Post WWII Commercially Manufactured M1 Carbines

ERMA-Werke
Dachau, Bavaria


.22 long rifle
.22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire

The ERMA-Werke Model E M1 .22 LR Self-Loading Rimfire Rifle


Directory of Pages
(with links)
History, Importers, Markings Function Animations Cleaning & Disassembly
Part I: 1945-1990    
Part II: 1990-2000+ Parts & Diagrams Reassembly

History, Importers, Markings

Part I

1945-1990


The web pages you see here are devoted to the Erma Werke Model EM1 and it's variations.
Individuals seeking or having information on the history of the other weapons manufactured by Erma Werke, may wish to
contact Holger Schlemeier,
a dedicated German researcher (not a retailer or source for parts) who specializes in everything Erma Werke.

Warning: The web pages that follow are graphics intensive and designed for a broadband internet connection.

ERMA-Werke 1922-1945

ERMA-Werke Post WWII


From the Collection of Holger Schlemeier
The Thuringen region of Germany has a long tradition in weapons manufacturing. The cities of Suhl and Zella-Mehlis have been home to manufacturers Merkel, Haenel, Walther, and Anschutz, to name a few. In Erfurt, Erfurter Maschinenfabrik B. Geipel GmbH. was established in 1922 by Berthold Geipel. During WWII Erfurter Maschinenfabrik was best known for its production of the MP38 Machine Pistol, though they also manufactured the MP44/Sturmgewehr 44 (Stg44).

In February 1945, 79 Mosquitoes of the R.A.F dropped almost 100 tons of bombs on the South and East of the old city center of Erfurt, causing 223 deaths. In this attack all the ERMA factory buildings were destroyed and only the cellar survived.

ERMA-Werke 1945-1996

At the end of the war Geipel was arrested as a war criminal for his involvement in the Nazi party and imprisoned by the Allied occupational force. Geipel was able to secure his release from prison, underwent denazification, and became assistant Director for Heinrich Vollmer, at the Vollmer Waffenwerken.

With the end of WWII in May 1945 Allied Forces ordered the closure of all German weapon manufacturing facilities. The facilities still intact were taken over by the military of the Allied Occupation Zone the company found itself in. The entire Thuringen region was within the Russian Occupation Zone. Marshal Shukow of the Russian occupational force ordered what was left of Erma Werke was to be liquidated on the 31st of August 1948.

Geipel re-established Erma Werke in Bavaria in 1949 and in 1952 they acquired a screw manufacturing facility at 13-15 Johann Ziegler strasse in Dachau (near Munich) for the purpose of manufacturing and servicing weapons once again. Son Rudolf Geipel became the Leading Engineer of the new ERMA. The first few years production was geared to making household appliances. About 1952 ERMA was granted a contract by the government of West Germany to service and produce parts for the various Allied Forces weapons that had been given to the German police by the allies.

With the independence of West Germany in May 1955, the West German government granted ERMA permission to research, develop, and produce a new sub-machine gun. West Germany's police and military was seeking weapons more consistent with their own wants and culture, and wanted to replace the weapons given to them by the Allied Forces. The sub-machine gun submissions by West German manufacturers, ERMA included, were passed by in favor of the Isreali Uzi. The decision was purely political and created financial hardships for the West German companies who had invested the financial backing and personnel necessary to compete for the contract. The financial impact on ERMA was fatal.

In 1961 Erma Werke was taken over by Fiberglide, a division of Lear-Sigler, who continued operations under the Erma Werke name. Geipel and his son left the company when it was taken over by Fiberglide.


Birth of the Erma Werke Model EM1 Training Rifle

 Between May 1945 and June 1949 West German police in the American Occupation Zone were provided with American handguns and and 18,966 U.S. M1 carbines. [OMGUS Civil Administration Division, Bad Nauheim, 08 Sep 1949, Semi-Annual German Police Personal & Equipment Report as of 30 Jun 1949]. More M1 and M2 carbines were provided to the newly formed West German Border police (Bundesgrenzpolizei) in 1952 and to the new West German Bundeswehr in 1956. Records of the U.S. Department of Defense Military Assistance Program maintained by the National Archives indicate 1950-1963 West Germany was provided with 34,192 U.S. M1 carbines. With the M1 carbines came a very large need for training the Germans how to use the American weapon.

The development and use of .22 caliber rifles constructed to operate and feel like a particular military weapon was fairly common in Europe during the 1900's. One example is a .22 caliber training rifle used by the Germans to train their troops for use of the Mauser K98 main battle rifle. Compared to the full size weapons, the training rifles and their ammunition were less expensive to produce, and helped newcomers to familiarize themselves with the weapons.

When Erma Werke was acquired by Fiberglide in 1961 plans were already underway for production of the EM1 Carbine look-a-like in .22 long rifle caliber for use as a training rifle. The EM1 was adopted for use in training by the Austrian Gendarmerie [U.S. Karabiner .30 M1 by Wolfdieter Hufnagl], who had obtained over 10,000 U.S. M1 carbines 1955-1957. How many EM1's were manufactured and used by the Austrian Gendarmerie is not known.

ERMA-Werke purchased surplus U.S. Army Ordnance tooling and machinery used during WWII to produce various parts for the U.S. M1 Carbines.


West Germany's Office of Bombardment: The Proof Marks

In Europe there have been laws regulating the inspection of weapons to ensure safety, for hundreds of years. During the war this was done by the German Waffenamt. The Waffenamt inspection marks ended with WWII. In 1952 West Germany established the Office of Bombardment, whose job it was to inspect various items for safety, including guns. West Germany established more than one facility for this purpose. The facility closest to Erma Werke of Dachau was in Munich.

The inspectors examine the weapons and stamp marks into the metal that indicate what type of gun powder the weapon was tested with, which Office of Bombardment conducted the test, and a two digit date code indicating the year it was inspected. These marks are proof the weapon was inspected and have come to be known as "proof marks" from the "proof house".

Because of parts being manufactured in quantity and stored for later use, the proof marks do not indicate the year any part was manufacturered, only the year the rifle was tested before being sold.

German Nitro Proof

Munich Proof


Proof marks located on top of receiver forward of bolt

Nitro powder proof on barrel, receiver, and bolt

Left to right: Nitro powder proof, Munich Office of Bombardment, 1967

The proof marks that appear on the Erma E M1 changed slightly over time. The changes will be shown below.


The ERMA-Werke E M1 .22 carbine goes Commercial

Many commercially available weapons were initially developed for, and used by, a country's military. Sometimes a civilian model is made available commercially, sometimes military contracts are canceled and manufacturers turn to the commercial market to keep from losing all the money and time it took to develop the weapon. Little information is known of the military use of the Erma Werke E M1 , this isn't the case with versions of the E M1 that were sold commercially.

In Europe in the mid to late 1960's ERMA-Werke introduced a sporterized version of the E M1, the EGMI Model 70. The stock had no sling hole, the front sight had an elevated single blade, and it is often found with a scope attached.


ERMA-Werke Model EGMI Model 70 introduced and sold in Europe

ERMA-Werke distributed all of their weapons sold commercially and overseas, from the start of commercial production until the end of their production, using Wischo Jagd und Sportwaffen GmbH & Company KG of Erlangen, located in Bavaria approximately 14 miles north of Nurnberg. A retired director of Wischo who was with the company many years, related Wischo started their relationship with ERMA-Werke about 1960 [private communication with this author courtesy of Robert Beeman Ph.D., Airgun Information Int'l]. Over the lifetime of Erma-Werke and their E M1, Wischo distributed worldwide several hundred thousand of the ERMA-Werke EM1 .22LR, and a .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire version, designated the Erma-Werke Model ESG 22.

One of their larger markets was France, but they also exported these two models to the Far East (Thailand, Pakistan, and others) and South America (Brazil, Ecuador, and others). One customer was a South American country whose military issued the ESG 22 to their troops that worked in dense jungle areas and called the rifle a "jungle carbine". The Wischo director indicated that all of Erma-Werke's rifles were manufactured at Erma's facility in Dachau, and the stocks for the various E M1 based models were supplied by Sile of Italy.


L.A. Distributors Brooklyn, New York 1967-1971

The American Rifleman March 1967 pp. 44-46 gives an overview of the "new" Erma M1-22 carbine. The article indicated the rifle was imported and distributed by L.A. Distributors 1983 W 10th St, Brooklyn, NY. On page 100 of the same issue LA Distributors has an ad for the same rifle they identify as the M22. The ad says "exclusively imported by LA Distributors".

SPECIFICATIONS

ERMA Model E M1
Caliber: .22 LR
Mechanism Type: Semi-automatic,
gas operated, straight blowback
Sights: rear sight adjustable for windage and elevation,
dovetailed for scope mount
Rifling: 6 grooves, right twist 1 turn in 18 1/2 inches
Barrel Length: 17 3/4 inches
Over-All Length: 35 3/8 inches
Capacity: 5, 10, or 15 round magazines
Weight: 5.9 lbs

Erma Werke never produced a detailed owner's manual for the E M1.
 Instead, they included a one page foldout showing the rifle specifications and a schematic of the parts.


Download the manual for the Erma-Werke Model E M1
(2.1MB .pdf)

The below E M1 is the earliest serial number and proof date found in the USA, so far.


Photo courtesy of Cameron Freeman
Serial number 00135 Mod E M1 22 ERMA-Werke Made in Germany

Photo courtesy of Cameron Freeman
Left to right: Nitro powder proof, Munich Office of Bombardment, 1966

In October 1968 U.S. Congress passed the 1968 Gun Control Act. Weapons imported into the United States thereafter were required to have the importer's name, city, and state stamped on the weapon. L.A. Distributors stamped this information on top of the receiver between the bolt and rear sight.

L.A. Distributors was owned by Louis Imperato (L). His son Anthony (A) has been actively involved with his father as a family business. The American Rifleman issue of September 2001 on page 76 has an article entitled Henry Repeating Arms. It details the history of Lou Imperato and his endeavors in various gun related businesses. Lou Imperato was interviewed for this article. Regarding L.A. Distributors, the article states Imperato started L.A. Distributors in the 1960's, importing various guns from Germany, Italy, and Spain selling them to wholesalers in the United States. The article states L.A. Distributors business ended with the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act.

The proof mark on the above E M1 stamped L.A. Distributors is 1969. The annual editions of Gun Digest and Shooter's Bible indicate L.A. Distributors imported the "M22" from 1967-1971. Lou Imperato's involvement with ERMA-Werke and the E M1 did not end with the demise of L.A. Distributors, as will be discussed below with Imperato and Iver Johnson's Arms.



RG Industries of Miami, Florida 1972-1975

Between 1972 and 1975 the M22/E M1 was imported to the United States by RG Industries of Miami, FL. RG Industries incorporated in Florida in October 1968 and imported various inexpensive weapons from Europe, including revolvers manufactured by Rohm. RG Industries also went by the name Rohm Tool Corp. and Union Tool Disc, with administrative offices in Miami and Panama City, Panama, under the name Union Tool Management Corporation. RG Industries and these other companies lasted into the 1980's, however, they dropped the Erma E M1 from their line of products sometime in 1975. No examples of the Erma E M1 imported by RG Industries have been located so far. They should be identifiable by the presence of RG's import mark which was probably located on the barrel.


Excam of Hialeah, Florida 1978-1985

Excam incorporated in Hialeah, FL in November 1974. Like RG Industries, they imported many inexpensive weapons from Europe. In 1978 they became ERMA-Werke's sole distributor for the Erma E M1. They placed their import mark on the right side of the barrel between the barrel band and front sight.

In 1978 Excam introduced Erma's Model ESG 22, the E M1 modified for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR).

SPECIFICATIONS

ERMA Model ESG 22
Caliber: .22 WMR
Mechanism Type: Semi-automatic,
gas operated, locking bolt
Sights: rear sight adjustable for windage and elevation,
dovetailed for scope mount
Rifling: right twist 1 turn in 16 1/2 inches
Barrel Length: 19 3/8 inches
Over-All Length: 37 1/8 inches
Capacity: 12 round magazine
Weight: 6.8 lbs


on the left side of the barrel, forward of the barrel band


The serial number on the .22 magnum's is located on the bottom of
the trigger housing, which is actually the lower half of the receiver

Excam dropped the Erma Werke rifles from their line sometime in 1985. The company filed for bankruptcy in November 1990.


Beeman Precision Firearms of Santa Rosa, California 1984-1985

In the early 1980's Beeman Precision Airguns expanded their line of products to include a number of high end rimfire and centerfire rifles from West Germany, becoming Beeman Precision Arms Incorporated. Their first catalog is dated Spring 1984 and includes four rimfire rifles manufactured by Erma Werke in Dachau, West Germany. Two of the rifles were lever action and pump action American Western style single shot rimfires. The other two rifles were the Erma E M1 in .22 LR and the ESG 22 in .22 WMR.

Beeman's owner, Robert Beeman PhD, indicated his company sold only one Erma E M1 and no Erma ESG 22's. The original intent of selling quality rifles Beeman imported from Europe changed before the Erma rifles became available. Beeman chose to focus on several specific rifles from Europe instead of a large varied quantity from many manufacturers. Dr. Beeman sold Beeman Precision Arms and retired in April 1993. He maintains his interest in air rifles and their history at Robert Beeman Ph.D., Airgun Information Int'l.


Beeman/Erma ESG .22 WMR s/n X2814 (top) and Beeman/Erma E M1 Carbine .22 LR s/n X2810 (bottom)


Iver Johnson's Arms of Jacksonville, Arkansas 1986-1987, 1989

Louis Imperato ( L.A. Distributors) purchased Iver Johnson Arm's in 1973 and about 1975 moved the company into the M1 carbine production facility of Plainfield Machine Co. in Middlesex, New Jersey, which he had also purchased. Plainfield machine ceased to exist and .30 caliber carbines were manufactured and sold under the Iver Johnson's name. In 1980 Imperato sold Iver Johnson's, the new owners relocated Iver Johnson's to Jacksonville, Arkansas. In 1985 the owners declared bankruptcy and Iver Johnson's once again passed into the hands of Louis Imperato, who kept the company in it's facility in Jacksonville, AR.


Iver Johnson Model EW.22HBA new in the box

In 1986 Iver Johnson's Arms introduced the Model EW.22HBA in .22 LR (the E M1 with a longer barrel) and the EW .22MHBA in .22 WMR (an ESG 22). Both of these rifles were manufactured by Erma Werke in Dachau, West Germany for Iver Johnson. The Iver Johnson name replaced the name of Erma Werke on the left side of the receiver. "Made in West Germany" was placed on the right side of the receiver, the Iver Johnson owl trademark was added to the top of the receiver near the proof marks, and the Iver Johnson's import mark was located on the right side of the barrel.


Erma Werke logo left of serial number

Iver Johnson import mark on right side of barrel
   

West German proof marks
Iver Johnson logo
top of receiver forward of bolt

Download the manual for the Iver Johnson Model EW .22HBA
-ERMA Werke Model E M1-
(1.41MB .pdf)

SPECIFICATIONS

Iver Johnson Model EW.22HBA
Caliber: .22 LR
Mechanism Type: Semi-automatic,
gas operated, straight blowback
Sights: rear sight adjustable for windage and elevation,
dovetailed for scope mount
Rifling: 6 grooves, right twist 1 turn in 18 1/2 inches
Barrel Length: 18 1/2 inches
Over-All Length: 38 inches
Capacity: 5, 10, or 15 round magazines
Weight: 5.8 lbs

Iver Johnson's dropped the Erma Werke rifles from their line in 1989 when they were taken over by American Military Arms Corporation (AMAC). AMAC produced .30 caliber M1 carbines under the Iver Johnson name and later the AMAC name.

... Continued: Part II: 1990-2000+

Directory of Pages
(with links)

History, Importers, Markings Function Animations Cleaning & Disassembly
Part I: 1945-1990    
Part II: 1990-2000+ Parts & Diagrams Reassembly