When I was growing up my father had a single shot .22 rifle that the family simply referred to as “that German training rifle.” I didn’t know much about German rifles and always assumed it was a Mauser of some kind. It was only recently when my dad suffered a stroke and I got his guns for safe keeping that I took a close look at it and did some research and learned about DSM34s.
DSM 34s are one of the more curious rifles that came out of WWII though didn’t actually serve in the war. It was a rifle used to train German troops prior to the war. The DSM 34 has an interesting if somewhat obscure history.
In 1933, soon after taking power the NAZIs consolidated all shooting sports and clubs. They soon set up a consortium of arms makers to manufacture small caliber rifles that resembled the Mauser bolt action rifle which was then being developed. The primary maker was Mauser but included companies like Erma, JGA, Geco, Walther and BSW/Simson as part of the consortium.
These small caliber rifles was ostensibly to be used by the various sports clubs around Germany to teach marksmanship to the population. By 1934 however they were primarily designed to replicate the feel and look of the Mauser rifle which the German army would be using in the future. To get around rearmament treaties the rifles were called Deutsche Sportmodell (German Sport Model) now commonly called the DSM 34 for the date they were introduced.
Hundreds of thousands of DSM34s were in use by 1935 but the German government wanted an updated and more accurate replica of the Mauser so many of the smaller companies who made them dropped out. By 1937 an updated version called the Klein Kaliber Wehrsportgewehr (roughly translated as “sub caliber sports rifle”) or KKW was adopted and replaced the DSM34,
My dad’s rifle was made by MENZ which was a small manufacturer who was known for the Lilliput pistol prior to making these rifles. Unlike the manufacturers listed above, Menz was not a part of the consortium but simply bought a license to manufacture DSM. While Mauser made hundreds of thousands of these trainers, MENZ only made 5,000 rifles in 1934 & 35. According to “experts” on the K98 forum, only a few dozen MENZ rifles are thought to have survived the war.
The DSMs are single shot and are a scaled down version of the K98. They came with leather sling and a non functional short metal rod in the fore stock which is used to simulate the look of the cleaning rod found on military rifles.
The origin of this particular rifle is somewhat obscure. During and after the war many rifles were liberated from Germany or sold as surplus. It is unlikely that many DSM34s were actually used in combat as .22 caliber ammo was not a high priority when larger calibers were needed. It may be that Hitler Youth groups were armed with them or perhaps civilians used them as last ditch weapons. There is no evidence of that happening that I’ve found. Rather it is more likely that these rifles, like most other weapons after the war were simply rounded up and stockpiled.
Many were taken by GI’s returning home. Those were sometimes called “duffle bag” guns. “Duffle bag” rifles often are recognizable because in order to fit inside a duffle bag when disassembled the last 11″ of the forearm of the stock had to be cut off. As such the end of the stock, the top wood hand guard and the rod were often missing. GI’s were interested in them as souvenirs not collectibles.
Many rifles were simply destroyed and many others were saved and sold as surplus after the war. Surplus rifles were very abundant and cheap well into the 1960s. My dad seems to think that his cousin, who was in the army brought this one home and that he got it from him. Other times he says he may have simply bought it at a hardware store. He did say the when he got it, it had a rear peep sight on it which he kept (thankfully). Rear peep sights were not original so this one was likely added after the war. Not good for collecting but certainly good for shooting. These rifles tend to be very accurate and a good peep sight helps.
So, what’s it worth?
Value can be all over the place with these types of rifles. MENZ was a small manufacturer and only made 5000 with only a couple dozen are thought to have survived. That makes this one more rare than some others and thus desirable to some collectors.
In addition, the fact that it is intact, has the cleaning rod, top wood hand guard and originalleather sling adds to the value.
On the other hand, the peep sight necessitated drilling holes in the top of the receiver. Those are not original and are unsightly which detracts from the value. However, the vintage rear sight itself is collectable in itself.
I have not had it appraised but I would guess the value to be around $800 give or take a C note.
The value to me of course is that it belongs to my father and is an interesting part of history. I am unlikely to ever part with it.