PTR-44: A Footnote to the Sturmgewehr Saga

Here’s an interesting rifle that just changed hands on GunBroker for a slightly stiff sum of $4,525; enough to make reserve, but not near the Buy It Now of over $6,800.

PTR 44 02

It looks like an MP-44, but it isn’t; it’s a PTR-44, a German-American initiative that foundered on the Scylla of high prices and the Charybdis of low quality with under 200 guns imported, but plenty of recriminations to go around. (The German manufacturer, Sport-System Dittrich, went through the Euro equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and PTR went back to making decent HK clones after this unhappy experiment with importation).

This particular example was in near new, unfired condition; it’s likely that some of the tiny number in the USA are held by collectors in this condition, but many of them went to WWII reenactors and were subsequently hacked for blank adapters and beaten on.

PTR 44 01

Seller said this:

From on-line forum discussion groups, it appears there are approximately 198 of these rifles in the U.S. This particular rifle has not been fired since departing the factory. Post-war “original” mp44 magazine included in the auction as the PRT magazines provided with the rifles appeared to have feeding issues. This rifle has not been modified or messed with in any way – – still as new.

The gun was a rapid sale on GunBroker, and we hope the new owner is pleased with it. If he intends to hang it up, he probably will be. If he intends to shoot it, maybe not.

The essential problem with the SSD guns was quality, which you can see in a couple of the pictures, like this one, where the handguard shows signs of hand fitting, but not of deburring:

PTR 44 03

That picture also shows how they used original Waffenamt markings (the marking at low left-of-center that is a stylized Nazi eagle with digits “37” showing) and manufacturer codes (the three-letter codes), along with a Sport-System Dittrich logo (lower right) to mark the gun as a reproduction.

Ian did a video a while back on these guns, taking one to the range.

There’s a huge pent-up demand for this kind of rifle.

More pictures of the auction gun, and commentary, after the jump.

Everyone since the German Army and maybe the Czechoslovak People’s Militia  who has owned an MP.44 (and its various antecedents, followers, and these clones) and tried to shoot it has had trouble with feeding. Usually, the magazines get blamed. Unlike the M16 series, where the tension on the magazine catch is user-adjustable over a wide range, the MP doesn’t allow that. And the tolerance of both mag well and mag itself can stack up in ugly ways, especially in repro magazines which are normally never tested before being sold.

Czech magazines are usually OK. Repro magazines are hit and miss. If it’s got Waffenamts and it’s not known to be original, it’s probably a repro. PTR 44 13

The sling looks exactly original. It’s probably a good repro (which are not hard to come by). PTR 44 11

The stock’s pretty much just a wooden plank with minimal cutting and shaping. PTR 44 10

It attaches in the familiar method of any CETME or roller-locked HK, because the German CETME designers copied this attachment, but improved it by using two pins (on rifle-size HKs, anyway). PTR 44 08

Pistol grip scales are made of wood in most surviving MPs, but there were also plastic (bakelite) and wood-filled plastic versions.

As the next photo shows, metal parts could be blued or phosphated (parkerized), depending on what subcontractor built them. It’s common to see mix-and-match finish on wartime guns; finish is generally higher-quality on the SSD guns, although look at the scratches or scrapes in the photo below (they meet the edge of the photo at about 2 o’clock). Note another faux Waffenamt at center. Note the PTR (part of the model name “PTR-44”) stamped at the upper right of this image — in the same place originals were stamped MP-43 or -44 or StG-44.PTR 44 09

Some parts are in the white, like the op-rod/bolt carrier and the trigger.

PTR 44 07 Handguards are a part we’ve often seen in a parkerized finish, but there are blued ones out there. The sheet metal handguard warms up quick, as on an FAL. See the vertical lines and pin in the receiver in the lower right of the image below? They stake and pin the trunnion in place in the receiver. Unlike an AK, it’s not really practical to remove and replace an MP-44 trunnion.
PTR 44 06

There were several iterations of the front sight post and gas block during the production of this weapon. This is quite accurate to the original rifle, or one version of it. (With parts produced by hordes of subcontractors, variability is large). PTR 44 05Importer marks:
PTR 44 04

And an original owner’s manual, a rare item.PTR 44 manual

There you have it — another rarity changing hands lately. We thought about bidding but decided we had better pay our taxes instead.

5 thoughts on “PTR-44: A Footnote to the Sturmgewehr Saga

  1. 10x25mm

    Short run stampings are extremely difficult to get right on a cost effective basis. Usually requires a lot of error and trial. Why kirksite, rather than steel, is often used as a die material for short run stampings. Much easier to weld and remachine kirksite as trial hits demonstrate dimensional inaccuracies. Unfortunately, kirksite is falling by the wayside due to environmental issues. Fairly certain it is prohibited in the EU.

    No surprise Sport-System Dittrich went bust. It actually looks like a fairly credible effort. The first original WW II German Mkb examples were not exactly things of beauty, either.

  2. obdo

    ssd dittrich are still manufacturing the bd44, must be in the third or fourth generation, and apparently the problems of earlier weapons and magazines are ironed out according to german gun boards and rags.
    occasionally i meet a buddy on the range, he owns one of the earlier models, after having to send it back several times the gun runs perfectly, 4-6 moa, iirc.

  3. Keith

    There is a company in Atlanta, Georgia that are making STG-44 clones with different inner workings to keep cost down to less than 2K USD. Ian has lots about this on Forgotten Weapons and In Range sites.

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