Karabiner 98k (Kar 98k)
Type: Infantry rifle
The Mauser 98K was the last of the long line of Mauser rifles used by the German Army and based on the original Mauser Gewehr 98. This 1898 model was an improved version of that designed in 1895 for the Chilean Government and featured a third locking lug at the rear of the bolt, and a rather unusual tangent back sight in front of the chamber.
With Britain’s adoption of the Short Lee-Enfield in 1903, and the American introduction of their ‘short’ Springfield, the German Army, seeing the sense of the idea, developed a short version of the Gewehr 98, calling it the Karabiner 98; this was slightly confusing, because they had already produced a ‘proper’ carbine version and called it the Karabiner 98, but since the new short rifle rapidly replaced the carbine, the anomaly did not last for long.
The principal change was, of course, the logs of six inches from the barrel, but the bolt handle was also turned down and the wood of the stock beneath cut away to allow the bolt to be grasped more easily. The real sight was also simplified. This became the standard infantry weapon during World War One and afterwards completely replaced the Gewehr 98 rifle; in its postwar version it was re-Christened the Karabiner 98a.
During the early 1930s one or two small changes were made in the design, largely, as usual, to facilitate mass-production, and the resulting weapon was adopted as the standard rifle for the new Wehrmacht in 1935 as the Karabiner 98k. It was produced by the million in a number of factories, and production continued until the end of the war in 1945, since the development of automatic rifles, like the Sturmgewehr 44, never reached the point at where the production of the Mauser 98k rifles could be terminated.
Kar 98K/42: This appears to be a production variation (Mauser Model 33/40) of the 98K and is rarely encountered. The principal differences are that the foresight is enclosed in a tunnel, and the butt-plate is of a cupped form which encloses the end of the butt for a depth of half an inch or so. Production of 150,000 rifles from weapon factory Brno for German mountain troops and paratroopers.
Kar 98B: This bears no resemblance to the 98K. It is, in fact, no more than a Gewehr 98 rifle with its bolt handle turned down and with some improvements to the sights.
Users: Germany, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and more.
Animated 3D model of Karabiner 98k, fully equipped with bayonet and scope
Specifications for Mauser Karabiner 98k
|Mauser Karabiner 98k||Specification|
|Weight||8 lb 9 oz|
|Barrel||23.6 in long, 4 grooves, right hand twist|
|Feed system||5-round integral box magazine|
|System of operation||Mauser turn-bolt|
|Muzzle velocity||2,450 feet/sec|
|Mauser Karabiner 98K||figures|
|Manufactures||basically Mauserwerke AG, but innumerable factories built the rifle during the war|
|Production delivery||since 1903 (Kar 98k since 1935)|
|Final delivery||May 1945|
|Production figure 1935-45||c.15,000,000|
|Production figure for 1942||1,149,593|
|Production figure for 1943||1,946,200|
|Production figure for 1944||2,282,380|
|Production figure for Jan-Feb 1945||310,118|
|Price per unit||RM 70 = ~ $32 = ~ £8|
Video: Karabiner 98k
An (unfortunately too dark) video of loading and firing the Karabiner 98k.
References and literature
The Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of World War II (Ian V.Hogg)
Infanterie im 2. Weltkrieg (J.B.King, John Batchelor)
Illustriertes Lexikon der Waffen im 1. und 2. Weltkrieg (V. Dolinek, V. Francev, J. Sach)
The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II (Chris Bishop)