19 Dec 19
The “Gerat,” 06 and 06H Rifles (STG45M) were Germany’s last-ditch effort to manufacture cheap autoloading infantry rifles at the very end of the WWII.
“Gerat” loosely translates to “equipment.” The term represented a war-time attempt to camouflage the fact that this was a new weapon in development.
The Gerat looked like the STG44 (MP44), but it represented the beginning of the roller-delayed blow-back system, found on the CETME, G3, and present-day PTR91.
The Mauser company (from which “H&K” would spring after the War) was not involved in design nor manufacture of the immensely popular, but secretive, STG44. The STG44 was designed and manufactured by Walther.
The German government showed no interest in Mauser’s wood-stocked G41 (Gewehr 41) autoloading rifle, so Mauser went to work on a cheaper version of Walther’s STG44.
Mauser’s new rifle, the “Gerat 06,” chambered for the 8mm Kurz (like the STG44), was a short-stroke gas-piston rifle, but with a linear roller-lock bolt system, instead of the tilting-bolt used on the STG44. It was designed to be cheaper and easier to produce than the STG44, inherently more accurate, and it accepted existing 40-round STG magazines.
Mauser’s Dr Carl Maier subsequently decided the entire gas system was unnecessary!
The 06 then evolved into the 06H, and the “roller-delayed blow-back” system was born!
The “H” stood-for “half-lock.” We know it today as “roller-delayed blow-back!”
Maier found it necessary to flute the chamber in order to achieve reliable extraction, because of high acceleration of the bolt.
After the War, Maier and his team moved from Germany to France, because new weapon development within Germany was now extremely restricted by the Inter-Allied Military Control Commission.
Receiving no particularly warm welcome in France, Maier and his team ended-up to Spain, which is why the Spanish CETME was the first officially adopted version of an autoloading military rifle using this new system.
As noted, the Gerat 06H rifle came along at the very end of the War, and so never actually went into war-time production, nor did it see active service.
Yet, its direct descendants are the Spanish CETME, later the German G3, and Ultimately the German-made H&K91 and MP5, and the current American-made PTR91
CETME stands for “Center for the Study of Special Materials” (in Spanish)
The CETME was later adopted by the Germans as the “G3,” later imported into the USA by H&K as the HK91, later manufactured in the USA (first in CT, later in SC) and designated the PTR91
German and USA versions run far better than the original CETME
Delayed-blowback military rifles get a lot of gas and fouling blowing back into the receiver (due to the fluted chamber), more so than even the Stoner System.
Even so, these rifles are durable and reliable, but are heavy, with heavy recoil, heavy springs, and the receiver gets dirty very quickly, as noted above
Yet, they are extremely tolerant of dirt and grit, dirty ammunition, and will generally digest all kinds of ammunition, in nearly any condition, all with no user-level adjustment.
Thus, when your ammunition supply can be described as a “dog’s lunch,” (that is: a random mixture of brands, bullet weights, velocities, vintage, loading specifications, cleanliness, etc), these rifles represent a good choice.
They continue to well-serve their owners (including me) to this day!