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Panzerbuchse 38 (PzB 38) Anti-Tank Rifle (1938)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 4/6/2015

The World War 2 Panzerbusche 38 series was based on the World War 1-era Mauser T-Gewehr anti-tank gun.

The Panzerbusche 38 (PzB 38) was an early World War 2 (1939-1945) anti-tank rifle design by Gustloff Werke for use by the re-equipping German Army. B. Brauer based this design on the World War 1-era Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr which featured an artillery-like breech system. The T-Gewehr was, for all intents and purposes, the first-ever dedicated anti-tank rifle system - designed to combat the new Allied threat of World War 1, the combat "tank". Like the T-Gewehr before it, the PzB 38 operated from a manually-actuated bolt-action system and fired only individual armored piercing rounds (the weapon required manual reloading after each firing). Production was handled by the storied concern of Rheinmetall-Borsig and production histories state between 1,400 to 1,600 examples were delivered to the German Army (some sixty were available at the time of the German invasion of Poland in September of 1939). Despite its seemingly useful availability, the type was never installed as the standard German anti-tank rifle of the Army during the war. Instead, the weapon was simplified for mass production in the form of the Panzerbusche 39 (PzB 39) anti-tank rifle series to which some 25,300 examples of this type were delivered - 568 of these for the German invasion of Poland.

In service, the PzB 38 showed some promise but its complicated design and high-cost manufacturing process ensured that there would be problems in-the-field (with the complicated breech block arrangement) and production would never realistically keep up with the wartime demand. However, as the war progressed and Allied armor grew increasingly more stout, the tactical value of this prewar design grew limited in turn with capability enough against just light armored vehicles by the end.

As such, the PzB 38 series was only in serious use throughout the early war years and abandoned as soon as better alternatives were brought online - either through direct replacement by the PzB 39 series or through shoulder-fired, rocket-propelled, armor-defeating weapons like the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck.

The PzB 38 fired an armor-piercing variant of the German 7.92mm rifle cartridge (7.92x94mm Patronen). The weapon measured 63.5 inches long with the stock fully extended and her barrel alone was 42.7 inches in length. The folding stock and bipod attachments allowed for some transportability but the system remained heavy at its core - weighing some 36 lb. Muzzle velocity was rated at 3,970 feet-per-second and 25mm thick armor penetration against a 90-degree surface was good out to 328 yards. Damaging a key component (track, engine block, driver's position) of a tank or armored vehicle was better than nothing.

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Specifications for the
Panzerbuchse 38 (PzB 38)
Anti-Tank Rifle

Country of Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer: Gustloff Werke; Rheinmetall-Borsig - Nazi Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1938

Overall Length: 1615 mm (63.58 in)
Barrel Length: 1,085.00 mm (42.72 in)
Weight (Empty): 35.71 lb (16.20 kg)

Caliber*: 7.92x94mm Patronen
Action: Single-Shot; Manually-Acutated Bolt-Action System
Feed: Single-Shot
Muzzle Velocity: 3,970 ft/sec (1,210 m/sec)
Rate-of-Fire: 10 rounds per minute
Range: 1,640 ft (500 m; 547 yds)
Sights: Front Post; Rear Notch

* Listed caliber(s) for firearms may be model dependent if more than one model type/chambering was produced. Always consult official manufacturer's information or a licensed dealer.

Panzerbusche 38 (PzB 38) - Base Series Designation.

Panzerbusche 39 (PzB 39) - Lightened, streamlined improved version replacing the PzB 38 series.

Nazi Germany