East Germany AKs - The Best In The World? Part 3: Less Known Variants

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about the history of AK rifle production in East Germany, and  Part 2 was dedicated to my personal experiences with East Germany AKs. In Part 3, I want to talk about less-known variants of DDR AKs and their destiny after the Berlin Wall fell and communism in East Europe collapsed.

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East German / DDR AKs – The Best In The World? Part 2: Quality

In part one of this series, I wrote about the history of DDR AKs which by many are regarded as the best in the world. In this part of the article, I will describe some experiences I had when I repaired those guns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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East German AKs – The Best In The World? Part 1: History

AK rifle is often thought of as something crude and easy to produce with shabby craftsmanship performed by slave laborers in dystopian socialist factories. So many times I heard: “Oh, what do you expect, it is an AK”. That is why it is ever more interesting to look at East German AKs, produced in a country that for the last 100 years has been thought of as the synonym of quality products.

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East German KK-MPI-69 .22 LR Trainers in the wild

The East German Kleinkaliber-Maschinenpistole Modell 69 .22 Long Rifle Kalashnikov Trainer is one of the more peculiar relics of the Cold War. It is one of the few .22 LR trainers completely modeled after a full size, working issue rifle (not a conversion kit), and actually used by a military (not commercially produced). East Germany took a number of parts from the 7.62x39mm KKMPI 69, and produced a select fire .22 LR trainer, to be used within military marksmanship, and by youth groups within East Germany. Around 50,000 were produced, and at the end of the Cold War it appears all 50,000 were destined to be scrapped. Nevertheless, some made their way to Switzerland, and a very small portion were chopped up, and exported to the United States as parts kits, where there is very little demand or interest in them. Small Arms Review has an excellent and detailed write up of the rifle.

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Firearm Showcase: The Heckler & Koch G11K2, 1989 Caseless Hyperburst Wonder - HIGH RES PICS!

In May of this year, I got the rare opportunity to travel to Heckler & Koch’s headquarters in Ashburn, VA, to take a look at some of the experimental and prototype firearms they have located there in their famous “Grey Room”. It wouldn’t be worth as much for me to just tell you about it and to snap a few foggy cell phone pictures, though, so I brought along Othais of C&Rsenal to help me take high resolution light box photos of these unique and rare firearms.

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Unknown Post-War StG-44 Derivative

The MP-44, also known as the “Sturmgewehr”, was  a very influential weapon to post-war thinking. Even the Americans – who at the time rejected the “assault rifle” concept as we now know it – took notice and immediately began development in March of 1944 of a shorter round for infantry weapons, which later became both the .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO rounds.

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Berlin Crisis, 1961: The Beginning of The End of The M14

In 1957, the T44E4 rifle was formally adopted by the United States Armed Forces as the United States Rifle, 7.62mm, M14, but this only marked the beginning of the rifle’s troubles. After numerous delays and production crises – including the rejection in December of 1960 of 1,784 of H&R receivers (about ten percent of the receivers that had been made up to that time) that could not withstand the pressure of firing due to a steel mix-up – Robert McNamara made a famous speech on the rifle program in June of 1961, stating: “I think it is a disgrace the way the project was handled. I don’t mean particularly by the Army, but I mean by the nation. This is a relatively simple job, building a rifle, compared to building a satellite or a lunar lander or a missile system.” At that time, there existed a grand total of only 133,386 M14 rifles, despite the type having been adopted four years prior.

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