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Karabiner 98 Kurz
Kar 98K - AM.033696
Karabiner 98k from the collections of Armémuseum, Stockholm, Sweden.
Type Bolt-action rifle
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1935–Present
Used by See several
Wars several
Production history
Designed 1935
Manufacturer Mauser (augmented by several other makers)
Produced 1935–1945
Number built 14,643,260[1][2]
Variants G40k
Specifications
Weight 3.7 kg (Bad rounding here{{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 8.1571037008405 | 1-0 }} lb) - 4.1 kg (Bad rounding here{{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 9.03895274958 | 1-0 }} lb)
Length precision_format| 43.700787401575 | 2}} in)
Barrel length precision_format| 23.622047244094 | 2}} in)

Cartridge 7.92 x 57mm Mauser
Action Bolt-action
Muzzle velocity precision_format| 2,493.43832021 | 0}} ft/s)
Effective range 500 m (550 yd) with iron sights
800+ m (875+ yd) with telescopic sight
Feed system 5-round stripper clip, internal magazine
Sights Iron sights or telescopic sight.

The Karabiner 98 Kurz (often abbreviated Kar98k, K98, or K98k) was a bolt action rifle chambered for the 7.92 x 57mm Mauser cartridge that was adopted as the standard service rifle in 1935 by the German Wehrmacht.[1] It was one of the final developments in the long line of Mauser military rifles. Although supplemented by semi- and fully automatic rifles during World War II, it remained the primary German service rifle until the end of World War II in 1945.

HistoryEdit

The Karabiner 98k was derived from earlier rifles, namely the Mauser Standardmodell and the Karabiner 98b, which in turn had both been developed from the Gewehr 98. Since the Karabiner 98k rifle was shorter than the earlier Karabiner 98b (the 98b was a carbine in name only, a version of Gewehr 98 long rifle with upgraded sights), it was given the designation Karabiner 98 Kurz, meaning "Carbine 98 Short". Just like its predecessor, the rifle was noted for its reliability, great accuracy and an effective range of up to 500 metres ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 546.80664916885 | -1}} yd) with iron sights and 1,000 metres ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 1,093.6132983377 | -1}} yd) with an 8× telescopic sight.[3]

Design detailsEdit

FeaturesEdit

Kar 98K - AM.021488

Karabiner 98k in mint condition, made in 1940. From the collections of Armémuseum, Stockholm, Sweden.

Disassembled mauser long action

A disassembled Karabiner 98k action.

The Karabiner 98k was a controlled-feed bolt-action rifle based on the Mauser M 98 system. It could be loaded with five rounds of 7.92 x 57mm Mauser ammunition from a stripper clip, loaded into an internal magazine. Alternately, cartridges could be loaded singly into the magazine by hand. The straight bolt handle found on the Gewehr 98 bolt was replaced by a turned-down bolt handle on the Karabiner 98k. This change made it easier to rapidly operate the bolt, reduced the amount the handle projected beyond the receiver, and enabled mounting of aiming optics directly above the receiver on the Karabiner 98k. Each rifle was furnished with a short length of cleaning rod, fitted through the bayonet stud. The joined rods from 3 rifles provided one full-length cleaning rod.

The metal parts of the rifle were blued, a process in which steel is partially protected against rust by a layer of magnetite (Fe3O4). Such a thin black oxide layer provides minimal protection against rust or corrosion, unless also treated with a water-displacing oil to reduce wetting and galvanic corrosion.

SightsEdit

Originally the Karabiner 98k iron sight line had an open post type front sight, and a tangent-type rear sight with a V-shaped rear notch. From 1939 onwards the post front sight was hooded to reduce glare under unfavorable light conditions and add protection for the post. These standard sight lines consisted of somewhat coarse aiming elements making it suitable for rough field handling, aiming at distant area fire targets and low light usage, but less suitable for precise aiming at distant or small point targets. The rear tangent sight was graduated for 1935 pattern 7.92x57mm IS cartridges from 100 m to 2000 m in 100 m increments. These cartridges were loaded with 12.8 g (197 gr) sS (schweres Spitzgeschoß – "heavy pointed bullet") ball bullets.

StockEdit

Most rifles had laminated stocks, the result of trials that had stretched through the 1930s. Plywood laminates are stronger and resisted warping better than the conventional one-piece patterns, did not require lengthy maturing, and were cheaper. The laminated stocks were somewhat heavier compared to one-piece stocks.[4] In addition to the use of Walnut and Beech laminate, Elm was used in small quantities. The butts of the semi-pistol grip Karabiner 98k stocks were not uniform. Until early 1940 the stocks had a flat buttplate. After 1940 some stocks had a cupped buttplate. Some stocks had a metal buttplate.

AccessoriesEdit

When issued the Karabiner 98k came accompanied with assorted accessory items including a sling, a protective muzzle cover, and for field maintenance a Reinigungsgerät 34 (Cleaning Kit 34) or RG34 kit. Introduced in 1934 the Reinigungsgerät 34 consisted of a flat 85 mm ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 3.3464566929134 | 1}} in) wide by 135 mm ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 5.3149606299213 | 1}} in) long sheet metal container with 2 hinged lids carried on the person which held an oiler, a take down tool for removing the floorplate and cleaning the receiver of the rifle, an aluminum barrel pull-through chain, a cleaning and an oiling brush, and short lengths of tow used as cleaning patches.[5]

The Karabiner 98k rifle was designed to be used with an S84/98 III bayonet.[6] The S84/98 III had a blade length of 252 mm ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 9.9212598425197 | 1}} in) and an overall length of 385 mm ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 15.157480314961 | 1}} in) and was accompanied by a bayonet frog.[7] Older bayonet types designed for the Gewehr 98 could also be mounted and were used during World War II as well. Other accessories to fire rifle grenades or reduce the sound signature during firing were designed for the Karabiner 98k.

Rifle grenade launcherEdit

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-732-0123-15, Russland, Soldat der Div. »Großdeutschland«

Großdeutschland Division private with Karabiner 98k and mounted Schießbecher.

As of 1942, an attachable rifle grenade launcher called the Gewehrgranatengerät or Schiessbecher ("shooting cup") was introduced that was developed based on rifle grenade launcher models designed during World War I. The 30 mm Schiessbecher cup-type rifle grenade launcher could be mounted on any Karabiner 98k and was intended to replace all previous rifle grenade launcher models. The rifle grenade launcher could be used against infantry, fortifications and light armored vehicles up to a range of 280 m (306 yd). For these differing tasks several specialized grenades with accompanying special propelling cartridges were developed for the 1,450,113 produced Schiessbecher rifle grenade launchers. The rifle grenade propelling cartridges fired a wooden projectile through the barrel to the rifle grenade that upon impact automatically primed the rifle grenade. The Schiessbecher could be mounted on the Karabiner 98a, G98/40, StG 44 and FG 42.[8]

SuppressorEdit

A removable, muzzle-mounted HUB-23 suppressor, visually resembling the Schießbecher, was available for the Karabiner 98k. After several suppressor proposals from the fire arms industry and the SS-Waffenakademie (SS Weapons Academy) the HUB-23 was produced based on a design proposal by Unteroffizier Schätzle. The HUB-23 weighs 0.5 kg (Bad rounding here{{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 1.1023113109244 | 1-0 }} lb) and is 180 mm ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 7.0866141732283 | 1}} in) long. The maximum effective range of a Karbiner 98k with a HUB-23 mounted and firing special subsonic Nahpatrone (Near cartridge) reduced load ammunition with a muzzle velocity of 220 m/s ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 721.78477690289 | 0}} ft/s) was 300 m (Bad rounding here{{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 328.08398950131 | 1-2 }} yd). The use of the HUB-23 suppressor and subsonic ammunition resulted in a sound signature reduction by 75%.[9] The HUB-23 suppressor and the special subsonic ammunition were mainly used by special forces units such as the Brandenburgers and snipers.

VariantsEdit

Several special models of the Karabiner 98k existed.

KriegsmodellEdit

Starting in late 1944, Karabiner 98k production began transition to the "Kriegsmodell" ("war model") variant. This version was simplified to meet wartime production demands, removing the bayonet lug, cleaning rod, stock disc (which functions as a bolt disassembly tool), and other features deemed to be unnecessary.[10] At least two transitional variants existed, which incorporated only some Kriegsmodell features, and some factories never switched to Kriegsmodell production at all.

Sniper variant Edit

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-216-0417-19, Russland, Soldaten in Stellung

German sniper aiming his Karabiner 98k with 4x Zeiss ZF42 telescopic sight.

For snipers, Karabiner 98k rifles selected for being exceptionally accurate during factory tests were fitted with a telescopic sight as sniper rifles. Karabiner 98k sniper rifles had an effective range up to 1000 meters (1094 yards) when used by a skilled sniper. The German Zeiss Zielvier 4x (ZF39) telescopic sight had bullet drop compensation in 50 m increments for ranges from 100 m up to 800 m or in some variations from 100 m up to 1000 m. There were ZF42, Zeiss Zielsechs 6x and other telescopic sights by various manufacturers like the Ajack 4x and 6x, Hensoldt Dialytan 4x and Kahles Heliavier 4x with similar features employed on Karabiner 98k sniper rifles. Several different mountings produced by various manufacturers were used. The Karabiner 98k was not designed for mounting telescopic sights.[11] Attaching such sights to a Karabiner 98k required machining by a skilled armourer. A telescopic sight mounted low above the center axis of the receiver will not leave enough space between the rifle and the telescopic sight body for unimpaired operation of the bolt handle or three-position safety catch lever. This ergonomic problem was solved by mounting the telescopic sight relatively high above the receiver and sometimes modifying or replacing the safety operating lever or using an offset mounting that positions the telescopic sight axis to the left side in relation to the receiver center axis. Approximately 132,000 of these sniper rifles were produced by Germany.[12]

Paratroopers Edit

For German paratroopers special versions of the Karabiner 98k that could be transported in shortened modes were produced. Experimental specimens with folding stocks (Klappschaft) and with detachable barrels (Abnehmbarer Lauf) are known to have been produced at Mauser Oberndorf.[13]

G40k Edit

The G40k with a total length of 1,000 mm ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 39.370078740157 | 2}} in) and a barrel length of 490 mm ({{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 19.291338582677 | 2}} in) and 3.2 kg (Bad rounding here{{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 7.0547923899161 | 1-0 }} lb) weight was a shortened version of the Karabiner 98k.[12][13] A batch of 82 G40k rifles was produced in 1941.

A reverse engineering simulation with QuickLOAD internal ballistic software for the 8x57mm IS/7.92×57mm IS cartridge loaded with the German standard sS (schweres Spitzgeschoß/heavy pointed bullet) ball bullet, predicted that this shortening of the barrel results in ≈ 35 – 60 m/s muzzle velocity reduction depending on the propellant used. Due to its significant lighter weight the G40k produced ≈ 20% more recoil compared to the Karabiner 98k standard rifle.

German small arms doctrineEdit

The Karabiner 98k had the same disadvantages as all other military rifles designed around the year 1900 in that it was comparatively bulky and heavy, having been created during a time when military doctrine centered around highly-trained marksmen engaging at relatively long range. The rate of fire was limited by how quickly the bolt could be operated. Its magazine had only half the capacity of Great Britain's Lee-Enfield series rifles, but being internal, it made the weapon more comfortable to carry at its point of balance. An experimental trench magazine was produced during World War II for Model 98 variants that could be attached to the bottom of the internal magazine by removing the floor plate, increasing capacity to 20 rounds, though it still required loading with 5 round stripper clips. While the Americans had standardized a semi-automatic rifle in 1936 (the M1 Garand), the Germans maintained these bolt-action rifles due to their tactical doctrine of basing a squad's firepower on the light machine gun so that the role of the rifleman was largely to carry ammunition and provide covering fire for the machine gunners. They did experiments with semi-automatic rifles throughout the war (the G43 entered limited service), and introduced the first assault rifle in 1943 - the MP43 / MP44 / StG44 series. However, the Karabiner 98k remained the primary service weapon until the last days of the war, and was manufactured until the surrender in May 1945.

In close combat, however, submachine guns were often preferred, especially for urban combat where the rifle's range and low rate of fire were not very useful, although the rifle's powerful ammunition was better able to penetrate walls and other cover found in urban areas. Towards the end of the war, it was intended to phase out the Karabiner 98k in favour of the StG44, which fired the 7.92x33mm Kurz intermediate rifle round that was more powerful than the pistol cartridges of submachine guns, but that could be used like a submachine gun in close-quarters and urban fighting. Production of the StG44 was never sufficient to meet demand, being a late-war weapon.

Usage historyEdit

Pre–World War II exportEdit

Gevär m1940 - 8x63mm - AM.006920

Swedish Gevär m/1940 in 8x63mm, with muzzle brake. From the collections of Armémuseum, Stockholm, Sweden.

Though most Karabiner 98k rifles went to the German armed forces, the weapon was sold abroad in the years prior to World War II. In Portugal, a large quantity of Karabiner 98k rifles made by Mauser Werke were adopted as the Espingarda 7,92 mm m/937 Mauser infantry rifle.[14][15] Sweden ordered 2,500 Karabiner 98ks that were provided from the regular production run in 1939.[16] Sweden had adopted a special cartridge for their machine guns, the 8x63mm M32, which was a very powerful round and used only by Sweden.[17][18] It was used in specially-chambered Ksp m/36 M1917 Browning machine guns, and the Karabiner 98ks were purchased so the machine gun troops could have rifles that fired the same round. Accordingly, the Karabiner 98ks were rechambered in Sweden for the 8x63mm and the internal box magazine of the M 98 system was adapted to match the 8x63mm cartridge. A muzzle brake was installed to reduce the generated free recoil, and the resulting weapon was designated Gevär m/1940 in Swedish service. After World War II, the Swedes discontinued use of the 8x63mm cartridge and the rifles were sold to Israel. Other pre-war exports of Karabiner 98ks were to China (an unknown number of rifles 1935 - 38),[19] and 20,000 in 1937 to (China's then-enemy) Japan.[20] Exports of Karabiner 98ks decreased as war drew closer, as all available production capacity was needed to equip the German Armed Forces.

World War II useEdit

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-584-2159-20, Frankreich, Soldat mit Gewehr in Stellung

A concealed German soldier in northern France, 1944. His Karabiner 98k is equipped with a Gewehrgranatgerät cup-type grenade launcher attachment.

The Mauser Karabiner 98k rifle was widely used by all branches of the armed forces of Germany during World War II. It saw action in every theater of war involving German forces, including occupied Europe, North Africa, the Soviet Union, Finland, and Norway. Although comparable to the weapons fielded by Germany's enemies at the beginning of the War, its disadvantages in rate of fire became more apparent as American and Soviet armies began to field more semi-automatic weapons among their troops. Still, it continued to be the main infantry rifle of the Wehrmacht until the end of the War. Resistance forces in German-occupied Europe made frequent use of captured German Karabiner 98k rifles. The Soviet Union also made extensive use of captured Karabiner 98k rifles and other German infantry weapons due to the Red Army experiencing a critical shortage of small arms during the early years of World War II. Many German soldiers used the verbal expression "Kars" as the slang name for the rifle.

Post–World War II use Edit

Soviet Capture Edit

During World War II, the Soviet Union captured millions of Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles and re-furbished them in various arms factories in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These rifles were originally stored in the event of future hostilities with the Western Bloc. These rifles, referred to by collectors as RC ("Russian Capture") Mausers, can be identified by a crude "X" stamp on the left side of the receiver, the dull, thick reblueing and mismatched parts and electro-pencil serial numbers on smaller parts. The Soviet arsenals made no effort to match the rifle's original parts by serial number when reassembling them, and some parts (the cleaning rod, sight hood, and locking screws) were deemed unnecessary and melted down for scrap metal.

Most of these rifles (along with the Mosin-Nagant rifle) were eventually shipped to communist or Marxist revolutionary movements and nations around the world during the early Cold War period. A steady supply of free surplus military firearms was one way that Moscow could support these movements and states whilst retaining plausible deniability as well as give Moscow a means to arm these governments and movements without providing them the latest Soviet infantry weapons (these governments and movements Moscow supported would be provided modern infantry weapons like the SKS and the AK-47 at a later date).

One example of the Soviet Union providing the Mauser Karabiner 98k rifle (as well as other infantry weapons captured from the Germans during and after World War II) to its communist allies during the Cold War period occurred during the Vietnam War with the Soviet Union providing military aid to the armed forces of North Vietnam and to the NLF in South Vietnam.

A considerable number of Soviet-captured Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles (as well as a number of Karabiner 98k rifles that were left behind by the French after the First Indochina War) were found in the hands of NLF (Vietcong) guerrillas and VPA (NVA) soldiers by US, South Vietnamese, South Korean, Australian and New Zealand forces alongside Soviet-bloc rifles like the Mosin-Nagant, the SKS, and the AK-47.


ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 K98k Mauser Page Retrieved 28 March 2007.
  2. French K98k and G40k Page - go to "sommaire" at the bottom of the page to use the index
  3. {{Cite book | last = Bishop | first = Chris | author-link = | last2 = | first2 = | author2-link = | title = The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II | place = New York | publisher = Orbis Publishing Ltd | year = 1998 | volume = | edition = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0-7607-1022-8 | postscript = .
  4. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}
  5. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  6. REME Museum Page S84/98 III bayonet
  7. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  8. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  9. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  10. Firearms of the Wehrmacht - Mauser Karabiner 98
  11. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}
  12. 12.0 12.1 French K98k and G40k Page
  13. 13.0 13.1 Karabiner 98k at www.waffenhq.de
  14. Abbott, Peter, and Rodrigues, Manuel, Modern African Wars 2: Angola and Mozambique 1961-74, Osprey Publishing (1998), p.17
  15. Reynolds, Dan, The Rifles of Portugal 1880-1980, http://www.carbinesforcollectors.com/port.html
  16. Law, Richard D., "Backbone of the Wehrmacht, Collector Grade Publications, Ontario, 1993, p320
  17. 8 X 63mm Swedish
  18. 8x63 M32 Bofors
  19. Law, Richard D., "Backbone of the Wehrmacht, Collector Grade Publications, Ontario, 1993, p308-9
  20. Law, Richard D., "Backbone of the Wehrmacht, Collector Grade Publications, Ontario, 1993, p310

External linksEdit

German Mauser Kar98k rifle

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