Since we talked SMGs, let’s do Assault Rifles too

Did The AK-47 Copy The STG-44?

Brandon Herrera takes on the common knowledge myth that Russian AK-47 just copied the German MP-44/STG44/45 that was the grandfather of the modern assault rifle. It is a fairly linear linking of logic to see why this is still floated around in circles today as gospel, usually to denigrate the AK as unoriginal.

But readers, technology builds. The ultra modern, high graphics rendering, turbo game machine (that I am using to type words) would not have been possible without all the computational systems that came before it. Some of those systems were developed in parallel, not linearly, as multiple people figured out how to solve similar problems in similar ways. The AK-47/STG44 development is one such parallel.

But looking at the guns you will see that if anyone copied features of the STG design linearly, it was the Germans themselves. It shares a lot of very G3/HK33 like features, especially in receiver design. The AK/AKM meanwhile are quite different receiver wise, but with all the stamped steel they look similar enough to make the logical leap.

The supposition that the two are direct descendants also ignores many other rifle types that share similar features to one or the other, simply because they were fairly standard additions to firearms of the era. The AK is descended from the SKS, SVT-40, and even the Mosin-Nagant M1891. It took design considerations from all of them because these were the weapons the Soviet conscripts would be transitioning from.

Considering in the future design the current training of your domestic troops!? Smart.

The significant receiver differences alone should indicate that the two weapons similarities stop at the rudimentary level that they are both assault rifles and share the same role. In this way the STG44 is equally comparable to the FAL, FNC, AR15, AR18/180, FAMAS, etc. All of them share elements of operation because there are a few well proven out methods to make a working assault rifle. Funny enough, the AR18/180’s system seems to be having the longest legs when it comes to legacy as most major late 20th Century and early 21st Century rifles have an incredibly comparable bolt carrier and gas piston setup.

The MCX, ACR, MSBS, SCAR, SA80, ARX, G36, HK433, and just about every short-stroke piston multi-lug bolt carrier operating system.

Anyhow… which rifle most inspired the AK from a Non-Soviet origin?

The Garand. No seriously, the Canadian-American John Garand’s iconic World War winner’s action is closest to the Soviet AK’s dual lug rotating bolt long stroke piston design. Add to that that the 7.62×39 was closer to the original .276 Penderson (125gr rounds at 2700 fps) and the AK suddenly has a very Americano vibe.

In fact, the 6.5 Grendel Serbian AK’s (M17’s) firing the 93gr FMJ rounds are the logical inheritor of John Garand’s original vision. (Sorry, M14. You just look the part. You were an obsolescent design upon arrival)

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.