to a detailed walk through the details and specifications of the
leather sling for the German WW2 Mauser K98k .
History of the "J 216"
The introduction of the "Karabinerriemen" was announced on 17 July,
1935 in the "Heeres Verordnungsblatt", published by the War Department.
It replaced the "Einheits Karabinerremmen" which was ordered
discontinued and remaining stocks used on the Karabinern 98b and 98a.
It was assigned the part number "J 216". Here is a picture of the
actual announcement of the "new sling".
The sling was first issued with serrated locking pin heads on the roller buckle, to ease handling of the buckle.
What seemed like a good idea in 1935 was totaly reversed on 15 December
1938, when the OKH ordered that all Karabinerriemen with serrated
locking pin heads should be rebuilt with non-serrated ones (Knöpfe ohne
Kreuzrändel). This was done to prevent the locking pin heads from
damaging the wooden stock of the K98k.
Note that this is an order to rebuild
the stock of Karabiner slings and Karabiner slings in use by the
troops. It is still unknown when the manufacturers got the order to
switch their production of J 216 to non-serrated locking pin heads, but
I have found a specimen with serrated heads that was 1937 dated, so
probably sometime during that year.
Based on the orders reprinted above it is clear that all slings in use
by autumn 1939 should have a non-serrated head. Slings surviving up
until this day with serrated locking pin heads are specimens that
"avoided" the rebuilding order above.
The overall view
The original sling for
the Mauser Karabin 98 kurz (better known as K98k) has become a much
sought after item, and the not-so-original slings flourish today. The
sling consisted of
the actual sling, with a sewn on buckle and three teardrop shaped holes
at the end. In addition a sling loop and a rear sling keeper was needed
to complete the sling assembly. The very same sling was also utilized
for several new rifles introduced during the war. The G41(W), the
G41(M), The G43/K43, The MP43/1/ MP43/MP44/MP45/StG44 and the StG45 all used the J 216 Karabinerriemen. In
addition it was also used on most of the "Beutewaffen" that
the Germans produced in occupied countries. Rifles like the G33/40, the
G29, the G98/40 to mention a few. Some of these were slightly modifed
to accept the K98k sling.
The Buckle (Klemmstück)
The buckles were standardized, and made by
sub-contractors. The four known variants are L&F,
D&C, SC and the ones devoid of markings.
makers have been identified as follows:
& Funke KG, Iserlohn
& Co, Menden/Sauerland
& Co, Menden/Sauerland
factory markings only denote the buckle-maker,
not the sling maker. Sometimes these buckles can be found on post-war
made slings, re-used or from un-used stocks. The back of the buckle had
a leather protector that was supposed to protect the rifle finish. This
one was often torn off or worn down due to use. I have observed them on
1944 made slings, but they might have stayed in production until the
buckle pin (the one that the leather sling is wrapped around)
should be flush with the buckle walls on most buckles, but 1944
production buckles have welded ends. On specimens where the
buckle walls have been dented, it might protrude a little bit. The
pin (the one that slides back to release the leather sling) will have
many different forms. Just check the photo above and below. The head
rounded, almost flat, whit a nipple and so on. In short, the roller pin
head is no way to safely ID a sling. Some of the very early slings have
a serrated pattern on the top of the roller pin heads to give
the user a more secure grip. The
finish of the metal includes blued as
standard, no finish at all, phosphated and black burnt paint (not to be
confused with black paint, which is normally postwar added for
The above slings are from left to right Otto Koberstein 1937, Otto
Koberstein 1938, ftt 1942 and cgu 4
The sling had a
flanked by two lines impressed on the outside, while the inside was
left in the "rough". Although sharp and clear on some slings, wear and
tear will sometimes leave the ricasso pattern impossible to see on
others. It was sewn to the buckle with two or three lines of
stitches. The outside was dyed brown, while the inside was
left in the
natural. Here is an interesting sling that obviously left the factory
in 1942 un-dyed compared with a normal sling (cgu 4).
undyed sling is also marked with a WaA, a inked "KAR" and a full
maker/address, which is rather odd and contrary to regulations in 1942.
that have seen any use will today appear dark-brown to black, as they
of course constantly soak up residue oil from the gun, get handled
while the gun owner cleans his gun with oily fingers etc. As a result
of this the
actual sling is often without markings. But slings dyed black does not
exist. The K98k sling was marked in
different ways, depending on the manufacturer. Most commonly the
markings will be found on the inside, close to the top. The markings
will consist of a maker, city and year on the early ones, while the
mid-production ones have a WaA and three letter code and year. The late
war ones omitted the WaA, and finally ended up with a RbNr. The
markings consisted of either just an ink
stamp, an ink stamp with light impressions or just impressions.
Needless to say, the ink stamps seldom
survived field use, while the two other methods sometimes survive.
addition the wording "Kar." can also be found on some specimens, but
only as an ink-stamp.
A two digit number sometimes appears on the tip of the sling. The code
and year has also been observed on the bottom part of the sling on the
the rarest variants are the slings that have the stampings to
outside. I have only found a few specimens over the years.
rear sling stopper (or keeper) is more frequently found with markings.
name was the "Haltestück" or "Riemenplatte mit Knopf". It has a metal
with a button,
either made of brass or steel. The centerpiece was also made by
subcontractors, as can be seen on this picture.
The brass button appears on the early
manufactured slings, mostly pre-1937 made. It can be marked in one of
three places. To the rear, which is most common, between the button and
the sling tab holder, or on the front tip.
The markings will be in the same style as on the sling. But again only
the impressed markings survive.
most commonly found markings to the rear of the stopper are
maker-city-year combinations (most often inside an oval circle) on the
early ones, three letter code with or without year during 1941-1943 and
just a single WaA.
a variation has both WaA and maker mark, but it is a lonely bird.
WaA can vary from a very small "stick-eagle" to larger ones with large
The front markings are normally found on the early ones with brass
buttons. The company S&D.H. marked their slings keepers on the
extreme front tip. I have never seen any other manufacturers do the
more common place for the markings was the small area between the
button and the leather loop. This marking could be a code, like the
slings marked with S/42 for Mauser Werke, Oberndorf.
But also full name and year was
the later ones with a steel button, the only marking found on the
button side is a WaA.
rarest yet, a stopper with a "Reichbetriebs Nummer" (RBNr). This coding
system was introduced late in 1944 to replace the standard 3-letter
code, but was never fully implemented. This is the only example I have
found of these here in Norway.
Special markings applied after the weapons and slings
left the factory can also be found. Some of the early brass button
keepers has impressed what I
believe is a unit number.
soldier in the field has always liked to keep track of their
equipment. This has been done by carving their name into their slings,
or as pictured here, by adding a small metal plate with his name and
his unit's number, the eight company.
seems pretty clear that the stopper and sling was manufactured by the
same maker and left the factory as a matching pair. Most slings today
will not be matching though, first of all because the markings on the
actual sling fades pretty quick during use, and secondly because of the
usual mismatching conducted by soldiers in the field.
My favorite sling. The makers code with year on both
sling and keeper, "Kar." on the middle, and the number "40" on the tip.
A late war matching
sling marked cgu 4. In 1944 and 1945 the date was reduced to just one
Of special interest is the fact that the code "cgu" was issued to the
maker "Stolla, Wien". This factory is very well known today for their
postwar production of MP40 slings and magazine pouches. The slings are
almost identical to the WW2 production slings, but was marked "Stolla
Wien" inside an ovale circle. I have no knowledge of surplus K98k
slings marked this way, only slings for the MP38 u. 40.