One of the most interesting firearms for me at the 2017 SHOT Show was Hill & Mac’s quasi-reproduction of the WWII-era StG-44 Sturmgewehr. We’ve covered this weapon twice before at trade shows, including SHOT 2016 and the NRA 2016 Annual Meeting, and I am very pleased to say that the progress that HMG has made on this project is very apparent in the examples that were present at this year’s SHOT Show. A year ago, I had been fairly critical of the weapons the company had brought to the show, as they were in a very rough state and not very convincing as reproductions, but this year the weapons HMG brought looked extremely promising.
The rifle from SHOT 2016:
To me, what makes the HMG StG-44 so interesting is not the rifle it is intended to represent, but the effort that it has taken to make the reproductions. In a market filled with weapons that all share a handful of basic designs and carry a few modest improvements that set them apart, HMG presents a weapon with a locking mechanism that hasn’t been used in a serially produced firearm since the Kel-Tec RFB (and that weapon is itself exceptional in this respect), and which is built using an architecture that hasn’t been seriously applied in over 70 years. These things don’t make the HMG Sturmgewehr the Next Great Thing in firearms design, but it is fascinating to watch this company wrestle in what is essentially uncharted territory today. For more details, I recommend checking out the Military Arms Channel’s interview with Mac of HMG, embedded at the bottom of this article.
HMG’s representative told TFB that he hoped to have the very first production rifles released to the wild by April, but made no promises as to the timeline of the rifle’s release. Given what HMG is undertaking and their stated standards for the finished product, I think some reservation about that is perfectly reasonable. The weapons shown off at the show were, according to HMG, very close to the final production versions. Almost all production engineering has been completed, and development is down to testing different gas port sizes to ensure function with all four calibers. Also, the finish on the cast stock socket, gas block, and front sight base is slated to change to better match the glossy finish on the rest of the gun.
The HMG StG-44 is a pretty different kind of gun, targeting a novel segment of the market. It is neither a perfect reproduction of an older firearm, nor a cheap wallhanger, nor a next-generation show stopper. With it, HMG aims to find a middle ground between the real thing, a visual clone, and an affordable rifle that people can actually own and don’t feel bad about using. More than anything I think HMG wants to make something that gives the true experience of shooting and using the originals, but at an affordable price. Achieving this has presented a lot of challenges to the company, but if they pull it off I think the market will reward them for it.