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0088-23 From The Vault - STG44 With Scope & VG 1 Volksturmgweher_Thumb

From the Vault: German StG 44 & Volkssturmgewehr Rifles

Author Caleb Savant
one year ago
Caleb and Keith are back at The Rock - Rock Island Auction Company. They have two German World War II rifle rarities to show us, a Sturmgewehr 44 and a Volkssturmgewehr VG1-5. The StG 44 assualt rifle is fairly common in collector circles, BUT this one has an original optic. Not a lash-up but a scope specifically calibrated to the StG 44 and its 8mm Kurz cartridge (aka 7.92x33mm Kurz), a shortened version of the standard 7.92x57mm Mauser round. The quick-detach scope clamps to a special mount welded to the receiver. As if the optic isn't rare enough, this rifle is in superb condition, darned-near 90%, unusual for late-war German weapons. The StG 44 is unique for design elements found on later rifles. Eugene Stoner's AR-15 / M16 ejection port cover is too similar to be a coincidence. And Mikhail Kalashnikov's AK-47 design borrows the stamped sheet steel receiver.
While the StG 44 is an excellent example of forward-thinking innovation in firearm design, the Gustloff Volkssturmgewehr 1-5 is clearly a weapon of desperation, hastily thrown together by the losing side. Also chambered in 8mm Kurz, the VG1-5 also has a stamped steel receiver, and it conveniently uses StG 44 magazines. The semi-auto only VG1-5 has a delayed blowback operating system. Firing a round creates pressure in a gas chamber under the barrel shroud, providing pressure to keep the bolt closed until the bullet exits the muzzle. After it does, there's still enough residual pressure to cycle the action.
Meant to be cheap and easy to manufacture, the VG 1-5 turned out to be more complex than a blowback rifle should be, thanks to German over-engineering. Takedown for cleaning is straightforward: remove a couple pins (shades of the AR-15 again), the safety lever, and the barrel bushing. The whole trigger / fire control group is riveted together, so if it breaks.... you just throw away the rifle and get another one!
The Volkssturmgewehr's odd "1-5" designation appears to have been a translation error by American authorities after the war. Several other "last-ditch" Volkssturmgewehr rifles were developed in 1944, all rather crude bolt actions. The autoloading VG1-5 was made by the Gustloff Company and hence called the Gustloff Volkssturmgewehr. In the end, only about 10,000 of these rifles were built. The serial number is stamped on the buttstock, not the receiver. Since the Rock Island gun's number is in the 8,000-range, it's a fairly late example.