Friday, June 12, 2015

East German K98 Mauser Ammo Pouch, Post-War Issue, Karabiner 98k Volkspolizei

Today I'll be showcasing a very nice, East German K98 leather ammo pouch that I recently added to the collection.



This pouch was a very interesting item to research.  There are no markings and several of the minute details are not consistent with a WW2 issued K98 pouch............ After a month of extensive research and conversations with a number of collectors who specialized in Mauser 98K ammo pouches (Yes, there are collectors who only collect these 3 compartment pouches!), I determined that this pouch is a very early, Post-War, East German Volkspolizei pouch.

Very early Post-War photo of East German Volkspolizei officers carrying the Mauser 98K rifles.  Unfortunately we can not see the ammo pouches!
In the very early Post-War days of East Germany, before they adopted the Soviet weapon systems, the various police and military units of East Germany were issued the old Mauser 98k, bolt action rifles.  New ammo pouches were manufactured to be issued with these rifles.  They were manufactured to the same pattern as the late WW2 issue pouches.  Most of these early East German pouches were never stamped or marked in any way to indicate origin or date of manufacture.  This can really be a problem when it comes to positively identifying an item like this!

This pouch looks identical to the late WW2 produced ammo pouches, with the exception of the leather and thread color.........  The East Germans used pig skin leather, and the old WW2 pouches rarely used any pigskin leather.  The WW2 pouches are usually always stitched with white leather, and the East German pouches are sewn with black thread.  To further complicate things, some of the very late, end-of-war German pouches were unmarked and sewn with black thread!  Luckily I had some very knowledgeable people to consult, who also had a few confirmed early, Post-War, East German pouches I could use as an identification comparison.  My pouch was a match.  I would imagine that there are quite a number of these old East German pouches that are sold and collected as genuine WW2 issue............ it would be a VERY easy assumption and mistake to make!  Interestingly though, these East German pouches are much more rare than their WW2 issue counterparts!

Identification was not the only challenge on this pouch.  When I received the pouch, I noticed that one of the flap straps had been replaced at a very recent time, and was definitely not original or professionally repaired.  The leather was thick and new, smooth cow hide.  It really stood out as NOT being correct, and to top things off, it was the incorrect length and stitched with the incorrect thread.  I was determined to restore the pouch as best I could so that it would appear entirely correct while it was displayed.  One big problem though, where do you find matching East German leather that has worn in to the same degree as the rest of the pouch leather?  Interesting challenge..........

BEFORE RESTORATION:  You can see the incorrect leather flap strap on the far right compartment.

After several months of looking for some sort of old leather item that I could salvage and re-purposed for the repair, I finally found what I was looking for.  An old pair of Danish leather shoes that were destined for the trash.  The leather was not an exact match, but it was pretty darn close, and it was already worn in.  With a little bit of "aging" in my shop, a new strap was fashioned and the incorrect strap replaced.  I used a very similar thread and then "aged" the thread to match the appearance of the rest of the vintage stitching.

The repaired strap looks entirely correct unless you look very close.  The replacement strap is not pig skin like the rest of the original straps, but the surface finish is very close.  Another successful "museum restoration"!

AFTER RESTORATION:  The replacement strap is on the right, original strap on the left.

Each compartment on these pouches is designed to hold two stripper clips of 8mm Mauser ammo.  There is a rawhide divider strip in each compartment to separate the stripper clips and hold them in place.  These dividers are often missing, usually removed after they are surplussed and re-purposed,  I was lucky to have the dividers still in my pouch, and in such great condition!


When storing and displaying my old leather ammo pouches and leather items, I make a solid foam or wood insert-blank to hold the leather in its correct shape.  It vastly improves the display appearance and helps preserve the leather in the correct shape and form.  It's easy to do and highly recommended.









Let's take a closer look at this Post-War East German Pouch......... here's the photo album:















































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