|The American Occupation Zone||The British Occupation Zone||National Agencies||Additional Info|
|Bavaria||Berlin||Lower Saxony||Border Guard||Accessories|
ERMA Werke of Dachau, West Germany
Many different sources have indicated from first hand knowledge that ERMA Werke of Dachau, Bavaria, Germany serviced, and built parts for, the M1 carbines used by West Germany. In War Baby Comes Home (see Books) the author Larry Ruth indicates ERMA received a contract from the German government to service and repair the weapons used by the German army (Bundeswehr), including the M1 carbine. Ruth confirms that ERMA manufactured replacement parts and fitted them to the carbines and eventually manufactured entire M1 carbines. The Bundeswehr was formed in 1955.
The Thuringen region of Germany has a long tradition in weapons manufacturing. The cities of Suhl and Zella-Mehlis have been home to manufacturers Merkel, Haenel, Walther, and Anschutz, to name a few. In Erfurt, Erfurter Maschinenfabrik B. Geipel GmbH. was established in 1922 by Berthold Geipel. During WWII Erfurter Maschinenfabrik was best known for its production of the MP40 Machine Pistol, though they manufactured many different weapons.
With the end of WWII in May 1945 Allied Forces ordered the closure of all German weapon manufacturing facilities. The facilities still intact were taken over by the military of the Allied Occupation Zone the company found itself in. The entire Thuringen region was within the Russian Occupation Zone. The owners of several of the manufacturing facilities in Thuringia relocated, without their equipment, to the American Occupation Zone. Erfurter Maschinenfabrik was re-established in 1949 as ERMA-Werke, and moved to its new facility in Dachau outside Munich in 1952.
ERMA became a subsidiary of Lear Siegler Inc. at some point prior to 1965. Erma-Werke filed for bankruptcy in Oct. 1997. Erma was taken over by Suhler und Sportwaffen of Suhl (a division of Steyr-Mannlicher) in 1998, well after the reunification of Germany in 1990. As of 2007 Suhler und Sportwaffen is a division of Merkel. The ERMA Werke name ceased to exist in 1998. Merkel responded they have no records or knowledge of the work or history of ERMA Werke.
The M1 carbines were phased out by the various German agencies from approximately 1952-1968. ERMA entered the international commercial weapons market about 1962. It is common for weapons manufacturers who no longer have sufficient government sales to turn to the civilian market with civilian versions of the military weapons to financially survive. I don't know that this was the case with ERMA, but the timing suggests this may be the case.
Previous work had indicated Erma Werke may have manufactured their own complete M1 carbine. War Baby Comes Home by Larry Ruth indicates ERMA eventually purchased surplus American manufacturing equipment for various M1 carbine parts. Erma Werke's sole distributor for their weapons, both military and commercially, was Wischo Jagd und Waffen. One of the founders of Wischo related the two companies began doing business together in 1962 and Wischo remained Erma Werke's sole distributor until Erma Werke was no longer in business. Between 1955 and 1960 Erma Werke designed a submachine gun for the West German military, which was not accepted by the military or police. Most of their efforts had been servicing the weapons provided by the various Allied Forces and developing non-firearm related products. He indicated he had never seen, nor heard, of Erma Werke manufacturing an entire M1 carbine, only replacement parts for the weapons already in use.
During personal conversations with Ruth, he related he no longer believes Erma Werke ever produced an entire carbine, contrary to earlier rumors.
The American Rifleman March 1967 pp. 44-46 gives an overview of the "new" Erma M1-22 carbine. The article indicated the rifle was imported and distributed by L.A. Distributors 1983 W 10th St, Brooklyn, NY. On page 100 of the same issue LA Distributors has an ad for the same rifle they identify as the M22. The ad says "exclusively imported by LA Distributors".
A web page specific to the commercial versions of the Erma Werke E M1 and it's variations can be viewed here.
German Nitro Proof
|ERMA Model E M1 .22 caliber rifle: Nitro Proof - Munich Proof House - 66 in shield = 1966|
|ERMA pistol with German Nitro proof, Munich proof house, mfg date 1969|
In the late 1970's Joe Bruch, a member of The Carbine Club and a very knowledgeable M1 carbine parts wholesaler and collector, visited a German police station armory in Mainz, W. Germany. He observed many unattached barrels from American manufacturers of the original M1 carbines. He also observed several dozen barrels for the M1 carbine that had no markings on them. His interest was in the American manufactured barrels so he did not inquire about the unmarked barrels. The German officers allowed him to closely examine the American made barrels, but requested he not disturb the unmarked barrels.
The following carbine was manufactured by Standard Products (serial number 2,076,xxx). All of it's parts, excluding the barrel, are marked with the standard markings of the U.S. manufacturers and their subcontractors during WWII. The German markings on the carbine indicate it was used by a police agency in the American Occupation Zone district of Wuerttemberg-Baden. The barrel has no markings indicating who manufactured the barrel. The only markings on the barrel are those placed there by the German Bombardment Office in Ulm, Baden-Wurttemberg, in June 1962.
|German Nitro Proof, manufacture date June 1962, antler used by proof house in Ulm, caliber 7.61mm||German Nitro proof also placed on the Standard Products|
U.S. manufactured receiver
The Bombardment Office markings were not placed on a barrel until it was fitted to the rifle's receiver. This barrel was probably obtained by a police agency armorer in the vicinity of Ulm, who installed the barrel and had the weapon inspected.
The number, above, is the NATO stock number for the M1 carbine rear sight. The numbers 50 identify the country as West Germany.
Closer examination of the NWM rear sight windage knob reveals a smooth area at the outer edge and a longer groove in the top of the sight centered at the rear.
Mécanique Avion TRAction (MATRA) was a French company that manufactured M1 carbine tools for both France and West Germany in the 1950's. These included a barrel torque wrench, front sight installation tool, front sight removal tool, and rear sight removal and installation tool all of which were similar to their U.S. GI tool predecessors. Matra is better known in Europe for the manufacture of automobiles and aeronautics. As of 2008 Matra is a subsidiary of the Lagardère Group.
The type of wood used for these stocks was identified courtesy of Adam Costa, an M1 Garand collector. "This particular stock and handguard are [made from] Northern European Beech. The tell is the lighter colored lines in the grain called "medular rays" (or "maggots" by the Garand collectors). Many of the Danish issued Garands used the same wood for replacement stocks and they were very high quality and durable."
Besides the typical last 3 or 4 digits of the receiver serial number usually present, some of the stocks have the letters "LP" in script stamped on the bottom of the handgrip, where the U.S. manufacturers often stamped the letter P to indicate the stock had been inspected and passed. The "LP" on these stocks means Landespolizei, meaning the M1 carbine the stock is on was used by the Landespolizei of the region it was used in.
So far, these stocks have only been found on M1 carbines that served in Bavaria.
Sometimes the handguard and stock have both been replaced, but sometimes only one or the other has been replaced.
One very distinct feature that readily identifies this stock and handguard are the markings inside the slingwell and in the underside of the handguard.
1005-50-691-2602 10/57 PG-W
The 10/57 represents the date October 1957. PG-W is probably the manufacturer, but who this represents in not yet known. The numerical sequences are the NATO Stock Number for each item. NATO Stock Numbers are almost the same as the U.S.A. National Stock Number system. Both of these systems are supply systems.
The 1005 represents small arms. The 50 represents West Germany and is the difference between the NATO system and the U.S.A. system, the U.S.A. indicated by 00 or 01. The last seven digits identify the specific part.
Return to Top of Page