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German cross Mauser slings, part 2 German cross

Welcome to part 2 of my Mauser sling article. 

If you arrived directly here, please use the link on the left to go to part 1 first to get some continuity.



Copy, surplus, fantasy, fake or the real deal? How to tell them apart. There is a lot of slings for the Mauser K98k offered for sale on Ebay and by the different militaria dealers out there today, but to maneuver safely in to harbor, one needs to understand the dynamics of the game.

-Copy slings are newly manufactured. Most of the time these are made to be usable substitutes, not meant to fool a collector. Check out the slings offered by IMA and see what you think. Copy slings are of course brand new, and will take a lot of use to look convincing in my eyes.
Totally copy sling

-Surplus slings are manufactured by any nation to fill a demand for replacements for the postwar use of the K98k. The K98k was used extensively by many nations after 1945, including Israel, Norway, Austria and Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia even started up production of their own version, the Mauser M48. The danger with surplus slings is that they can have seen any degree of use and look rather convincing. But they will always be differing in details, materials and production techniques. A Haltestück with "BK" inside a circle is postwar Yugo made.

Norwegian sling for Mauser K98kF1 in .3006
The Norwegian slings (above) are easily recognized by a "fake" stitching running along both edges pressed into the leather, and no crosshatching. Easy to spot when they are brand new, but might fool the inexperienced when it is well used.


The above sling is a typical surplus sling, but country of origin is unknown. It has the typical postwar fat leather and no crosshatch pattern. The seller has beefed it up with a fantasy marking to increase the "sellabillity".

-Fantasy slings are just that, so the term "copy" doesn't really fit. A well known fantasy product is the web sling for the K98k. Same goes for web slings for every single other German WW2 made weapon as well, with the exception of some locally made web slings for the Volksgewehr (VG) as a last ditch attempt at equipping the fighting forces of Germany in 1945.
Today, unscrupulous dealers offer MG42, MP40, G43 and K98k slings in web, often adorned by fake ink stamps. Some of these are new made copies, while others are surplus slings for who knows what.


The sling above is found marked with G43, K43, K98k and Stg44. The makers and dates are definitive added, as they do not make any sense at all.

The fact is that no picture of WW2 origin shows any of the above mentioned guns with a web sling, and no trustworthy specimen has survived, which makes the probability of a mass-produced web sling seem impossible. The "truth of the web sling" is always carried forward by people trying to sell one or already owning one.

The sling below is a early gas mask sling, and not a late war, last ditch web sling.

Early gas mask cannister sling


The sling below came with my postwar used MP44. The patent with a folded end sewn together was a postwar Eastern Block invention and should not be able to fool anybody. Anything not remotely assembling the slings from the previous page just isn't real.

East German MP44 sling

-Fake slings are one of the three mentioned types above presented as an original. For example surplus slings beefed up with fake markings.

-Original slings will be manufactured sometimes during the time 1934 -1945 according to the specifics given on the previous page. To view a selection of original slings at any given time I recommend The Collector's Guild.

The best way to tell the slings apart is of course by experience. But by using page 1 of this article as a guide you should at least be able to avoid most surplus slings. The chances you have found a "hitherto never seen example" is veeery slim.
If the buckle is made of brass, it isn't German WW2. The Germans only used brass for the stopper, and that was discontinued in 1937. Some postwar made surplus slings also utilize a brass stopper though. A Haltestück with "BK" inside a circle is postwar Yugo made.
If you find a buckle with markings not on the list, it isn't German WW2. A "K" halfway outside a circle on a buckle is Israeli made.
The ricasso pattern is another problem. On some slings it is almost impossible to tell if it was there in the first place. The length of the sling should be around 122 cm / 48 inches. But leather is a living material so differences will occur and is no safe way of telling if the sling is real or not. There were noticeable variations between the approximately 50 manufacturers as well.
Study the details. Is the sewing technique applied German WW2? Is the buckle correct? Is the overall wear & tear consistent and convincing? Are the three holes identical (one of them will of course be more worn than the two others), symmetric, teardrop shaped and convincing? Is the tip the correct pointy shape and without traces of a fresh cut made to look old? Compare with known originals.



One of the above slings is a faked surplus sling, most probably a Austrian sling. The markings on copies are often too deep and well defined compared with originals, but no rule without exceptions. The leather is most of the time the easiest way to tell if a sling is good or not, but this takes a lot of practice. And with soiled slings it is almost impossible, unless you have a trained eye. The look and feel of German WW2 leather is almost impossible to fake. (The fake is the lower one, the hand applied eyes give it away).

The K98k sling in manuals

The leather sling for the K98k is of course also described and pictured in the manuals supplied with the rifles. Here is a interesting one which appears to be one of the first manuals for the K98k

Image from early manual on the Mauser K98k 1936

It has a section on the sling, with the correct names. Note that this 1936 publication states the "Karabinerriemen" as "Neu." (New.). Also note the correct name for the keeper/stopper/button/Frosch as "Haltestück".

Image from early manual on the Mauser K98k againImage from early manual on the Mauser K98k

In this handbook from 1944 for the German Police it is called both a "Haltestück" and "Riemenplatte mit Knopf"
Colored foldout picture of the K98k Mauser

Here is a page for the booklet supplied with the MP44, stating that the correct sling is a Karabinerriemen
Page from MP44 manual

Care and maintenance

From a collector's viewpoint the light, brown color should be preserved. Once the sling gets darker it is on a one-way street with no return and a lower collector value.
There are only two ways in my book to maintain leather. It can be wiped down and preserved as it is, or you have to use saddle soap. If the sling is very dirty and oily a good rub with saddle soap will make it better. If the sling is light in appearance, the saddle soap will darken it, so think before you act.
In my experience there is no way of removing gun oil from soaked slings to make them look new again. If your sling has that dry feeling but isn't cracking, just be happy. That is the way I prefer them. If it has dried out and cracks, mostly due to bad storage, the only way to improve it is using saddle soap or some kind of grease. The cracked parts will never heal though, as the cracked part is "dead".

Summary

 I hope you have enjoyed these pages about the Mauser K98k slings. If something is still unclear, or if you have further questions you can contact me through the "Contact information" link that is located on my "Home" page. You will find the link "Home" below.
If you wonder how to mount the sling on your rifle, check out my Mounting instructions for Dummies.
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