Staff Writer (Updated: 2/15/2016):
The Kar 98k was the standard German Army wartime model made available under a new manufacturing brand. Debuting in 1935, the K designation was used to signify "kurz" for "short" as the rifle retained its shortened carbine length - even shorter than the A-model that came before it. Another subtle design element that let the Kar 98K stand apart from the original Gew 98 rifles and earlier Kar forms was a recessed forward grip for better handling. The bolt handle was also turned down instead of out which lowered the chance that the weapon could snag on clothing or brush.
As the war progressed, the Kar 98k was produced in large quantities but never modernized since its introduction, limited by German resource capacity which were evermore dedicated to production of armored vehicles and combat aircraft. The proven Mauser bolt-action system was of good, sound design and offered the German infantryman a comparable counterpart to the British Lee-Enfield rifle models seeing in opposing foxholes and fortifications. While the Americans entered the war with their Springfield M1903 bolt-action rifles, its standard-issue rifle soon became the self-loading M1 Garand which increased the infantryman's rate-of-fire from the eight-round box magazine.
The Kar 98k was also adaptable to the sniper role with a telescopic sight fitted over the receiver. The overall function of the carbine remained the same while the scope allowed for accurized fire at range. A single sniper element could keep an entire enemy infantry squad in check for hours or even days if properly hidden from view.
The Kar 98K also featured an inherent ability to launch rifle grenades for house-clearing. A standard German infantry bayonet could also be fitted under the barrel in true World War 1 fashion. The Kar 98k ended as the last Mauser-produced bolt-action rifle made for the military. The HUB-23 suppressor could be fitted over the barrel to produce a reduced-noise variant of the carbine.
It was widely used across the globe in both license- and illegally-copied forms - from China and Croatia to Vietnam and Yugoslavia. Germany's enemies in France and the Soviet Union both utilized the type. The newly-born nation of Israel also became one of the weapon's many operators.
Manufactures beyond Mauser included Erma Werke, Sauer, Berlin-Lubecher Maschinenfabrik, Gustloff Werke, Steyr-Daimler-Puch, and Waffenfabrik Brunn.