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The German M1: Erma Werke’s EM1 .22 Rimfire Carbine

By Frank Iannamico

After the defeat of Germany in 1945, the Allies asserted their joint authority and sovereignty over the country. The United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union divided Germany into four occupation zones for administrative purposes, creating what became collectively known as Allied-occupied Germany. This division was ratified by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference.

Each of the occupying powers had authority in their respective zones and carried out different policies toward the population and local and state governments. A uniform administration of the western zones evolved. The three western zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in May 1949. The Soviets followed in October 1949 with the establishment of the German Democratic Republic, also known as Communist East Germany.

Between May 1945 and June 1949, West German police in the American Occupation Zone were provided with surplus American handguns, rifles and carbines. Additional M1 and M2 carbines were provided to the newly formed West German Border police (Bundesgrenzpolizei) in 1952 and to the new West German Bundeswehr. By 1956, West Germany had received approximately 34,000 M1 carbines from the US Military.

Training rifles in .22 rimfire caliber were common in Europe. The training rifles and their ammunition were less expensive to produce and helped recruits familiarize themselves with weapons. The large number of US carbines given to the West Germans increased the need for a similar training rifle.

The original .30 caliber M1 carbine was conceived during World War II, as a lightweight weapon for personnel who would normally be issued a pistol or revolver. Handguns in many cases required a lot of training to make a recruit proficient in their use. In the best cases, accurate fire was limited to 25 yards. The semiautomatic M1 carbine, on the other hand, was light, handy and accurate out to a range of 150 yards and had a 15-round magazine. The carbine’s relatively small .30 caliber cartridge had a 110-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1,970 feet per second. The carbine came under a lot of criticism for...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N8 (October 2018)
and was posted online on August 24, 2018

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