The Nazi army’s Sturmgewehr (STG) 44, the first assault rifle.
The STG 44 in combat action.
Deadly designs. One thing leaps out from these pictures: the remarkable similarity of the first assault rifle to the assault rifles currently flooding America’s streets. This family resemblance is not a coincidence. From the STG-44 “storm gun” to the Bushmaster XM-15, assault weapons have incorporated into their design specific features that enable shooters to spray (“hose down”) a large number of bullets over a broad killing zone, without having to aim at each individual target. These features not only give assault weapons a distinctive appearance, they make it easy to simply point the gun while rapidly pulling the trigger—including firing from the hip, a procedure seldom used in hunting anything but human beings. The most important of these design features are:
- “High-capacity,” detachable ammunition magazines (often called “clips”) that hold as many as 75 rounds of ammunition. “This allows the high volume of fire critical to the ‘storm gun’ concept.”9
- A rear pistol grip (handle), including so-called “thumb-hole stocks” and magazines that function like pistol grips.
- A forward grip or barrel shroud. Forward grips (located under the barrel or the forward stock) “give a shooter greater control over a weapon during recoil.”10 Forward grips and barrel shrouds also make it possible to hold the gun with the non-trigger hand, even through the barrel gets extremely hot from firing multiple rounds. In the case of assault pistols (like the UZI, MAC, and Intratec TEC series) the forward grip often appears as an ammunition magazine or a barrel shroud, a vented tube surrounding the gun barrel.
Barrel shrouds make it possible to hold a hot barrel during firing (above). Forward pistol grips help control recoil (below). Images and captions from Duncan Long, The Terrifying Three.11
Military assault rifles, like this Heckler & Koch G41 invariably accept a high-capacity magazine (“clip”) and have some form of pistol grip and fore-end grip.
Barrel shrouds, like the one above sold by Bushmaster Firearms for use on the UZI, are “ventilated all around for maximum heat dissipation.”