Mauser Karabiner Kar 98k Bolt-Action Service Rifle
The Mauser Kar 98k was the standard-issue German infantry bolt-action rifle of World War 2.
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With origins dating as far back as World War 1, the famous German Army Kar 98k ("Kar" the abbreviation of "karabiner" translating to "carbine") was a direct descendant of the Mauser Gew 98 rifle of 1898 - the standard-issue rifle of the Imperial German Army heading into World War 1. As a carbine form, the base rifle design sat its stock and barrel shortened to reduce overall length and make for a more handier long gun - at the expense of some range and accuracy at range. Defined by models such as Model 1898 (Kar 98), Model 1898a (Kar 98a), and the Model 1898k (Kar 98k), the carbine form survived in circulation long enough to see extended combat service in World War 2 (1939-1945) as the standard infantry rifle for the Germans.
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.