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The MP-44 (later designated StG-44, short for «Sturmgewehr 44» - assault rifle 44) is known as the worlds first assault rifle. Initial development took place under the designation of MKb.42 («Maschinenkarabiner 42» -machine carbine 42). The experimental MKbs were developed by two german companies, Karl Walther (MKb.42W) and C. G. Haenel (MKb.42H). Both guns were intended as a replacement for submachine guns, bolt action rifles and, partly, light machineguns for front troops. Both guns were designed to fire intermediate cartridges, and have effective range of about 600 meters. After initial trials the MKb.42H, designed by Hugo Schmeisser, was found the superior of the two, and further development took place under the name of MP-43 («Maschinenpistole 43» - machine pistol) to avoid Hitlers opposition to anything not SMG. The trial batches performed so well in Russia that Hitler changed his mind and even demanded a designation change to the Wagnerian «Sturmgewehr», literally «assault rifle». Final versions of the new gun appeared under the designation of MP-44 which was later renamed to the more familiar StG-44. Total number of MP-43s, MP-44s and StG-44s produced was about 500 000. The StG.44 is a gas-operated, selective-fire weapon. The gun is fired from the closed bolt (unlike the early Mkb.42H). The MP-43 and further versions were hammer-fired while the MKb.42H was striker-fired. By modern standards the StG-44 is too heavy, it was not comfortable to fire from prone positions, the butt attachment was not too strong and could be easily be damaged in hand-to-hand combat, but it was the first gun of its class, and it was more effective than SMG for its intended use.

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