The Gewehr 43 (Rifle 43) is a prized collectible whose value is continuously on the rise. Less well known than the K98, or even the MP44, the G43 was built in large numbers and saw wide service on every front during the last year of World War II. Designed during wartime and built under duress, which included materials, machinery and labor shortages, not to mention round-the-clock bombing by the U.S. 8th Air Force and the RAF, the G43 was definitely a work in progress. And though even the best examples have a crude appearance, the G43 is an excellent design. It was easy and cheap to produce, accurate and reliable, though somewhat lacking in durability. Ease of production was one of the main goals with the G43. Almost a half-million were made, most in the last 15 months of the war. Even though many of them survived the war and were later taken up by the Czechs and East Germans, G43s are prized collectibles today. Demand among collectors is high, and once the G43 is placed in a person’s collection, it tends to stay there. And because the gun evolved quickly and had three separate manufacturers, the collecting field is rich. Several sniper G43 variants add to the design’s mystique.
Semi-Auto Rifle Race
Why the German army had no semi-automatic rifle at the start of WWII has always been a vexing question. With its submachine guns, semi-automatic pistols and belt-fed machine guns, the German military set the standard for small arms. The answer is two-fold: First, design requirements amounted to a virtual straightjacket on engineers, and second, there were other priorities. The German military had a stipulation that its semi-auto rifle’s barrel could not be tapped. The German Army Ordnance Board (Heereswaffenamt, or HWA) was overly concerned about velocity loss as well as wear and gas-port expansion, which would create excessive wear on the bolt and possibly put it in an unsafe condition. This bizarre requirement wound up placing the Germans at least 10 years behind the Soviets and Americans in the race to develop a semi-automatic service rifle…
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