U.S. Carbines in Germany and Austria

Alterations to
U.S. M1 Carbine

The American Occupation Zone The British Occupation Zone National Agencies Additional Info
Bavaria Berlin Lower Saxony Border Guard Accessories
Bremen Enclave Hessen Bundeswehr Oddities
Wurttemberg-Baden Labor Service Parts

Rear Sight Replacement

Some of the M1 carbines that served in Germany have had a rear sight alteration. The receiver ring forward of the bolt had a replacement sight, with a V notched blade, silver soldered to the receiver ring forward of the bolt. Several authors have commented that the sight is a "Mauser type sight". Examination of the variety of rear sights used by Mauser on all of their various rifles pre-1900 through the 1960's has found no rear sight like this one. They may be referring to the V notch blade, which was commonly used on various European military and sporting rifles.

The sight was machined to allow for the M1 carbine slide handle. It was probably initially manufactured to mount on a barrel or receiver, forward of the original rifle's bolt. It has been machined to fit the curve of the M1 carbine's receiver ring. The flat backside of the sight indicates it was likely manufactured to abut against something, likely a wood stock.

This same sight was used in both a type non-adjustable for windage and a type adjustable for windage, by means of a 2 hole spanner screw on the left side of the sight. Rarely are European military rifles adjustable for windage on the rear sight. Normally the rear sight is adjustable for elevation only. Given the configuration of this sight being a solid piece of metal that sits as high as it does above the receiver, it likely was not originally adjustable for elevation. The two types of the same sight suggest it was probably originally meant for a sporting rifle versus a military rifle.

On many of the sights, but not all, the letter H appears on the left side of the base. It's consistent with a manufacturer's mark. The letter font is also unique.

The carbines with the V notch rear sight on the receiver ring had the rear G.I. rear sight removed. Sometimes the rear sight groove was just left empty. Sometimes it was filled in to the level of the rear sight mount. In both cases the top of the GI rear sight mount was given lateral grooves from side to side to reduce the glare from the polished sight mount.

A number of M1 carbines have been found that have the GI rear leaf sight in place with the lateral grooves indicating the carbine was prepared for a rear sight alteration, but there is no V notch rear sight on the receiver ring.

If the V notch rear sight has been removed sometimes the receiver ring shows where it was silver soldered to the receiver. Sometimes it is not known if the V notch rear sight was removed before or after the carbine returned from Germany.

Sometimes the receiver ring was prepared for the mounting of the rear V notch sight by removing the U.S. markings from the receiver ring. Sometimes the markings were left in place.

Front Sight Alterations

Front sight alterations to the M1 carbines that served in Germany are pretty rare. On an individual basis sometimes a front sight was altered out of the preference of the person who carried or owned it. As the vast majority of these carbines were government property, individuals rarely altered anything.

Gun laws in Germany and Austria banned the M1 carbine in its military form. In order to retain ownership of the carbine, private owners would modify several key components to qualify the carbine as a sporterized hunting rifle. One of these alterations was to remove the "wings" on the front sight, leaving only the center post. Several carbines used by German agencies also had this modification, for other than legal reasons. Some preferred the front sight as just the post.

Filing down the front sight blade for elevation adjustment was not uncommon, even for U.S. troops. The below front sight was found on an M1 carbine used by the Bavaria Forestry Police. The front sight has been filed down to a fine point for a clearer and more accurate sight picture. This has not been observed on any other carbines used by the Forestry Police and was probably an individual preference.

Removed or Altered G.I. Markings

While not a common practice, this has been observed on a number of M1 carbines used by Germany. Some of the reasons for these obliterations and/or alterations are known, some are not. Most often this happened to markings on the carbine's receiver.

Some of the M1 carbines that had the rear sight modification described above, on the receiver ring where the German rear sight was spot welded the markings were removed prior to installing the sight. This practice was not used on many of the M1 carbines with the rear sight modification, but it is also not rare.

More than a few sources have indicated the Landespolizei in the American Occupation Zone in Hessen removed "all" of the visible U.S. markings from the M1 carbines they received. In October 1945 the Allied Control Council ordered all weapons used by the police in all of the occupation zones must be marked in a manner that identifies the agency using the weapon. As noted in other areas of this website, this order did not indicate how this was to be accomplished. The U.S. Office of Military Government (OMGUS) for each region under their control issued the orders as to how the carbines would be marked and each land in the American Occupation Zone received different orders on how this would be done. The few examples that have been observed by several people, they have indicated the serial number, manufacturer, and other receiver markings were removed. They did not indicate if this was also done to the barrel.

Carbines used by the Landespolizei in Hessen have been observed with and without the Hessen Crest, which was stamped into the receiver in the area where the serial number had been located. Further research into these carbines and the Landespolizei in Hessen is ongoing.

A few M1 carbines used by Germany have had the serial number removed and a new serial number stamped in its place. A couple of these appear to have had extra metal added to the receiver in the area of the serial number before the new number was stamped. Carbines with this alteration are pretty rare. Some of these may have had markings from Bavaria or Hessen removed.

Some of the carbines used by police in Wurttemberg-Baden had previously been used by the Landespolizei in the American Occupation Zone district of Bavaria.

The Landespolizei of Wurttemberg-Baden marked their carbines below the serial number on the receiver and recoil plate, also on the bottom of the trigger guard. The Bavaria markings on the top of the receiver to the left of the bolt were left undisturbed, so it is not uncommon to find the markings of both agencies on a carbine. This indicates that the carbine was one of those sold by Bavaria to Wurttemberg-Baden.

Bavaria Agency Name Removed, Black Paint or Black Substance (left of bolt)

M1 carbines used in Bavaria have the name of their agency (Bavaria Rural Police, Bavaria Game Warden, etc) in the top of the receiver to the left of the bolt, in English. No other agencies have been observed to use this location on the receiver for any markings. Most of the M1 carbines that served in Bavaria have the agency name intact and unaltered. This clear and obvious name has been the reason the M1 carbines used in Germany and Austria have come to be known as "Bavarian Carbines".

A few of the U.S. M1 carbines used by Bavaria have had the German agency name removed. Many of these have the alteration covered with a black substance, or black paint.

Sometimes an owner removes the black substance and discovers a partial agency name.

On the left in the below photo the word Bavaria can be seen. On the right the P in Police can be made out. The number and tops of the letters in between Bavaria and Police appear to be the word Rural. [special thanks go to Ted Syme in Canada for the below photo]

On most of these carbines the agency name has been ground down and obliterated. Some appear to have been done with great care, others have been very sloppy. Some of these were imported by Century Arms in the mid 1970's. Some were imported prior to the 1968 Gun Control Act.

So far, two separate reasons for this alteration have been found.

On 01 October 1952 Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) obtained a loan of 500 of Bavaria's U.S. M1 carbines. All of the carbines were marked "Bavaria Rural Police". Bavaria's Waffenamt office was ordered by Bavaria to remove the Bavaria agency markings from the carbines. Niedersachsen did not mark the carbines. An additional 2200 M1 carbines were obtained from Bavaria by Niedersachsen by 1955, when all were collectively paid for by Niedersachsen. It is not known if Bavaria required the markings from the later carbines be removed. [DWJ Magazine 12/2007] [personal communication with the Office of History, Niedersachsen Landespolizei, 12/2007]

After Niedersachsen, Bavaria sold carbines to European gunbrokers, who wholesaled them to other brokers. Two gunbrokers in Zurich are known to have removed the German police markings and covered this receiver area with a black epoxy type substance. Some buyers would not buy the carbines if they had the German markings on them, or preferred not to have the German markings on the carbines they bought. This practice was apparently not uncommon amongst wholesalers. Some used a black paint instead of the epoxy that can easily be scraped off with a fingernail. Others chose not to use a black covering, usually having done a very professional job in removing the marks, polishing the receiver area, and cold bluing the effected area.

The carbine below had the Bavaria agency name removed with a grinder and a black paint like substance was added to cover the grind marks. Some of the carbines in Bavaria were used by more than one agency. Some of these had the markings changed, some did not.

Altered Stock Slingwell

A number of the M1 carbines used by Austria imported by INTRAC had the stock slingwell filled in. These appear to have been carbines that were used in Germany prior to Austria, but it is possible this was done in both countries. Why this was done to carbines used by the police or military has not yet been discovered. German law was responsible for this and other alterations by civilians who owned M1 carbines.

For a number of years German gun laws banned the military M1 carbine from possession by civilians. Some citizens got rid of their M1 carbines, others chose to alter their carbine so it would no longer be classified as a military weapon, instead qualifying the carbine as a sporting rifle. To accomplish this the slingwell was filled with wood, the sides of the top of the front sight were removed, and the gas piston was replaced.

As indicated above, the altered front sight and filled in slingwell has been found on a few of the carbines used by the Austrian and German police and/or military imported to the USA, and abroad. It is not known if these carbines also had the gas piston replaced with the device that eliminated semi-automatic operation of the carbine. The below advertisement for the gas piston replacement appeared in the January 1968 edition of The American Rifleman on p. 86.

Scope Mounts, Drilled & Tapped Receivers

A few of the M1 carbines used by Germany have the receiver drilled and tapped for a scope mount. On the carbine below, the top of the receiver on the rear sight mount has been drilled and tapped to secure the a scope mount.

The stock on the above carbine is an M2 stock. The wood inside the stock (below) where the selector switch would normally be has been chiseled out into a larger rectangle. This may or may not have been for the front half of the scope mount. There is no alteration to the receiver in this area.

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