Third Party Press

SSD's PTR44 / BD44 In Detail The Semi Automatic MP44

Wilhelm

Senior Member
I recently picked up an interesting late war magazine for this rifle of an oddball design you don't see much information about so I figured we might as well take a look at it.

The vast majority of MP44 magazine bodies are similar in construction to an MP5 jobber in that they are two halves welded together along a front and rear seam. For reasons unknown to me, very late in the war, a new design of body was introduced. It was two parts too but instead of two halves, it consisted of a large part folded unto a "U" which made up the front and both sides of the body. Then a rear panel was spot welded on to complete the box. Sound confusing? It's not really and it will all make sense after you check out the text and pictures that follow.

We'll start with left and right side general views:



If you collect MP44 schtuff, you'll immediately recognize what you are looking at but non-nerds will think it looks like every other MP44 magazine on the planet.


In this photo, the difference becomes obvious:

On the left is a typical MP44 magazine (only it's stamped "MP45" because the manufacturer screwed up) and on the right is the oddball. Notice that the one on the left has 5 reinforcement ribs while the one on the right only has four plus a little short one at the bottom running perpendicular to the others. The fifth rib was omitted to allow for the back to be folded around and welded in place.


Here's the other side showing the spot welds a little better:



Below is a front detail shot showing the welded seam on a typical magazine compared to the lack of a seam on the oddball:



Similarly, we see the rear seam on a typical compared to no seam on the oddball:



The side plates are identical:



Typical magazine:



Oddball:

It should be obvious now why the fifth reinforcement rib was omitted.


Here, we have removed the floorplate to get a look at how the rear of the magazine folds around the sides:
 
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Wilhelm

Senior Member
It is important to note that, not only the side plates, but the floor plate, follower and spring are interchangeable between the two designs. Only the body itself is constructed differently. Why this was done is unknown. The manufacturer is not certain either but it was almost certainly located in Czechoslovakia because post war Czech marked/manufactured ones are often encountered. Let's look at some markings.

First, all magazines of this design that I have ever seen are stamped on the left side "St G 44". This nomenclature was adopted in late October of 1944:



On the right side is found the manufacturer's code and an inspection (German wartime) or acceptance proof (post war Czech):

"qlw" is the manufacturer. There is some debate over who exactly this is and I have no interest in adding to the debate. What I will say is that I believe the factory was most likely in Czechoslovakia. Below that is, on this example, an "E" followed by a Czech rampant lion and the year of manufacture "46". If this magazine were assembled during the war, it would have a Waffenamt instead. Some are also seen with a Waffenamt overstamped by the Czech mark. In my opinion, it is clear that a Waffenamt means wartime production, an overstamp means wartime production repatriated and a Czech stamp only means Czech manufactured. The fact that "qlw" is on there tells me (my opinion only) that the magazine was made from left over wartime parts but assembled by the Czechs postwar.


This magazine was numbered to the rifle it was issued with:

This makes sense as MP44's are often magazine sensitive.


The floor plate on this magazine bears wartime marks too but no Waffenamt.





The follower is stamped with a Waffenamt. This tells us that, without question, they were using left over parts.

"gqm" is known to be Loch and Hartenberger.


I find it very interesting that an aluminum HK33 magazine made decades later has a similar reinforcing rib at the bottom:



Those nutty Germans...….the more things change, the more they stay the same. A late war STG44 magazine design compared to an HK33 from the 1970's:



Alrighty. Carry on.
 
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sprat

Senior Member
as always a excellent well though out and research subject thread

yes love a rampart lion and the "E" commonly found on East German Czech made P-38's and other Czech post war exports.

I am going out on a limb

that electric penciled serial number is very very German like. I would say this is Czech made mag as you demonstrated, that was supplied to East Germany. Since it was not made at Suhl, it would not have received the 1001. also EG magazines are marked MP 44 that was the nomenclature not STG 44.

Also East German magazines were not proofed with sunburst, but usually most ( not all) are electric penciled sometimes with several serial numbers. early EG ak mag's made at Suhl have tiny proof's near the rear lug. every single MPI-69 mag I have, is serial numbered in the same script usually two or three different serial numbers.

I have never seen Czech firearms with electric serial numbers. Russian firearms yes, but the script is not Germanic. I would love to hear from Czech firearms collectors, if I am right. also when did the Czech stop using the Lion & E, I thought I read early 1950's ( please feel free to correct me if Im off on this)

Thank you for posting
 

Intruder196

Senior Member
I had one just like this. Same maker mark, stamped stg44 and even electropenciled. I sold it on gunbroker about 10 years ago and it only went for 350. I let it go because it jammed too much. It was worse than the repro's I use
 

Wilhelm

Senior Member
Today, we're going to look at one of SSD's solid birch stocks. When the BD44 was imported and became the PTR44, one of the compliance parts was the stock. The metal hardware was made by SSD, but the stock itself was beautifully crafted in the US of solid walnut. Well, anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for origami (read stamped sheet metal) firearms and the MP44 is one of my favorites. So, why not collect lots of neat stuff to go with it, right? Well, D-K Production Group is the SSD parts supplier in this country and they were down to one birch stock left, so I figured I might as well buy it for the collection because you never know the future availability of imported parts. The stock I got is quite nice and it has more of a late war look to it which is also nice.

Installed on the rifle, the light color gives a nice contrast:


Color comparison to the Walnut stock:


Left side:


Right side:


Nice fitment to the stock ferrule:


The ferrule itself is, as expected save the lack of markings, indistinguishable from a war time example as evidenced by this detail of the underside showing the spot welding and various stamped contours:


Excellent inletting for storage cover/corner reinforcement:


The European Birch grain is always so pretty:


..
 
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Wilhelm

Senior Member
My favorite part about this stock is that it has more of a late war feel to it than the US made one. Where the US made walnut stock has the relatively sharp edges and fine sling slot detailing found in early production MP44's, this particular SSD stock has more muted edges and a rougher sling slot as you would more commonly find in a late war stock and that is my favorite thing about it. One of my complaints about the PTR44 is that it just looks TOO nice. A proper MP44 has a slightly rough and slapped together feel to it that is lacking in the PTR44 and to me, this stock looks more "authentic" for lack of a better word.

The "sharper" vs "muted" edges I'm referring to is readily apparent in this picture:


Notice on the US stock how defined the transition is from the thicker front to the thinner main body. This is typical of earlier production.


And the SSD stock has the less obvious transition found in late war examples:


Butts compared with SSD on the right. Both have 13 "wulste" or "bulges":


My biggest complaint about the US made stock:

Yes, this detail appears to conform to original production drawings BUT......
this detail on the SSD stock is more in line with what, in my limited experience, is normally encountered on an original stock:


The beveling around the sling slot, sharp, perfectly symmetrical inletting for the frosch, and bore through the stock are beautifully executed on the US made stock:




Again, on the SSD stock, these details looks more true to what is actually encountered on a typical original stock:





So, in the end, my take on both stocks is as follows:
Page 442 of Hanrich's revised edition of "STURMGEWEHR!" has a dimensioned postwar drawing of the earlier 1942 pattern stock. The stocks we are looking at here are of the 1944 pattern but I think it fair to assume that, while there are a number of differences between a 42 and 44 pattern, certain details, such as the sling slot and the dimensioning of the "wulst(e)" or "bulge(s)" at the rear of the stock (but not the number of wulste) remained the same.
If the previous is true, then I think the US made stock is an almost exactly accurate reproduction of what an ideal and by the production drawings stock was supposed to look like. The designer of the 1944 pattern stock and the collector wanting a near perfect recreation of an ideal MP44 would be proud
As for the SSD stock, I am of the opinion that it more accurately replicates what actually came out of a German factory in the later stages of the war when the system was beginning to break down and production numbers were starting to take precedence over craftsmanship. The component inspector at a wartime factory and the collector wanting a near perfect recreation of a typical wartime production MP44 would be proud.

So either way, US made walnut or German SSD made birch, I really don't think you can go wrong. Best option? Buy 'em both and you can change stocks depending on your collecting frame of mind that day!
 
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Wilhelm

Senior Member
Today, I had the opportunity to do some hardness testing on some bolts and bolt carriers, both old and new. There has always been a lot of speculation about the PTR 44 parts being overly hard to the point of brittleness. Some time ago now, an SSD representative told me that, back when the PTR 44's were being manufactured, the hardening of the bolts and carriers was done by a contracted firm and quality control was lacking. I was also told that these parts are now properly hardened in shop by SSD so there are new issues. Well, today, I went to visit an old timer machinist friend who just happens to have a meticulously maintained, vintage, Wilson hardness tester.

We tested four bolt carriers. All four were tested in the same area, the bolt grasping claw directly below the reinforcement webbing. A typical test dimple is shown below:


Results are reported using the Rockwell C Scale. The higher the number, the harder the part.
From left to right:


Manufacturer... ...........................................................Hardness

Haenel (FXO).............................................................. 24C
Erma (ayf).................................................................... 33C
Recently Manufactured SSD.................................38C
2009 SSD
(PTR imported rifle serial number 0779).........57C

I think the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. The bolt carrier for rifle 0779 is significantly over hardened, most likely to the point of being brittle. In other words, if you use it, it's a ticking time bomb. The new made SSD carrier, although harder than either of the two tested originals is most likely just fine for long term use.

All five bolts were tested in the same area as well: the center top of the surface behind the unlocking claw:



The tested bolts from left to right:


Manufacturer............................................................Hardness

E/37 (Haenel).............................................................60C
Unknown Original
(Marked 1 A and an acceptance mark)......... 59C
Recently manufactured SSD............................... 56C
2009 SSD
(PTR imported rifle serial number 0779).........59C
2009 SSD
(PTR imported rifle serial number 0880).........60C

The PTR imported bolts surprised me. I've heard of some of them breaking (although more often the carrier) but the two tested today fall right in line with the two tested originals. The recent manufacture SSD bolt tested right in line with the originals too.


I noticed something with regards to the Haenel carrier. It appears to have been repaired after haven broken post forging but prior to finish machining. Let's take a look.

Here we see obvious welding at the inside right front of the hammer clearance slot:


Outside, we see weld porosity:


But the only present machining appear to be from original manufacture:



Similarly, when we look at the inside left front of the hammer clearance slot, we see more weld:


Again, we see porosity on the outside:


But again, the only machine marks present appear to be from original manufacture:


Markings on this carrier:


Now, I'm far from an expert on original MP44 parts and my experience is limited. Some of you folks have been playing with this stuff for half a century. Have any of you ever seen an original carrier that appeared to be repaired during the original manufacture process? Whatever the case, I think it's VERY interesting!
 
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Wilhelm

Senior Member
It would appear I spoke too son about the new made SSD bolt carrier. Today, I was out at the range with a couple old friends enjoying the late summer sun. I figured it would be nice to take the PTR44 out since I've been messing with bits and pieces lately. The first 31 rounds went well with only one stoppage and then we came to round 32. I pulled the trigger, the rifle fired, the bolt carrier jammed to the rear and the unlocking claw from the bolt carrier fell out on the bench. The bolt was still in battery and would not move. Nice.........

So, I carefully disassembled the rifle and pulled the broken carrier out. the bolt was locked in battery and I'm scratching my head wondering "what the hell is the problem here?" Then I look in through the rear of the receiver and see the problem. Somehow, some way, the firing pin has come out the rear of the bolt and ended up going back forward into the ejector groove in the bolt (no idea how) wedging itself between the bolt body and the ejector. No wonder the bolt is locked in battery......it can't rise. There is a firing pin in the way. Now.....you tell me how in the world the firing pin ended up there! Anywho, it took me about 20 minutes of fiddling around with my fingers and a Swiss Army knife before I managed to dislodge the firing pin. Once it came out, the bolt lifted up easily and slid to the rear, ejecting the undamaged case. I was shooting factory loaded PPU ammo and noticed nothing out of the ordinary so I'm sure this is just a simple case of bolt carrier failure. Dingo told me there is a lifetime warranty on the part so it's ok. Hopefully he has a replacement available.

Total rounds on the carrier at point of failure, 792.

I reassembled the rifle using a spare wartime carrier I have (Erma Werke) and hand cycled the action. Everything seemed to be fine but I was finished shooting for the day. This evening, when I clean the rifle, I'll carefully inspect everything for damage but I think it's good to go.

Here's a picture of the broken part:


Now I gotta' go look up Dingo!
 

Wilhelm

Senior Member
I still have my email correspondence from when I bought the bolt carrier back in 2017 and I wrote Dingo this evening. He's written back already and will be sending another. All he asked was that I send back the one that failed. Now, that's Sterling customer service if you ask me.
 
I wonder if they can forge new ones and drill a smaller hole to give it more material underneath the claw and machine new op rods smaller diameter to fit in it.
 

Wilhelm

Senior Member
Alrighty, it's time for an update. I contacted D-K Production Group, the company that sells SSD parts in the United States. Within two days, I had a new replacement carrier (a $700 part) at no cost. All they asked was that I return the broken one. Yes, the part should not have failed but, be that as it might, I have to say that the customer service is stellar.

The one that was sent looks great and required no fitting, sliding in the receiver just as it should. I prefer it in the white because I like the contrast but beggars can't be choosers!
















Now, will this one last? I have no way of knowing without shooting the hell out of it. That most likely won't happen because I have an original Erma Werke carrier installed and, pending test firing to make sure it operates properly, I see no need not to use it. Wartime parts are generally known to be reliable and of good quality.


Test firing brings up another subject. I'm in my 50's now and my eyes aren't what they were when I bought this rifle. I used to be able to shoot it at 200M fine using open sights but those days are gone. I can either wear my glasses and see the target but not the sights or I can ditch the glasses and see the sights but not the target. Some folks lamented the fact that SSD installed a scope rail on the rifles saying they were never mass produced that way. But some did have a rail if only for testing and I personally am grateful it's on there because an optic is the only way I can actually aim the rifle anymore! That will be the subject of the next post.
 

Wilhelm

Senior Member
As stated in my previous post, I'm getting older and my days of shooting at any distance with iron sights are in the rear view mirror. I can still shoot steel plates at 100M but I do so by not wearing my glasses and aiming at the center of the blob. I can get a hit but I can't shoot for accuracy. So, optics are now a must for me if I want to do more than just giggle at hearing the muzzle blast.

When the MP44 was being developed, some rifles had a scope rail spot welded to the receiver so that the same mount used on the G/K43 rifle could be fitted. Trials with an optic were less than satisfactory so the idea was dropped and the rifle entered mass production sans a rail. However, some rifles with a rail were encountered in the field and it is known that the ZG 1229 Vampir NV sight was fitted to the MP44 so clearly a limited number must have been produced other than for trials. The fact is, we'll most likely never know production numbers but it was most certainly vanishingly small. Whatever the case, SSD decided to reproduce the rail and install it on their rifles. I'm glad they did too because it means I can fit an optic on mine and continue to enjoy it as I get older. Unfortunately, there are two problems, price and dimensions.

First up is price. An original scope and mount is expensive. I used to have one when I had a G43. Man, was that thing accurate. I had enjoyed it for about 500 rounds when I had a pierced primer. The rifle was unharmed but the incident really brought home the fact that the G43 is very fragile and prone to breakage. I was afraid of destroying it if I continued to shoot it so I separated the scope rig from the rifle and sold them separately. Other than the rubber eye cup, the scope rig was 100% original parts and included the scope (a crystal clear Voigtlander), mount (Walther), bands with screws and windage knob cover. I sold it for $3000. Now, I have no interest in tying up that kind of geedus to use on a rifle that is a reproduction to start with. What to do?

An alternative is to use reproduction parts to build a scope rig. The optic is not the problem. Several years ago, Meopta in the Czech Republic, who made the ZF4 during the war under the name Opticotechna GmbH, broke out their old machinery and made a bunch of them for the reenactor market. They are of excellent Quality and can be had for around $500. I have on mounted on my FG42 and it's a thing of beauty, robust and reliable. Additionally, the eye cup, windage knob and sunshade are available as well made reproductions too. They are close enough to look the part but just different enough that they can't be passed off as original if you know what to look for. The Meopta scope is likewise made slightly different. The mechanics are identical but the markings are slightly different and the lenses are coated, something that was not done during the war. The problem is the mount and rings. A very few reproductions are properly made but the vast majority are essentially junk. That's a rabbit hole I'd rather no go down. But there is another alternative........

At the end of the war, the Czechs found themselves with a massive amount of German equipment left lying around. Additionally, during the war, Czechoslovakia had been a major manufacturing area for the German military. So, for a while, the Czechs used German equipment. They even went so far as to employ the ME262 jet fighter in their airforce! But that's way off topic. What's on topic is that Czech army used the G43 rifle as a marksman's rifle for a time. Not only did they use left over ZF4 scopes, but they also refurbished some and even made new ones marked as a "Vz43" (Model 43). Similarly, they used left over mounts and, because they made mounts during the war, they continued making news ones with Czech markings. This is the ticket if you want the best Quality rig for range use. All components are made to original specifications because they are made by an original manufacturer. And because they are Czech marked, they lack the monetary value associated with German marked components which means you can save a PILE of cash. The problem is locating them. Even though they aren't worth much, they are far rarer than wartime produced equivalents. The only way is through patience, persistence, and most important of all, luck.

This past January I got very lucky. I stumbled across a Czech rig that had not been messed with. The refurbished ZF4 was cloudy and the turrets were frozen but the CZ made mount was pristine and the bands with screws were original. I paid $450.




I received it assembled but I disassembled it to inspect everything and get the scope sent off for refurbishment by Don Miller of Optihaus who is considered to be the best man for the job on this continent. In the first picture, you can see the lined out markings. The scope was made in Czechoslovakia during the war by Opticotechna. "ZF K 43" marking tells us it's a later war production unit. During rework after the war, all of the original markings were struck through and new markings applied on the bottom of the body (2nd picture) As such, they cannot be seen when the optic is installed on the mount. We can see the Czech "rampant lion" acceptance proof, a new serial number and the "U45" refurbishment marking telling us it was rebuilt in 1945.

I sent the scope off to Don in late February excited about having it back in time for some nice warm weather zeroing so I could do some long range testing. Well, things don't always go according to plan. Don is a busy man and he works on scopes at his pace when he has time to do so. Long story short, I didn't get my scope back until October 19th but it was well worth the wait. It's now crystal clear and the once frozen turrets now work perfectly. He even threw in a reproduction eye cup and windage knob cover and he only charged me $150 for the service. I sent him a Check for $200 and would have happily paid more. I'd recommend him for ZF4 work to anyone so long as they are patient. His email address is optikhaus@yahoo.com

So, I have a grand total of $650 wrapped up in the scope and mount and another $60 for a sunshield from Darrin Weaver at Historicalparts.com. A comparable wartime rig would be well over $3000 and it wouldn't be of any better quality. For my purposes (range use) that's one hell of a savings. That takes care of the price problem. Earlier I said there is a dimension problem too but we'll cover that as we look at the pictures of the end result.

First up, here are general left and right side views of the scope rig mounted on the rifle:



I really like the pale phosphate finish on the mount. It's so thin it looks almost like a wash that you can still see the bare steel through. It's identical to the German late war phosphate. Whatever the formula was, it seems to have been lost to time as I am unaware of anyone who can reproduce it today.

Markings at the rear of the mount:

The lever is swung to the rear locked position showing the word "Pevne" or "fixed". Below that is the serial number. I don't know if this is the mount number, the scope number, or the rifle number. Below that is a CZ manufacturer mark. Some are marked "rid" which was the Czech ordnance code for CZ. I'm not aware of any other manufacturer of these for the Czech military.


Next are the markings on the middle of the mount:

Again we see the rampant lion acceptance mark. I assume "E7" is a quality control stamp but I'm not sure. "47" is the year of manufacture.


When the locking lever is swung forward to the unlocked position, the word "Volne" or "Free" is displayed:



During refurbishment by the Czechs, coated lenses were used installed:


Scope assembled to the mount showing the bands and proper length screws. Reproduction screws are almost always too long:

The windage cap is an almost perfect reproduction.


Now we come to the dimension problem. Here is the rail on the rifle:

It looks great, just like the rail you'd see on a G/K43 rifle. The problem is, it's not dimensioned correctly. I've only had the chance to try two original mounts on two PTR44 rifles. Both times, they would not lock down correctly and the mount would literally rock side to side on the rail, making it totally useless for anything other than display. Are all PTR44 rails out of spec? I don't know but I'd bet that they are. Fortunately, there IS a solution. what you need to do is fabricate a shim out of aluminum. In my case, I happened to have one lying around that came from Buddy Hinton. He had them made for use with the Model 1953 scope on the the MAS49 and 49/56 rifles. It turns out one of those shims works out just fine in this application and the scope mount now seems to lock down properly on the rail:

All you need to do is start the mount on the rifle and work it forward slowly as you insert the shim from the front and push it backwards between the mount and the rail. Now, I haven't had this to the rage yet so I cannot guarantee that the mount will not move. But it locks up rigidly so I am fairly certain it'll work. I'll report my findings when I know for sure.

Here we see the gap between the mount and the rail:

The shim fills this space, allowing the mount to properly lock on the rail.


Not only is the optic useful but it just looks neat mounted on the rifle:


This last picture is a head on view illustrating the offset position of the optic:

This created parallax problems during trials. There were also dispersion problems and I assume that will still apply today. My advantage is that I'm not taking this to war. It's all just for fun. I'll report back once I get it to the range.
 
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