|MP 38. u. 40 slings|
Welcome to a detailed walk through the details and specifications of the leather sling for the German WW2 MP 38. u. 40 !
The photo above was taken by a PK photographer in Italy, and shows a late production MP40. Note the sun-wind-dust goggles with the correct envelope and the MP40 pouch with ladder-stitching! It is also interesting to see that the sling button has come "un-buttoned", a problem often encountered when the sling gets soft.
The overall view
The leather sling that was issued with the MP38. u. 40 sub machinegun are in many aspects identical to the sling that was issued with the Mauser K98k. I would recommend that you read my article about the Mauser K98k leather sling first, as I will only focus on the aspects of the MP38. u. 40 sling that differ from those of the K98k sling.
The MP38. u. 40 sling was only used on either the MP38 or the MP40 (erroneously reffered to by some as the "Schmeisser"!), as both guns have identical sling attachments. Of special note is the fact that the forward sling attachment could be turned 180 degrees and mounted on the opposite side of the gun. This practice has only been observed on surviving guns, and never in period photos though. It would require the barrel to be loosened from the gun, a practice I suspect was strictly forbidden. The German name for the sling was simply "Trageriemen". I have found no mentioning of the separate parts.
The buckleAs stated earlier, most of the MP38. u. 40 sling is identical to the Mauser K98k sling. Until now I have found 4 different markings on buckles of true MP38. u. 40 slings.
The makers have been identified as follows:
All details on the buckles are the same as on the K98k buckle.
The last buckle was only discovered recently, and is very special as it is marked on the opposite side. The markings would normally be covered by the leather protector.
The buttonThe button was a simple stud with two heads. The standard seems to be two equally rounded heads with a blued finish. I think there was more than one model of these, as some I encounter have a slightly larger flat disk to one side and a rounded head to the other. Photo evidence from the period also suggests this. Some of the buttons have a slightly shorter stem and are in fact for the gas mask canister sling (last one in the photo). Studs made of brass are clearly postwar made as the use of these metals had been restricted by 1938. I am unsure if any were ever made of aluminum.
The system with the button proved less than satisfactory when slings got worn or soft as it got "un-buttoned" during use. The first picture on this page shows a sling with this problem.
To remedy this problem many individuals actually buttoned on a "Haltestück" from a K98k sling!
The slingThe sling was made of leather, dyed dark brown and impressed with a ricasso pattern and a stripe running along each border, just like the K98k sling. The length is also the same. The true difference between them is the stamping of the holes. While the K98k have 3 holes for adjustment of the length spaced with a equal distance between them the "MP38. u. 40" sling have only two holes for buttoning the sling together with a much longer distance between them.
In the picture above 2 original MP38. u. 40 slings with a Mauser K98k sling in the midle. Note the different distance between the holes, slings made by two different manufacturers.
A K98k sling can be transformed into a MP38. u. 40 only by shortening it considerably and adding new holes, or by adding a forth hole, as the three holes are too close to get it buttoned on properly. Vise versa, a MP38. u. 40 sling can be transformed into a K98k sling by adding a third hole manually between the two already there. I have seen plenty of evidence of this practice, but I guess most of these modifications happened postwar. A close inspection of the holes or control of the length will give them away!
MarkingsThe slings have maker's markings and WaA's identical with those found on the K98k slings, but full names are of course very rare as most MP38. u. 40 slings are made after 1940 and would only sport a code. They are also marked on the same spot, and most often the markings are gone due to wear.
What sets the MP38. u. 40 sling apart from the Mauser K98k sling is the designation stamping "MP38. u. 40".
I have seen no other German WW2 made gun that would have been able to use the same sling, and this probably explains why they should have bothered to put it there in the first place! True, the Mauser K98k sling has a designation stamping "Kar", but this is short for "Karabiner", and the "KAR" sling was used on several other guns all classified as "Karabiner"-length.
The "MP38. u. 40" stamping will appear on the inside close to the buckle. Two different fonts have been encountered. Very often the stamping is no longer visible, as soiling and wear have left the leather almost black. These are the best pictures I have at the moment, and clearly show how use will make the ink-stamp unreadable...!
The MP38. u. 40 in manuals
None of the manuals I have seen goes into detail about the sling. They only mention it as one of the accessories for the MP38. u. 40. The name stated is simply "Trageriemen". A parts list has the following picture of it.
The sling in use
A very interesting photo! The Waffen SS soldier carries a first model MP40. Note the slab sided magazine well, the protrusion over the muzzle nut for the metal muzzle protector and the leather safety strap, which identifies the bolt as a first model. The MP40 magazine pouch is also very strange, with much too long lids! Also of interest is the fact that he is wearing the early cavalry-style Y-straps, has adorned a improvised helmet cover, is wearing no jacket underneath the camouflage smock and has a well-filled bread-bag unusually worn on the hip! Maybe just returning or going out on a recon mission? Or is it a reenactor in a faked & staged photo?
Postwar useAs with the K98k, the MP38. u. 40 saw extensive postwar use with several armies. Many of these armies made their own slings as replacements, and these slings can of course be found all over the place sold as genuine stuff! Read page 2 of my article on the K98k sling for more details.
The most often encountered postwar sling for the MP38. u. 40 is the Austrian made "Stolla Wien" sling. Made postwar for the Austrian army by the same manufacturer that made them in WW2 (under the code "cgu"). Almost impossible to tell apart, except for the postwar marking!
Sometimes fakers add a year (1940) between the two lines to make it more "sellable"!
There is also a batch of Waffen SS marked slings in circulation. Sling is basically a surplus sling with no crosshatch pattern, with a RZM/SS marking in ink on the inside. (The RZM marking is the key here, as that combo on a MP sling is ridiculous!). The one bellow also has a RbNr added, which makes it even less credible.
Is there a correct way to mount the sling on the MP40? Check out my "How to mount your MP38 & MP40 sling for Dummies" page!
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