Sturmgewehr 44 Saved from the Shredder, Sent to Museum

The Sturmgewehr 44 is a select-fire, intermediate caliber rifle first developed by the Germans during WWII (Photo: Stephen Katz/The Virginian-Pilot).

Virginia’s Chesapeake City Council voted last week to donate rather than destroy a rare World War II firearm believed to have popularized the term “assault rifle.”

The Sturmgewehr 44 (StG44) was developed by German gunsmith Hugo Schmeisser in 1942 and was used by the Nazis through the end of the war. Germany produced about 426,000, but because few ended up on North American shores, NFA-compliant models are worth nearly $30,000.

The Chesapeake Police Department confiscated the StG44 in April of 2009 after finding one in a van involved in several hit-and-runs, according to the Virginian-Pilot. The driver, Eugene McGee, was convicted of felony hit-and-run and had his Second Amendment rights revoked.

But rather than destroy the firearm, the city decided in 2010 to donate it. Police spokesman Leo Kosinski told the Pilot that he isn’t sure why it’s taken so long for the donation to occur, though he suspects that whoever came up with the idea has since retired.

The firearm will be sent to the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C.

SEE ALSO: Historical Origins of the HK93, AK74, M16A1 and AR18

McGee said that the gun had belonged to his grandfather, a WWII veteran who served as an Army sergeant. He mailed the rifle home to Iowa from Europe, and it had been stored in an attic since his death in 1972.

McGee found it when he was 11 or 12, and he and his brother played Army with it, leaving it out in the rain and the snow.

“I’m not proud of how it got confiscated, but I’m proud of him,” he said, referring to his grandfather.

Police rendered the rifle permanently inoperable before donating it (Photo: Stephen Katz/The Virginian-Pilot).

“Sturmgewehr” translates in English to “storm rifle” or “assault rifle.” The firearm began as the Maschinenpistole 43 (MP43/MP44), but the Nazis changed the name in 1944 for propaganda purposes.

Small arms expert Joseph E. Smith notes, however, that “Sturmgewehr” fits the rifle’s function and chambering much better than “Machinenpistole” (231). The MP43/44 was not a submachine gun in the conventional sense of the term (i.e., a small, pistol-caliber weapon). The Sturmgewehr 44 fires the 7.92×33mm Kurz, a cartridge more like the AK-47’s 7.62×39 than the 9x19mm Parabellum fired by most submachine guns.

This is why many point to the StG44 as one of the first select-fire intermediate cartridge firearms, and its conceptual descendants include the AK-47 and the M16.

Though the Germans produced as many as 5,000 StG44s per month by the war’s end, they introduced the exceptionally effective rifle too late to turn the Allied tide (Smith 230).

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Wayne September 1, 2020, 9:41 pm

    I’m awaiting Form 4 approval to take home my WWII StG 44, marked MP44, manufactured 1945. Although I can’t take it home yet, the dealer lets me take it out of the safe and shoot it at his range. Then back into the safe it goes. In beautiful condition and I doubt it ever saw field service. No import marks, so probably an amnesty gun. I’m a happy guy.

  • ejharb June 25, 2018, 1:16 am

    I wonder if they ran any rounds through it before “rendering it permanently inoperable”after it’s mistreatment by dirtbags both precapture and afterwards the bore was probably fouled the magazine froze up and perhaps the action froze as well.

  • Joseph Marotta June 24, 2018, 6:33 pm

    We need these relics in museums so history cannot repeat its self . Thank God and U.S. and Canadian soldiers that Hitlers Army was never able to use them before the war ended. The Greatest generation gave us Victory.

  • Beth June 24, 2018, 8:47 am

    Yes right under the picture they said they permanently dissed armed it 😡 again how stupid can you be this is part of history you don’t change it from its original condition🙄 they should have just donated it as it was idiots🤬😤😱🤯

  • james shaner June 22, 2018, 8:47 pm

    My understanding after reading books on the MP44 was that it was developed behind Hiter’s back. He liked the WW1 full power 7.92mm Mauser rifle. The Germans needed a rifle caliber auto rifle to counter the vast numbers of Russians assaulting them in the eastern front. An accurate one shot one kill rifle was not good enough. They were vastly outnumbered by the Red Army. Most kills were around 300 yards and they needed a reasonably accurate auto rifle to fill that void that could put out a bullet wall.
    The US Army did a survey after the war and found that most kills were by random fire and only 1 in 3 soldiers in the front lines even bothered to rise up and shoot their rifles-but that was enough on the Western front. I read where Patton had his troops, while they were rapidly advancing into enemy territory, to random fire forward every 15 min or so all day long.

  • John June 22, 2018, 9:52 am

    Guess I can’t read……I didn’t find either in this article or the original Virginia Pilot report where it states this gun was made inoperable.

    If true, hacking away at a gun of this historical significance is a crime. The Orlando Police Armorer recently demonstrated on T.V. how to turn an 80% AR lower operational. This “gunsmith” might as well have used a hammer and chisel as terrible as his workmanship was.

    • Jamie June 22, 2018, 6:04 pm

      Read the caption below the image of the officer holding the gun.

    • Carl Case June 23, 2018, 8:01 am

      WHAT are you talking about?? The rifle was donated to a museum! No one said ANYTHING about causing any damage too it! WTH?

  • joefoam June 22, 2018, 8:53 am

    Too bad this didn’t get more publicity so people could actually see what an “assault weapon” really is.

  • Dr Motown June 22, 2018, 7:43 am

    I’m shocked some councilman didn’t cut it up on TV with a hacksaw as part of a political stunt

  • Rooster June 22, 2018, 7:35 am

    So this genius was driving around in his van hitting other vehicles, property? Serial hit and runner, with a rare $30000 machine gun in the back of his van that was also a family heirloom. This does not pass the smell test, seems fishy but there are really dumb people out there so….who knows? Anyway why the hell couldnt the police department leave the damn gun operational? WTF?!? It’s being donated to a museum, it should have been left operational. No need to neuter the gun. A serial hit&runner with a rare automatic rifle in the van SMH? I guess he had to keep it there to show his buddies at the bar his cool gun before leaving drunk to run into shit. What the hell is going on?

  • Akrika Korps June 22, 2018, 6:16 am

    “Rendered inoperable”… and worthless. Stupid cops. Complete morons.

    • Jamie June 22, 2018, 7:28 am

      Yep, make you wonder what the news is about then if it’s no longer even a firearm if it was demilled.

    • eric harbord June 25, 2018, 1:33 am

      Kids playing army with it and leaving it in the snow probably rendered it before the cops did.
      I’d also venture it wasn’t cleaned by gramps before going into the attic.most ammo was corosive except for .30carbine.

  • Richard Wooten June 22, 2018, 4:07 am

    The rifle should have been returned to the family… Gun control at work!!!

    • Craig June 22, 2018, 6:50 am

      They can’t give it back…It’s full auto (machine gun). While the grandfather and family had a chance to register it, they didn’t. So, unfortunately, it’s gone. At least it’s going in a museum.

      Now how about another amnesty period for turn-ins? That would be nice.

      • Jamie June 22, 2018, 7:27 am

        That will never happen, not just for political reasons but those who have nfa firearms that are properly registered keep the value of their firearms higher by not allowing anymore to be registered.

  • Tony Childree June 22, 2018, 3:11 am

    Yes I have a H & R 20 gauge single shot break down barrel shotgun that was in bad shape when I received it from a friend to redo for them it was very rusty you couldn’t even read the make and model of the shotgun and I had to do a lot of cleaning on it and when I got started really good I saw all the markings on it and found a date on the gun that is February 27th the year 1900 can anybody give me any information about it are how much it is worth… Thanks for any help I can get… Thank you very much…
    .

    • Gregory Romeu June 22, 2018, 6:54 am

      Contact American Rifleman magazine or any of the NRA online publications. They have a section called, “This Old Gun” where you can send in photos and they will pick it apart all the way back to the manufacturer and it’s possible birthday.

    • Rooster June 22, 2018, 7:43 am

      I have an Iver Johnson revolver manufactured in 1926. It is slightly rusty but I’d say 80%. What is it worth…thank you for all your help. See? Seems pretty stupid to comment on a story asking rando commenters about the value of a firearm. Do you by any chance own a dented up van, frequent bars in the Chesapeake Bay Area, and recently lost a cool rifle of your grandfather’s that you and your brother used to play army with? Ok now I must go on a knitting forum to get advice on how to best train my gun dog.

  • I Love Liberty June 19, 2018, 4:52 pm

    It is a beautiful rifle. I’m glad this is being preserved as they are a part of history. In my opinion the STG-44 is a better rifle than the M-1 Garand. It is only effective to about 300 yards and the M-1 Garand has an effective range well beyond that with the right shooter.

    • D.J. June 22, 2018, 10:47 am

      I , respectfully , disagree with this assertion . The Garand , though limited to eight rounds before
      reload , is extremely accurate to 800 yards , and good to nearly 1000 . I personally have shot very
      good groups , inside an eight inch diameter , at 600 yards with little effort .
      It only takes one round , delivered with precision , to eliminate the threat . At 100 yards , the STG
      would probably win the ” spray & pray ” contest , but I’d be able to put one in Jerry’s watch pocket at
      600 yards , consistently .
      There is a reason that Gen. Patton made his comments regarding the M-1 . I am unable to dispute
      them . As a proud owner of a CMP rifle , I swear by mine , and it gives my Springfield M-1A one
      hell of a good contest .
      Give them a try , and see if you don’t agree !

      • I Love Liberty June 24, 2018, 11:39 pm

        You can carry a lot more STG-44 ammunition than you can 30’06 ammunition. If the ranges were 300 yards and under these rifles would win the day over the M-1 Garand. (The 7.92×33 round also has more stopping power than the 5.56 x 45 does out to about 300 yards as well.)

        I currently own a Springfield M-1A with twenty round magazines. I like the rifle for long range shooting but prefer the AR-15 in supersonic .300 AAC Blackout. You can carry a lot more .300 Blackout ammunition over 7.62 x 51. If the ranges are 280 yards and under the supersonic .300 Blackout is better with a lighter rifle and more ammunition. Longer ranges obviously negate all the advantages of medium range rifle cartridges.

        • James Black June 25, 2018, 7:27 pm

          In the early 70s you could find these in gunshows in Florida. Ammo was steel cased and hard and expensive. It was steel because brass was running low and this was a feature of the rifle. They all went @$300 w/2 clips in excellent condition. If you looked right you could get what you were looking for in the parking lot.

  • Russell Van Driel June 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    That’s my Idea of Gun Control. Good Work.

    • Gregory Romeu June 22, 2018, 6:58 am

      He gave up his right to own firearms when he chose to commit a crime(s) while having it in his posession. We don’t allow criminals to have access to guns in the U.S.., only the liberals have that power.

      • Alan June 22, 2018, 2:17 pm

        Technically, he was already a criminal, as the ownership or just possession of a ‘full auto’ weapon has been regulated since the ’34 NFA.
        As was pointed out, he could have registered it during an amnesty period, but didn’t.
        In addition, the grandfather violated Army policy when he mailed it home, at that time the Army made sure that all combat personnel were aware of the restriction on automatic weapons and mailing it through the U.S. postal system was a crime too.
        It’s been said that the bottom of New York harbor is littered with machine guns thrown overboard when G.I.’s got back and were told they would have their kits searched for contraband before being allowed to disembark.

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