It wasn’t until the War was drawing to a close that conversion kits were provided to make the M1 Carbines in the field full auto capable, while production of the M2 select fire carbine was undertaken stateside. The late addition of select fire capability was a direct response to our encounters with the few German troops that had been equipped with the StG44.
So technically we COULD have fielded the select fire M2 carbine much earlier than we did, beating the German’s to the punch But typical stodgy military thinking may have also been involved in detouring the select fire capability as unnecessary. I say we won the race on a technicality.
We definitely won on the intermediate cartridge concept. While the .30 carbine cartridge is often thought of as a wimp of a round, it really isn’t. Launching a 110gr. bullet at over 1990 fps, and developing 967 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy-basically three times that of the 9mm at the muzzle, it is certainly nothing I would want to get hit with.
By contrast, the StG44’s 7.92×33 Kurtz, clearly the predecessor of the 7.62×39 AK47 round, launched a 125 grain bullet at 2250 fps for a muzzle energy of 1408 ft. lbs. Again, while the .30 Carbine lacks the ballistic potential of the 7.92 Kurtz, it is clearly in a ballistic class well above standard handgun cartridges. Again, the .30 Carbine qualifies as an assault rifle round, not only because of its ballistics, but because it was used as such throughout three plus Wars.
.22 caliber makeovers
The problem with both these weapons and their cartridges is that they aren’t available at reasonable cost or any cost that the average shooter can afford. Try $20,000 plus for an original StG44. Original M1’s in shootable condition are well into the $2000 range.
While there are outstanding newly manufactured M1’s available from Kahr/Auto-Ordnance, there is still the issue of ammo cost. .30 Carbine ammo is somewhat pricey. Ball ammo runs around $23 for 50 rounds. Not horrible, but not cheap.
Fortunately, the ability to have and shoot these two old war horses (or at least their stand-ins) at a very reasonable cost for both guns and ammo has arrived via two companies who are heavily invested in the burgeoning .22LR replica market. The Italian manufacturer Chiappa has given us the M1-22 .22LR M1 Carbine (sold through Century Arms and now available in a 9mm model), while Germany’s GSG (German Sport Guns) imported through American Tactical has given us the .22LR StG44. Both these guns are worth their fun, and maybe hunting and defensive weight, in gold.
The .22 replica market has been a beautiful thing.
The replicas I have worked with are often indistinguishable (without close examination by a trained eye) from the real thing. Remember the old .22LR M16 “replica” from the 1980’s? The only thing that vaguely resembled an M16 was the fact that it had a carry handle/sight and a triangular handguard. Any other resemblance To a real M16 was purely coincidental.