Third Party Press

Matching 1915 VCS "a" Block (1905 Spandau Receiver)

chrisftk

Senior Member
Here's a pretty wild one-- I picked this up with a "take a shot" on Gunbroker. The rifle was advertised as a matching Spandau 1905, but the fireproof was a Thuringian style Eagle, so definitely not Spandau assembled. The early thought was possibly Erfurt assembled, though the pics were not great and the stock had been cleaned. I made an offer appropriate to that and received the rifle today. I was elated to see that it was factory matching except the cleaning rod. While the stock was cleaned or lightly sanded, a coat of ballistol brought it back to life. The metal shows this rifle lived a rough life, but the bluing below the wood is still wonderful. There is also some finish remaining on the front third of the barrel.

After discussing with my fellow Gew98 nerds, we came to the consensus that this is a 1915 VC Schilling, as the acceptance patterns are lockstep with other 15 VCS we have encountered (excluding the receiver---I'll get to that in a moment) The bolt is a c/B Haenel (typical Suhl), and the stock, triggerguard and small parts are all c/Q (typical for VCS) or c/B.

For comparison of acceptance patterns on the non receiver parts: another a block VCS 15:

The receiver is a bit of a puzzle. It is marked (faintly) Spandau 1905. The 2nd and 3rd acceptance characters do not match known VCS c/Q, and the three crown/letters each have an additional single crown underneath them. While I have seen this style on other early VCS rifles assembled with spare/salvage receivers, this example does not have the "VCS 1915" stamped on top of the receiver ring. The receiver also has the aforementioned Thuringian eagle fireproof, which would indicate to me that this receiver was not on a rifle previously. In any case, quite a puzzle.

The thought on these, was that as the Suhl makers were ramping up, early rifles were assembled at VCS (and possible the others?) from receivers sent in from elsewhere. These seem to have vanished sometime during the "a" block, so this may have been a later example. I would welcome any data to the contrary on these. This is the first matching "start-up" Suhl I've been able to study in depth.

Here are the data:

Receiver 892a
Barrel 892a (S&S BJ 33)
Front Sight 92
Rear Sight Leaf: 92
Sight Slider 92
Ejector Box 92
Trigger Sear 92
Front Barrel Band 92
Rear Barrel Band 92
Trigger Guard 892
Trigger Guard Screws 92,92
Floor Plate 92
Follower 92
Stock 892
Handguard 892
Buttplate 892
Bayonet Lug 92
Cleaning Rod: 00
Bolt body: 892a
Safety: 92
Cocking Piece: 92
Bolt shroud: 92
Firing Pin: 92
Extractor 92

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PrayingMantis

Senior Member
Fascinating Gew, Chris. I can not stress enough how glad i am that you got this, it's the first 1915 Suhl salvage/rebuild that we've been able to examine closely.

As for the receiver, i believe this was once a finished Spandau Gew. The acceptance is consistent with the 1906 Spandau Mike had (https://www.k98kforum.com/threads/gewehr-98-spandau-1906-7960c.51383/) though the c/M c/C are not on the receiver rather on different parts. The crowns without letters are defiitely Schilling, we've observed these on other 1915 rebuilds. (Like that one on Gun Broker that was polished all to tell, such a shame.) And with the faint markings on the receiver top, i bet Schilling cleaned it up before they reused it, which would have removed most of the old fireproof and serial. Can you take a close up shot of the fireproof? i think i see a faint trace of an eagle below the Suhl fireproof.
 

chrisftk

Senior Member
For additional information, Sam found this thread. Very apropos to the discussion at hand.
 

joryfreeburg

Senior Member
Interesting rifle for sure. An interesting study for an Imperial newbie such as myself. I love the mellow look to the metal on the receiver in this example. Well done on the purchase
 

mauser1908

Senior Member
This is a wonderful rifle Chris. Again, really glad you snagged this one! I'm with Cyrus on his thought that these may have been the first part of the consortium's progression and the second address was added once newly manufactured CGH receivers came on the scene. Receiver manufacture was probably the most sophisticated process. To me, it would make sense that they began on old receivers while they worked out the kinks. I would love to hear form Paul to see if he has similar guns from the other firms in the consortium recorded. I've only personally seen VCS and Danzig participate in this type of non-sterngewehr production using an old receiver.
 

Fal Grunt

Senior Member
There could be even more confusing aspects to this rifle. I have seen the capital B on several DWM produced receivers. I'll have to look and see if I have any pictures.

Based on what we know from the Suhl gun trade, I would argue that there is a good chance that VCS never made receivers. Every VCS marked 88 that I have handled commercial or military has tell tale signs from Haenel and Sauer. I've never been able to find much in regards to size, sales, or firm capabilities. Out of the "Big 3" of Suhl it seems to have been the smallest.

Now if I am forgetting something blatant from Storz or otherwise about Schilling, feel free to correct me!

I keep trying to find a means to get the Haenel books from the Archive. I believe the "master" books and sales books could teach us a great deal about the Suhl gun trade. Since several of the books are from the WWI era, they would most likely teach us a great deal.
 

chrisftk

Senior Member
There could be even more confusing aspects to this rifle. I have seen the capital B on several DWM produced receivers. I'll have to look and see if I have any pictures.

Based on what we know from the Suhl gun trade, I would argue that there is a good chance that VCS never made receivers. Every VCS marked 88 that I have handled commercial or military has tell tale signs from Haenel and Sauer. I've never been able to find much in regards to size, sales, or firm capabilities. Out of the "Big 3" of Suhl it seems to have been the smallest.

Now if I am forgetting something blatant from Storz or otherwise about Schilling, feel free to correct me!

I keep trying to find a means to get the Haenel books from the Archive. I believe the "master" books and sales books could teach us a great deal about the Suhl gun trade. Since several of the books are from the WWI era, they would most likely teach us a great deal.
So our theory, as it currently stands, is that the Suhl consortium operated very closely together. This includes specialization of individual parts and shared SN ranges.

As it currently stands, based on acceptance patterns and examining a bunch of these; Haenel was specialized in receiver and bolt production, Schilling was responsible for stocks and smaller parts, and Sauer was primarily a barrel producer with some small parts production. Each firm then had their own in-house assembly and rifles were marked accordingly.

One additional fact that we also have discovered is that Erfurt supplied some additional receivers to supplement Haenel. It would be interesting if an example emerged with a DWM supplied receiver. To my knowledge, I don't think we've seen one.

From what we can tell, these salvage builds were early start-up production while they got up to speed on Suhl-produced receivers at Haenel.

To your point, I believe you may be right with regard to 88 carbine production too. VCS and Haenel worked closely together and there may have been similar specialization of parts production. I'll have to look at receiver trends to see if we can conclusively say.
 
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PrayingMantis

Senior Member
There could be even more confusing aspects to this rifle. I have seen the capital B on several DWM produced receivers. I'll have to look and see if I have any pictures.
For clarification, Nathaniel are you referring to the crown B acceptance, or the large letter B on the left side of the receiver below the wood line? Because that B did look familiar to me, but I can’t place where I’ve seen it before.
 

Fal Grunt

Senior Member
So our theory, as it currently stands, is that the Suhl consortium operated very closely together. This includes specialization of individual parts and shared SN ranges.

As it currently stands, based on acceptance patterns and examining a bunch of these; Haenel was specialized in receiver and bolt production, Schilling was responsible for stocks and smaller parts, and Sauer was primarily a barrel producer with some small parts production. Each firm then had their own in-house assembly and rifles were marked accordingly.

One additional fact that we also have discovered is that Erfurt supplied some additional receivers to supplement Haenel. It would be interesting if an example emerged with a DWM supplied receiver. To my knowledge, I don't think we've seen one.

From what we can tell, these salvage builds were early start-up production while they got up to speed on Suhl-produced receivers at Haenel.

To your point, I believe you may be right with regard to 88 carbine production too. VCS and Haenel worked closely together and there may have been similar specialization of parts production. I'll have to look at receiver trends to see if we can conclusively say.

That pretty much sums up my opinion of how things worked. I did not know that Erfurt also supplied receivers. To be honest I would not be surprised the deeper you guys get into this, the muddier things get. At some point it will get so confusing it will make your head spin. I honestly believe most of the major suppliers subcontracted to minor suppliers, and any excess inventory was moved to who had capacity. Even if you look at modern gun manufacturing in Germany, the "name" on the gun is not necessarily who manufactured the gun (this is true in the US as well, though in different ways)

Have you guys looked at the post war documentation regarding the Suhl consortium? I have to think they continued operating much in the same way.

Up till WWI, Haenel was producing Gewehr 88 and 1909's and Aydt's, whether interchangeably, or on different production lines or not I do not know. It certainly took some time to take apart this line, convert to Gewehr 98, and update machinery. There was also the problem of gauges for inspection. Those would need made. (I think storz covers some of this)

For clarification, Nathaniel are you referring to the crown B acceptance, or the large letter B on the left side of the receiver below the wood line? Because that B did look familiar to me, but I can’t place where I’ve seen it before.
The large letter B just to the rear of the front ring. Maybe I am wrong in remembering it on DWM receivers, but that is what sticks out in my head.
 

chrisftk

Senior Member
That pretty much sums up my opinion of how things worked. I did not know that Erfurt also supplied receivers. To be honest I would not be surprised the deeper you guys get into this, the muddier things get. At some point it will get so confusing it will make your head spin. I honestly believe most of the major suppliers subcontracted to minor suppliers, and any excess inventory was moved to who had capacity. Even if you look at modern gun manufacturing in Germany, the "name" on the gun is not necessarily who manufactured the gun (this is true in the US as well, though in different ways)

Have you guys looked at the post war documentation regarding the Suhl consortium? I have to think they continued operating much in the same way.

Up till WWI, Haenel was producing Gewehr 88 and 1909's and Aydt's, whether interchangeably, or on different production lines or not I do not know. It certainly took some time to take apart this line, convert to Gewehr 98, and update machinery. There was also the problem of gauges for inspection. Those would need made. (I think storz covers some of this)


The large letter B just to the rear of the front ring. Maybe I am wrong in remembering it on DWM receivers, but that is what sticks out in my head.
Here's a good example of one with a probable Erfurt subcontracted receiver: (and some discussion on it with Paul)--it also does a great job of showing the known acceptance of each firm (Schilling stock, Sauer barrel, Haenel bolt, etc..)


I haven't gotten into any postwar documentation, but I have anecdotal evidence of a similar relationship even on M71/Kar71 production. You can see some interesting commonalities between them, though the number of examples is scant at best on Suhl 71s-- it would be a herculean effort to really trend them.
 

Loewe

Moderator²
Staff member
This is a wonderful rifle Chris. Again, really glad you snagged this one! I'm with Cyrus on his thought that these may have been the first part of the consortium's progression and the second address was added once newly manufactured CGH receivers came on the scene. Receiver manufacture was probably the most sophisticated process. To me, it would make sense that they began on old receivers while they worked out the kinks. I would love to hear form Paul to see if he has similar guns from the other firms in the consortium recorded. I've only personally seen VCS and Danzig participate in this type of non-sterngewehr production using an old receiver.

This I agree with, definitely VCS-1915ish; the receiver is salvaged, the RR is 1905/Spandau so the under crowns are related to VCS assembly. What distinguishes this as VCS is the barrel acceptance, this too dates it to 1915 because these S&S barrels are progressive so far as is observed, the lot rises as the production progresses, this lot ranges a-b block of 1915. Naturally the C/Q distinguishes this as VCS (JPS made most-all barrels consortium barrels).

These Suhl - Danzig builds of older receivers are highly interesting, there are several minor variations and all are interesting in their diversity, - there are at least three different variations.

Anyway, nice rifle in this condition. (I agree this is probably the first variation made)
 

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