Sterilized East German MPi-KM from the Balkans

Kalashnikov enthusiasts and parts kid builders in the United States have long known about the “sterilized” East German (GDR/DDR-German Democratic Republic/Deutschland Demokratische Republik) MPi-KM kits coming in from the Balkan states. These kits have been imported into the United States for a number of years, sometimes diminishing or increasing in supply so they certainly aren’t rare or unavailable by any means. However, compared to more common kit builds with non-sanitized factory markings, these ones are harder to come by and usually aren’t advertised much. The issue of not having serialized components as per ATF doesn’t exist because to the ATF these are nothing but pieces of metal. The serialized component is when the actual receiver is produced and is turned into a firearm by incorporating the parts kits, thus manufacturing one.

Specifically, what is common to all these MPi-KMs is that they have their serial numbers dremel-ed out on both the trunnion and the bolt heads. Usually, the work is somewhat rough, and it was obviously done with a hand dremel. However, the DDR factory markings are still present, both on the inside of the trunnion and on the bolt head. The examples TFB photographed are from the Apex Gun parts warehouse facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado (of which they were so kind to give TFB a personal tour of), from a recent shipment of MPi-KM parts kits from a surplus dealer in the Balkan states. You can purchase the entire kit for $499 on their website.

Notice the factory markings left that would have been underneath the rear sight block.

Although not factory, this armory marking is neat.

As you can tell by the condition of the kits, these rifles were almost NiB in condition when they were imported into the United States and chopped up.

Also, you can see a promotional video that Apex recently put together, taking a look at these same kits-

The question we want to answer about this sterilization is why? The break up of Yugoslavia and ensuing conflict, very similar to today’s conflict in Syria saw an enormous diversity in the trade and manufacture of small arms, going in and going out of the conflict zones as all the various armed groups tried to get ahold of weapons to arm themselves with. Sterilization almost entirely is done to allow plausible deniability to the presence of a country’s small arms in another location. China in particular made entire batches of small arms with dedicated markings such as M21 on SKS’s, complete with actual serial numbers. These were fed into Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos during the Vietnam War. This is a photograph I took of while in Burma of one such example-

What I don’t understand with these MPi-KMs is that the factory markings were left on the bolt head. If whoever did this want to prevent DDR affiliation, then they missed a critical part of the process! if the markings were dremel-ed off the bolt head but not the trunnion, I could understand because the trunnion wouldn’t have been able to be disassembled. In addition, the fact that the (former) original rifles depicted here were almost brand new adds another element to the mystery.

By the way, if you really want to be confused, try following the chain of events that affected the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. You’ll be more confused than a butcher in a SPCA kennel.



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Paul Rain

    Try following the chain of events that lead to the formation of the ‘Republic of Yugoslavia’- now that’s difficult.

    A Kingdom of Yugoslavia can contain many different ethnic groups, and balance their interests. A republic which contains many nations will always collapse into chaos and war if it has even nominal democratic elements.

    • Major Tom

      Only if said democratic elements favor one group over the rest.

      • SurlyMoroseMa’fk

        Well, since democracy, when distilled down, is simply mob-rule, then there you have it. All democracies are the majority exerting power over the minority(ies).

        Good thing those of us in the U.S.A. live in a Republic, so the minorities have an effectual say in government (well, theoretically–doubt anyone not in the government really has an effectual say in it at all).

        • Paul Rain

          The concept of having a Republic built up from states with disparate interests, with a restricted franchise of family men electing seasoned, enlightened statesmen to State government positions, and State governments choosing Senators to act as a check on the danger of Congressional power, is a powerful one.

          All gone now- as the 1st Amendment is on the way out. Thank God for the 2nd.

          • FarmerB

            Yeah, just need to “reform” the electoral college, “modernize” the senate, and bring in proportional representation so that the left and right coasts can make sure that a Trump never happens again and flyover country can be ignored in coming to the “right answer” acceptable to Twitter.

          • Paul Rain

            They’re advocating Puerto Rican statehood to do just that.

          • Major Tom

            Puerto Rico has a right to petition for statehood. It’s an explicit part of the United States Constitution. Any and all territories may petition the Congress for admittance into the Union as a state.

            Just about every state in existence barring the original 13 did such a thing at some point.

        • Old Vet

          Todays minority ideologies are running this country…..everything else is govt. bureaucrats personal leanings.

      • Paul Rain

        You can say a lot of things about the People Of The Tracksuit, but it’s very hard to find a Serb who doesn’t love his own people.

    • Palmier

      Prophetic words concerning our own republic.

    • int19h

      You appear to be mixing up ethnic groups and nations. There’s no reason why several different ethnic groups can’t form a single nation without “collapsing into chaos and war” – just look at Switzerland.

      • Paul Rain

        Switzerland is not a nation. It is a federation of nations- still successfully defending those nations against outsiders to a great degree.

        • int19h

          Switzerland is absolutely a nation. There’s no “Swiss German” nation or “Swiss French” nation. There are Swiss Germans and Swiss French etc, but they all form a single nation, Swiss.

          • Paul Rain

            Lol.

  • iksnilol

    I don’t think the point was to remove DDR affiliations (the stock is a big giveaway to being DDR). I think the point was to not be able to trace from which group in the Balkans that rifle belonged/belongs to.

    • Anonymoose

      Or whoever they resold it to. Zastava “sanitized/sterilized” a lot of guns, so they could ship them to groups everywhere on earth that they didn’t want to be connected to, so maybe the Yugoslav armorers did that to these too. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d34bd925dc71a56bd81378c78c0524d5d060655af33fa4fb77b4e7708a016e46.jpg

      • iksnilol

        Yupp, just my line of thinking.

        • bojan

          Nope, serials on those were removed when they were sold to Croatia in 1991-92. One in Belgrade military museum also does not have serials, and it went to a museum practically from the front. Most of Armbrusts also had serials removed. Germany (and whoever was intermediate in the deal) clearly wanted to stay “clean” from sanction breaking.
          Unlike those, E.German AKs that came to Bosnia vie Turkey still had serials which enabled them to be traced.

          • iksnilol

            Where does that contradict what I said? Previous owners didn’t want to be connected to them and new owners didn’t want to know (officially) the origin.

          • bojan

            Not you, previous poster who said Zastava probably did it. Sorry for replying to your post instead of his. 🙂

          • Scott

            Of course both you bojan & iksnilol are not doubt correct as there is proof of sanitized and unsanitized examples coming from the same source.

          • Scott

            I think Anonymoose meant Zastava scrubbed their OWN firearms for that war [and maybe more]

          • Scott

            Just for those who are unfamilar: An Armbrust (German: Crossbow) is a lightweight unguided anti-tank weapon designed and developed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm of Germany.

          • Ninoslav Trifunovic

            I believe those Armbrusts were from Singapore, not from Germany, but still, sold with blessings from Bonn/Berlin.

    • Dougscamo

      Care to comment on the video? Would love to hear it….

      • iksnilol

        The video while short was very good and spot on. Sure, Serbs might disagree with that, then again they aren’t famous for being an agreeable people so I’d dismiss those complaints. But there isn’t really anything that I can add. In short(er terms), people followed Tito, not his ideals (same problem that Caesar had in his day). So when he died, it was like losing the AR takedown pins. and have the buffer and bolt and everything fall apart on the floor.

        I like these short videos to be honest, I never cease to be amazed how much info can be compressed. They are a lifesaver in my chemistry studies.

  • Kelly Jackson

    Slobodan Milošević had the right idea, just sayin…

    • Paul Rain

      This is a shocking statement, and tantamount to politics.

      I support Hashim Thaçi’s brave actions to expand the supply of organs on the free market. A truly moral and great man.

      • Kelly Jackson

        All I’m saying there’s no kebabs rampaging around eastern Europe.

    • iksnilol

      Nah, Stalin’s where it’s at, son.

      I mean, Sloby was sloppy, couldn’t even kill one million.

    • bojan

      He was an self serving bastard, along with Tudjman bearing most responsibility for the Yugoslav wars 1991-95. (say 55/45 split would be fair). It was “conspiracy of murder” between those two, including planned split of Bosnia that led to a real shitstorm. Oh, and Izetbegovic was not innocent at all, playing with hard-core islamist factor, but without those two Izetbegovic would have never came to light.
      That is all I will say, since title says firearms, not politics.

      • FarmerB

        Gawd – haven’t heard those names in years…

    • Scott

      He was ahead of his time, for sure. If it weren’t for those deplorable Clintons.. things may have turned out much better.

  • Evan

    2 of the hardest-working, most humble men I’ve known were a Bosnian, and a Croat. Both loved their Adidas low-tops, and their tracksuits, and were reserved. But, once they decided they liked you they’d almost give you the shirt off their back, if you needed it.

    • iksnilol

      Sounds like Balkan to me :p

    • James Earl Jones

      But would they give you their track suit top?