Mauser K98 – Rifle of the Third Reich

By Marc Cammack

World War II Nazi Mauser K98 Bolt Action Rifle with Bayonet
World War II Nazi K98 Mauser Bolt Action Rifle with Bayonet **

AmmoLand Gun News

Bangor, Maine -(Ammoland.com)- Today one of the most popular and sought after military rifles is the German 8mm Mauser K98 bolt action rifle.

The K98 was the standard issue rifle for one of the most notorious and violent regimes in history, Nazi Germany. The rifle went on to see use in other conflicts after World War Two and was even used ironically by the Israelis. The K98 is also regarded as one of the finest military bolt action rifles in history.

During World War One the German Army’s standard rifle was the Gewehr 98 Mauser in 8mm Mauser. The Gew 98 action was the final product of several years of development and earlier Mauser designs such as the Model 1889, 1893, and 1896 rifles. The Gew 98 proved to be a reliable weapon but it was long and heavy. Carbine versions of the Gew 98 had been issued in smaller numbers to specialized German troops during World War One but they never became standardized.

Mauser Model GEW 98 Bolt Action Sniper Rifle
Mauser Model GEW 98 Bolt Action Sniper Rifle **
Mauser Model 1924 Bolt Action Rifle
Mauser Model 1924 Bolt Action Rifle **

Because Germany lost World War One, their military and armament were severely limited under the Treaty of Versailles. Following the war both FN in Belgium and the Czechs began producing a shortened version of the 98 Mauser called the Model 1924. The Model 1924 was sold all over the world and was a success. In Germany the Mauser Oberndorf factory made a shortened Mauser called the Standard Modell with improved sights. To get around the Treaty of Versailles the Standard Modell was intended for export rather than domestic sale, however some of these guns were bought within Germany.

Pre-World War I German Erfurt KAR 98 Carbine
Pre-World War I German Erfurt KAR 98 Carbine **

After Adolf Hitler took power of Germany in 1933, he began a rearmament program for the German Army. The German Post Office (Deutsche Reichspost) used an improved version of the Standard Modell for security. This rifle had a turned down bolt handle, and had the same barrel length as the Standard Modell. Further improvements and changes were made to the Reichspost Rifle which resulted in the K98 rifle, which was adopted as a the standard rifle of the German Army in 1935. The “K” in K98 stands for Karabiner which is the German word for Carbine or shortened rifle.

K98s were produced by a wide variety of companies including Erma, Mauser Oberndorf, J.P. Sauer, and Steyr. Earlier K98s often had a number code for their manufacturer on the receiver such as S/27 for Erma, while later guns had letter codes such as BNZ for Steyr produced guns. Over 14 million were produced by the end of World War Two, making it one of the most widely produced infantry rifles of all time. Prior to World War Two K98s were exported to a variety of countries including Portugal and China.

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the K98 would have the chance to go to war. The K98 saw widespread use by the German Wehrmacht, (Army) Kriegsmarine (Navy) Luftwaffe, (Air Force) and Waffen SS. The gun was used in every major battle and theater where Germany fought including North Africa, Eastern Europe, France, and the Balkans. Although there were semi automatic and select fire weapons available later in the war, such as the G43 and MP43, there were never enough to supplant the K98 as the standard service rifle.

WWII Nazi K98 Mauser Turret Sniper Rifle with Matching Scope
WWII Nazi K98 Mauser Turret Sniper Rifle with Matching Scope **

Some K98 rifles were fitted with 1.5x power ZF41 scopes. These were not intended to be sniper rifles but rather to be given to infantrymen who demonstrated superior marksmanship abilities. This concept is similar to the role of designated marksmen in the US Military today who have specialized rifles like M14s, or the MK12 Special Purpose rifle. Other K98 rifles were set up as sniper rifles. K98 sniper rifles had a variety of mounts and optics. These optics were larger than the ZF41 and varied from 4x power to 8x power scopes.

As the tide of war changed against Nazi Germany, changes were made to simplify K98 rifle production. More stamped parts such as the front bands, and magazine floorplates were used instead of earlier milled parts. In late 1944 a further simplified K98 was introduced called the Kriegsmodell. Kriegsmodell rifles lacked bayonet lugs, and disassembly discs in their stocks. These rifles also featured a rougher finish than earlier rifles. Some late rifles had some features of Kreigsmodell rifles but not all and they are known today as “Semi-Kreigsmodell” K98s.

Late War Steyr-Daimler "bnz45" Code 98K Bolt Action Rifle, "Kriegsmodell" Configuration
Late War Steyr-Daimler “bnz45” Code 98K Bolt Action Rifle, “Kriegsmodell” Configuration **

In 1945 a crude and simple version of the K98 was produced for the German People’s Army (Volksstrum) called the Volksgewehr. The Volksgewehr was made by Steyr, (Code BNZ) and the rifle had a very simple rear sight. This rifle looks similar to many “Sporterized” rifles seen today due to its lack of a hand guard and forestock. The Volkstrum consisted of both old and young Germans, and they were meant to be a last defense against the invading Allied Armies.

After World War Two the K98 was still used by other nations, despite more advanced arms being available. Israel used many K98 Mausers in 7.62mm NATO in several conflicts such as the Six Day War. Yugoslavia had captured many of the weapons and refurbished them, and so did the Soviet Union. The Soviets provided K98 Mausers to other Communist nations in their fight against the Western Powers.

Scarce Late WWII Nazi "Volksgewehr" Last Ditch VK-98 Steyr Rifle
Scarce Late WWII Nazi “Volksgewehr” Last Ditch VK-98 Steyr Rifle **

Today prices for K98 Mausers in the American market are on the rise. Non import marked and all original matching examples fetch very high prices. Rarer manufacturers and variations of the K98 command higher prices. Sniper rifles are a popular and valuable version of the K98, and as a result are often faked. More common K98s sometimes have faked matching parts in an attempt to raise the rifles price. Also faked are rare markings, and it always a good idea to do a great deal of research before spending a lot of money on a collectible rifle.

For a shooter or reenactor looking for a more affordable rifle, there are other options available.

Yugoslavian and Russian refurbished examples bring much less than non import marked examples. Yugoslavian K98s had their Nazi markings removed and new markings such as a unique crest applied. Finally they had new sets of serial numbers applied to their parts. The Russians mixed parts to rebuild their captured K98 rifles, and refinished them. They sometimes peened the Swastika markings on the rifles, and put “X” marks on the receivers of the rifles. The Russians often numbered the K98’s bolts with electro pencil. Finally they often applied a Shellac finish to the stocks like that seen on rebuilt Russian Mosin Nagant rifles.




Mauser K98 Rifle Resources:

  • Mausers for Sale on GunBroker.com
  • Books on Mausers and Mauser Collecting
  • Mauser Rifle Replacement Parts
  • Mauser Collectors Website
  • Mauser History on Wikipedia

** Images: Rock Island Auction Company ( www.rockislandauction.com )

Marc Cammack
Marc Cammack

About Marc Cammack
Marc Cammack has been collecting firearms since he was 14 years old.

His interests are primarily military surplus firearms of the late 19th into the 1950's. He has studied these in depth, and currently volunteers at two local museums providing them with accurate information about their firearms.

He is a graduate of the University of Maine with a bachelor's degree in history. He has studied modern European and American history since the age of 9, and has been shooting since the age of 11. He currently resides just outside of Bangor, Maine.

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ray hatfieldFrankANDREW CHAVEZDaneMandela Morta Recent comment authors
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Frank
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Frank

I have a 1924 Serbian Mauser and wish to buy the following parts and accessories: bayonet and scabbard, ram/cleaning rod, ammo bandoleer, 50 or 60 rounds of 8mm ammo in clips. Any help would be appreaciated.

ANDREW CHAVEZ
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ANDREW CHAVEZ

I have a 98K rifle that has no stock. where can I get a full military stock with barrel bands and all.

Kenneth Haines
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Kenneth Haines

nice
I have a mauser bayonet
it is longer than 18 inches

Jeff Collin
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Jeff Collin

Thank you great article

Scooter
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Scooter

I have a 22 cal . I think 410 patrone five shot it has the scope mounts , magazine but someone lost the bolt of all things before I traded for it . Where pray tell can someone suggest I find one , I’d love to shoot it after reading about the accuracy they have . Also are they being a five shot a sniper rifle or training rifle ? Thanks for your time .

Dane
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Dane

Gerry White in the uk may have a bolt.. ? …. go to Guntrader .. and look for Mauser 22 LR

Scooter
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Scooter

I recently bought three guns I’ve never owned before , I’ve been on the net trying to learn what I can about them one is a K98 8mm Mauser . On the end of the barrel it has stamped K98 Yugo 8mm on right side on top it has CAI ST A VT , (mine isn’t ALB after ST like I’ve seen only A.)all the serial numbers match V85xx (last two Xs are numbers) barrel length is 24 ” total length of gun is 42 5/8 approx . the leghth from trigger screws are 7 13/16 . The only other… Read more »

Glenn
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Glenn

I have dou 45 k98 mauser kriegsmodell . Barrel says k98 8mm. Top of receiver says modd.98 ang dou 45 1945. The receiver has x on top. Serial # 9824. The rifle has a hood on front sight. Take down disk in the stock. No barrel band spring. Screws in barrel bands and no cleaning rod. Cupped but plate. The trigger guard is large and has no floor plate. Is this rifle late war or post cz rifle? Ther are no cz marks on this rifle.

harry burkhardt
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harry burkhardt

seeking info on the circle V7 mark on a large font BNZ 43 K98s ss contract mauser. i heard it is a rare mark and was only used by BNZ on SS rifles with no letter codes

Clawhammer
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Clawhammer

Do you have any information about the use of the K-98 on U-Boats. My research to the contrary of most reveals the standard loadout of small arms on u-boats was four 8MM MG-(MG’-34/two twin MG-81Z/MG-15 twin or four single ) Machine Guns for close in under 200 meter air defense, 2 machine pistol (MG-28/MP-34/MP-4), and 6 7.65MM Mauser Pistols (M1934 or Hsc) and later in the war 10 Mauser 7.65MM Pistols, 1 Walther Flare Pistol, 1 Watlher Twin Barreled Flare Pistol and 1 Rocket Type Line Thowing Pistol. 2/3 or 5 Mauer K-98 Rifles depending on the type of U-Boat… Read more »

mike pollack
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mike pollack

Question: On the k98 bolt stop that has the screw sitting on a round boss or a square boss, which would be proper bolt stop for a dot 1944 rifle ??

Peter W. Sinz
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Peter W. Sinz

Are you related to Mr. Phil Cammack, who graduated from MIT i class of 1957 ? I would like to know of him

My daytime phone is (787) 752-4147; celphone is (787) 366-7454

Steve Shelton
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Steve Shelton

Great article, very enjoyable. I was just given a MK98 with cleaning kit that my grandfather brought back from the war that he picked up after fighting on DDay. It seems like it’s in great shape and has been cared for by my father for the last 25 years. Is there an email or number I can reach you at to discuss the care and possible insurance you would recommend on this type of gun.

Thank you.

steve
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steve

I have a german k98 rifel,what im concern about is bolt action you pull on is straight out not curved down ,is it because of the year or its off a differnt model .it appears to be a 41 bnz please reply thank you

Marc Cammack
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Marc Cammack

Bnz is Steyr the bolt sounds like a replacement

charles nicholas nasello
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charles nicholas nasello

Bless you and your father. I hope he had a full life. I served in the sewer jungle of VietNam. I am from Louisiana and we have our share of critics. As far as I concerned I can care less. what other people say. We don’t need yankees in our life. We get by ok. These do-gooders never helped me in the past. They do not know what spicey food is. Bland is all they know. Besides all the bullshit. I do have a very interesting past. I don’t want to make you think that we are your enemy. We… Read more »

charles nasello
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charles nasello

That man was very lucky. I bought a 1915 9mm Luger. All ser.no. match. On the trigger guard there was 3 notches that looked like they were filed with a triangular file. Who knows, this was a long time time ago. Maybe there is somthing more to this. What do you think?

Daniel
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Daniel

It sounds like those are kill marks for each kill made with that weapon.

Thomas Schuppert
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Thomas Schuppert

One Sunday morning at 5:00 am in 2015, I was looking at the new listings on the GunsAmerica Internet site. Listed just 4 hours earlier was a German 1940, code 42, K-98. All matching numbers, bright bore, no import stamp, and original sling. Price was $899. I thought it was too good to be real, but I clicked the “But It Now” button anyway. And Holy Crap, it was real. I was very, very lucky.

Ken A Warnes IV
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Ken A Warnes IV

I have two Mausers that my father brought back from Germany, he was part of the 12th Armored Division under Patton.
What’s strange about the one is that it is about the roughest stock I have seen on any rifle. Like they carved it and never finished sanding it or stained it. The other does have a bayonet that goes with it.

I do think its time to sell them as I am 73 years old and I have no use for them and all of the other German ww2 stuff.
What would u advise?

Oscar
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Oscar

Ken,
Please email me some pictures of your Mausers. I have a C&R and Mauser collector. I maybe interested in purchasing them.

Regards,
Oscar

ray hatfield
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ray hatfield

i have a orginialMauser 9MM Parabellum from Interarms in the orginial box with all the paperwork,extra clip and cleaning brush. S/N#11.001871. I have seen thes on Gunsinternational and GunBroker for anywhere from $2500.00 to $3500.0 I am trying to sell mine for $1800.00. if interested “E” mail at address below. I live in Florida. This is a cash only price.

Kyle Posey
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Kyle Posey

I am 19 years old and love the history please share I’d love a good price!!!

David
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David

I have a NONE STAMPED model 98 with all match serial numbers. Has the Nazi stamps still there. What is it’s value ? Is this rare ?

Thanks
David

Craig Nalbone
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Craig Nalbone

Just picked up a fine non import stamped 98 with ivory inlay stock, and Weaver 4x scope on Weaver mount. It’s dialed in and is quite a shooter. Bright bore. Paid under 400. Nazi proofed, with original markings. Seller didn’t know what he had …

Mandela Morta
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Mandela Morta

nice score post pictures!

kitsock
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kitsock

i would like to know how to order rifle receivers from gun auction.

Jeff Taylor
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Jeff Taylor

Thanks for the education on the Mauser 98, have been thinking of getting one down the road.