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Rock Island Auctions has a couple of gen-u-ine German assault rifles on the block, including “the grandfather of all German assault rifles.” Here’s their take on these extraordinary firearms:

Thanks to two studious German military collectors, Rock Island Auction Company has amassed a German Military arms collection that will stun enthusiasts, collectors, and investors of the genre, as well as more than a few curious spectators. These collections are the illustrious Gene Smith Collection and Part II of the meticulous Von Norden Collection. As many collectors saw previously in our May Premiere Firearms Auction, the Von Norden Collection is a comprehensive study into German arms and what at times seems like an endless list of variants. The Gene Smith Collection, on the other hand, while also filled with many excellent quality and rare firearms, showcases the labor of love over several decades in its abundance of prototype and rare German arms . . .

Today’s story is going to cover two supremely rare German military arms from the Von Norden Collection. Specifically, they come from a portion of the Collection so thorough and impressive it nearly warrants itsown collection. The congregation of World War II German Machine Guns in the Von Norden Collection defies belief. This will stand as the finest and most significant compilation of World War II German Machine Guns ever before offered.  With a claim like that, let’s show you a pair of items that can help prove it.

Super Rare Original Fully Automatic Class III/NFA World War II German C.G. Haenel Manufactured Mkb.42(H) Assault Rifle with Original Sheet Metal Sniper Scope Mount and ZF41/1 Sniper Scope


The gun you see above is the ONLY known one in private hands – making it a top collectible even were it without its superb condition. It is an MKb.42(H) (“MKb” is an abbreviation of “Maschinen karabiner”), the grandfather of all German assault rifles. Around 1935-1937 a contract was issued from HWaA, the weapons agency of the Wehrmacht, to C.G. Haenel Waffen und Fahrradfabrik to develop a short-range intermediate round that would eventually become the 7.92×33 Kurz (short). That was finished in 1938 and with their new cartridge the HWaA then tasked them in 1939 with building a prototype, fully automatic rifle to fire the new round.  

Walther also submitted a prototype to compete for the eventual contract, but the Haenel design won out. Working for Haenel at that time was renowned designer Hugo Schmeisser who borrowed from his already successful MP-40 design to ensure the rifle could be constructed almost entirely of sheet metal stampings instead of machined parts, resulting in a cheaper and more quickly produced gun. The design was a success and the MKb.42(H) would begin to make its way to the front lines in late 1942.  

As with all initial designs, it would eventually be improved upon and in 1943 its improvements would be released in a new rifle, the MP-43. The switch from MKb to MP came in 1943 when Hitler decreed, due to infighting, that all rifle development programs were to cease so that additional newer submachine guns could be produced that utilized existing ammunition. Since the MKb wasn’t something Hitler wanted developed, it was simply given an MP moniker, the MP-43, and development continued.  

Unfortunately, the trick was discovered by the führer who stopped that program yet again, only to allow it continue later solely for evaluation purposes.  The gun’s performance and superior results saved it from history’s dust bin. Hitler approved continuation of development and eventually distributed the first MP-43s to the Waffen-SS.

The exact scenario of Hitler and his Minister of Armaments Albert Speer is unknown, but Hitler appears
less than pleased with the weapons lain before him.  On the left appears to be the MkB.42 and on the right a more finalized version of the weapon.

Making the earliest predecessor of the MP44/StG-44 even more exceptional is World War II sheet metal sniper scope mount and the ZF41/1 sniper scope that it holds. Only a handful of these original stamped metal mounts are known to exist today!  Together, the rifle and the scope mount arguably mark two of the most scarce pieces of the genre. As if this lot could not get any more desirable for collectors, the rifle comes with an original leather sling and an original magazine with the “MKb.42” marking.

Exceptionally Rare Original World War II German STG-44 Assault Rifle with the Ultra Rare Experimental Krummlauf Curved Barrel and Optical Sighting Device

The second gun we’ll look at today is already a rare gun, but its ultra rare attachment is what pushes its appeal to a fever pitch. Well out of the early developmental stages of the previous gun, this World War II StG-44 assault rifle is a solid representation of those that saw widespread use in battle. 

A total of 425,977 StG-44 assault rifles and all its variants were produced by the end of the war and development had already begun on an StG-45. One of those aforementioned variants that remains in ultra rare status to this day is the Krummlauf, a bent barrel attachment with its special optical sighting device. Working much like a periscope, the optics allowed the user to see “around corners,” though they were originally designed for use by troops in armored vehicles so they could effectively defend the “blind spots” that occurred in close range around the vehicles.

The Krummlaufs came in several variants and angles. There were versions with 30°, 45°, 60°, & 90° bends, an “I” version for infantry, a “P” version for tanks, one for the StG-44, and one for the MG-42. This particular model is the “V” version, the final one ever produced. It utilized a series of vent holes along the top rear portion to help relieve excess gas to help keep the barrels from bursting. The 30° “I” version is the only one produced in any significant number, though even that number is small – while 20,000 units were ordered only an estimated 500 were ever delivered.  

Making these low numbers lower still are the incredibly short life spans of these devices. Due to the redirection of gases and the high resultant friction from the bullet, the 30° version could fire roughly 300 rounds and the 45° could handle even fewer, 160. That huge amount of friction also affected the speed of the bullet, again in varying amounts depending on the angle of the Krummlauf. Some reports indicate muzzle velocities as low as 300 meters per second, but this was not listed as a problem for the Wehrmacht since they intended the attachment to be used primarily for short-range combat.

Looking through the optics and seeing the front sights (barrel is lowest object in photo).
Note the different angles for where the device attaches and the muzzle.

While these two fully automatic German  firearms easily qualify as the type that collectors dream about, they do not come close to showing the full selection present in the September 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction at Rock Island Auction Company. Not only will there be additional Stg-44 rifles, but also MP-40 submachine guns, two MG-34 machine guns, an MG-42 with its accessories, an MP43 from Steyr-Solothurn, a Mauser Model 1932 Schnellfeuer machine pistol, a DWM World War I 1908 heavy machine gun, and the finest known FG-42 paratrooper rifle in existence! And those are just from the German class III weapons.  

We haven’t even started on the American models or those from other European countries!  If you ever considered collecting or investing in foreign military arms, this is an auction you can’t afford to miss.  If these two astounding collections had machine guns of this rarity and high quality, imagine what else they contain. [h/t TP]

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    • Yeah.
      I was thinking of bidding, just to be able to say, “I bid on that, but …”

      • Oh hell Tom just throw in a bid, maybe people will be too timid to bid thinking the price will be in the millions, and if there is no reserve you might just get it.

        • Rock island is just about the king of gun auction sites. I was bidding on a couple of Tom Knapp’s guns and bidding got stupid fairly fast.
          I’ll bet that Rock Islands cut would be a decent years wages!

  1. I need a straight barrel, my shooting is bad enough! I guess practice, practice, practice is required! I’ll keep my 14!

  2. I’m curious how they kept the bore of the gun round. It would seem that when the barrel was bent, that the bore would take on an egg shape at the bend. I suppose a couple of thousands wouldn’t make much difference, but if the elongation were more than minimal, the bullet would be forced to take on the shape of the bore causing a pressure rise.
    Maybe Dyspeptic Gunsmith would like to comment on this.

    • You can bend copper tubing by filling with ice. Maybe they filled the barrel with something dense like sand to keep it round. The Myth busters bent a 10/22 barrel by just heating and bending slowly.

  3. How does this rifle stack up against the original ak 47s? In terms of reliability performance and accuracy?

  4. Truly awesome. I wonder how much these will go for; how do you even assign a value to something so rare?

  5. My grandfather always talked about a town full of bent barrel rifles with periscopes for sights he encountered towards the end of the war. I never doubted him, but it’s good to see what he was talking about.

    • Lucky for us Hitler was an idiot when it came to rockets, jet aircraft, armored weapons, keeping Jews around to do physics, and about a dozen other things.

      Not to mention GM’s OPEL division building it all…

      They were from years, to a decade, ahead of the US. Were it not for good fortune (and Hitlerian bad decisions) they would be running Europe right now.

  6. There are good reasons that the models pictured above were rare. ZF41 scope was worthless and on the MP44 would not hold zero. The Krummlaufs were really not practical and the barrels wore out fast.

  7. But … but … it just *can’t* be a real assault rifle!

    It’s not all black, it has wood on it for Pete’s sake!

  8. Cool. The market sets the value for ultra rare items. How much are well heeled collectors willing to pay? Beats me. I’m an antique & art dealer and can’t believe the $ contemporary & well…s##t goes for. Guns have intrinsic value-you can defend your life with one. Paintings, cars, jewelry, houses-not so much. If I had lots of $ THIS is what I would collect. BTW what is the purpose of the LIMP barrel? What practical use could be expected on a muddy battlefield? Anyone know?

    • Aiming and firing around corners, over trench walls, out of a tank hatch, etc. without exposing your head and hands to return fire. It’s like the great-grandfather of the CornerShot.

  9. @ former ww, the barrel was idea to stay behind cover and shoot. I’m guessing the downward barrel could shoot down from a hill, wall or building, or held gangsta’ style and shoot around corners. The article also states these were originally designed to protect the sides of armored vehicles.

  10. I want to look at the collection but if I do I won’t sleep for weeks. I’ll just cry softly to myself

  11. If only I had the money… I’d be takin one of those sweet lil Germans home to get dirty on the range…

  12. Like a working cornershot? OK. Yeah I did see Mythbusters and saw their curved barrel experiments. If the Nazis hadn’t been so evil and killed or enslaved their Jewish scientists they would have conquered the the world. Spending the equivalent of a TRILLION DOLLARS on rockets to kill a few thousand Brits didn’t help. It wasn’t just small arms Hitler sucked at rev…

  13. Robert, Hugo Schmeisser did NOT have anything to do with the creation of the MP-40 in any way, shape, or form: It was designed by Heinrich Vollmer and Manufactured by Erma Werke Corp. for the Nazi military.

  14. I don’t get the “assault rifle” reference. Seems to me that an assault rifle is one that is designed for use in assaults. So, it would have a short barrel for close quarters combat and have full auto capabilities. Neither of these rifles have a short barrel. The one with the bent barrel would be used primarily in a defensive position as the article states which is certainly not an “assault” .

  15. My dad served in Patton’s 3rd Army and fought through the Battle of the Bulge. When I was little, he would tell me stories about the war and he brought up this gun he found on a German Soldier “That didn’t need it anymore” He said it shot around corners and was a lot of fun to shoot but the barrel would get red hot from firing it. He said it was very accurate too. He said he traded it to another soldier for cigs or something. I absolutely did not believe that there was a gun that could shoot around corners, which made him pretty mad. Fast forward several decades, with the internet available, and I found that this gun DID exist. I called my dad and apologized for not believing him when I was a kid. So, moral of the story: LISTEN TO YOUR DAD! :0)

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