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Welcome 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

Mauser sling for the K98k

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.

Mauser sling for the K98k

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.

 Buckles for the Mauser sling for the K98k

The makers have been identified as follows:
Markings on buckle Maker name
L&F Linden & Funke KG, Iserlohn
D&C Dransfeld & Co, Menden/Sauerland
S↑C
Schmöle & Co, Menden/Sauerland
Unmarked Unknown maker(s)

These 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 end.

Buckles for the Mauser sling for the K98k

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 roller 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 can be 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 preservation.)

Mauser sling for the K98k
The above slings are from left to right Otto Koberstein 1937, Otto Koberstein 1938, ftt 1942 and cgu 4

The sling

The sling had a ricasso pattern 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).

Mauser sling for the K98k

The 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.

Most slings 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.

Mauser sling for the K98k

Needless to say, the ink stamps seldom survived field use, while the two other methods sometimes survive.

Mauser sling for the K98k Mauser sling for the K98k

In addition the wording "Kar." can also be found on some specimens, but only as an ink-stamp.

 Mauser sling for the K98k Mauser sling for the K98k

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 inside.

 Mauser sling for the K98k

But the rarest variants are the slings that have the stampings to the outside. I have only found a few specimens over the years.

 Mauser sling for the K98k
Mauser sling for the K98k
Mauser sling for the K98k

The stopper

The rear sling stopper (or keeper) is more frequently found with markings. It's German name was the "Haltestück" or "Riemenplatte mit Knopf". It has a metal centerpiece with a button, either made of brass or steel. The centerpiece was also made by subcontractors, as can be seen on this picture.

Haltestück centerpiece

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.

Sling marking

The 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.

 Sling marking
Sling marking
Sling marking
Sling marking


Again, a variation has both WaA and maker mark, but it is a lonely bird.

 WaA

The WaA can vary from a very small "stick-eagle" to larger ones with large swastikas. 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 same.

S&D.H.

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.

 S/42

But also full name and year was positioned here.

 Full name and year

On the later ones with a steel button, the only marking found on the button side is a WaA.

 WaA

The 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.

RbNr

Added markings

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.

Unit numbered haltestück
The 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.

Tagged metal plate on K98k sling

It 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.

kzl43kzl43
kzl43

A late war matching sling marked cgu 4. In 1944 and 1945 the date was reduced to just one number.

cgu4
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.

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