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A carbine is a short-barreled rifle . Originally, a carbine was a light military rifle that had a shorter barrel than the infantry rifle and was used by the cavalry . The term is only vaguely defined in the weapons sector.


The term carbine comes from the 17th century and is borrowed from the French carabine "Reiterflinte", also "small crossbow", derivation from carabin "light rider".


A precise definition and assignment of different rifles is difficult and is not generally possible due to different manufacturer information, technical descriptions, military tenders and so on. Among other things, the German weapons law defines carbines as long weapons .

Spencer bolt action carabiner, model 1865
American M1 Carbine (1942-1960)
Mauser C96 carbine
American M4 carbine with KAC handguard and M68 CCO visor (since 1994)
Colt Roots carabiner, ring over the trigger guard

If a military rifle (length approx. 140 cm) was called an infantry rifle, its short-barreled version (total length approx. 100 cm) was considered a carbine. Further developments in the direction of mobility and handling on horseback led to the rider or short carabiner, the length of which was around 90 cm. Further shortening through foldable, foldable, pivotable or collapsible rear shafts or buttocks are common in modern versions of the carabiners. Weapons developed in this way have a total length of around 50 centimeters or a little more. The demarcation of modern carabiners, such as. B. the US-American M4 carbine (approx. 75-84 cm), which is also often referred to as an assault rifle , to larger submachine guns with longer barrels, such as. B. the Thompson MP (approx. 85 cm), or short assault rifles, such as. B. the French FAMAS assault rifle (approx. 76 cm) is difficult.

The ammunition used only increases the definition blurriness. Carabiners originally used the ammunition of the infantry rifles from which they were developed, later there were separate developments in lighter calibers. In particular, many lever action rifles used handgun cartridges . In 2004 Carl Walther Sportwaffen released a carbine version of the Walther P99 .

Modern carbines largely use the so-called middle cartridge or newer developments of smaller calibers. Assault rifles originally used cartridges in the caliber of infantry rifles and the middle cartridge, today smaller rifle calibers are used in these developments. Submachine guns originally used pistol ammunition, and smaller rifle calibers are also often used today.

In certain cases, infantry rifles were converted into carbines by shortening the barrel and adjusting the stocks. This was partly to do with restrictions in the peace treaties after the First World War.

In the past, weapons based on pistols, so-called "pistol carbines", which also fired pistol ammunition, were developed as carbines. The Mauser C96 , Borchardt C93 and Pistole 08 had carbine versions with fixed or removable shafts and long barrels.


Carabiners were originally developed for cavalry and horse troops (example field artillery ), as the longer infantry rifles were too unwieldy when used on horseback. Carabiners often had a ring on the left, between the shaft and butt; With this the weapon could be attached to the snap hook attached to the bandolier or saddle .

The basic division of military rifles into infantry rifles (including the rifled rifle) and carbines remained in effect until the First World War . In addition to the normal infantry rifles and carbines, there are short rifles and short carbines (for equipping mountain or paratroopers, for example).

After the First World War, the distinction becomes more difficult. Austria changed due to the Treaty of St. Germain the gun Mannlicher M1895 for carbine Model 1895 , which was converted in the 1930s still on the new cartridge 8 x 56 R. In order to circumvent the provisions of the Versailles Peace Treaty in 1923, the Reichswehr also introduced a slightly modified rifle 98 as a carbine 98b with a total length of 1250 mm. In order to still pass through as a carabiner, the curved bolt handle was used and side strap holders were attached. Many G98s have been converted to 98b carbines .

The 98k carbine , which was created in 1934 from the German Gewehr 98, is less of a real carbine than a universal rifle due to its total length of 1110 mm, such as the Lee-Enfield No.4 (1129 mm) or the Springfield M1903 (1055 mm) . Was still called the carbine 98k as carabiners, has probably the reason that Adolf Hitler the carabiner 98AZ praised repeatedly, with which he had himself been equipped during the First World War. Mauser hoped that the Karabiner 98k would be accepted more quickly by the German Army Command.

Lighter calibers and shorter carbines were nevertheless developed further, so the M1 Carbine , a self-loading rifle with cartridge size .30 M1, was introduced for the US Army in 1942 . Modern carbines such as the American M4 carbines have a very short overall length (the M4 approx. 75–84 cm), and it is difficult to distinguish it from an assault rifle .

With the development of order rifle shooting by various sports associations, historical carbines are now of great importance as sports and collectors' weapons. In many cases, existing military weapons were also converted into hunting rifles.

See also


  • Hans Dammerhuber: SA and SS shooting book for Gewehr 98 or carbine with description of the Gewehr 98 and side rifle . Self-published, Munich 1933, DNB  576372951 .
  • Luc Guillou: Development and utilization of the Mauser system en Allemagne de 1871 à nos jours . In: Mauser. Fusils et carabines militaires . tape 1 . Édition du Portail, La Tour-du-Pin 1997, ISBN 2-86551-032-8 .
  • AE Hartink: Rifle Encyclopedia. Cans from all over the world . Edition Dörfler in Nebel-Verlag, Eggolsheim 2003, ISBN 3-89555-110-4 .
  • Wolfdieter Hufnagl: US carbine .30 M1. Weapon and accessories . Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-613-01635-4 .
  • Nikolaus Krivinyi: Light Infantry Weapons . Pistols and revolvers, submachine guns, rifles, carbines and sniper rifles, automatic rifles and machine carbines, machine guns, anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft tubes, ammunition, close-range and night combat equipment . Ueberreuter, Vienna 1974, DNB  202185249 .
  • Stefan Papp, jr .: With carbine and saber. The Potomac Army Cavalry Corps in the US Civil War . Verlag for American Studies, Wyk auf Föhr 1995, ISBN 3-89510-023-4 (two volumes).
  • Dieter Storz : Gun & Karabiner 98. The firearms 98 of the German Reichsheer from 1898 to 1918 (= catalogs of the Bavarian Army Museum Ingolstadt . Vol. 4). Verlag Militaria, Vienna 2006, ISBN 978-3-902526-04-5 .
  • Albrecht Wacker: The system Adalbert - The carbine 98K . VS-Books, Herne 2008, ISBN 978-3-932077-21-0 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. General Military Encyclopedia , 1861, Leipzig. P. 114
  2. ^ Hans-Dieter Götz: The German military rifles and machine guns 1871-1945 . 3. Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-87943-350-X .
  3. Niel Grant: Weapon Volume 39 Mauser Military Rifles . 1st edition. Osprey Publishing, Oxford 2015, ISBN 978-1-4728-0594-2 (English).
  4. ^ Hans-Dieter Götz: The German military rifles and machine guns 1871-1945 . 3. Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart, ISBN 3-87943-350-X , p. 162 .