Denmark’s m/75: A Lease-to-Own Rifle

Denmark’s adoption of the H&K G3 is a rather odd story. First off, the Danes adopted the m/66 H&K as its sniper/DMR rifle in 1966, while retaining the M1 Garand as its standard service rifle. Not until 1973 do they decide to update the M1s, and when they do a. major rifle test, the M16 wins. However, they aren’t really excited about the prospect of adopting the M16, so they delay the decision for two years and then decide to simply lease rifles from the Bundeswehr. The Home Guard has already been using the G3 as a sniper’s rifle for nearly a decade, so they might as well use the same platform…and so what the Danish military gets are generally the oldest, earliest G3s in West German inventory on loan. These would remain in service (albeit with periodic rebuilds as needed) until 1995, when they are replaced by the Diemaco C7.


  1. My Danish cousin was in the reserves when I visited in 1977. I was surprised at the time that in a closet he had his full field kit including a HK G3 and a few thousand rounds of ammunition in his hall closet.

  2. Well, that’s something I didn’t know…

    The Germans must have looked at the deal as a Lend-Lease situation meant to shore up and modernize their poor Northern neighbors, presuming the Danes got a good deal out of it.

    You really have to wonder, sometimes… Why didn’t they shore up local industry by at least having Madsen do a co-production/maintenance agreement with HK? Seems as though an indigenous source of key infantry weapons would be something to keep around, ya know?

    I really did not realize that the Danes kept the M1 as standard that late. I wonder why they didn’t convert the caliber to 7.62 NATO by that point, or go with the Italian BM-59 series of upgrades. If they were going to go to that extent, and they already had the agreements with Breda and Beretta, why not take the next incremental step? Plus that, the half-ass nature of the switch to the G3, a totally different weapon…? WTF?

    There has to be some interesting information buried in the Danish archives on this issue. Sometimes the best part of the story is in what didn’t happen, and why…

    • Well, in most cases a government is more than its military. If you’re surrounded by Allies, protected by treaties, and not expecting a major infantry war in lieu of simple nuclear holocaust, you may as well put your tax revenue into the standard of living of your citizens — infrastructure, public transit, diverting your potential criminals into productive legal employment, maybe expanding your industry and trade base, and of course education. In the 70s I attended college with a young Danish woman who had studied three languages — English, German, and French — in grade school! The Danes are international citizens, and have prospered therefrom. What if Bulgaria or Albania had been able to do the same?

    • Perhaps oddly, there was, in fact, a Madsen/ Dansk Industri Syndikat 7.62x51mm automatic rifle, select-fire, that used a long-stroke pistol like the Garand or Kalashnikov, and a 20-rd. box magazine. I have it that it used aluminum to keep the weight down, but still tipped the scales at 10.2-lbs. before it was loaded… Probably as much of a beast as the G3, no?

  3. I am afraid the reason for changing the configuration of the cocking handle tube is not as explained in the video. (I will use the shorter German term Laderohr).
    The accuracy problems with hot weapons were caused by the “press fit” of the Laderohr into the front sight carrier, which is actually a part of the barrel assembly.
    The change was
    a) To significantly reduce the front end diameter of the Laderohr. The resulting radial gap was large enough to prevent any physical contact between Laderohr and the front sight carrier.
    b) Instead of the handguard pin simply passing through the gap between Laderohr and barrel, a pin holding sleeve was added to the Laderohr. This ensured the hand guard was held in place by the Laderohr alone(!) and had no contact at all with the barrel.

    As a result, the barrel can vibrate freely and all the G3A3s have an additional “FS” (Freischwingend) marking to indicate this change.

  4. I have to wonder if the BM59 was part of the trials?

    “we can come in, take the garands you already have, do a little nip here, a tuck there, add a magazine, and you get a good rifle you already mostly know how to use and fix, at far lower costs than all the other guys…”

    • The conversion would have been a smart move in the early ’60s, but in mid ’70s many of the Danish M1 rifles would have been also pretty worn out. Denmark never manufactured them, so the conversion had to be outsourced, or Danish factories had to tool up to convert them.
      probably a short term leasing (surely they didn’t plan to use the G3 for 20 years), waiting for the .223 Rem to become NATO standard, was seen as more convenient.

  5. This is really an incredible story… So Denmark in Nato is getting the äldere G-3s from the Bundeswehr while the Bundesrepublik/ W. Germans and Hochler u. Keck are selling the tooling to build the more modern rifles to Portugal’s Fabrica Braço de Prata, to the Shah of Shah’s Iran, to Sweden intent on building the AK4, and as the price for letting the GSG-9 Bundesgrenzchütz commandos storm the PFLP and Rote Armee Fraktion-held-hostage Lufthansa jetliner in Mogadishu 1977, providing metric craptons of G-3s to Siad Barre’s ex-Marxist-Leninist Somalia so he can bring war to his clan’s old haunts in the Ogaden in E. Ethiopia…?

    As for the age of a) Beretta-mfr. M1 Garands in Danish service, and b) the G-3s from the BRD, I can readily appreciate why the Danish Nato troops really appreciated the Diemaco C-7 version of the M16 with Elcan sights! Truth really is stranger than fiction.

    Remember when all of the biker gangs in Denmark were looting Gladio “stay-behind” resistance network armories and using Nato weapons–even AT rockets–to settle scores? “What has happened to our happy little nation where we can’t cache machine guns and explosives for use in future unimaginable scenarios?” was the cry! Maybe this is the basis somehow of survivalism, and now “prepper” culture in North America?

    • Isnt “Gladio” BS most connected to Italy ?
      From what I gleaned about it, sounds like media sensationalist story with insane metaphysical stuff thrown in, like some masonic lodges and similar insane conspiracy theory elements

      • There were sponsored “stay-behind” elements all across NATO countries, and I suspect we only know about half of what there was, if that.

        Not to mention the Finns, the Swedes… Pretty much anyone looking at a Soviet invasion force.

        Made friends with a German Wallmeister once upon a time… We used to do mutual inspections with them for prepositioned demolition “objects” in our GDP area. Fun times… You got to go out into the countryside, and wander around checking locks and inventorying the bunkers with the pre-po stuff in them. You’d get a set of map coordinates from the S2 shop, along with target folders, and go out into the great beyond, linking up with the German Wallmeister team that was responsible for that sector.

        Now, this was well before GPS and other navigational aids… It was strictly up to you, your map, and the odometer on your vehicle to find the right locations. Once upon a time, we were doing checks on our sector, the Wallmeister team got called off for some admin BS, and we did lunch in a small German town, agreeing to link up after lunch to finish the day’s work.

        Our meetup was supposed to be at 13:30. We found the bunker, and we’re waiting… And, waiting… And… Still more waiting. Figure something was up, tried our keys, then noticed that they didn’t work. WTF? Was this the right bunker, even? As we’re figuring that out, up comes the Wallmeister team in their little VW bus (tricked out with secret compartments for all sorts of HK goodness, BTW…), and we’re informed that we’re at the wrong place, the actual bunker we’re inventorying is over in the next valley that looks freakin’ identical to this one, on the map… The actual road we’d wanted to get on was overgrown, and… Yeah. Nav error in the “olde dayes”, when you were basically playing “Terrain Clue”.

        Anyhoo, we’re looking at the bunker, looking at the Wallmeiester team, and going “Well, WTF? If this isn’t our bunker, then what obstacle does this one go with? I’m not seeing any on the map…”

        They basically shuffled us off without saying anything in front of the troops I had with me for the inventory (counting cheese charges ain’t a one-man job…), and after the fact, I’m informed that we didn’t really find another bunker… IfyaknowwhatImean,andIthinkyoudo… Cue winks and much stomping of feet.

        Talked to my S2 about that, because it was… Disturbing. He laughed, and said “Yeah, best you forget about that, and any other little hidden secrets you find out there… They’re for the “special people”, not us…” Couldn’t get any more out of him, other than “Forget you ever saw that site…”

        Years later, I ran into this guy on another assignment, after the Berlin Wall came down. Asked him “WTF did you mean by that?”, and got told that those “extra bunkers” out there were meant for the stay-behind types to go out and grab their gear when the balloon went up… They weren’t supposed to keep their stuff at home, and so when war came, go empty the bunker, disperse it on their own to previously unknown sites, and… Wait. They figured there’d be enough time to get the stuff, get it hidden, and be ready before the Soviets got there. Leaving it unsecured and hidden wasn’t seen as a good idea, which was why the Germans had so few of these things show up after the Cold War ended. They were out there, they just didn’t handle it the way the Italians did…

        Or, so I was told. I suspect there was a whole lot of fabulation going on about those things during those times… Although, there were all those welded-shut steel doors in the basements of our Nazi-era barracks buildings that supposedly led off into hidden bunker complexes filled with booby-traps. Friend of mine fell into an old Nazi-era munitions dump up at Wildflecken when he went to do what bears do in the woods… Spent most of a day and a night before they found him, got EOD up there, and cleared the site. Seems those woods were “off limits” on the maps for a good ‘effing reason…

          • Yeah, that looks about right…

            Some of those rural towns the Germans withdrew through were lawless for long enough and the locals paranoid enough that they treated the abandoned weapons about like they did their volunteer fire brigade. They kept the weapons somewhere out of the way, unmentioned to central authorities, and just quietly maintained them.

            I was friends with a guy whose family was from up near the Austrian/Yugoslav border back during the Cold War. His mom married a GI, who was Italian, and when he joined the Army, he got himself assigned to Vicenza and the Airborne unit there. Went up to visit all of his extended family up there where his mom was from, and the stories he had… Went to some sort of village celebration when he got up there, they got him tanked up, and took him to see their “secret”. Which turned out to be a cave about like Ali Baba’s, in terms of WWII and later “stuff”. The family and village had traditions of serving in the Alpini, and had invested considerable time in stocking and maintaining the “village arsenal”. His estimate was that they had enough small arms and so forth to put a decently-armed infantry battalion into the field… Precisely none of which was under the control of any Italian government authorities. All of it appeared to be professionally maintained and preserved, ohbytheway…

            Lots of people “doing for themselves” in the hinterlands of the various European countries. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find out that the actual level of citizen armament was a hell of a lot higher than any of the various numpty governments can even conceive. The locals have been quietly filtering stuff out of the arsenals for generations, along with all the wartime looting they did. From what I understand, there was a fairly popular quid-pro-quo with the Wehrmacht when they withdrew… They left their weapons, they lived. The SS just got slaughtered out of hand… Still kept the weapons, though.

            I’d wager long odds that much of the rural areas of Northern Italy, Slovenia, and southern Austria have communities that stockpiled whatever they could lay their hands on, and kept it.

          • This looks like an “arsenal” privately collected here and there by the arrested guys in photos (some of the stuff looks dug up, like corroded grenades), not something thats been cached for 70 years.

        • This quote is where I have a problem with said concept; “and I suspect we only know about half of what there was, if that.”,
          thats too much of a mystifying to scientifically review the said historical phenomenon, and thatis where conspiracy theories and sensationalist added on stuff festers. So, its hard to say if whole affair was downplayed, or overblown

          • How you’d go about doing a “scientific survey” of these things would be more than a bit problematic… I could see a lot of the surveyors going missing, after having asked a few too many penetrating questions.

            The occasional appearance of these caches would tend to suggest that there are probably a lot more out there, but how many? There’s really no way of telling, with any accuracy.

            However, I do think that the optimistic “state view” that there are not that many of these caches might, just might… Be a trifle optimistic. The JNA tried grabbing all the official arsenals when Slovenia said “Yeah, about that federal government thing, with the Serbs running it…? Forget about it…” It notably did not work, and the anecdotes I’ve heard about that have included an awful lot of weapons showing up to defend those local defense force arsenals that weren’t “on the books”, ever. That included stuff diverted from JNA stocks, and things going a lot further back, particularly the machineguns.

            Not like anyone really did a thorough and accurate census on the matter, either. Supposedly, there were JNA armored vehicles that were never accounted for, afterwards… Went into the scrapyard? Maybe. Someone’s cave? Just as possible, I suppose. That part of the world is filled with limestone karst caves, and old mines, something that the various invaders down the centuries have had cause to rue…

          • If you are referring to 10 days war in Slovenia, it was more of a nuisance then a full blown war, JNA simply did not have had enough young conscripts (on training, they used them as footsoldiers) and no local serb population areas to ground itself into. They made a strategic mistake of basing the most of the army on young conscripts (19,20 y. old) on one side and career communist officers on the other, as every MF wanted to be an well respected perks galore officer, not a mere grunt. JNA was like a state within a state, unofficial 7th yugo. republic.
            Iirc, Slovenias Territorial Defence actually managed to secure 1/3 of its weapons (in Croatia they were all mostly confiscated in 1990/91), plus bordering directly Austria and Italy, you could more easily buy privately small arms there (also smuggle), as it was a time when having any kind of a firearm could mean a huge difference, as there were more wannabee fighters then arms.
            Some austrian border shops made top money in selling firearms, often pistols (as well as in 1990. general goods that Yugoslavian market lacked, it was a time of so called “duty free shops”, where you could buy everything technical like VHS, TVs, etc. without huge import fees, connected to monetary reform that tied yugo dinar to deutschemark 1:1, and suddenly everybody had huge salaries – some wisecracks ironically later commented that it was a ploy to have people enjoy a little before imminent all-around slaughter). But it did not last long, as soon trecherous UN put an arms embargo on all of former Yugoslavian states and imports of black market arms prices skyrocketed.

  6. Pedantic quibble/query: Wasn’t Greece the last Nato member state to use the M-1 Garand, at least for conscripts?

    • If I remember correctly, and I’m not saying that I do, the M1s were reserve weapons for non-combat troops, like site guards and so forth. Not necessarily conscripts, because you wouldn’t want to train them on second-line weapons and then have the balloon go up, then hand them the “good stuff”. I do think they did training on all of the weapons, though, so they’d be familiar with them if handed such during reserve call-ups. Could be wrong, on that… Maybe a former Greek Army reader could clue us in?

      I do know that the Garand was second- or third-line reserve in a lot of countries, right up into the 1980s.

      You’d really be surprised at what was and likely still is in those reserve storage sites. We went out looking for stuff at a German one, once upon a time, and due to a paperwork mishap, had to go opening bunkers that I swear hadn’t been touched since before WWII ended. There was stuff in those things that would blow your mind, and the guys managing those sites just would sigh heavily and make notes “Gotta get someone out here… Teller mines, Panzerfausts, and crates of God knows what else…”

      We found one that the little old man going around with us to open things up said had been set up to issue weapons to a school unit going out to fight the American unit coming from the West, but that they’d been overrun before they could march out to get the munitions… And, apparently, in the confusion, the entire site had just been shut down, and nobody bothered to go in and clean up for some fifty-odd years. The West Germans were still having to deal with things like that into the ’90s, when they inherited everything in East Germany to go with it. EOD and munitions disposal was a growth industry, in that era.

      • There is one problem, with war in Ukraine going on, basicly lot of european old ammo stockpiles are being depleted, so many european countries that voluntarily ship their old caches there, risk in coming years to be bankrupt in that account. Which is – not good.

        • That arms cache in Rimini is interesting. A whole lot of it is WWII, unsurprisingly, perhaps? But then there’s the (Albanian? Chinese/Albanian?) Kalashnikov and the Czechoslovak VZ58 “broom” and so on… Not the same as some old partigiani cache or Gladio-type “stay behind” from Italy’s “years of lead.”

          The Gendarmes in France just busted 88-year old Alain Delon, the actor perhaps most famous for Le Samouraï (1967). Poor old dude had 72 firearms in his possession, none of them with the appropriate permit-license-urine-sample-fingerprint-card-retinal-scan-DNA-swab-functionary-signatures-in-triplicate… Good for him! Obviously, when we get up in years and approach our dotage, our minds may go, and it might be dangerous for us to possess arms. I am glad that he had his collection for as long as he apparently did.

          • I’ve commented it above, but maybe it got lost in the weird reply order,
            Rimini “cache” (or collection) looks like classic black market/smugglers stuff, collected from who knows where and when.
            Seeing that Italy is not directly bordered by USSR, its not easy to justify supposedly planting all these apocalyptical caches (like their army would instantly capitulate and went into partisan/guerilla hiding). I’m sure if things went downhill, there would be still enough time to distribute all this stuff around Italy during the war; its not like soviets would suddenly airdrop appear everywhere like some Red Dawn stuff.

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