Home Depot foam in the openings, completely ruining the collectability of the box.
You may remember from our SHOT Show 2012 coverage that a new copy of the famous World War II “assault rifle” the Stg-44 was supposed to come out this summer. It is out, and it is called the GSG Schmeisser STG-44, available in .22LR. Made in modern day Germany, the gun is imported into the US exclusively by American Tactical Imports (ATI) with an MSRP of $599.95. Like the other German Sports Guns (GSG) replicas we have seen, the similarity to the original is uncanny, and the gun is nice and solid and feels “right.” Even though this rimfire version of the Stg-44 carries a collector premium price tag, this is the one gun that most World War II buffs assume they can never own. Original Stg-44s are prohibitively expensive, and this gun looks great, feels right, and shoots well enough for plinking. What do you get the old fart for Christmas who has everything and loves World War II junk? I’ll give you a hint. It is about the same weight as a big coffee table book, but it would look a lot better on your coffee table when guests come over than any tired old coffee table book I have ever seen. You guessed it. It’s a .22LR version of the infamous Stg-44!
From a uniquely American perspective, the first “assault rifle” ever made was pretty much a non-starter for the Nazis during World War II. Called first the MP44, then the Sturmgewehr 44 (Stg-44) , or “storm rifle,” It was manufactured from 1943 to 1945, and after significant internal political battles within the Third Reich, the Stg-44 was released to troops on the Eastern Front in large numbers for the disastrous Nazi invasion of communist Russia. The popular American version of the history of the Stg-44 is that it “arrived too late in World War II to make a difference,” but what most people leave out is that over half a million Stg-44s were actually made by the Nazis, and most of them actually made it to the battlefield. Our American war movies don’t generally have the Stg-44 in them, and it was not a significant gun in any battles between us and the Germans, or the Brits and the Germans, so to Americans, the Stg-44 was irrelevant. Generally we think of the gun as a failed prototype of a vanquished enemy. But it was far from that.
The Stg-44, which fired a shortened 8mm Mauser round, was not only effective in battle against the Russians, it is considered the precursor to both the AK-47 and M-16 rifles, and it influenced an entire generation of not only battle rifles, but also of battlefield tactics. During World War II the Germans had always led their battles with fixed machine gun units, using bolt action riflemen as support. America led the battle with “the rifleman” as our most effective battle implement, employing the M1 Garand, a semi-automatic 8 shot repeater. Machine gun crews were considered a supporting role to the main infantry force. Both the Allied and Axis sides of World War II used full powered rifle cartridges, effective to 1000 yards or more. Ours was the .30-06. The Germans used 8mm Mauser, and the Japanese used the 7.7 Jap. cartridge. Even 500 yards is beyond the effective range of most average riflemen, so these cartridges were a waste, requiring a lot of excess weight to carry, in the name of power that would seldom be of value in most World War II battle situations. The Germans saw that though the American’s use of infantry over machineguns was superior, the full sized rifle cartridge was overkill.
The concept of a mid-power cartridge, effective to 300 yards, in a select fire, full sized rifle, was at the time of the Stg-44 a novel concept. Both sides had pistol cartridge subguns, and both sides had full powered machine guns, as well as the main infantry battle rifle. The Americans even had the M1 Carbine which fired the embarrassing .30 Carbine cartridge, but even that couldn’t be considered an assault weapon by today’s standards. The Stg-44 was unique in its day, and it is considered to be the most influential rifle in the current history of battlefield rifle development. The Stg-44 changed the game of war, and not as a prototype, but as a successfully mass produced battle rifle that just happened to be deployed in a hopeless losing battle against the Russians. This method of war, however, is still our method of operation today, and though our newest enemies in desert regions have again brought into question the idea of the ideal battle rifle, our current M4, and the eastern bloc and Asian popularity of the AK-47 have guaranteed the Stg-44 a permanent place in the history of modern warfare.
I walked into a gun shop that had two of these ATI guns last week and they were selling them for $999 each. Ouch! But, especially for this Christmas, most likely all the guns that are in the country at this point are probably all we are going to see, and they have already made their way through distribution. I say this in the way of a warning if you are reading this and think you are going to be able to grab one for cheap. If you see one at anything close to MSRP or slightly below, grab it. They will definitely dry up for Christmas, and who knows when they will dry up entirely.
As a replica, the GSG STG-44 is dubious at best, but nonetheless it is very well done. That sounds like an oxymoron, but you have to remember, we are dealing with a .22 rimfire rifle here, not an actual gas operated firearm made for high powered centerfire ammunition, as was the original Stg-44. The entire front half of the GSG STG-44 is fake. There is no gas system. None of the side details are made of actual bolts, caps, or buttons. It is all fake, like a movie gun. The safety works, and the magazine release is an actual magazine release, but it releases a replica 25 round plastic .22LR magazine. The buttstock is removable, and it comes disassembled in the custom ATI wooden box (which we’ll get to), and overall, for all intents and purposes, the STG-44 looks real. The original Stg-44 weighed a beastly heavy 11.5 lbs. empty, and this gun is close to that on purpose, at almost 10 lbs. I wouldn’t want to carry this STG-44 across frozen Russian tundra all day, but if you are looking for a gun that is pretty close to the ones that actually carried across Russian tundra, this is about as close as you can get.
Functionally the GSG STG-44 is probably as good as you can get in a replica as well. We fired about 300 rounds through our test gun and about once per two magazines the gun overran itself and stopped itself up with a crooked round stuck in the action. If you remember to tap the mag in good every time you may encounter the problem less frequently, but expect an occasional jam at the very least. The magazine is really easy to load because it has a side thumb slider like the ones you see on straight Ruger pistol mags. I suggest you live with the problem of the occasional jam rather than try to monkey the magazine with lubricating powder. It does not appear to come apart.
We tested the accuracy at 50 yards because of the incredibly good sights on the GSG-STG-44. In duplicating the original, replete with its pointy hooded front blade and windage adjustable notch, the open sights on the STG-44 are second to none. Nobody shoots competitive 5 shot groups with a plinker, so we ran our strings in full magazines of 25, the way most people would shoot. To call the accuracy acceptable is not an overstatement. With Winchester plinking .22LR ammo we could shoot into about 2 inches horizontally strung about 5 inches vertically. The shots pull down as the gun heats up over the course of a magazine, and this was somewhat repeatable, so if you are shooting cans or steel plates or whatever you can actually adjust your shots as you shoot. The STG-44 isn’t a tack driver, but as a serviceable replica it is pretty good.
Taking the STG-44 down is easy. It is one pin, but beware that you should watch the directions that things come apart because it isn’t intuitive as to how they go back together. There is a plastic follower behind the bolt assembly, and removing that bolt is as far as I would take the gun down to clean it. You will have to reach in to wipe the breech area, and it does get pretty dirty, but the rest of the gun doesn’t get dirty and it looks like a lot of small parts not meant for disassembly by a novice. The barrel is easy to clean from the front or back, and the bolt comes right out so you can toothbrush the face with Hoppes #9.
The wooden is about my only complaint with the gun, and it is kind of a nitpicky thing. ATI went to all kinds of trouble, and with genuine inspiration created a replica of the original shipping box for the real German Stg-44. Then whoever was in charge of packing the gun elected to spray the insides with Home Depot construction foam so that the gun wouldn’t jiggle around and dent itself. That stuff is extremely difficult to remove, and the inside of the box will never be pristine once the foam is scraped and sanded out. We purchased this gun. ATI has never returned a phone call or email from us when we have requested a review gun, and this gun was just too exciting to not get a review in before Christmas. i don’t know if our friend Jeff Quinn over at Gunblast got his from ATI or if he bought it, but you will see in his article pictures that there is at least some foam in his box as well. At an MSRP of $599 and “in hand” collector prices up to $1000, you should at least be aware that ATI definitely screwed the pooch on this one.
You can get a high end, 11 lbs., extremely detailed non-firing movie gun replica of the Stg-44 on Amazon for $231. This rifle is exactly the same gun, except German Sport Guns (GSG) has engineered a way to fit a working .22LR rifle into the shell of the Stg-44, to create a “working” replica. GSG also makes polymer mags, so coming up with a working mag wasn’t an issue for them, and the gun actually works and shoots really well. There is a California 10 round model , so this gun can be bought throughout most of the US. The difference between $231 and $599 is $368, which is a reasonable price for a .22 rimfire rifle, in a cute but unfortunately ruined beautiful wood box, hand crafted by the Amish no less. If you can find one of these guns, (and as I write this a few unsuspecting sellers are actually listing them at MSRP or below on GunsAmerica), grab it, because as soon as ATI suspects that the demand has saturated, I suspect you will never see one of these guns again. That makes them instantly collectible, so most likely the STG-44 from ATI will be a good investment as well.
No, it doesn’t come in left hand or .22WMR.