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

  1. #11
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    You are welcome. Thank you for the kind words!

    It's been a while due to technical difficulties but.......I'm back at it.

    Picking up right where we left off, let's rip this thing apart and take a look inside. Everyone reading this most likely knows how to take the MP44 apart so I didn't take any pictures of that. If you don't know how it comes apart, it couldn't be easier. Remove the magazine, remove the pin holding the stock on and pull the stock off. Swing the lower down and dump the contents out the back of the receiver. Done.

    Let's start by discussing what was done to the PTR44 to prevent you from easily dropping original WWII reciprocating parts into the receiver. The answer is....something but not much and what was done does not always work. What?? Let me explain. Take a look at this photo taken at the rear of an original MP44 receiver:

    We can see that there is a simple tube welded in place at the bottom of the receiver where the takedown pin passes through.

    Now take a look at this picture showing an HK93 receiver on the left and the SSD MP44 receiver on the right:

    The HK93 has a simple piece of tube welded in place just like an original MP44. But the SSD receiver has a steel block welded in there instead. If you look very closely, you will see that there is a small ear rising up from this block at either side. The purpose of this is to keep a WWII manufactured bolt and carrier from being inserted as they will hit these ears. The SSD produced bolt and carrier is made just a bit more narrow at the bottom than original parts so that they clear these ears. And it seems to work on SOME rifles. But, on other rifles, original parts will slide right past these ears. It seems that on some of them, the ears must have been machined too thin to do their job. Now before any of you folks start questioning whether or not this makes some of the PTR44 rifles illegal, consider that the receiver is still not cut for the full auto trip lever. I'm not the ATF and I won't discuss legalities but I will say that, even if you can/do fit an original bolt and carrier into your PTR44, you're still not going anywhere without cutting holes in your receiver and modifying it further to fit an original lower. No, I'm not going into details.

    Here's a look at the bottom rear of the PTR44 receiver where the takedown pin passes through:

    Lots of sloppy weld going on there with a tear in the sheet metal thrown in for good measure. Who cares so long as it works.

    Here are a couple angles showing the bottom of the receiver at the rear of the magazine well:

    In the first picture, we can see a slot cut into the side of the receiver. This is where a lever (mounted in the swing down lower) passes through. The purpose of this lever is safety. It sticks up through this slot when the bolt is not in battery and prevents the trigger from being pulled. When the bolt is fully locked in place, there is a lug on the bolt carrier which presses down on the lever allowing the trigger to be pulled and the rifle fired. On a select fire rifle, there is an identical slot cut into the other side of the receiver where the full auto trip lever passes through.
    In both of the above pictures, we see a slot cut into the bottom of the receiver running back from the magazine well. This is where the hammer passes through and it is one of the potential problems in the SSD rifles. The problem is two fold. The first part of the problem is that, because the bolt has been modified to pass the ears on the block mentioned earlier, it is narrower at the bottom than the width of this slot. If the rifle malfunctions the carrier sometimes pushes down on the rear of bolt forcing down through this slot. Something has to give. The bolt is made of hardened steel and the receiver is made of thin pressed steel; guess which one gives. Over time, this can create a bulge in the receiver which, needless to say, is very bad. On original rifles, this cannot happen because the bolt is wider at the bottom than the slot. This can be rectified by welding a piece of steel along the bottom of the receiver and cutting a new, more narrow slot. The second part of the problem is hammer related. One of the US made parts on the PTR44 is the hammer. Apparently, some of these were either made wrong or installed wrong preventing them from pivoting straight along the longitudinal axis of the rifle. As a result, the hammer hits this slot as it rises beating up the receiver and/or the hammer. It can be fixed too but it requires someone who knows what they are doing because, as mentioned earlier, the pins holding the fire control components are peened in place. Mine exhibits this problem. After fewer than 100 rounds, here is what my hammer looks like already:

    Notice how it is getting chipped away at the edge. Pretty isn't it?

    In the next post, we'll take a look at the bolt and carrier. I wanted to get more done in this post but I'm slow and my honey keeps me busy helping her with inane things. I'll be back.

  2. #12
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Next up is the bolt and carrier:

    If you own an SKS, you will immediately notice some striking similarities. No, I'm not saying that the SKS was based on the MP44. What I AM saying is that the locking system is essentially identical . Here is the PTR44 bolt compared to the bolt from a Soviet SKS:

    Note the twin unlocking lugs sticking up at the rear of the '44 bolt and compare them to the single lug at the rear of the SKS bolt.

    Bottom of SKS carrier showing twin lugs hanging down compared to the single lug hanging down from the bottom of the '44 carrier:

    Both mechanisms as they would look in the locked position:

    And unlocked:

    Neato! Moving on.....

    Both the bolt AND carrier (but especially the carrier) in the PTR44 are prone to failure. Apparently they were over hardened and MAY (I'm being polite) destroy themselves sooner or later (most likely sooner) if you actually shoot your rifle instead of just stare at it or play with it while you watch war movies. According to SSD, they had an outside company doing the hardening when these rifles were imported. Once they became aware of the problem, they started doing the hardening in house and say that new made parts are properly hardened. Whatever the case, if you plan on shooting your rifle any real amount, I would greatly recommend that you either find yourself an original WWII bolt and carrier or buy new made SSD ones. While the rifles are not being imported at the moment, some parts are and at present (09/28/2017) are available here:

    In addition to other parts, new made operating rod/carrier assemblies are available. Bolts are not for sale as of this writing but are in the works according to the owner, Tor, who is based in Kentucky and is working with SSD to make BD44 available in the US again. I have bought a carrier already and will cover it in an upcoming post. Additionally, I will be buying a bolt and 10 round magazine as soon as possible as well. I have found D-K Production Group to be easy to deal with and responsive to any questions I have posed. I'm usually a somewhat picky customer and I have nothing but good to say about them to this point.

    Alright, lets look at the bolt first. We already saw it in 3/4 view above. Here is the top front showing the serial number:

    Two views of the unlocking lugs:

    If I remember correctly, some people have noticed chipping in this area. I have not yet but these pictures were taken with only 50 rounds through the rifle.

    Top rear of the bolt showing the area the bolt carrier pushes against to lock the bolt into battery:

    Bolt face:

    At the 9 o'clock position is seen a little tab sticking out under the extractor. I have seen at least one picture where this has broken off.

    Bottom of the bolt:

    Rear is to the left. You can see bluing worn off where it engages the locking block in the receiver. The rib running along the entire bottom of the bolt is what SSD has narrowed to clear the ears at the rear of the receiver we saw earlier.

    Rear of the bolt showing the back of the firing pin:

    The large cut out on the left side is where the ejector passes. Also seen is bluing loos at the bottom where it hits the locking block.

    Tip of the firing pin:

    This part is free floating but is friction held in the bolt by an internal spring. To remove the firing pin, you simply tap the rear of the bolt on a hard surface. The firing pin will pop out a bit and you can then just pull it out the back with you fingers. To reinsert, turn the firing pin so that one of the flutes is at the 6 o'clock position and push it in until is stops. Then, rotate it a bit until you feel a "click" and push it in the rest of the way. Done.

    Next up is the carrier. The pictures that follow represent 50 rounds through the rifle.

    First up is the unlocking lug that grabs the bolt as the carrier travels to the rear during recoil:

    With repeated use, this entire area is almost guaranteed to shear clean off the carrier. That equals a BAD day at the range and it can't be good for the sheet metal receiver either.

    Here is the cam surface that pushes down on the bolt forcing it into engagement with the locking block in the receiver:

    To the left of the picture is seen a round thingee in the carrier. This is the intermediate striker. When you pull the trigger, the hammer hits the rear of this part which in turn hits the rear of the firing pin. The part sticking out of carrier and exiting out of the bottom of the photo is the charging handle. We also see the bottom of the unlocking lug and the rear of the gas piston exiting the right side of the picture.

    Bottom of the carrier which has been narrowed by SSD; again, to pass by the ears at the rear of the receiver:

    Detail of the gas piston where it threads into the front of the carrier:

    Left rear of the carrier:

    Notice that no machining was done here, giving away the fact that the carrier is cast in a mold. Originals ware made the same way. To the left is a round lug sticking out the rear of the carrier. This engages the end of the recoil spring.

    More evidence that the part is cast:

    Again, originals were cast too so this is not to say that SSD has tried to cut corners in production here. It's just the way they are/were made. The round bit at the top of the picture is the rear of the gas piston. You can also see the rear of the intermediate striker.

    That's it for this post. In the next one, we'll compare the carrier shown in this post to a new made one manufactured by SSD.

  3. #13
    Senior Veteran sdk1968's Avatar
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    you do some excellent break down & explanation work.

    thank you for the time & effort it takes to do this. very enjoyable!
    say what you mean & mean what you say!
    TEC Tactical=SOT/07 i work there.

  4. #14
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Thank you sir!

    In this post, we'll take a look at a new made oprod/carrier produced by SSD and bought to replace the one that came with the rifle. This was done because, as pointed out earlier, the original is most likely over hardened and will fail with use. This new one is current production and, according to SSD, is properly hardened by them in house instead of being outsourced as the original was. It arrived in packaging that was way more than was probably necessary and it was packed well enough to survive being run over. Thank you for such care D-K Production Group! It slid right into the receiver and was a perfect fit. It differs in a few areas cosmetically but otherwise looks to be nearly identical down to the machining marks on the bottom behind the unlocking claws. It had a few small (really small) rust spots on it but they'll clean right off and any marks left behind just adds to the patina if you ask me. While the original is all blued, this one is a mixture of finishes. The cocking handle and piston are bright steel while the carrier itself is a dull grey. I guess it's blued but it's almost the color of graphite. Whatever the finish is, I like it better as it looks more like a vintage part. Anywho, all I care about is whether or not it holds up. Tor (the guy at DK Prod.) says it is warranted and others have contacted me speaking very highly of both him and replacement parts that he has supplied so I am very optimistic. Let's take a look. These pictures show the replacement part as it came out of the wrapping with no oil applied.

    The new replacement part is on top:

    Replacement on the right:

    Replacement on bottom:

    The new part is closer to the camera so the charging handle diameter looks to be larger. As far as I can tell, they are actually the same size.

    Replacement on bottom. Notice the graphite grey color compared to the black on the one that is numbered to the rifle. Also notice that the upper one has its intermediate firing pin retaining pin ground flush:

    Also notice that the new part has the full auto lever trip machined into it while the one that originally came with the rifle does not. SSD says they did this so that the part can be used in an original, select fire MP44 should you have one. Of course it has no function in the semi-auto version because, not only is there no cut out in the receiver for a full auto trip, but there are no full-auto components in the trigger housing anyways.

    Replacement is on bottom:

    Replacement on the left. Notice that the machining marks behind the unocking claws are very similar. The webbing on the new part is a bit beefier than the numbered one I think. When engaging the claws on the bolt with the claws on the carrier, there seems to be less side to side movement on the new one.

    The new part looks good and seems to fit perfectly. Time will tell but, as I said, Tor says the part is guaranteed so I am very optimistic. It was expensive but I don't care so long as it works!

  5. #15
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Alrighty. By August 13th, I had taken the rifle out to the range twice, both times with the magazines that came with the rifle. The first time was 30 rounds of reload ammunition that came from someone who used to own an original matching MP44. I saw the rifle some years ago but I never fired it nor do I remember who made it or when. I only remember that it was in VERY nice condition. He passed on and the family sold the rifle but I was given all of the ammunition including German wartime, Czech, East German and reloads made from 30.06 and .308 cases. I was also given components including empty fired cases and formed cases that were ready to reload as well as Hornady and Speer 125gr bullets. Bear with me, as I am going somewhere with all of this. I know that the reloads must have worked in his original MP44 even though the shoulder profile is quite different than the factory steel case stuff. I know this because I have a large bag of fired brass that looks just like the loaded rounds. Now, my question was....would it work in my rifle? Why no, no it wouldn't. Out of 30 rounds I tried (ten rounds per magazine each time), only 13 would allow the bolt to close. Those thirteen had shoulder profiles most like (although still unlike) period factory rounds. They fired but either he down loaded them or they stuck in the chamber pretty good because all but a couple fell out of the ejection port about three inches and plopped down on the table. A couple flew but only about five feet. However, they are now fire formed to my chamber so I pretty much know what it looks like in there. The ones that would not chamber would bind the action up pretty good, requiring me to bang the charging handle on the edge of the table to get the action open. So, did his original rifle have a sloppy chamber? I don't know....maybe? So the first range trip was a failure but I kind of expected it given the shoulder profile on the rounds.
    That night night after cleaning, I removed the firing pin and put five rounds of East German in the magazine. They fed and ejected just fine although I did have one case of the bolt not picking up a round. I know that is a problem with SSD magazines. So, I was confident for the second range trip. I picked out the most beat up box of 1961 DDR rounds out of the stash and another box of 11 mixed DDR rounds from 1958 and 1961.
    The nest day, I headed out again with 19 rounds of 1961 DDR and 7 rounds of 1958 DDR. One magazine had 15 rounds while the other had 11. I had one case of the bolt not picking up a round in each magazine. I also had 7 dud rounds that did not go off. However, I had no jams of any kind and, while I was primarily testing function and not accuracy, I had no problem hitting approx. 5 " rocks at 100 yards. I didn't even bother to take a target, preferring instead to just aim at objects lying in the berm.
    Let's look at some rounds first:

    Starting from the left, we have a 1943 German round, a 1946 Czech, 1962 East German, fired 1961 East German, form fired reload from my rifle and reload that would not chamber in my rifle. Remember that all of the reloads are formed from 30.06 and .308 brass. Note the much less distinct shoulder profile on the unusable reload compared with everything to the left of it.

    Here are 5 random DDR cases that I fired:

    I will get some Privi Partisan as my primary ammo but I don't have any yeti. I'll probably end up reloading too at some point.

    Now on to the bolt and carrier. First up is the bolt. At this point its round count is 82. I'm using the one numbered to the rifle until Dingo's are imported. It looks like it is a getting good purchase on the locking block:

    Where it interacts with the locking cam on the carrier looks ok:

    Looking at the bolt from the front, we can see that the left claw on the carrier is engaging it more than the right BUT it was like this before I installed the new carrier so that doesn't tell us much given the low round count:

    There is also a bit of peening where the web on the carrier hits. BUT these marks were there BEFORE today and ARE NOT caused by the new carrier:

    There is some crud in there that makes the curved area look rough and beat but it's smooth. The peening is on either side of that area just where the radius begins. Problem or normal? I have no idea as I have no prior experience with these rifles.

    The carrier has a round count of 32.

    Left side of unlocking claw area looks fine:

    Several shots from different angles of the right side showing some peening of the web.

    These marks were not there before I fired it. Again, normal or not, I do no know. I only post them because they are there. I have rifles that exhibit peening of parts as they mate so it does not particularly bother me so long as it does stop at some point. You guys with original carriers, have you seen this before? Again, I am NOT saying this is bad because I have zero experience with these rifles so I don't yet know what is normal and what is cause for concern. Time will tell.

    After writing this, I spoke with Tor at D-K Production Group about the peening on the carrier. He agreed with me that it looks like normal wear as the parts wear in to each other. Others who looked at the wear agreed as well. There is a man I call the "MP44 Wizard" (he wishes to remain anonymous) who knows these rifles like the back of his hand. Soon, I will be sending the rifle to him for a thorough going over but he wanted me to run some rounds through it first to see what I had so that he would have some idea what needed attention and what did not. So, I ordered some Privi Partizan ammunition and wait for it to arrive.

    Two weeks later I had some Privi Partizan ammo in hand and off to the range I want again. I managed to get 75 totally frustrating rounds down the pipe before giving up and heading home. The rifle was nothing short of a jamomatic. Every single stoppage was a failure to feed which led me to believe that the magazines were the problem. The factory manual says quote:

    " NOTE THE 30 RD MAGAZINES SHOULD ONLY BE LOADED TO 20 RDS FOR IT TO FUNCTION PROPERLY. The reason for this is that the magazines were made to original WWII ammunition specifications which differ from present German proof house specifications. The slight difference in the cartridge dimensions cause feeding malfunctions if the magazines are loaded with more than 20 rds."

    Being that it fed pretty well with East German ammunition, I can believe that there is a dimensional difference between PPU rounds and WWII/DDR/Czech rounds. However, it didn't matter how few or how many modern rounds were loaded into the new made magazines, they just simply were not going to work with the PPU ammo.
    Now, original MP44's were known to be magazine sensitive and troops were told not to load more than 25 rounds in the magazines in any event so I have every reason to believe that the new ones are picky about what you shove into them as well! To compound the matter, it is a well known fact among PTR44 owners that the magazines shipped out with the PTR44's were highly suspect both in dimensioning and quality control.
    There was also the potential problem of an undersized chamber. Yep.....another potential issue. Apparently, some of the PTR44's had chambers that were undersized which, of course, is a bad thing. Some customers noticed that their chambers appeared to be reamed, sometimes rather crudely I might add, in an effort to correct the problem. Some had chamber issues and some did not. Mine shows no sign of reaming but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem. Whatever the case, you can't diagnose something when you have multiple things going on. You HAVE to remove as many variables as possible so that you can tackle the problem systematically. So, to that end and at 157 rounds, I was done shooting this thing until I could get my hands on some proper government produced magazines of known Quality. We'll take that up in the next post.
    Last edited by Combloc; 10-09-2017 at 04:26 PM.

  6. #16
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    This past Friday, I picked up two magazines at the MAX show. One is East German production and the other was made by Haenel during the war. What I paid for the pair made me sick to my stomach but I didn't have a need for them back when they were 50 bucks a pop.....oh well. Anywho, once I got them home and compared them to the SSD magazines, it quickly became obvious that the SSD ones are pretty much a lost cause. When it comes to magazines feeding properly, it's all about geometry and SSD clearly got all the angles wrong when they made mine. Up to this point, almost everything I read pointed to the dimples on the sideplates being stamped in the wrong place. That is true but that is only the tip of the iceberg; we'll do some comparisons in a minute. First, I want to talk about how well the ones I just bought work/do not work.
    The Eastie produced magazine clicked right in, the dimples were in the right place and there was no front to rear rock in the magazine well. As stated earlier, the MP44 was/is known to be magazine sensitive and front to rear rock is usually the kiss of death in the reliability department. So, I was hopeful about the DDR magazine.
    The Haenel magazine clicked right in and the dimples were in the right place BUT there was significant rock.....not good. Then I remembered a conversation I had had with the MP44 Wizard. He told me that he had a number of WWII magazines that rocked in his original rifles and caused feeding problems. His fix was to layer tape on the front of the magazine until it fit properly in the magazine well with no rock. If it worked for him, I might as well give it a try. I found that ten strips of cellophane tape layered on the front of the magazine made it lock up tight. Interesting.
    On Saturday, I headed out to the range with 80 rounds and the new magazines. Two sets of 20 in the DDR produced only one jam and it was a stovepipe on ejection which is not a fault of the magazine. Next up was the Haenel with tape. The first set of twenty worked perfectly. On the second set, I removed the tape. The first round charged fine and ejected fine but round two jammed on feeding leaving it nicely bent so that the bolt would not close. The exact same result occurred two more times. At that point, I removed the magazine and put the tape back on. After that, the rest of the magazine went off without a hitch. 80 (77 when you figure in the three destroyed rounds) rounds does not reliability make but the initial results are promising. Alright, let's look at some pictures and I'll show you why I think the SSD magazines that came with my rifle are pretty much scrap.

    First though, let's look at some markings. SSD production has no manufacturing mark but is marked "MP44":

    DDR production is marked "1001" one side and "MP44" on the other. 1001 is a common mark seen on various Eastie produced firearm bits including Lugers, PP's, P38's and K98K's. It's probably on other stuff that I haven't seen too. Some say 1001 is a manufacturing code associated with the old Walther plant renamed the Ernst Thälmann Werk under GDR occupation. Others say no. I don't know exactly which plant it represents but I do know that it means it was made by the East Germans. That's good enough for me. Enough talk. Pictures please:


    A little better picture showing the E/37 waffenamt a bit clearer:

    Notice in the pictures above that the "MP44" stamp is distinctly different on all three.

    Some pictures showing the dimples in relation to the bottom of the magazine well when locked in place.


    Note how low they are. The side to side play is negligible. That never seems to be an issue no matter who made them but the front to rear movement is SLOPPY. Both magazines look and fit identical. I have not tried the tape trick yet to get rid of the movement (I will though) but, as will be explained later, I still don't think they would work correctly.

    East German:

    Minimal clearance between dimples and bottom of magazine well. Minimal movement, no slop.


    Looks just like the DDR magazine but just as sloppy as the SSD magazines. Again, ten strips of cellophane tape on the front of the magazine eliminates all slop.

    While I personally believe that the vast majority of the PRT44 was made using original dies and molds, I think the magazine side plates were 100% reverse engineered and possible the body too. If the body was made using original dies, it was done poorly. As evidence for my side plate theory look at the following picture:

    From left to right we have Eastie, SSD and Haenel. Notice the little reinforcement hump above where the magazine catch engages. On the DDR and Haenel, that bump is rectangular and identical. But on the SSD it is square. Interesting.

    The dimples are different too. Here is the Haenel:

    Notice that the top of the dimple is sharp and flat. In fact, the stamping pricess has pierced the side plate. The DDR is identical.

    Now take a look at the SSD:

    It looks completely different. From the size to the shape to the fact that the stamping does not pierce the steel, it's just different.

    I keep talking about putting tape on the Haenel magazine to get rid of the rock. Here is what that looks like:

    The DDR is on top for comparison. It isn't pretty but if you are careful with how long you make the strips, they can't be seen when the magazine is seated. The tape just acts as a shim. It's kind of a rig job I guess but it works and I don't plan on using this in battle! When the tape gets too ragged, just slap some more on there. My tape is longer than it needs to be but I just put it on there for testing.

    Here we see the front top of all four magazines showing the cut outs for bullet clearance:

    From left to right we have SSD, SSD, DDR and Haenel. Notice that the cut out is different on both SSD magazines. That's kinda' weird if you ask mebeing that they are made in the same factory and only in limited numbers The DDR is different than the Haenel too being pretty much flat at the bottom as opposed to the continuous radius on the Haenel. Also, IIRC, the followers in the SSD's are US made parts. They fit very poorly in the magazine bodies which cannot be good for reliability.

  7. #17
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Here we see an SSD on the left compared to the DDR:

    Notice that the follower on the SSD does not reach the front of the body and there is a little nub sticking out the front of the follower. If you try to twist the follower in the DDR and Haenel magazines, they do not move around in there. But on the SSD magazines, you can twist the follower quite a bit and they "click" into different positions. As I said, they just don't fit right. Notice too that the left bullet guide (the little humps inside the body) is misshaped on the SSD.

    Here we see some rounds in the magazines, SSD on the left and DDR on the right:

    All kinds of problems with the SSD are becoming apparent. The feed lips point up much more on the SSD as opposed to the more flattened lips on the DDR. This causes the rounds to be held much less securely on the SSD. Notice too that the top round in the DDR is riding ALONG the bullet guide. This is critical to proper feeding. On the SSD the round is riding OVER the bullet guide.

    Here is a closer shot of an SSD:

    And Haenel:

    Again, notice the different geometry of the feed lips and the critical placement of the top round in relation to the bullet guide.


    East German:

    OK.....Why is this bullet guide thingee so important? Take a look at the following photo:

    Here, we see the SSD on the top and the DDR on the bottom. The rounds are in the process of feeding. Notice on the DDR how the guide is BESIDE the round and positioning it toward the centerline of the magazine? Guess what's along the centerline of the magazine........the centerline of the breech. That bullet is being pushed right into the barrel. Now look at the SSD. The round is riding OVER the guide and, while it is still angling in somewhat, it's far off from the centerline. There is a decent to good chance of it hitting the rear of the barrel instead of going into the breech. I can't show it in pictures but the combination of the flattened feed lips and the position of the bullet guide along side the round in the DDR firmly holds it from flopping around as it moves forward. None of this holds true with the SSD magazine. If I turn the DDR magazine upside down with the round in the position shown, the round stays put. If I do the same with the SSD magazine, the round drops free of the magazine. When it comes to magazines, reliability is all about geometry man!!

    Lets look at some more shots showing the bullet guide problem

    This shows the SSD on the left with the round clearly riding over the guide while the DDR on the right is riding along the guide:

    SSD first with DDR second:

    They don't really even look like they are for the same rifle.

    Here is a different angle. The SSD is shown first and the DDR is second:

    Notice how much more the SSD is angled up. So, not only is it NOT pointed IN far enough but it's also pointed UP too much. It's a double whammy!!

    Here, they are shown side by side with the DDR on the left. The difference is telling:

    I took more pictures but by now, you should get the point. The SSD magazines have serious flaws. In my case, they are so bad as to be useless.

    Now lets look at the jams I got when I removed the tape from the Haenel magazine:

    YEOUCH!! Those rounds look like they are in a limbo dance!! This is the result of a magazine that has too much front to rear slop. As the rifle is recoiling and the bolt is going home, your rifle is jumping all over the place and so is your magazine if it isn't secure in the magazine well. If your rifle is moving one way and the sloppy magazine is going the other, the tip of that round isn't feeding straight into the chamber. Instead, it's diving under or flying over the barrel resulting in bent rounds as shown above. There's a lot of force behind that recoil spring thingee!

    Here are five random normal looking ( I think) spent casings:

    This thing chucks rounds out with almost as much force as my HK91. I mean they go zipping down the firing line. They fly more or less flat and in a small arc ranging from straight out the side to a slight angle to the rear. I have no idea whether or not this is a normal ejection pattern but it's the one I have. If you have an MP44, let me know what your ejection pattern is please. recap this post. In my case, the SSD magazines are essentially trash. They don't fit in the rifle correctly, rounds don't fit in the them correctly and they make my rifle a jammomatic. They are useless to me. I bought one WWII magazine and one DDR magazine. Both seem to have fixed the jamming issue but the WWII one needs to be shimmed for fit to work properly.

    I am currently at 234 rounds. Next up is to send the rifle off to the MP44 Wizard so that he can reinforce the bottom of the receiver, correct the hammer hitting the bottom of the receiver and generally go over the rifle looking for potential problems. After that is more rounds down the pipe to see if anything breaks. Meanwhile, I'm looking for a WWII bolt to replace the possibly over hardened SSD one. All of this is expensive and I'm nearly out of ammo at the moment so testing will be on hold for a but until I can restock. That's where I'm at and I'm optimistic.

  8. #18
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    WoW!!! I haven't posted in this thread since October 9th of 2017...….almost three years!!! There is a reason for that. On Friday, June 22 of 2018, I had the rifle out at the range with a friend of mine. We took the M249, FG42 and MP44 because he had never shot any of those and wanted to try them out. The M249 and FG42 both worked flawlessly that day but we only got 28 rounds through the MP44 before, at round 427, the trigger went dead and the rifle wouldn't fire.

    Upon disassembly, I discovered that the disconnector had sheared in half:

    Looks nice doesn't it? As has been discussed already, some of the parts on the PTR44 are prone to failure due to overhardening. Some of the trigger components were made in the United States for 922 compliance including, if I remember correctly, the hammer, sear and disconnector. They are also prone to failure. Well.....mine failed.

    No problem. SSD has imported some new made parts for these rifles and says that they are now properly hardened so I ordered one. It is shown below along with the part of the broken original still pinned to the sear:

    I also found a new old stock original one for 22 buckaroonies so I bought that too. It's all about options my friends. In the series of pictures below, the WWII one is on the right and the new made SSD is on the left:

    They look pretty much identical but I decided to have the vintage one installed simply because I know they have a good track record.

    While I was at it, I bought a WWII vintage hammer too:

    The sear still looked pretty good to me so I decided to reuse that. I hope it wasn't a mistake. Time will tell I guess.

    Then I stopped and did nothing. Why? Because I was worried. I knew who I wanted to work on the rifle. I had contacted him (I'll call him the MP44 Wizard because he wants to remain anonymous but his name is known in certain circles) and he was willing to take on the work. The problem was that he lived 700 miles away and I was worried about shipping the rifle that far. You see, with the exception of the STG45, there is no other rifle on this planet that I've desired to own than the MP44. From the time I discovered the rifle as a kid, I WANTED one. Consequently, there seemed to be a curse keeping me from getting one. I won't go into all the details; you'll just have to trust me that I always wanted one SO BAD it seemed that the universe aligned against me getting one. When I found this one, I refused to let the guy ship it. I drove hours away to meet him at an FFL and have it transferred rather then trust shipping it. I just KNEW that something would go wrong if I did.

    Well, here I was with a busted rifle and the guy who I trusted to repair it 700 miles away. Finally, after sitting on it for almost 11 months, I decided I had no choice. I bought a case to ship it in and wrapped it so well it could withstand a nuclear blast. In late Aril or early May of 2019, I sent it Registered Mail and insured it for way more than it was worth because I knew that the higher the value with registered, the more care the USPS extends in regards to shipping. EVERY SINGLE PERSON that touched it during transit had to sign for it and it would not touch automated machinery. It simply could not get lost. Save a natural disaster, it would arrive safely. The day I sent it off, I told my honey:

    "You watch.....his shop will catch fire."

    It arrived safely a few days later and the Wizard began working his magic. We discussed what was to be done on the phone. I had included a typed list of issues I had noted (we'll cover all that a bit later) and we discussed the remedies for those issues. All was going well and he expected to have the rifle ready to send back to me by the end of July.

    Then his shop caught fire...….while he was working on my rifle.

    My rifle was saved but I still felt TERRIBLE for the Wizard. Obviously, all work stopped in his shop but luckily he only lost half of the shop. His livelihood was not destroyed, only set back. I'm not going to go into details because that's nobody's business but happily, it's hard to keep a good man down and the Wizard was up and running again this spring. About a month ago, I got a call saying my rifle was nearing completion and would soon be ready to ship. Not wishing to temp fate further, I asked if it would be possible for me to drive the 700 miles to pick up the rifle in person rather than have it shipped. "No problem." was the answer. "While you're here, we can head to the range and shoot some machine guns."

    I called a childhood friend of mine who lives almost exactly halfway to my destination and asked if I could stay the night. He was happy to oblige. So I stayed the night at his place and continued the journey the next day with his son as a passenger. He had just graduated from high school and is leaving for the Marines in the fall so I took him along as my graduation present. What better graduation gift can you give a kid than a day at the range with machine guns?? There isn't one.

    Sooooo after over a year and about 750 miles driving, the day came that I finally got my MP44 back. The Wizard had put 140 rounds through it during repair and testing and we put another 80 rounds down the barrel that day. I had one stovepipe upon ejection but no problem otherwise. That brings the total rounds thus far to 647. In the next post, we'll look at the rifle and discuss what was done to it but I want to finish up this post with a few pictures from the range on the day I picked it up.

    First up is a picture of something I had wondered about for a long time but have never seen a picture of, the MP44 stacking rod/Haunebu craft transmission antenna in use:

    It's a pointless feature reminiscent of a long gone past but it still looks neato. My rifle is at the far right. The one in the pyramid facing the camera is a late war original and the other one in the pyramid is a parts kit assembled to a PTR44 receiver that was one of the 50 out of 200 imported deemed not suitable for sale. It had been mangled during conversion after import and the wizard bought the receiver and made it work. The one laying on the ground is another late war original rifle.

    Here is my buddy's son, Clay, shooting an MP44 that the Wizard made a scope mount for:

    He had no trouble at all clanging the gong at 200 yards. The Marines are going to induct one hell of a great recruit with this one. He's one of the BEST 17 year old kids I've ever had the privilege of knowing and I've known him since he's been born.
    By the way, if you look VERY carefully at the FAL in the rack, you might notice that it looks a little odd. That's because it's been modified to shoot 7.92x33 Kurz cartridges by the Wizard. I got to shoot it and I gotta say, IMO, it's what the FAL should have been. I tried to get the Wizard to sell it to me but no such luck!!

    Here is the Wizard trying out my CETME LVS:

    As is the case with everyone who shoots a MarColMar CETME, he was extremely impressed with the rifle.

    Clay shot hundreds of rounds through an Egyptian Port Said SMG (a license built Carl Gustaf) and took to it like a duck to water:

    Dig that brass cased Norinco 9mm circa 1992. I bought 1000's of rounds of that stuff back in the day and its Excellent ammunition.

    We also had a chance to shoot an Ultimax 100 MK II designed by none other than James Sullivan:

    The Wizard has a Class II license and rewelded this from a parts kit. These things are exceedingly rare in this country and I was stoked to get the chance to shoot one. The Wizard told me I could take as many pictures as I wanted and I would have LOVED to document this jobber but it takes me 3-4 hours to get the pictures I need to really do a firearm justice and we only had so much time so I chose to pull the trigger rather than click the shutter. We were at the range for 5 hours before heading back home. That made it a roughly 22 hour day from out of bed to back to my friends house but it was worth every minute!
    Last edited by Combloc; 07-08-2020 at 03:07 PM.

  9. #19
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    In all of the following pictures, we're only going to look at the rifle as it is now. If you want to compare the various details to how it looked before upgrade, you'll only need to refer back to pictures I've already posted.

    ALrighty, here's the rifle after I got home and cleaned it from the range trip:

    When I bought this thing, I knew things were going to go wrong with it and I had thought about just sending it out for upgrades right off the bat. BUT, the Wizard told me that I should just shoot it until something broke because I might discover things in the meantime that I wanted done that I might not think of initially. That turned out to be sage advice because by the time the disconnector broke, I had discovered quite a list of things that just weren't right.

    We will now go over them one by one starting at the muzzle:

    Big's a muzzle. Welllll, it turned out that it was a big deal. In order for this thing to hit center of target at 100 yards, I had to have the front sight pushed all the way to one side (I forget which). And when I say "all the way", I MEAN all the way. It was hitting the sight hood and there was zero movement left. What was weird was the fact that the sight base appeared to be standing up straight. In order for it to shoot point of aim with the front sight centered, the base would have to be canted so much that it would look silly. Long story short, it turns out that the crown was not cut right. It LOOKED fine but no dice. The picture above shows it after re-crowning.

    And here is where the front sight sits in the base now:

    I had no problem ringing the gong at 200 yards so it's plenty zeroed for my old eyes.

    While we're up here, notice the muzzle nut lock pin:

    That didn't work right. If you pushed it in to remove the muzzle nut, it would stick in the sight base. The only way to get it to pop back out was to shoot the rifle and the resulting recoil would cause it to pop back out. That's not a huge deal but it bothered me. Now it's been corrected and it works just as it should. In order to repair it though the front sight base had to come off. That seems like a bunch of work for such a small thing.

    Well...….the sight base had to come off anyway because it was loose on the barrel. It wasn't super loose but you could rotate it side to side with not much effort. I noticed it early on when holding the muzzle while loosening the gas plug. As the rifle left the factory, the only thing holding the base on the barrel was a pin. This was true during the war and it was true when this was built. Even back in the 40's loose front sights were a complaint. So, the sight is now soldered in place just as it would be on a K98K. Additionally, a new slightly oversized pin was manufactured and installed. Its as secure as it can possible be now:

    Notice the discoloration going on in the bluing. It's looking good!!

    By the way, I'm starting to get some dings and bluing loss on the rifle. The more the better. As an example, here is the front bottom of the handguard:

    And a but of edge wear at the front of the receiver:

    Of course, these piddley things are nowhere NEAR enough. I carry it all over the place and am somewhat rough on it in an effort to get nicks and scratches. I also go over it with a rag every time I pick it up. I'm getting some dings in the stock now too and some dents in the metal that I have no idea how they got there. When I get to less than 50% bluing and some nice brown patina, I'll be satisfied. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go! What I really need to do is go on more overnight hiking trips and carry it with me. Yep.....I'm nuts.

    Next up was a magazine issue. I have three original magazines; an East German, an FXO (Haenel) and an MP45 marked gqm (Loch & Hartenberger). The East German and MP45 marked magazines fit nicely in the magazine well and function fine. But the FXO had a lot of front to rear slop which caused feeding issues. In order to fix that, a shim was cut and silver soldered to the front of the magazine:

    It cannot be seen when seated in the rifle and now it has minimal movement. As a result, it functions just fine now.

    While the East German magazine worked fine, it had active rust and was pitted. I gave up trying to stop the rust and asked Mr. Wizard to just refinish it and be done with it. He wanted to make sure that the rust was totally eliminated so he blasted it, parked it, blasted it again and parked it again. He may have even done it a third time but I forget now. Whatever the case, he was thorough! He made it a nice dark grey to almost black color. Below, it is on the left compared to an original wartime blued example on the right:

    And a detail showing just how pitted it is under the finish:

    I hated to have that done because I like the East German jobbers better than the wartime ones because I'm a big Combloc fan. I would have liked to have preserved the finish but it was for the best. Now I can use it and stop obsessing over the rust.

    I told the Wizard to go over the entire rifle with a critical eye and to fix, replace or modify anything that didn't look right to him. He decided that he didn't like the look of the rear sight leaf fixing pin and replaced it with one he fabricated. I thought it looked fine before but I was wrong. Now it looks like it was manufactured and installed with the care only a true craftsman can impart.....because it was:

    On the MP44 the gas tube is anchored to neither the gas block nor the receiver. It just floats in between the two. As a result, it's normal for it to slide fore and aft just a hair. It's not a lot but it does move. When installed, ribs stamped into the handguard snap into corresponding valleys on the gas tube and lock the two parts together as a unit. Consequently, the handguard will slide fore and aft too. The Wizard does not like this. He says it makes the rifle feel cheap. To eliminate this movement, he made a little ring for each of his rifles that just snaps over the barrel behind the gas block. He did the same for mine and now there is zero movement:

    This dude is all about the details. That's EXACTLY the kind of person you want working on a rifle.

    The previously discussed hammer and disconnector was installed:

    As insurance, the slot in the bottom of the receiver had a plate welded over it and then just enough of it was machined away for the hammer to pass. I'm told that this adds quite a bit of rigidity to the receiver. I'll take his word for it because he has CLEARLY forgotten more about these rifles than I'll ever learn.

    The ejection port cover didn't latch very securely. Sometimes just flicking the outside of it with your finger would cause it to pop open. The detent notch was cleaned up and deepened and now it stays closed properly:

    A urethane buffer was installed inside the stock ferrule:

    You sometimes see original MP44's with cracked stocks. This can be caused by the bolt carrier banging into the stock ferrule at the end of its rearward movement. The force is transferred into the wood causing a split. This buffer will most likely eliminate that possibility. But it must be said; we're dealing with wood though so there are no absolute guarantees.

    The last thing that was done is, in my opinion, the most important for keeping these rifles alive well into the future. That is replacing the factory trigger group pins, which were peened in place, with new ones that are held in place with circlips so that you can easily disassemble and reassemble the trigger group should the need arise. I believe that the original setup was done as a wartime expedient to simplify the design and speed up production. That's fine when you are using your rifle as a tool that you simply turn in to an armorer should something go awry. He has the necessary tools to refit those pins without distorting the stamped metal lower or mucking up the bearings. I don't have that equipment though and I guarantee your average gunsmith doesn't either. I understand why SSD did it the old way too. They make REPRODUCTIONS (hint to any company that is looking at making such a thing).
    But I explained to the Wizard that I "want to shoot the hell out of this thin, not stare at it". If something goes wrong in the future I want to know that I can personally disassemble it and work on it. This easily removeable pin solution is simple and elegant. By the way, this wasn't my idea. The Wizard suggested it and I enthusiastically jumped on it. I didn't care what the cost was, I want that done above all else.

    Here's the right side of the trigger housing showing the new made hammer pin, trigger in and sear pin:

    And a closeup of those pins:

    The pins I'm talking about are the three with slightly dished heads. This reproduces the look of original peened in place pins. "Peened" may not be the right word. Maybe they were "squeezed" instead. Whatever the original process, it expanded the both ends of the pins to lock them in their bearings. Now, they are ever so slightly oversized on this end so no circlip is needed. Note the circlip in the lower left of the picture. This is a factory original clip installed on the end of the safety lever axle.

    Here is the left side of the trigger housing showing the circlips:

    A closeup:

    Notice how the circlips mimic the factory one on the other side. It's all about details. Even though this retaining system isn't "correct", it sure blends in nicely and, most importantly, it allows easy repairs should that be necessary in the future. I simply could not be more satisfied with this work!

    The last problem was the extractor pin. It should almost drop out but it was in so tight I couldn't get it out with a hammer and punch. Now it comes out just like it should. I didn't take a picture of that because it's just a pin so there's nothing much to see. But I can show you a picture of what we discovered when we took the rifle apart for inspection:

    Notice that part of the bolt has broken off below the very front of the extractor. Mr. Wizard had not noticed that before and I could tell that it upset him. He said it must have happened during his testing but he had no idea when or how. I told him not to worry about it because it was surely nothing he did. As everyone knows, many of the PTR44 bolts are overhardened and brittle. Maybe that's the case with mine too. It's also entirely possible that I weakened that area when I was using a pin punch and hammer trying to remove the previously too tight extractor pin. I just had it laying on the bench with my honey holding it from moving when I was tapping and that broken off piece probably took more punishment than it should have at the time. Whatever the case, I suspect that this bolt will probably eventually self destruct. What I really need is an original to replace it with. If any of you folks has one that they are willing to sell at a reasonable price (I simply will not pay the ridiculous prices some morons are asking on gunbroker) please look me up. I'd be very much obliged!

    That's it for modifications and replacements. I know what you are thinking and I agree. For as much money as these rifles cost, the number of problems and faulty bits is a disgrace. I 100% agree with you but I DO think it's worth the time, money and effort because the alternative is an original that will cost you $25,000 or more AND you have to register it on a Form 4. I don't regret my journey for a second and I'll jump right in line if and when SSD brings more into the country. Truth be told, they are currently working on that and they say that the hardness issues are a thing of the past. While I truthfully don't know if that's the case or not, I must admit that I'd be willing to gamble. Call me crazy if you'd be right. I always have been and I always will be!
    Last edited by Combloc; 07-10-2020 at 01:30 AM.

  10. #20
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    I'd like to talk a bit about the backdrop I used in the previous post. That's not reproduction cloth but it's not WWII vintage either. In fact, it's a Czechoslovakian shelter half made very shortly after WWII using leftover German equipment. The pattern looks identical to what collectors call Sumpfmuster 44 because it was manufactured using Sumpfmuster 44 rollers. The colors look a little off partly because it's over 70 years old, well used and faded but mostly because the Czech's used their own dyes to make it the colors they wanted. They apparently made very few of these and I found this one in the Czech Republic. Outside of nerds like myself, these things are all but unknown. Here are a couple pictures of the whole thing:

    Unlike a German one that's triangular, the Czechs decided to go with a parallelogram.

    Here's the Czech on the right compared to 1950's West German Sumpfmuster on the left:

    The sling is an original postwar specimen too. They are usually sold as East German and they may be. Both the Czechs and East Germans used the MP44 for some years after the war until more modern arms came online. Two versions of the sling seem to exist. One has a cross hatch patters similar to that seen on WWII vintage K98K slings. I believe these to be East German made. The other, shown on my rifle has no cross hatch pattern but is slightly pebbled. My belief is that these are Czechoslovakian made.

    The Czech's not only used leftover wartime M43 ammunition in their repatriated MP44's but, like the East Germans, they made their own too.
    Here are six boxes of Czech issued ammunition:

    The two upper ones on the left are leftover WWII ammunition pecked into Czech marked boxes and the other four were contain rounds made in 1946 by Sellier & Bellot. The label on five of the boxes translates as:

    15 pcs.
    7.92 mm short cartridge M43
    for submachinegun - N
    Manufacture date (year)
    Sorted : January 1955
    Use within (6 months)

    The sixth box is hard to read but it has similar information plus what appears to be a bullet weight minus the resort and use within information. Notice that the label on that box is very similar to wartime German labels too down to the blue stripe.
    Here's a closeup of that box in case you can read it better than I can:

    And here is one of the other boxes:

    The repack label is glued over the earlier, original, label.

    A couple of the boxes have some writing in pencil:

    All of the cardboard boxes shown, while Czech labeled, are actually just left over wartime boxes. Each is embossed inside the tuck flap with a 1944/45 date and manufacturer code. Here is a random example:

    Here is one of the Sellier & Bellot rounds:

    Just as you commonly see on WWII vintage rounds, the steel case is washed in a green lacquer.

    The head stamp is clearly marked "SB" (Sellier & Bellot) and dated 1946:

    This last picture gives a general overview of Czech Automatic rifles from 1945-1961:

    Technically, there should be a VZ52 (officially made from 1952-56 in 7.62x45) in there too between the M44 and the VZ 52/57 (1957-59 in 7.62x39). Still you get the point. The VZ58 changed the furniture from beech wood to wood chip infused bakelite in 1961 I think (correct me if I'm wrong please). So, as I have presented the rifle here, it's posing as a Czechoslovakian. I wish I had some Czech magazine pouches for it but no such luck. Maybe someday and maybe not!

    Okiedokie. Unless something changes, that's it for my coverage of the SSD/PTR44. Unless I find a bolt, something breaks or something else happens that I think is noteworthy, I'm done. Thanks for spending some time reading my drivel and I'll see you on the next one. Bye for now!

    P.S. Thanks Mom. I love you.
    Last edited by Combloc; 07-10-2020 at 02:43 AM.

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