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. The rifle shown in the picture virtual tour is marked on the Mauser Werke AG, Oberndorf a/N receiver as Code 42 1939. According to "Backbone of the Wehrmacht (The German K98k Rifle, 1934 - 1945) by Richard D Law", for the year 1939, Oberndorf would have used WaA63 Waffenamt's on most components.
For a 60+ year old milsurp, the condition of this rifle is excellent and its components match all the way down to the firing pin, with even the guard screws and release latch screw being serial numbered to the rifle. Of the 279,078 rifles reportedly manufactured by Oberndorf in 1939, only a random few were made with the traditional early style walnut stock. This rifle is one of that small number, while the majority were made with laminated stocks, the result of trials that had stretched through the 1930s.
Besides Oberndorf's WaA63 stock markings (see pics), it's also marked with an "L" (Eagle above it), indicating it was manufactured for the Luftwaffe! It's acknowledged in Law's book that it is rare to find K98's with the "L" Luftwaffe marking, as opposed to the more usual "H" Heer (Army) stamps........ (Feedback by "Badger")
2. 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.
3. 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")
4. 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")
5. 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")