[Lone Sentry: Mauser Kar. 98K Rifle; WWII German Infantry Weapons]
[Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]


German Infantry Weapons
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 14, May 25, 1943
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Special Series publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



a. General

The Mauser Kar. 98K, or Mauser carbine, model 98K, rifle is the standard shoulder weapon of the German Army. Anyone who can use the U.S. M1903 (Springfield) service rifle will have little difficulty in using this German weapon, which is a handy, accurate short rifle. Although the German rifle has no windage adjustment or peep-sight, it will give good results at medium ranges after a little practice.

[Figure 11. Mauser Kar. 98K rifle.]
Figure 11.—Mauser Kar. 98K rifle.

b. How to Identify

The Mauser Kar. 98K rifle may be identified by—

(1) Short barrel (23.4 inches).

(2) Upper and lower bands very close together.

(3) Cleaning rod section fitted into the stock under the muzzle.

(4) Open V notch, leaf rear sight, sliding on a ramp and graduated from 100 to 2,000 (meters).

(5) Bolt action similar to the U.S. M1903 (Springfield) rifle.

(6) Semi-pistol-grip stock, with sling on the left side and a metal-lined hole through the stock, behind the hole for the butt end of the sling.

(7) Marking ("Mod 98") on the left receiver wall.

c. Characteristics

(1) General.—The Mauser Kar. 98K, a short rifle or carbine, is a bolt-operated, magazine-fed shoulder weapon very similar to the U.S. M1903 (Springfield) service rifle (see fig. 11). It has a leaf rear sight, with an open V notch that slides on a ramp and is graduated from 100 to 2,000 meters (109 to 2,187 yards). Older models, which operate exactly as does the Kar. 98K and differ only in that they have longer barrels and minor variations in fittings, are the Gew. 98, Kar. 98, and Kar. 98B.

(2) Table of characteristics.

Principle of operation    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    Manually bolt-operated.
Caliber    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    7.92 mm (.312 inches).
Capacity of magazine    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    5 rounds.
Ammunition    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    7.92 German small-arms ammunition (rifle or machine-gun).
Weight    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    9 pounds (approximately).
Length of barrel    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    23.4 inches.
Over-all length    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    43.5 inches.
Muzzle velocity    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    2,800 feet per second (approximately).
Front    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    Inverted V blade (which is some time equipped with a hood to provide shade).
Rear    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    Leaf with open V notch sliding on ramp, graduated from 100 to 2,000 meters; no windage adjustment.
Maximum    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    3,000 yards (approximately).
Effective    _ _ _ _ _ _ _    800 yards (approximately).

d. How to Operate

(1) Safety.—The safety is a thumb-operated lever mounted on the bolt plug, and operates in the same manner as the safety on the U.S. Springfield service rifle. The rifle can be fired and the bolt worked when the safety lock is moved to the left. When the safety lock is moved to the right, the piece is locked. The safety lock can be moved only when the rifle is cocked.

[Figure 12. Cross section of magazine, trigger, and bolt mechanism of Mauser Kar. 98K rifle.]
Figure 12.—Cross section of magazine, trigger, and bolt mechanism of Mauser Kar. 98K rifle.

(2) To load and fire.—The rifle is loaded in the same manner as the U.S. Springfield rifle. Open the bolt, place a clip of cartridges in the clip guides, and press them down into the magazine (see fig. 12). Close the bolt; this action will eject any empty clip. The trigger has a double pull; so take up the slack (as in the U.S. service rifles) before squeezing the trigger.8 Observe all the safety precautions used in firing U.S. rifles.

(3) To unload.—Open the bolt and work it back and forth until you empty both the magazine and the chamber. Check the chamber and magazine with your finger tip to make sure that they are both clear of cartridges.

e. Ammunition

The ammunition used in this rifle includes various types of 7.92-mm (.312-inch) small-arms ammunition. (See pars. 20 to 30, incl., pp. 161-184, below, for an explanation of the labels on ammunition cases.) Ball ammunition is packed in cases holding 1,500 rounds, and the label is overprinted i.L. to indicate that the ammunition in a case is packed in 5-round clips. Do not use ammunition from cases whose labels are overprinted Ex., as this is "dummy," or drill, ammunition.

f. Maintenance

(1) Stripping.—(a) To remove bolt.—Cock the rifle by working the bolt, and set the safety lever halfway between the safe and the locked positions. Pull the bolt back. Then pull out the near end of the bolt stop, which is located on the left side of the receiver near the cutoff. Hold the bolt stop out while you remove the bolt from the receiver.

(b) To disassemble bolt.—The bolt is stripped in the same manner as that of the U.S. Springfield rifle. Press in the bolt-sleeve lock and unscrew the bolt sleeve, firing pin, and spring assembly. Now place the tip of the firing pin in the hole in the stock of the rifle. Compress the spring, pushing down on the bolt sleeve until the bolt sleeve clears the headless cocking piece. Turn the cocking piece a quarter turn in either direction and remove it from the firing pin shaft. Ease up on the bolt sleeve so as not to allow the spring to escape suddenly. Remove the bolt sleeve and firing-pin spring from the firing pin.

(c) To remove magazine floor plate.—Insert the point of a bullet or a pointed tool into the small hole in the magazine floor plate, and exert pressure while at the same time pushing the floor plate toward the trigger guard. This will release the catch, and the magazine floor-plate spring and follower can then be removed and broken down into their separate units. Further stripping is not usually necessary.

(2) Assembly.—The assembling is done in the reverse order to that described in f(1), above.

(3) Care and cleaning.—The care of this rifle is the same as that required for the U.S. M1903 and M1 service rifles.

g. Accessories

(1) General.—Each rifle is furnished with a short length of cleaning rod, fitted through the bayonet stud. The rods from 3 rifles will make one full-length cleaning rod. A small metal case carried on the person holds an oiler, a pull-through, brushes, and short lengths of tow used as patches. Ammunition is carried in 2 leather ammunition pouches attached to the belt, which hold 60 rounds in 5-round clips. Additional rifle ammunition is issued in cloth bandoleers similar to the U.S. type. Muzzle and breech covers are sometimes used. Rifle grenade launchers may be attached to the rifle. In addition, a short knife bayonet is made to be fixed to the rifle in a manner similar to that of U.S. service bayonets.

(2) Grenade launchers and sights.—Both types are illustrated in figure 13. (See also figs. 14, 16, and 18.) The grenade launcher at the top of figure 13 is used with the spigot-type, hollow-charge rifle grenade (Schuss-G.P. 40); this grenade launcher is fitted to the bayonet lug, and the grenade slips over the cylindrical part of the launcher.

The grenade launcher shown in the lower right-hand corner of figure 13 is used to fire the high-explosive rifle grenade (G. Sprgr.) and the armor-piercing rifle grenade (G. Pzgr.). These two grenades are inserted with a twisting motion into the cup section of the launcher. (See fig. 15.)

There are two types of sights which are used with the grenade launchers. These are illustrated in figure 13. The sight is a simple attachment clamping to the left-hand side of the rifle behind the rear sight. The sight is composed of a sighting device placed on a base which revolves about an axis and is leveled by a small spirit bubble. There are two range scales reading from 0 to 250 meters for low-angle fire and from 250 to 50 meters for high-angle fire. These graduations apply to the high-explosive grenade only. When the armor-piercing grenade is fired, 75 meters on the low-angle scale corresponds to a range of 100 meters, and 50 meters on the high-angle scale corresponds to a range of 65 meters. (On the pistol grenade, see figs. 16, 17, 18(1), and 20.)

[Figure 13. Mauser Kar. 98K rifle with grenade launchers and sights.]
Figure 13.—Mauser Kar. 98K rifle with grenade launchers and sights.

(3) Grenades.—(a) High-explosive grenade (Gewehr Sprenggranate, G. Sprgr.).—The high-explosive grenade consists of a blackened steel body with an aluminum nose fuze and a grooved collar fitting into the rifling of the bore of the launcher (see fig. 18(2)). The fuze operates on impact, but the shock of discharge also initiates a delay system in the base which, in the event of the nose fuze's failing to function, detonates the filling after a delay of 4 to 5 seconds. The collar carrying the rifling may be unscrewed from the body and the igniter string pulled, in which case the projectile can then be thrown as a hand grenade, operating after 4 to 5 seconds (see fig. 19). The effect is equivalent to that of a "defensive" type of grenade, the radius of fragmentation being described by an enemy document as about 30 yards.

(b) Armor-piercing grenade (Gewehr Panzergranate, G. Pzgr.).—The rifle grenade for use against armor incorporates the hollow-charge principle (see fig. 18(3)). The grenade is a long cylinder, partly steel and partly aluminum, with a black rounded-metal nose cap and a base plate slotted to facilitate removal. The forward half of the cylinder is constructed of steel and contains the bursting charge, a light metal diaphragm shaping the hollow charge. The rear aluminum half of the cylinder, which carries an interrupted collar with eight right-hand grooves to fit the rifling of the launcher cup, contains a fuze and detonator. The weight of the bursting charge is exceedingly small compared with the total weight of the projectile, and the general design is unnecessarily complicated, with considerable waste of efficiency. There is no provision for use as a hand grenade.

[Figure 14. Grenade launcher, showing method of unscrewing it to aid in cleaning.]
Figure 14.—Grenade launcher, showing method of unscrewing it to aid in cleaning.

[Figure 15. Method of inserting rifle grenade. (The cup of the launcher being rifled, the grenade is inserted with a twisting motion.)]
Figure 15.—Method of inserting rifle grenade. (The cup of the launcher being rifled, the grenade is inserted with a twisting motion.)

[Figure 16. Rifle grenade launcher and grenade firing pistol (very light type). (Both the launcher and the pistol are rifled).]
Figure 16.—Rifle grenade launcher and grenade firing pistol (very light type). (Both the launcher and the pistol are rifled).

[Figure 17. Pistol grenade being breech-loaded.]
Figure 17.—Pistol grenade being breech-loaded.

[Figure 18. Three types of grenade projectiles: (1) pistol grenade; (2) rifle grenade, with percussion detonator fuze; (3) rifle grenade, with hollow charge.]
Figure 18.—Three types of grenade projectiles: (1) pistol grenade; (2) rifle grenade, with percussion detonator fuze; (3) rifle grenade, with hollow charge.

[Figure 19. Method of unscrewing base of rifle grenade and thereby using friction fuze.]
Figure 19.—Method of unscrewing base of rifle grenade and thereby using friction fuze.

[Figure 20. Special projectile 361 for signal pistol (Wurfkörper 361 für Leuchtpistole).]
Figure 20.—Special projectile 361 for signal pistol (Wurfkörper 361 für Leuchtpistole).

(The projectile consists of the normal egg-type hand grenade (see par. 10, p. 47, below), with a stem in place of the combustion fuze 39. The stem contains a combustion fuze (combustion time, approximately, 4 to 5 seconds) on the upper end of which a No. 8 detonator is fitted. The fuze is inserted into the detonator and then the detonator end is inserted into the grenade. On the lower end of the stem there is the cartridge (propellant charge with percussion cap) which expels the projectile on firing and sets off the combustion fuze. The projectile is secured in the stem by a cotter pin and ring which must be withdrawn before the projectile is loaded into the signal pistol. When withdrawn, the projectile is "live."

For firing the projectile, a barrel-reinforcing tube is inserted into the barrel of the signal pistol. It is pushed in from the rear when the pistol is broken. When the barrel is returned to position, the pistol is ready for loading. (The barrel-reinforcing tube should be cleaned about every 100 rounds.) The stem of the projectile is introduced into the tube until appreciable resistance shows that the base of the tube has been reached. The pistol may now be cocked.

The signal pistol grenades are packed in a metal container with detonators and a barrel-reinforcing tube.)

(c) Practice projectile (Gewehr Sprengranate, Übungsmunition, G. Sprgr., Üb.).—This round is fitted with a smoke generator, six holes for smoke emission being drilled in the side of the body.

(d) Cartridge and packing.—Each rifle grenade is packed with bulletless blank rifle cartridge in a cardboard container, which may be marked with the German nomenclature. The cartridges are not interchangeable between rounds of different types. The containers are black, with a white spot on the end for armor-piercing grenades and gray for the high-explosive grenades.

(e) Range.—The high-explosive grenade has a maximum range of about 250 yards. The armor-piercing grenade probably has a maximum range of about 100 yards.

8 See fig. 5, p. 8, above, for the method of aligning German sights.

[Back to German Infantry Weapons contents] Back to Table of Contents