Many consider Germany’s Sturmgewehr 44, or StG 44, the world’s first assault rifle. Its design was so successful that modern assault rifles, such as the M-16 and the AK-47, were derived from it. Legend has it that Hitler himself, being so impressed, dubbed the weapon Sturmgewehr, or “Storm Rifle.” It
was a unique design that blended the characteristics of a carbine, automatic rifle, and submachine gun. The weapon sported some of the most innovative accessories of the time. First, there’s the Zielgerät 1229 infrared vision scope, codename “Vampir.” It weighed about 5 lbs and was connected to a 30 lb battery pack strapped to the user’s back. I know not as compact as today’s night-vision, but hey, this was the 1940s! Then there was the Krummlauf, “curved barrel,” attachment that allowed the weapon to shoot around corners. Nazi Germany was the first to attempt to implement this long-existing idea! There were different versions: 30°, 45°, 60° and 90° bends. However, these curved barrels didn’t have much a lifespan. After firing a certain number of rounds, 300 for the 30° version and 160 rounds for the 45°, the barrel would likely fail from the stress. As revolutionary as the concept was, the StG 44’s arrival was much too late to have any real impact on the war in Europe.