(Mfg by Mauser Werke AG, Oberndorf a/N)
(Click PIC to Enlarge)
(Click PIC to Enlarge)
Rifling & Twist: ....................... 4 Groove, Right Hand
Barrel Length: ........................ 23.62 in. (600mm)
Overall Length: ...................... 43.7 in. (1110mm)
Weight: .................................. 8.38 lb. (3.8 kg without sling, ammo or bayonet)
Magazine Capacity: ................. 5 rounds
Total K98k Qty Mfg ................. 14,048,789 (Estimated 1934 - 1945 from Richard Law's calculations)
1935 Qty&Ser# (S42/G) ......... 182,317 (Low observed # 3526 - High observed # 2335s)
Source: ....................... Backbone of the Wehrmacht
(The German K98k Rifle, 1934 - 1945) by Richard D Law" (1993) - ISBN: 0-88935-139-2
Source: ....................... "SimsonSuhl" and "mrfarb" - The K98k Forum)
1935 S/42G K98k Rifle
(265 picture virtual tour)
The K98k was the primary infantry rifle for the German Wehrmacht during World War II. The "k" is for Kurz, which means "short" in German. Check for matching serial numbers on left side of receiver, top of bolt flat, barrel, top of safety, top of bolt sleeve, cocking piece, upper band, lower band, butt plate, rear sight leaf, rear sight guide and stock bottom, with last two digits of serial number on virtually all other components, right down to the firing pin and cleaning rod. See virtual tour pics for details of font type and location of serial numbers. Check under wood for matching serial numbers on handguard and stock. Check for availability of correct WWII K98k sling with German Waffenamt WaA markings, which by itself can add approximately $100-$150 value to the rifle.
Collector's Comments and Feedback:
1. According to page 281 of the 1996 second edition of "Backbone of the Wehrmacht (The German K98k Rifle, 1934 - 1945) by Richard D Law", he refers to these rifles as "Factory Reconditioned". He says that the S42/G's were recalled in 1940 and completely gone over with the wood and barrels being definitely replaced, as were any small parts that were also worn. They made every effort to make these like "new" again before leaving the factory the second time. This wasn't a quick "arsenal redo" as seen on many US WWII firearms. The barrels, wood, etc were all stamped to match. ....... (Feedback by "Badger")
2. I had the time to examine the links in some detail, and none of this critique is directed at you, as you are referencing the book properly. (It actually suggests what you state, which was a surprise.. )
I went to page 281 in Backboner and to say I found nothing I agree with is an understatement.
I try not to be too disparaging or too critical of Backboner, as at the time I thought it quite good (1996 or so), but I must say as time passes it sure doesn't age well. It is not easy to write a book- especially going first!
This page has to be one of the worst sections in Backboner, - generally I do not believe commercial firms reworked or refurbished the Kar98k (they did recycle some receivers in 1944 but this was an expediency to increase production after losses of critical firms- like Radom). There certainly is no proof they did and it makes no sense they would take on such unprofitable work when they were so busy already. The only confirmed case of a commercial firm doing refurbs was BLM with the Norwegian Krag's (CIOS report) and it was hardly a raging success. It specifically states that they refused other projects due to lack of capacity (and no doubt to avoid such confusion and problematic work).
Mauser would have been twice as busy in this period (1941-1942 when these rifles were reworked) and would have caused confusion to say the least. Plus there is no profit in such work (technically firms were still private commercial firms,- firms extremely restricted as to profits – 6% max - and imports/exports as well as raw materials were strictly controlled but they still followed the typical perspective of any business. They wanted to make money.. at least at the “private” firms like Mauser.)
As for the Backboner rifle, it specifically says it's a Geco barrel yet attributes the e/26 to MauserB, which is rather astonishing. The barrel is a Geco provided barrel (Geco, also in Berlin used e/26 and the waffenamt on the barrel only represents the finishing of the barrel- the barrel maker- not the final of the rifle or replacement) and the rifle is a typical depot rifle. The only thing that ties the rifle to MauserO apparently is the "byf" stock? Well they are ordnance spares and MO supplied the depots with these stocks. As did Hermann Menzel/C stocks and others.
Anyway, this rifle is not a Mauser refurbished rifle imo, just a typical depot re-barrel and re-stock. If it had been refurbished by Mauser they wouldn't have used a Steyr barrel (they were above all a massive barrel finisher.. by far the largest represented in my barrel study) and they wouldn't have marked the stock "byf" as they only do that when the part is provided to the ordnance system.
Lastly, the 1940 date of the work in this case is also problematic considering the code "byf" and the use of e/135 was not used at Mauser Oberndorf before 1941, so this work dates to 1941 or later. Probably just a rifle cycled through a depot during the rifle crisis of 1942..
Anyway, just my opinion and you did ask for comments. I had thought against giving an opinion as so many seem to take opinions about rifles as some form of personal insult but hopefully you will understand this is only directed at Backboner and the theme of commercial firms doing Kar98k reworks. ....... (Feedback by "SimsonSuhl" - The K98k Forum)
3. Question: I believe Law is dead now? Therefore, is there any legacy he left behind or anyone to ask as to why, or what empirical data he used to draw the conclusions he did about the "Factory Reconditioned" 1935 S/42/G's, on which he created that specific separate section in his book?
Answer: Yes he has been gone awhile now, and his legacy is going first.. a tough spot to fill, especially if you are going to exclude others insight. He even ignored his primary contributor Bob Jensen on some aspects of rifle production (most well known, the svwMB controversy which Bob told him he did not agree with what the book stated.) I do not know where he came up with this theory, but throughout the book he clearly misunderstands some very basic facts about the kar98k and how they were made. The sections on reworking in general and sub-contracting specifically are totally confused and misunderstood.
Question: Has any new empirical data surfaced since his 1996 publication that sheds greater light on, or provide clear rebuttal to his conclusions?
Answer: I have written several articles on reworks, and production practices regarding the interwar period through the nazi era in the MRJ (Military Rifle Journal). I have studied the topic in great detail and have an extensive database of examples I rely upon. Of course it is only a small sampling to what was done and many things we have not seen. Hell, just yesterday we all learned of the first known 1936/BSW! Best position “right now” is that the commercial firms did not rework rifles that were already accepted into the German military. This was a practice primarily done at the depots. (Simson did have the interwar contract for “major repairs” and I believe they did do some, but most are clearly identifiable to depots. In the nazi era they all seem to be attributable to depots and considering the activities of the various firms- all did other things besides 98k mfg- such tedious, time consuming, labor intensive and unprofitable work is really impractical)
Question: To summarize your opinion for my own clarity. You believe this is a "depot" recycled piece, probably some time in 1942 as evidenced by contemporaneously matched serial number (inside stock and hand guard ) with Mauser Oberndorf e/135 WaA on the outside of the stock? Being a neophyte, what is the difference between "depot" and the Oberdorf factory?
Answer: Yes, most probably a depot reworked rifle where the stock and barrel were replaced with ordnance spares (many- not all- commercial firms supplied new, spare parts for the ordnance system/depots.) The discussion of depots is long and rather complicated, however basically Germany (later in the occupied countries ordnance staffs were created) was broken into districts, called Wehrkreis or military disctricts, and within these areas depots existed to support the units assigned. To assist these depots (HZa) numerous branch depots (HNZa’s, HMa’s, HNMa’s etc..), were created and this process evolved over time and many variations exist. These depots reworked every thing from rifles to vehicles, many had a specialty, and some a very focused purpose. A great many reworked rifles and a good many actually “built” rifles from scraps of damaged rifles combined with ordnance spare parts. That is the short of it, but there are articles on the internet that cover the topic superficially and of course the MRJ (Military Rifle Journal) covered the topic before as well.
I might also add that R.Law, not only went first but he did it a time when gathering information was very problematic. For one you often had to reply on datasheets, sometimes written up by those that barely understood the rifle. I get datasheets today from collectors that are far more familiar with rifles and they often contain errors. Another is in the early 1990’s research on German military rifles was almost none existent. You had Olsen, John Walter, and several very superficial works- newsletters were dismally poor back then, none of which would stand close scrutiny with what we know today.
He also did not have access to all the primary source materials, period reports, or pervious writings and books that we do today- today we have more German authors and the DWJ to help, - my DRP article benefited from German sources and German collectors who you can have answers from in hours.
Today we have the work of Dr. Storz, Pruess, Görtz (who I believe recently passed as well) and Speed- and Storz will actually answer your emails if you have a question.
No way to compare what Law was able to achieve with today’s researcher if you chose to write. Much primary source material is available on line if you take the effort to find and utilize it.
Anyway, bottom line for me is Backboner was first, and a good effort for the time but is so dated today it is of very little use to a collector today. I have it on the shelf but very rarely open it... whereas I have many books almost as old I use daily or weekly. ....... (Feedback by "SimsonSuhl" - The K98k Forum)
4. I have to agree with SimsonSuhl. Much misinformation exist in regards to "reworked" K98k rifles.
I was just talking to Bruce about something that goes with this - a period document that talks about a Zuegamt returning a rifle to Mauser because of a defective stock. That is the exception to the rule - once delivered, Mauser did not want to have anything to do with the rifles. The facilities were set up to manufacture new 98k's.
To put it in an understandable example - Chevrolet builds new trucks. Imagine if the end user could send his 5 year old truck back to GM for a rebuild. Do you think Chevrolet would do that? Never- they spend millions building factories to manufacture new vehicles. In all honesty, they would lose money rebuilding an old vehicle - for the time it took to rebuild one they could make 1000 new ones.
So, these 98k manufacturers were hands off when it came to repair and rework. Rather, the end user ( the Army) was responsible for repair and rebuilding, which led to the depot system. By 1944 the system was pretty complicated I'm sure, as it had grown to repair a myriad of vehicles and weapons.
Many reworked rifles will have features specific to the facility, such as proof marks on stocks and such. There are other features you notice if you study these as well, but each reworked rifle is unique, so trying to classify them is almost impossible. Some work was done at the unit level, some repairs done at division level, some at corp level. As SimsonSuhl states, many facilities were district based and serviced units assigned to that district. Some reworks are what I call "attributed", meaning they have inspection markings of the depot that did the work, such as Su proof marks done at Spandau. Many others are just unmarked, and are difficult to authenticate. Sometimes you see reworked rifles with inspection proofs but no visible work done to them. Sometimes you see totally reworked rifles with new stocks, barrels, bolts, bands, etc. with no rework facility proof (these are actually not common as most heavy reworks are marked).
The rework guns are a field of their own, and some guys have reworked guns and don't realize it. I've seen quite a few Russian Capture rifles that were obvious reworks, with replaced barrels (the only evidence left), so it was obviously done quite often.
I want to add - the firing proof and letter suffix on your replacement barrel is probably what will tell you what facility did the work. I've seen that exact proof on other reworks - it's the "tell" in my opinion. I don't know who it was, but you also see it on other reworked rifles. I'll see if I can't find another rework with that style firing proof. From my experience, most of these facilities had unique features such as this.
Here is an interesting photo to illustrate, from "Wenn alle Brüder schweigen - Großer Bildband über die Waffen SS"- this is a waffenmeister repair shop for a Waffen SS unit, an arms repair section with delousing equipment added in. Note there are at least 4 box trucks. In each truck is a lathe and other fine machine tools. These unit armorers could repair a lot of stuff, and did. ....... (Feedback by "mrfarb" - The K98k Forum))
Pic courtesy of "Wenn alle Brüder schweigen - Großer Bildband über die Waffen SS"
(Click PIC to Enlarge)
5. WARNING: The K98k is one of the most commonly faked collector's rifles in the marketplace. Be very careful when you look to buy one of these on-line, or at gun shows. Get as much information as possible about the rifle and its provenance. Ask LOTS of questions, check the markings (particularly the stamping FONTS) against known "all correct" righteous samples, like the one displayed here in our virtual tour. However, please note that these fonts will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so buying Richard Law's book (see above) would be a good investment, if you're planning on becoming a serious collector of K98k rifles. If not offered, request a "money back" inspection period from the seller and above all, if it doesn't feel right .... don't buy, but seek some more experienced help. Don't hesitate to ask one of the folks on our MILSURPS.COM Advisory Panel, who perhaps have sound expertise on the K98k.
Here's a bunch of links to examples that should make you pay careful attention, especially when you're buying what may be portrayed as an "all correct" and "all matching" K98k rifle. The bottom line, validating provenance is becoming more important every day, particularly if one is buying these firearms as collectibles and expecting them to appreciate in value over time.
Links and content are credited to Brock's , Inc., Decatur, GA. (click here)
FAKE K98k BOLT NUMBERS (click here)
FAKE K98k FLOOR PLATE NUMBERS (click here)
FAKE K98k FRONT BAND NUMBER (click here)
FAKE K98k MIDDLE BAND NUMBERS (click here)
I'd also highly recommend any serious collector of K98k rifles join the The K98k Forum (click here). This is a relatively new, but excellent quality and highly focused forum, comprised of many very experienced K98k collectors, some of whom have recently written the first in a major new reference series of books titled Kriegsmodell (click here). I have received my copy and begun reading it. I have to say, it's an outstanding piece of work and extremely valuable to anyone who seriously wants to collect the K98k genre of Mauser rifles. "Caveat Emptor" ...... (Feedback by "Badger")
6. CAUTION: How do I tell if I have a rebuilt RC (Russian Capture) and not an original unaltered K98k?
Russian Capture K98k's all share similar traits. The are all WW2 era German Karabiners (though some are former Gew98's the Nazis had converted to K98k spec - rare though!). Most have matching receiver and barrel.
When the Russians came into these guns they stockpiled them and promptly began doing other more important things like rebuilding their cities, etc. Many RC rifles sat for month or even years exposed to the elements. By the late 1940's, many of these rifles were in an advanced state of deterioration, while some remained like new.
In true Russian style, a colossal public make-work project was undertaken. The ENTIRE inventory of German small arms then in Russian possession (roughly half the total wartime output of Nazi Germany's arms production) was ordered to undergo refurbishment and as many useable arms as possible to be made ready. Why? Russia was paranoid. The Cold War was freezing over and Russia feared invasion from the West. Also, it was a cheap source of arms they could export to allies in North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and every other wanna-be commi armpit of the world without depleting their "front line" weapons stockpiles.
The Russians took all their K98k's, and totally disassembled them except for the barrel. Bores were inspected and those found to be acceptable (ie, some pitting OK - so long as it's still safely shootable, much like with their refurbed Mosins) were set aside. Those that were deemed too far gone were recycled into steel for tractor parts or Order of Lennin medals, or whatever.
The small parts were all hot-dip reblued. Rusty parts were wire brushed or sandblasted first. These were placed indiscriminately in bins. The stocks were also inspected for serviceability. Those deemed acceptable were retained, those unacceptable were burned.
When the rifles were re-assembled no effort was made to match parts. A new (used) bolt was assembled and fitted to the receiver and the whole affair was assembled into a rifle from the binned parts. When done, most parts were electropencilled with the rifle's serial number and a flat was sanded on the left side of the wood stock (think big belt sander and half-drunk worker). The rifle's serial number was stamped there running parallel to the rifle's bore line. (Yugos are stamped perpendicular, for comparison)
Once complete, the whole rifle was generally painted in cheap shellac as a preservative agent - these are often not cosmolened for some reason - crated up and sent to war reserve, especially in the frontier states like Ukraine (which stored them in underground "nuclear proof" depleted salt mines). Today, cash strapped former Soviet states are all too happy to sell these to us.
It's difficult to say what percentage of captured arms survived the rebuild programs, but I'd imagine maybe half (or less) would be a good guess. Many of these arms sat out in the open for LONG periods of time before being rebuilt, so attrition due to the elements was probably a factor.
It's also wrong to assume that RC's are, in fact, "captures". At any given moment, less than 2 million Nazi troops would have served on the Russian front. Not all would have had K98K's. Over 14 Million K98k's were built and most experts agree that somewhere around 7 million likely ended up in Russian hands after the war. Throughout the whole war, it's doubtful a full 7 million K98k's traveled to east Prussia and beyond.
When Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies, the Whermacht assembled at depots all over Europe and turned in their arms. Additionally, government arms stockpiles and factories were captured and divied up by the victorious armies. At hostilities cessation, every Mauser weapon in the future East Germany (and all points east) would have become what we think of as an "RC K98k". Public ownership of guns in the USSR was banned as well. So whether a rifle was taken from a dead private in 1944 Minsk or if the NKVD knocked on a door in Berlin in 1947 and confiscated the arm from a retired volkspolitzei prison guard, it still ended up in the stocks of RC mausers. In fact, it's safe to say the MAJORITY of such guns are likely NOT battlefield captures. ...... (Feedback by "Claven2")
7. KCN Newsletter (6/18/2002) "The K98k Mauser Oberndorf" written by Bob Jensen and edited by Peter Kuck
(Click PIC to read and save Adobe PDF File)
(Right Click on PIC and choose "Save Target As..." to download PDF file)
This PDF file written by Bob Jensen and edited Peter Kuck is an excellent quick reference to the various markings and other things to look for when examining a K98k Mauser manufactured by Oberndorf. ...... (Feedback by "Badger")
8. Here are two K98k Mauser videos which have been extracted from our on-line "Screening Room" (click here). The first is contemporary WWII German Color Training Film) on the K98k Mauser Rifle, while the second one is a German K98k Bolt "Stripping & Assembling" Tutorial (Video courtesy of MILSURPS.COM member "CmpsdNoMore"). ....... Feedback by "Badger".
]To view any video simply click on the film strip PLAY button (big right arrow). Click on video while playing to PAUSE and use other buttons at the bottom of the video window to adjust your personal viewing preferences, such as viewing in FULL SCREEN mode. Place your mouse over the video when it is playing, then "right click" for a "drop down box" to change other viewing preferences. Make sure you turn on your speakers and set the the volume appropriately.
K98k Mauser Rifle
(WWII German Color Training Film)
German K98k Bolt "Stripping & Assembling" Tutorial
(Video courtesy of MILSURPS.COM member "CmpsdNoMore")