Germany’s WWII Karabiner 98k was placed in service in 1935. This bolt action rifle was chambered for the 7.92 x 57 mm Mauser cartridge and became the standard service rifle for the Germans. The 98k continued as the German main service rifle all the way through the end of World War II and is considered one of the top military rifles of all times.
The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a Karabiner 98k on display inside the museum. Along with the extensive weapons display in their Firearms and Ordnanace Gallery, the museum also includes a number of authentic weapons throughout the museum.
The design of the Karabiner 98k was based on several earlier rifles. The variations on this newly designed rifle did not affect its reliability, extreme accuracy or its range. The Karabiner 98k could reach 550 yards using an iron sight (or) 1,090 yards using the 8x telescope sight. It also featured a controlled-feed, bolt-action similar to the Mauser M98. The bolt design featured a turn-down handle, which allowed for rapid operation. This design feature also reduced the handle’s projection beyond the receiver and allowed aiming optics to be directly mounted above the receiver. A special process was used on the metal components of the Karabiner 98k which provided partial protection against rust.
Rifle Grenade Launcher - After the Karabiner’s introduction, additional features for the rifle continued to be developed. In 1942, the Gewehrgranatengerat (shooting cup) rifle grenade launcher became available. This model was based on previous rifle grenade launchers used in WWI and could be attached directly to the rifle. The range for the rifle grenade launcher was an estimated 306 yards. It proved successful against infantry, fortifications and light armored vehicles.
Suppressor - A suppressor for the Karabiner 98k, known as theHUB-23, resulted in a 75% reduction in its sound signature. TheHUB-23 fired special subsonic ‘Nahpatrone’ reduced load ammo which created a muzzle velocity of722 feet per second while still maintaining an impressive range of330 yards. The suppressor and subsonic ammo were primarily used by Special Forces and snipers.
Specifications of the Karabiner 98k
- Service History: 1935 to present day
- Manufacturer: Mauser
- Production Run: 1935 to 1945
- Total Built: Over 14.5 million
- Barrel Length: 23.62 inches
- Cartridge: 7.92 x 57mm Mauser
- Feed System: 5 round stripper clip; internal magazine
While the primary rifle of the German infantry during World War II, the Karabiner 98k was exported to various countries around the world prior to the war. During the war, the German’s used it in every theater in which they were involved, but as the war evolved, its rate of fire became more of a disadvantage as the US and Soviet Union began arming their troops with semi-automatic weapons.
Several post-war derivatives of the WWII Karabiner 98k were produced and are still being used in current day conflicts.