Home:  Rifles: GERMAN MAUSER KAR 98A RIFLE, 1917


View all Rifles


Carbine version ( K) of the standard German army rifle of WW1 The 'A' version replaced the KAR98 model in 1908. The original Karabiner 98k was a controlled-feed bolt-action rifle. It could be loaded with five rounds of 7.92x57mm IS ammunition from a stripper clip, loaded into an internal magazine. It was derived from earlier rifles, namely the Karabiner 98b, which in turn had been developed from the Mauser Model 1898. The Gewehr 98 or Model 1898 took its principles from the Lebel Model 1886 rifle with the improvement of a metallic magazine of five cartridges. Since the rifle was shorter than the earlier Karabiner 98b from which it was derived (the 98b was a carbine in name only, being identical in length to the Gewehr 98 long rifle), it was given the designation Karabiner 98 Kurz, meaning "Carbine 98 Short". Just like its predecessor, the rifle was noted for its reliability, good accuracy and an effective range of up to 500 meters (547 yards) with iron sights.
Design details
The standard Karabiner 98k iron sights could be regulated for ranges from 100 m up to 2000 m in 100 m increments. The 98k rifle was designed to be used with an S84/98 III bayonet and to fire rifle grenades. Most rifles had laminated stocks , the result of trials that had stretched through the 1930s. Plywood laminates resisted warping better than the conventional one-piece patterns, did not require lengthy maturing and were less wasteful. Starting in late 1944, 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 disk, and other features deemed to be unnecessary.

The 98k had the same disadvantages as all other turn-of-the-century military rifles in that it was comparatively bulky and heavy, and the rate of fire was limited by how fast 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. A trench magazine was also produced 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 Allies (both Soviet and Anglo-American) developed and moved towards standardization of semi-automatic rifles, the Germans maintained these bolt-action rifles due to their tactical doctrine of basing a squad's fire power on the unit's light machine gun and possibly their problems of mass producing semi-automatic rifles.

In close combat, however, sub machine guns were often preferred, especially for urban combat where the rifle's range and low rate of fire were not very useful. Towards the end of the war, the Kar98k was being phased out in favour of the StG44 assault rifle, which fired a rifle round that was more powerful than the pistol cartridges of sub machine guns, but that could be used like a sub machine gun in close-quarters and urban fighting. Production of the StG44 was never sufficient to meet demand, being a late war weapon, and because of this the Mauser Kar98k rifle was still produced and used as the standard infantry rifle by the German forces until the German surrender in May 1945.

Add a memory or information about this object


©2007 The Museum of Technology, The Great War and WWII
Company registered in England No. 7452160, Registered Charity No. 1140352, Accredited Museum No. 2221