What’s a Duffle Bag Cut?

It never occurred to us until recently that there were people in the gun culture unfamiliar with the Duffle Bag Cut, until a knowledgeable young gun guy asked us, “What’s a Duffle Bag Cut?” as we described such a cut on a Mauser that Santa brought us this year.

Some of the WeaponsMan related Christmas stuff, posing at the tree. The cut doesn’t show with the rifle at rest.

Thing is, if you grew up in collecting in the 50s, 60s or 70s, many WWI and WWII vintage long guns had this cut, and everybody knew why.

Rear side of the cut, which was done with the stock off the gun. The dual sling swivels (left side for cavalry, bottom for infantry) was often seen on Czech long arms like this early 7.92 mm vz.24.

But circumstances have changed, a lot. The military, especially the military police and the judge advocates, have fallen under the sway of gun control activists, and the guys are no longer permitted to take and keep war trophies.

Taking an enemy firearm as a trophy was widespread (and even encouraged, or at least permitted) in World War I and II and the Korean War. It came under some restrictions in Vietnam, and by the GWOT was totally and utterly banned.

Here’s the nose end of the cut. It looks like it was ineffectually (WECSOG?) glued in the past.

But during its heyday in the 20th Century, war trophy taking was a norm. The weapons were brought back by the frontline troops who took them, the rear-echelon troops who traded for them, and the MPs who confiscated them for their own personal benefit, which was definitely a thing, if you listened to the WWII guys when they were still around to talk.

There was a problem, though. A Mauser or Arisaka didn’t fit in a GI duffel bag (and often, all a troop had for luggage was a duffle bag and a field pack). Enter the Duffle Bag Cut. Someone would cut the stock where the cut would be hidden by the barrel band.

This WWII bringback in a genuine WWII duffle bag (late Great Uncle Ovide’s) shows how the cut made it possible to close the bag on a disassembled Mauser, where even the bare stock would have been several inches too long. .

A permanent alteration to a firearm usually gets collectors all wound up, but this cut now a 70-year-old marker, an authentic part of the gun’s history and the tale it would tell if it could talk. Under the barrel band, it doesn’t hurt the utility of the gun for display, and so few collectors would consider repairing the cut (although any gunsmith not of the Wile E. Coyote School of Gunsmithing could). Those WWII soldiers who brought back Mausers and Arisakas, etc., were looking to keep them as trophies, or have them sporterized as deer guns, and the last few inches of the wood was not of any use on a sporting rifle.

A Duffle Bag Cut should not be seen on a gun with import marks. Instead, it’s the second-best indicator (after military capture or bringback papers) of a GI bringback. And it’s just one more interesting little thing about our Christmas VZ.24 Mauser.

(Note: We were expecting to put the 3rd Part of our M16A2 paper analysis up at this point, but have delayed and delayed and fiddled, waiting for a resource that has been unavailable; should we get our mitts on it again, we’ll have the post Monday morning. We regret the delay. -Ed.)

21 thoughts on “What’s a Duffle Bag Cut?

  1. Aesop

    The word is that to those that own them here in Califrutopia, mags holding more than 10 rounds aren’t illegal. They are simply undocumented.

    I wouldn’t know personally, as all of mine (both of them) were tragically swept overboard while I was cleaning them while yachting in the Catalina Channel, at the 500-fathom line.
    At any rate, 10-rd magazines carried Pancho Villa bandolero-style will become the new normal.
    Viva gun fashion!

    The ammo rule is to laugh.

    Phoenix, Vegas, Reno, and Free Utah are within a tank of gas away. There are no cavity searches at the border (only agricultural inspection stations). So unless one tries to conceal an ammo haul in a watermelon rind, the number of similarly “undocumented” ammunition purchases promises to be legendary.

    And secondary sales of ammo to those bereft of the will to travel promises to create a booming (you should forgive the unlooked-for pun) black market in private ammunition sales. IANAL, but unless one attempts to make a living doing back-of-the-truck ammo sales at a big city CA swap meet, there is no way short of invoking Godwin’s Law in this discussion they’ll ever make any dent in that trade, and if they do, the ammunition won’t be flowing, it’ll be flying.

    One Trump SCOTUS appointment could render these new CA anti-2d Amendment laws all moot anyways, in due course.
    And Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t getting any younger, either.

    Reply
  2. Norman Yarvin

    As regards: “..the last few inches of the wood was not of any use on a sporting rifle”: I’ve long wondered whether it had any real military use, either. Okay, the basic idea is that you can grab a hot rifle and run with it without burning your hand — or maybe use it for bayonet fighting; but still, having wood almost all the way to the muzzle?

    Reply
    1. Hognose Post author

      I’m still reading it, but it’s a great book, completely unsparing of the ups and downs in his career. He started as an enlisted guy, and he’s only the second guy I’ve seen admit to being booted from the Ranger Regiment.

      Reply
      1. RLTW

        Went to IOBC with Ivan (maybe OCS too, but I think he was a class ahead of me). I didn’t know about his book. Guess I’ll have to get myself a New Years present.

        Reply
        1. Hognose Post author

          His co-writer is Jim DeFelice, who has worked with a lot of other vets to tell their stories, too. A friend ran across their book-signing tour in their perambulations and hooked me up.

          Reply
  3. Cap'n Mike

    I thought I knew what a duffel cut was but maybe not.
    The wood stock was the only thing cut?
    The barrel was not?
    Presumably because the barrel would fit in the duffel bag when removed from the stock?

    Reply
    1. Hognose Post author

      Exactly, Mike. The barrel protrudes from Uncle Ovide’s duffel bag, but that’d because I didn’t disassemble the gun. Disassembled, an uncut K98k stock will still protrude, but the barreled action will not. The Duffle Bag Cut was an elegant solution to this. (Although the rifle in the illustrations is a vz.24, it’s about the same size as a 98k or 1903).

      Reply
  4. Bert

    I have a type 99 Arisaka with no import mark, a duffle cut stock never glued AFAIK and a ground mum. Barrel is essentially perfect (chrome?) trigger is good and iron sight design quite useable for a widely disparaged & generally unloved by americans rifle, it shoots lights out with jacketed or cast. But every shot, you get to push the cut forend back into position…

    Best $150.00 I have spent on a milsurp.

    Reply
    1. Hognose Post author

      Barrel chrome lining was patented by Olin in 1925. It was used by Japanese to make up for limited amounts of chromium, vanadium and other steel-enhancing alloys, not for the corrosion inhibition qualities that caused the Soviets and USA to adopt it later.

      Reply
  5. Quill_&_Blade

    Mostly OT, but I do have a Christmas tree in the background. Just rang in the new year with the scuba gong. You can make a quality gong (technically it’s not a bell) from a scuba tank, because the metal is good quality. Also, been making progress on the marksmanship chart; tonight it was put in some English words, and make these two materials graphics. One is gravel, the other, hay bales. The lines, boxes and circles are all pretty much finished.

    Reply
    1. Hognose Post author

      Huh, I have a tank sitting around that was last hydroed in 1981. But it’s an aluminum tank… dunno if it’d ring worth a damn.

      Reply
      1. Quill_&_Blade

        If I knew more about aluminum, I could say, but my son thinks it would be dull. On the other hand, I’m thinking the baseball bats make a bit of sound. I first read about these in a book I bought (from now defunct Lindsay?) called “Found Sound” The book has a lot of interesting ways of making sound from discarded objects, most are percussion oriented.
        Yeah so, I was diggin’ it, got may 5 tanks free from a place (fire extinguisher refill place?) cut them to various lengths (the one picture is the highest pitch) and was ‘making sound’ on top of the little mountain we lived on. For years, the little Missionary Baptist Church down the road rang their bells every time the doors were open. I didn’t stop to think that -this- might be mistaken for -that-; maybe coincidence, but they stopped ringing their bell at about the same time I started my fun. I hope they don’t have a grudge against the dope on the mountain. I think the Beatles wrote a song about my life up there.

        Reply
    1. DaveP

      Quill, I was fascinated by HN’s post of the original chart (forgot to bookmark it, dammit) and the sheer density of salient info therein; kudos for your labor.

      DaveP

      Reply
      1. Quill_&_Blade

        Inkscape. It’s not quite as good as Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator, but it’s serious, light years ahead of rinky software that comes with your printer or scanner; and…it’s free. I originally learned vector graphics on Corel, and I’m a fan thereof; but I was teaching an art class to a group of homeschoolers, and wanted a program that was affordable to all. So I made myself learn Inkscape, and have been using it ever since.

        Reply

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