Oktoberfest typically begins in mid-September and ends on the first Sunday of October, and while we here at Guns.com are perpetually short on good beer, we do know a bit about German guns and how they fit into American History.

German guns have always been a hit on this side of the pond. After all, America's first and possibly most important early firearm, the Pennsylvania Long Rifle, is often credited as originating in the shop of German immigrants to the New World, predating the Declaration of Independence by seven decades.

Speaking of the "Spirit of '76," George Washington's drillmaster and the author of the Continental Army's first field manual was one Baron von Steuben, who helped mold the nascent country's volunteers into European-style infantry of the day, even if they had to settle for French and British muskets most of the time. 

The Civil War saw the rapidly expanding Union Army seek out guns from around the world and no less than 81,652 smoothbore muskets-- and some rifles-- were bought from German states such as Prussia. These guns often just called "Potsdam muskets" by collectors due to the arsenal stamps on the barrels, varied widely in make and model but saw extensive service.

This Civil War-era tintype shows Union soldiers with Prussian 1809 pattern flintlock muskets that have been converted to percussion. Also note the Colt pattern revolver, an all-American product. (Photo: Library of Congress) 

One of the most wildly popular outdoor sports of the late 19th Century was offhand "schuetzen" matches, based on Central European long-range shooting competitions with highly-specialized rifles that long predated today's Precision Rifle Series matches in terms of equipment and spirit.

After the War Between the States, Springfield Armory resumed the more or less singular job of designing and producing rifles for the Army, which included a licensed Krag-Jorgensen pattern from Scandinavia, followed by using unlicensed elements of Mauser's bolt-action rifles and stripper clips for the M1903-- the latter of which resulted in a patent uproar and resulting royalties to the German company.

The M1903 Springfield, which had a length run of service that included both World Wars, had a sauerkraut connection

It wouldn't be the last time the U.S. Army borrowed from a German small arms design, as the M60 GPMG of Vietnam Animal Mother fame was in many ways an updated copy of the German MG42. 

At roughly the same time as the M1903 was fielded, sales of the DWM-made German Luger, and its predecessors the assorted Bergmann, "Broomhandle" C96 Mauser, and toggle-locked Borchardt C-93 pistols, were popular with American consumers, making both something of an unusual sight in Old Western photos and movies based in that era. The U.S. Army even trialed the Luger in 1901, buying 1,000 of them for testing long before the Kaiser adopted them. 

The man in the center is notably author and outdoorsman Horace Sowers Kephart, shown in 1906 with his Luger while the seated man is legendary Texas Ranger Captain John H. Rogers. (Photos: Western Carolina University/Presidio County Museum)

Post-WWI, influxes of war trophy souvenirs and cheap military surplus Lugers, Mausers, and Walthers swept from coast-to-coast.

Post-WWII, a second tide flowed in with different arsenal marks.

In between, American consumers bought other German-made imports such as superb rifles from Anschütz, J.P. Sauer & Sohn, Ziegenhahn-Diem, and Heym along with short-lived Ortigies pistols, to our shores. 

During the Cold War, West German-based firearms companies like the newly-formed Heckler & Koch and Sig Sauer as well as a reborn Haenel, Walther, and Mauser, appeared on the scene.

Perhaps you have heard of a little company called HK?

These were later joined by newcomers like Blaser, Korth, Janz and Peters Stahl. Later, brands such as Docter, Schmeisser, and Umarex were added to the mix.

Who doesn't love a Korth?

While the current left government in Berlin is increasingly anti-gun, odds are you will continue to still see new German-made firearms, optics, and accessories headed to America for generations to come. 

So with that, be sure the next time you enjoy a beer and brat, or hear the thump of a good oompah band, raise a quiet toast to German guns, which are often more a part of Americana than you think. 

Banner photo: Pixabay.

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