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Text: Tuco

Photos: Tuco, Vic Thomas, Karl-Heinz, and John Mitchell

While many refer to these Mosin Nagants as East German, it is a bit of a misrepresentation.   The Mosin Nagant M91/30's and M44 Carbines issued by the East Germans are Soviet manufactured models, as the former DDR never manufactured the Mosin Nagant.  The DDR were supplied these carbines by their Soviet taskmasters for issue after WW2 and during the early 1950's.  This was a way to arm the Germans but once again keep the SKS , which was in the process of being developed, out of the hands of a nation under the yoke of the USSR.  This would protect Soviet arms development and keep these satellite nations from being able to field the same weapons as the Red Army.

In the short period of time following WW2 the Soviets needed to rearm what was to become the DDR as the Cold War began to take shape very quickly in Germany.   The Soviets knew that their new sector of Germany would need to be protected by a viable East German fighting force that would be able to counter act the forces in the West.     It would be important to have the East Germans fielding a force of their own and not to rely just on Red Army troops.  This would give the impression of the East Germans fighting as a sovereign nation*.  The quick and easy solution for this would be to arm the new German forces with the weapons on hand.  The arms on hand of course being the Mosin Nagant M91/30 and the Mosin Nagant M44 Carbine.


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An interesting Mosin Nagant:  It is a cutdown that was used as an early warning system on the Berlin Wall.  These were placed along the Wall and were loaded with blanks.  In the event of an emergency the blank was fired.

The Mosin Nagants that went into East German service saw wide issue and were not phased out until the East German and Soviet manufactured SKS came into wide use.   All East German troops were armed with the M44 Carbine as they were seen in military police units, standard infantry units, and also saw duty on the Berlin Wall with the dreaded GRENZSCHUTZ-EINHEITEN.  It can be assumed these same troops would have been armed with the M91/30 and M91/30 PU sniper rifle.

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The East German proof on this M44 Carbine is the triangle 1.

The East German Mosin Nagants  that were issued in the former DDR will have Soviet manufacturing proofs.  The added German markings will be a 1, 2 , or 3 in a triangle.  It is believed the 1, 2, and 3 signify a first, second, and third quality weapon.  These proofs are found on the barrel shank normally above the date.   Many of the M44's will have very early dates, as the author has 2 Tula manufactured M44s that are 1944 dated and owns three other East German marked M44's with the latest date being 1946.  Of two 1945 dated M44's one has the early carbine features while the other has the later improvements to the front sight and bayonet.  These were fitted with both hardwood and laminate stocks, and the stocks in particular seem to have many dings and dents from heavy usage.   The finish of many of the stocks are a darker reddish color than is found on the Soviet models also showing a heavy varnish type finish.

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Above one will see an East German proof marking on a M91/30.  These are not commonly seen here in the US.  It is not known if they are really rare or if most owners do not know what the triangle proof is so they believe they have a standard Soviet rifle.  The truth is more than likely somewhere in the middle, meaning they are uncommon but not as uncommon as once thought.

The M91/30 use the standard Soviet green canvas sling while slings for the M44's are Soviet leather or green canvas for the most part (these also have been fitted with SKS slings).  There is also a  green canvas and brown leather  sling that has belt attachments that are seen on the EG M44's.  The ammo pouches that were issued with these are the later Soviet leather style and many will be both dated and DDR marked.   The author owns at least one WW2 style canvas/leather Soviet ammo pouch that also has East German markings.

While not as uncommon as the East German SKS, the DDR's Mosin Nagants are not encountered often by collectors.  Since the fall of the USSR these carbines have shown up in larger numbers but again they should be considered at least an uncommon variant for the Mosin collector.   The condition of these firearms can be quite a mixed lot.  There are some that appear to be in almost unissued/refurbished condition while others will show heavy signs of use.  It is unclear when the latest refurbishment took place or where this work occurred.  Recently the East German carbines have been found mixed in with imports of Hungarian, Polish, Russian, and Romanian carbines.   There are well connected sources that state most of these carbines were imported from the nation of Romania.  It is possible that these DDR carbines were sent to Romania sometime in their past but this is speculation at best.  It is also known that many M91-30's with DDR markings have recently arrived in shipments from the nation of Bulgaria.


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Top to bottom: 1944, 1945, 1946 Izhevsk. Tula 1944 laminate stock.  Tula 1944 hardwood stock. Bottom carbine is 1956 Polish M44.  All but the Pole have DDR proofs.

These firearms are fast becoming major collectors items, as the recent influx of Eastern European carbines has created many new Warsaw Pact.   As is often the case there is a hole in almost every collection, and in many cases it is the East German Mosin Nagant that are the missing items.    It pays to know what the proofs of the former DDR look like as these carbines/rifles are often sold as Russian/Soviet.  Know the facts and maybe you can have an uncommon and complete collection of the Eastern Bloc Mosin Nagants.

Other Photos:


* The DDR was formed in 1949


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