Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rare WWII Automatic Rifle Turned In At Connecticut Buyback

Think of it as Pawn Stars, only with guns and taking place in the decidedly less glamorous venue of Hartford, CT.

During a recent gun buyback, police in Hartford were surprised when a local woman turned in an extremely rare WWII Nazi-issued automatic rifle.

“It’s like finding the Babe Ruth of baseball cards. The rarity, it was made for such a very short period,” Officer John Cavanna, one of the two officers who discovered the gun, told ABC News.

Officer Lewis Crabtree added, “The chance to see a piece of history — this … is absolutely unbelievable.”

Cavanna and Crabtree are resident gun experts for the Hartford Police Department.

The woman found the weapon in a closet after her father, a World War II veteran, passed away. Her father had brought home the historic weapon, usually issued to SS troops, from Europe as a keepsake from the war.

She was unaware it is now valued between $20,000 to $25,000.

The Sturmgewehr 44, meaning “storm rifle,” dates back to 1944. Crabtree revealed it was the first “modern assault rifle ever made, eventually replaced by the AK 47 in 1947 by Russia, who copied the German design of the Sturmgewehr 44.”

And although every modern assault rifle is modeled after the Sturmgewehr 44, Crabtree understood how its significance could be overlooked.

“If you were to look at the gun and didn’t know anything about guns, you would think it was garbage,” Crabtree said.

In its current state, this Sturmgewehr 44 is inoperable. But in its prime, it would have held a 30-round magazine and shot 500 rounds per minute.
In case you were wondering how a rare WWII nazi rifle made its way to Colt's backyard, Officer Cavanna explained that during wartime, GIs were sometimes allowed to send trophies- such as samurai swords or Luger pistols captured from axis troops- to relatives back home. And apparently that is what the unidentified woman's father did with the Stg 44, where it spent decades in a Connecticut attic not doing much besides appreciating in value. The weapon currently sits in a police armory- had they accepted it as part of the buyback, Hartford police would have been obligated to destroy the rare weapon and the woman who turned it in would've only received a $100 WalMart gift card.

Although it offered a superior rate of fire to the bolt-action rifle issued to German troops at the time, manufacturing the Stg 44 proved to labor-intensive, something the reeling 3rd reich could ill afford so late in the conflict. Thus fewer than a half million Stg 44s were produced- compared to more than 6 million M1 carbines or some 14 million Mauser bolt-action 98K Karabiner- and the forerunner of the modern military assault rifle was only issued to a select few SS troops. After WWII, the Soviet Union incorporated many design features from the Stg 44 into what became the iconic AK-47. In fact, earlier this year rebel factions in Syria captured what they thought was a stockpile of 5000 AK-47s from the Syrian military- but the weapons turned out to be Stg 44s.

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