U.S. Carbines in Germany and Austria

and the
U.S. M1 Carbine

Parts for the M1 carbines used by Germany

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

U.S. Surplus

From March 1946 through May 1949 the U.S. Office of Military Government ensured West German agencies received the parts they needed for their M1 carbines. The records of the United States Military Assistance Program (MAP) indicate that between October 1950 and the end of 1963 West Germany received $2,918,000 is spare weapons parts. The records do not distinguish which weapons the parts were for. During the same period MAP provided West Germany with 34,192 carbines M1/M2.

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.

ERMA's History

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.

ERMA Werke Post WWII

While West Germany was formed in 1949 and the Bonn Convention in 1952 essentially granted West Germany national sovereignty, it wasn't until May 1955 that West Germany was recognized as an independent country and the occupation ended. Between 1952 and May 1955 ERMA, and other German companies, were prohibited from producing military weapons. After the independence of West Germany in May 1955, the West German government granted ERMA permission to research and develop various weapons for Germany's new security forces, the Bundeswehr.

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.

ERMA's Commercial Offerings

One of the first weapons ERMA offered commercially was their .22 caliber Model EM-1 M1 carbine "lookalike". They had manufactured these rifles as training rifles for the Austrian and German governments. Germany no longer needed them by the mid 1960's.

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.

ERMA's Commercial Markings

The commercial weapons that ERMA manufactured are clearly marked with the ERMA name and logo. They also have stamping's from the German Office of Bombardment, known as "proof marks", that show proof the weapon was tested for safety, when, and by which office. Many manufacturers had/have government proofing personnel within their facility on a full time basis. ERMA's weapons have the proof mark of the Office of Bombardment (proof house) in Munich.

German Nitro Proof

Munich 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

ERMA's Military & Police Markings

It would be logical to assume ERMA marked the weapon parts they manufactured for police or military weapons with their name or an abbreviation. This may not be the case. Weapons manufactured in Germany required/require certain markings and the inspection marks of the Office of Bombardment. Parts manufactured for non-German military weapons provided by the Allied forces were not subject to all of the same requirements. If the replacement part was a barrel or receiver it was required to be inspected and tested at or by the Bombardment Office closest to the facility that mounted the barrel to the receiver, or by the personnel from this office assigned to a facility. German police armorers from the larger agencies serviced and repaired their M1 carbines after at least May 1955.


Various sources have indicated ERMA manufactured M1 carbine barrel replacements, in addition to other parts. Not marking the barrel would seem very unusual, as German law 1952 and later required the barrel manufacturer to place their name on the barrel. Military weapons manufactured by the Allied Forces were granted a number of exceptions to Germany's firearms laws. Not marking the M1 carbine replacement barrels with the manufacturer's name appears to have been one of them.

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 7.61mmGerman 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.

Sights, rear adjustable

The Dutch firm, Nederlandsche Wapen-en Munitiefabriek NV., DE KRUITHOORN s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands (aka NWM) manufactured a rear adjustable sight for the M1 carbine that appears similar to the GI rear adjustable sight made from stampings, until examined closely.

Photograph courtesy of Bill Ricca

The number, above, is the NATO stock number for the M1 carbine rear sight. The numbers 50 identify the country as West Germany.

Photograph courtesy of Bill Ricca

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.

Stocks & Handguards

So far, two different types of replacement stocks and handguards have been found on the M1 carbines that served in West Germany. The first type appears to be have been used approximately 1945-1955. The second type was used approximately 1957 and later.


This stock and handguard are consistent in construction and appearance and easily identifiable from U.S. manufactured stocks and handguards and those used in West Germany after 1955. The stock is similar in construction to an M1 high wood U.S. carbine stock with a rounded sling hole on the outside, but with the dimensions of wood thickness of an M2 stock on the inside. The German stock will not accomodate an M2 selector switch to the left of the bolt/receiver. The handguard is similar to the U.S. carbine 2 rivet handguard with a shallow groove.

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.

1957 and Later

This stock and handguard are consistent in construction and appearance and easily identifiable. This stock is similar to an M2 pot belly stock and an M2 handguard with four rivets. It includes the provision in the left side of the stock for the M2 selector switch. Like the wood used for the stocks 1945-1955, the wood on both the stock and handguard appear to be made from northern European ash. Both the stock and handguard have a clear heavy verathane type protective coating.

One very distinct feature that readily identifies this stock and handguard are the markings inside the slingwell and in the underside of the handguard.

PG-W 10/57

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.