Germany

 by Dan Reynolds
Imperial Germany used the Modell 1888 Commission Rifle as it's standard rifle from 1888 through the early part of the next century.  Early in its issue, a series of accidents revealed design flaws and there was a scandal invoving Ludwig Loewe & Co., a major producer, delivering sub-standard rifles after bribing inspectors. Remedies were later enacted to correct the design flaws and the rifles passed into reserve stores as the new Modell 1898 slowly replaced it in first line service.  The Gewehr Modell 1891 was an Engineer carbine variation and there was a Karabiner Modell 1888.

Waffenfabriken Mauser, a Loewe subsidiary company, designed a new smokeless powder rifle for Belgium, the 7.65x53mm Model 1889 which was built in a new factory at Herstal, Belgium called Fabrique National De Guerre which was licensed by and partly owned by Loewe.  An improved model was adopted by Turkey as the 7.65x53mm Model 1890, manufactured at Oberndorf by Mauser, then futher developed and adopted by Argentina as the 7.65mm Model 1891 and manufactured at Loewe & Co.  Then, Spain purchased a slight modification as the 7.65 Modelo 1892 in limited numbers.

A new Mauser improved model was adopted by Spain as the 7x57mm Modelo Espanol 1893 which began the ascendancy of the Mauser rifle as the most desired military for half a century.  This rifle was manufactured by Loewe & Co. in Berlin, and by Mauser for Turkey in 7.65x53mm with a magazine cut off device as the Turk Model 1893.  The Spanish model was adopted by Brazil and other Latin American nations. Derivatives were adopted by Chile as the Modelo 1895, China as the Model 1895, Serbia as the Model 1899, and by many other nations under various designations in 7x57mm,or, a short version of the 7x57mm used by one Boer contract based on the 7.65mmx53mm case (the 7x53mm), or 7.65x53mm, as desired by the purchaser.  Sweden adopted a 6.5x55mm carbine as the Model 1894 and a long rifle as the Model 1896.

The export of Mauser rifles by then was a major item in Germany's foreign trade up to the start of WW1.

During this period in the 1890's Germany was seeking a replacement for the Modell 1888. Several designs were considered and at one time it was seriously proposed to adopt a small bore cartridge, but existing stocks of the 7.92x57mm cartridge were so huge that it was decided to retain this round for the new rifle. A greatly improved model was adopted by Germany as the Gewehr Modell 1898 and a license was secured to allow production of the design at Spandau,Erfurt, and Danzig Arsenals which were state owned.  A royalty was paid to Loewe which controlled the Deutches Waffen Munitions Fabriken, Berlin, and Mauser Waffenfabriken, Oberndorf, for each rifle or carbine produced at state arsenals. Production at Amberg Arsenal in Bavaria slightly afterward.  A limited number of carbines, Karabiner Modell 1898 were made, but muzzle flash and recoil were brutal.

In 1903 an improved form of 7.92x57 ammunition was introduced.  It featured a heavy "Spitzer" pointed shape bullet of .323" diameter as opposed to .318" and provided a superior ballistic potential.  This required modification of existing barrels and sights to the new standard of future production rifles.  A certain number of Gewehr Modell 1888 rifles were also converted to use the new ammunition.  An "S" was stamped on the receiver to indicate conversion with rear sight now calibrated from minimum setting of 200 meters to 400 meters

In 1907 all regular front line troops had been equippted with the 1898 pattern rifle included a special variation carbine with small diameter receiver ring and stacking rod, the Karabiner Modell 1898AZ dating from 1904.  It had a sight calibrated from 300 to 2000 meters.  The "A" stood for "with bayonet", the "Z" stood for stacking pyramid, meaning carbine Modell 1898 with bayonet attachment point and stacking rod device.  Reserves remained armed with the Modell 1888 pattern.

During WW1, both the Gew.98 and and Kar.98AZ were modified to address conditions.  The most notable were the rear sights and a stock bushing which could be used to dismount firing pin and also to to lock weapons together in a rack or shipping case.

Germany lost most of her small arms during WW1.  The Empire fell to be replaced by the Weimar Republic.  The army became the Reichwehr. Under the imposed peace treaty the new Reichwehr was limited in many ways.  Only carbines were permitted to be produced.  So a "new type of carbine" was introduced in the early 1920's.

This was the Karabiner Modell 1898b, with a long Gewehr 98 type barrel, tangent rear sight, wider lower band with side sling attachment bar and side butt attachment point, turned down bolt handle, carbine style.  All rifles in service and new ones produced were made to conform to this pattern.  An "S" for Simson & Co. in Suhl was stamped on the receiver to indicate manufacturer as this was the only enity allowed by the treaty to manufacture small arms for the Reichwehr.  The old Karabiner Modell 1898AZ was officially adopted as the Kar.98a

In 1933 Mauser Werke in Oberndorf began producing a design to compete with Belgian and Czech Mauser export rifles.  It was essentially a Kar98b with shorter 600mm (24") barrel.  It could be had with horizontal bolt handle as a short rifle, or turned down bolt handle as a carbine.  It was marked on the rail "Standard Modell of 1933". This design was also made for domestic use by the DRP, the German Post Office, and many of this pattern went to paramilitary formations such as the SA, the SS and other NSDAP (NAZI Party) units.

In 1934 a new variation, the "Standard Modell of 1934" appeared lacking finger grooves in the forestock which dated back to the Kar.98b design.  This design was adopted by the "Wehrmact" as the Kar.98k and was made by Mauser, Sauer &Sohn and later others.  A receiver ring code was adopted to indicate manufacturer and date of fabrication.  The design was not officially adopted until June 21, 1935. ERMA, Berlin Luebecker Werke, and the old DWM factory called Berlin Borsigwalde, now under Mauser Werke management were now in production of this design.

As the years went on, other plants in Germany and occupied states began making the Kar.98k to the standard pattern.  A new marking scheme was adopted and as WW2 advanced, production short cuts were introduced, cheapening the design, degrading finish and speeding production.  A Krigsmodell variaton became the norm and this led to even cruder variations in the last days of the war.

Postwar, the French produced very late war variants of the 98k at Mauser Werke from June 1945, receiver codes SVW45 and SVW46.  They issued many of these during the Indochina war 1946-54