History of the Long Side Rail

After several attempts to make the Short Side Rail successful it was finally abandoned and a better side mounting system was sought after. In 1943 a good solution was found. It is believed that J.P. Sauer und Sohn was the primary developer of the Long Side Rail. It was found that by thickening the side wall on a receiver a better scope base connection could be achieved. This system was accepted and produced as early as 1943. However, the majority of examples were made in late 1944 and early 1945 on bcd marked receivers supplied by Astrawerke. The LSR was a successful sniping system and would be produced by J.P. Sauer and Gustloff-Werke.

 

1943 dated ce rifles with a thickened side wall can be found but most of these were never converted to scoped rifles. Some 1944 dated ce rifles have been reported but it was not until mid to late 1944 that the Long Side Rail was produced in significant numbers. By this time Sauer was using Astrawerke supplied receivers to build Long Side Rail snipers. Astrawerke AG was the primary firm supplying Gustloff-Werke with receivers and other small parts. As a result, most Sauer assembled Long Side Rails will be built on a blued bcd receiver. The presence of a e/37 on the receiver also designates Sauer as the assembler. These Sauer assembled LSR rifles start to show up around the u block of 1944 production. In late 1944 Sauer stopped production of the K98k all together and transferred the LSR program to Gustloff. When this occurred there was most likely a short period of time when both Sauer and Gustloff were producing the LSR. By the end of 1944, Gustloff was the only manufacturer of the Long Side Rail and continued to produce them until early 1945. Production of these Gustloff made rifles started around the mid-30,000 serial number range. Gustloff was able to produce a larger number of Long Side Rails then Sauer and are therefore the more commonly seen examples in collecting. These rifles will have a phosphate bcd/4 or bcd/45 marked receiver.

 

All authentic LSR base and scope mounts have a e/359 present. This has lead to the believe that Walther made them. However, it is possible they were manufactured by Hermann Weihrauch, Zella-Mehlis. Hermann Weihrauch was located in Zella-Mehlis as was Walther. Being the two firms are in the same area, they would have used the same waffenamt and given that Herman Weihrauch manufactured the short side rails, this is a possibility. There was also a special safety designed to be used on the LSR known as a key safety. LSR sniper rifles are the only war time sniper rifle that these key safeties will only be found on. Sauer primarily used a shortened safety but key safeties have been observed on later rifles. Gustloff made extensive use of the key safety, as all authentic examples have one. As a result of the LSR being produced late enough in 1944, many authentic examples will have a checkered butt plate. However, smooth butt plates have been observed on some Sauer examples.

Collecting the Long Side Rail Sniper

As a result of the thicker receiver, the Long Side Rail is one of the easiest German snipers to authenticate. Every original LSR will make use of a thickened side wall receiver. As mentioned above, Sauer and Gustloff were the only producers, any other code found is an out right fake. There are several features that distinguish an LSR as authentic sniper. The most obvious will be the presence of a thickened side wall receiver. Sauer assembled rifles will have a blued receiver with a lower case L on the right side above the wood line signify a Astrawerke receiver. Since the LSR was produced late enough in 1944 almost all will have a checkered butt plate. Sauer primarily used a shortened safety to allow clearance of the scope with a small number of later rifles getting a key safety. Gustloff seems to have always used the larger key safety. The presence of the scope base required that the side of the stock to be cut.

 

There were several scopes used on the LSR. The CAD (Kahles), AJACK, bmj Dialytan, dkl Dialytan, bek Dialytan, dow center focus and Zeiss Zielsechs can all be found. In addition, three ring types were used. The first type was a machined ring mount. This was a solid ring with screws and was used in conjunction with the dow scope. Later a narrow banded mount similar to the G/K43 scope mount replaced the machine ring mounts. The third mount used a wide band. This was developed to improve the narrow bands and to not allow the scope to move during firing.

 

With the use of these banded mounts it required that scopes have a recoil ring. With the exception of the dow machined ring scopes all LSR scope will have a recoil ring added to the scope body to reduce scope movement during firing. There was a dow scope made with a recoil ring to be used on banded mounts and can be found on Gustloff rifles. Other mounting systems did not make use of scopes with recoil rings making this a unique feature to the LSR.

 

The Long Side Rail was a good mounting system. It was reliable and easy to produce. They are very popular among collectors today for their ease of authentication.

Example of a 1944 Sauer LSR

This rifle has a machine ringed mount with a dow scope as commonly seen on Sauer assembled LSR rifles.

Blued bcd receiver supplied by Astrawerke.

(Right) Matching bolt assembly showing the shortened safety used.

e/l from Astrawerke

e/37 a Sauer inspection

This e/359 stamp is found on all LSR base and  mounts. This particular example is marked upside down. Typically they are right side up.

(Right) Example of a dow scoped as used on a banded mount.

Example of a 1944 Gustloff LSR

A bek scope sits atop this LSR. bek is one of the more commonly seen scopes on Gustloff rifles.

(Right) Phosphate bcd marked receiver used on all Gustloff assembled LSR rifles.

(Left) The matching bolt assembly is shown here with the key safety . Key safeties will only be seen on Long Side Rail snipers.

(Below) Close up view of the numbered matching mount. Sometime post war the locking lever was removed.

Example of a 1944 Gustloff LSR

(Above and left) An all matching Long Side Rail fitted with a dow scope. These late dow scopes found on Gustloff rifles differ from the examples used in earlier Sauer and SS double claw production. Notice the size difference of the objective and ocular.

(Above) Note the rear band is blued while the front band is phosphate. Near the end of production Gustloff was using a variety of parts.

(Left) Despite the receiver being marked bcd4 this Long Side Rail was likely assembled in 1945. To date all original Gustloff LSR rifles were assembled using blued scope bases.

Three Hole Rifles

When the Gustloff factory was captured in 1945 there were several Long Side Rails waiting to be completed. These rifles will have all the same attributes as a normal LSR except no base and scope were installed. In addition the side wall of the receiver will be drilled for the the three screws but not the two retaining pins, hence the name collectors have given them, Three Hole Rifles. Be warned that many of these rifles have been "completed" post war to make a Long Side Rail sniper rifle. Three hole rifles are very collectible in their own right and less common then actual Long Side Rails.

(Right) Picture of two long side rail scopes. The top scope mount has a phosphate bek scope with narrow bands. The bottom scope has a dkl scope with wide bands.