During late 1941 a series of events led the German military to introduce a number of measures that would create what collectors today call “dual code” rifles, – rifles that exhibit signs of two manufacturers involvement in a rifles manufacture.
Here we will deal with rifles that were made by Berlin-Lübecker (ordnance code 237 or duv). These rifles draw considerable discussion among collectors, especially on the internet forums dedicated to the study of the Kar.98k. The rifle characteristics not only confuse who the maker is, but also when the rifle was made.
Specifically, these rifles were made with Astrawerke receivers, identified by the lower case “L” on the right side of the receiver and very often marked with Gustloff-Werke, Weimar’s ordnance code “bcd” over “41”, which indicates the rifle was made in 1941. This alone causes considerable confusion with newer collectors, but what has baffled experienced collectors for years was when were these actually assembled?
The answer is of course complex, but answerable if you examine these “dual codes” against normal BLM production 1941-1942. What we know about these is the following:
- These start very close to where normal duv/41 production ends, which was the late o-block. All known Astrawerke receivers BLM finished are in the p-block or r-block. No q-blocks have been identified, but probably exist.
- These all have the characteristics of a duv/42, meaning they are all only serialed on the receiver, – no serial on the barrel. All have a top final and no assembly acceptance on the right receiver. This is inconsistent with all normal duv/41 production, the transition to these characteristics do not begin until the middle of the first block of duv/42.
- The component mix and characteristics are more inline with duv/42 production than duv/41 production. Specifically, how the parts lack acceptance, the rear sights, the bands, how the stocks are acceptance all suggest 1942 production.
- The barrels all indicate later production, in one case the barrel is actually dated in 1942, something that does not occur in regular duv/42 production until the i–block.
We know these were not a continuation of duv/42 production because of the simple fact that it ended in the k-block, far too large a gap to connect. That “normal” duv/41 ended within hundreds of rifles before these begin it is clear these are a continuation of duv/41 serialing, but rifles that were not actually assembled before early 1942.
Further, because BLM (duv) production is very consistent, with changes introduced in a rather rigid manner, it is easy to estimate when most of these fall into 1942 production. Most have solid milled front bands; this is a characteristic that was not introduced until the d-e block of 1942. Coupled with observations in barrel coding and methods of serialing and acceptance, it is clear that most of these were not actually made until well into 1942.
Stay tuned for part II, which will discuss a related subject, the BLM (duv/41) receivers that made their way to Gustloff-Werke Weimar.