Wednesday, July 1, 2015

West German Rifle Cleaning Kits: Reinigungsgerät 34 Rg34, Rg. f. Gew. , circa 1960's, Bundeswehr, Bereitschaftspolizei Berlin, Bundesgrenzschutz

Today we'll be taking a look at a trio of old, Post-War, West German rifle cleaning kits. 


These kits are often called referred to as "tobacco tin cleaning kits" in the US, due to the fact that they appear very similar to the old smoking tobacco tins.


The official name for these kits is Reinigungsgerät 34, abbreviated as Rg34.  The original versions of these German kits began production in 1934 and ran through to the end of WW2, 1945.  It seems that there was a break of about 10 years, between the end of the war, and when production was resumed in West Germany.
I have not found any information that pins down the exact dates the Post-War kits were manufactured, however, there is a consensus among serious collectors, that the earliest of the Post-War kits that anyone has seen is 1957, and the latest is 1963.
The start date of 1957 would make sense.  In 1957, the Bundeswehr and Bundesgrenzschutz transitioned from the old Mauser 98k rifles, to the FN FAL G1 rifles.  The G1 rifles were in service in the late 1950's and early 1960's, before they were pulled from service and replaced with an HK version designated the G3.  This would mean that these old cleaning kits were most likely made for issue with the old FN FAL G1 rifles.  These kits however, stayed in service for many years past the 1960's until they were replaced with a plastic "soap dish" style container for the cleaning kit contents.
The old Rg34 style Post-War kits saw service with the various police departments, Bundesgrenzschutz and with the Bundeswehr.

The Post-War kits are marked in a couple of different ways.  Some of the kits are ink-stamped with the date and some are die stamped into the metal.  The ink stamps often are missing after field use, but the die-stamped kits retain their markings.  I have one "unmarked" kit, and two die-stamped, marked kits.

The die-stamped kits are marked on the inside of the top lid.


On the left, there is the stamping "Rg. f. Gew.".  On the right side, the three letter manufacturer's code, with the month / year date stamped under it.   
Rg. f. Gew. stands for Reinigungsgerät für Gewehr, or in English: Cleaning Kit For Rifle.


On the right side we find the manufacturer and date code in the month/year format.  I have one kit dated 1962 and one dated 1963.



I mentioned, back at the beginning of this posting, that these old cleaning kits are often referred to a "Tobacco Tin Cleaning Kits".  Well, here is why.  Here are some photos comparing the cleaning kits next to a 1920's vintage Tobacco Tin that was made by Velvet Tobacco in the USA.






Lets take a look at each of the three cleaning kits individually.


The first kit is a very unique and interesting one.  I acquired this kit, sight unseen, from another collector.  I was told that it was a Bundesgrenzschutz kit, but when it arrived, I discovered that it had been painted "Polizei Green".  The Bundesgrenzschutz issued tins are painted the dark BGS Green color.  
Inside the lids, I found the department property marks of the West Berlin Riot Police.




These property marks are "electro-penciled" inside the top lid, with a smaller one inside the bottom lid.  The abbreviation "P. Pr. Bln" can be plainly seen.  This stands for Bereitschaftspolizei Berlin, or in English, Berlin Riot Police.  The original date and maker stamps must have been in ink, and have now been painted over.  The "Police Green" paint appears to have been field applied at some point.  I am guessing that this is a pretty rare cleaning tin!  It is the only one I've seen like it.





The next tin is an interesting one.  This one has a flat shade of OD Bundeswehr Green paint that appears to have been applied over the original glossier OD green paint.  You can see some faint numbers that had been painted on the tin that are now partially covered by the flat paint.  Interesting.  Dated 1962


This last tin appears to be 100 percent complete, as it came from the factory.  Unaltered and in great condition.  Dated 1963.












To finish things up, lets take a look at the cleaning kit contents:  


There are a couple of very good sites on the internet that I would encourage you to check out if you are looking for more information these old Rg34 tins:


http://www.mp44.nl/equipment/rg34.htm

I have also reviewed and showcased the East German Army version of the Rg34, that was made for the AKM - AK47 rifle.  You can see that post here:
http://sharky-fourbees.blogspot.com/2016/03/east-german-rg57-cleaning-kit-for-ak47.html 

Here is a link to my Bundesgrenzschutz Rg34 kit:
http://sharky-fourbees.blogspot.com/2017/02/bundesgrenzschutz-west-german-rifle.html 


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