A Brief History
On September 24, 1884, Hugo Schmeisser was born in Jena, in what was then the German Empire. The son of a well known weapons designer, Hugo would go on to everlasting fame, or infamy if you prefer, as the man that invented the assault rifle.
Did you think the assault rifle inventor was Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian that invented the AK-47? Or perhaps you thought that Eugene Stoner, inventor of the M-16/AR-15 family of assault rifles invented the genre?
Schmeisser beat both of those famous weapons designers by coming up with the StG-44 during World War II for the German Wehrmacht, a mid-power rifle that could fire either semi-automatically, one shot at a time, or fully automatic like a regular machine gun. The name given to his invention was Sturmgewehr, which in German means “Assault Rifle,” so his invention also was the birth of the nomenclature so often thrown around in the news and political debates today.
Schmeisser died in 1953 only a couple months after being allowed to return to Germany by his Soviet captors. Rumors of his influence on the design of the AK-47 remain rampant, though he reportedly did not cooperate with the Soviets.
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For more information, please see…
Johnston, Gary and Thomas Nelson. The World’s Assault Rifles. Ironside International Publishers, 2016.
McNab, Chris. German Automatic Rifles 1941–45: Gew 41, Gew 43, FG 42 and StG 44. Osprey Publishing, 2013.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Paul Hermans of a sturmgewehr at the Nationales Militärgeschichtliches Museum in Diekirch, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.
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