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There is one big barrier in collecting World War II era firearms — the price tag. But high quality .22 replicas have made stocking your gun safe with the finest guns of the Allies and Axis accessible.
The First Assault Weapons
As currently defined, an “Assault Rifle” is considered to be a lightweight battle arm firing a cartridge of intermediate power (somewhere between a pistol cartridge and a full-blown traditional battle rifle cartridge like the .30-06) capable of being fired in a semi-automatic or full automatic mode from a high capacity detachable box magazine.
Most people consider the German StG44-Sturmgewehr 44, literally “storm (or assault) rifle, which fired the 7.92mm Kurz (short) cartridge to be the world’s first assault rifle under that definition. It was an outstanding weapon for that time, and was likely to have been at least in part, the progenitor of the Soviet AK-47.
Fortunately for the world, Adolph Hitler, besides being a psychopath, was also a micromanaging psychopath. He believed that since the M98K bolt action rifle had been good enough for him in the First World War, it was good enough for his troops 25 years later in the Seccond World War.
Development of this weapon had to be kept under wraps from him until it was perfected AND Germany was in such dire straits that a weapon of this type was needed to turn the tide of battle(s).
Fortunately again, the allies had so severely interfered with the ability of Germany to manufacture what it needed that not enough of this revolutionary arm could be produced to have much effect on the outcome of the war. But there was another assault rifle that was invented before the Stg44 that made an impact, before it was even envisioned as a weapon of this type. Our very own M1 carbine.
As many of you know, the M1 Carbine was designed originally to replace the .45 pistol as a more effective, yet easily carried weapon for rear echelon types, or specialty troops such as mortar crews. It provided much longer range accuracy and firepower than the great .45 did. But it was never intended to be fielded as a frontline.
Or was it? Well, yes and no.
There were other specialized troops that needed a weapon that was lighter and more compact than the M1 Garand or Thompson-so paratroopers were in line for the weapon-which was initially designed to have a selective fire feature. Apparently that feature was deleted by the military as being too costly, or slowing the initial development and fielding of the new weapon.