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 involving
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.
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 further 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
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 equipped 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 entity 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)
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 variation
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