U.S. Carbines in Germany and Austria

U.S. M1 Carbine

The Bundesheer

National Agencies Additional Info
Gendarmerie Bundespolizei Accessories Oddities
Bundesheer Zoll Training Rifles


Bundesheer troops with M1 Garands and M1 Carbine
circa 1956
[courtesy of Professor Wolfdieter Hufnagl]

In keeping with Austria's declaration of neutrality, instead of an army they formed a security force for self defense, the Bundesheer. With the end of the Occupation of Austria and departure of the Allied Forces in September 1955, the B-Gendarmerie shed its "secrecy" and name, becoming the nucleus around which the Bundesheer was built. Their first test was not long in coming, with the revolt in Hungary in October and November 1956 seriously threatening Austria's borders. [B-Gendarmerie, Waffenlager und Nachrichtendienste, Der militärische Weg zum Staatsvertrag by Blasi, Schmidl, and Schneider][Austrian Armed Forces - From a Secret Army to the Member of a European Security Framework by Wilhelm Theuretsbacher}


All of the weapons left behind by the Allied Forces became the responsibility of the Bundesheer. As decisions were made regarding arming the Bundespolizei and the Gendarmerie, the Bundesheer was directed to issue these agencies their weapons. When the agencies were done with the weapons, they were returned to the Bundesheer.

The Bundesheer retained 8000 M1 Carbines and 1885 M1A1 Carbines, along with all of the larger weapons. The Bundesheer did not use M2's, bayonets, or 30 round magazines.

Configuration of the M1 Carbines used by the Bundesheer

The Bundesheer did not mark the carbines in any manner that made them identifiable as having been used by their forces. Some of the carbines have "rack" marks, markings placed on the carbine so as to easily identify each carbine when it is in a rifle rack. Some rack marks are stamped on the right side of the buttstock between the slingwell and buttplate. More common are stickers placed somewhere on the stock. Most of these rack marks are numbers, a few of the stickers have surnames.

It appears different units did different things in the way of rack markings.

Three U.S. M1 Carbines used by the Bundesheer

"Rack mark" below slingwell, with name sticker

Very small number located on the bottom of the stock between the trigger housing and recoil plate estuncheon (nut)

Numbers on the bottom of the trigger housing

The Bundesheer used replacement barrels manufactured by Erma Werke of Dachau, Bavaria. These barrels have no markings identifying the manufacturer. They have the appearance of a U.S. GI carbine barrel as manufactured by Underwood and several other original GI contractors during WWII, most notably the concentric circles left when the exterior of the barrel was machined.

A number of the front sights on the Bundesheer carbines have black paint on top between the sight ears, to cut down on glare. The front sight on several of these carbines has been filed down to adjust the elevation of aim.

A number of the Austrian Gendarmerie carbines had this sticker on their stock.
Translated it means "Our Army". The intent is similar to the U.S. Army's "Army of One".

What enabled the above carbines to be identified as having been used by the Bundesheer were several different hang tags attached to the carbine. The tags were standardized forms used by the BMfLV, meaning the Bundesminister für Landesverteidigung (Federal Minister for National Defense).

The below hang tag was attached to the trigger housing. It appears to be a document transferring an M1 Carbine (K-M1) with one magazine from one unit to another.

TN - Einheit [Unit]    (Abgeber/Empfänger) [Giver/Receiver]
Kurzbezeichnung [Abbreviation]
Kennziffer [Index]    (Teil - Nr.) [Part #]
Beleg - Nr [Proof #]
RegNr. EDV: [Registration #]
Geräteart: [Device Type]
Masseinheit [Unit]
Menge: [Quantity]
Kennziffer der Anforderung [Index Requirement]
Phrase - Code:
Kennziffer [Index] 7530-0-100-0204       Kurzbenennung [Short Designation] AnhK/AusgAnw
BMfLV    R 1158
(Bundesminister für Landesverteidigung) [Federal Minister for National Defense]

The below hang tag is a repair request. Notice the date (1995 - June - 21). This was one of the carbines returned to the U.S. Army by Austria in 2008, and sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program in 2009.

Abgebende Stelle is the submitter's location (unknown meaning).
Verschlussfang defekt indicates the carbine has a magazine catch defect.

Phasing out the U.S. M1 Carbines

The Bundesheer began replacing their American rifles in 1959, with the FN FAL. The M1 Carbine was kept in reserve for use by reserve forces. They started phasing out their K-M1's and M1A1's starting about 1970. Those phased out were stored in government weapons depots.

Bundesheer Mountain Infantry (identified by Edelweiss cap insignia)
[courtesy of Professor Wolfdieter Hufnagl]