The Mauser K98k was the standard infantry weapon of the German
army during WW2. It was descended from the Mauser Gewehr 98 which was the
main infantry weapon during WW1. The main difference was the barrel being 6
inches shorter which made the weapon less unwieldy.
The Mauser is a bolt-action rifle with an internal ‘magazine’ that
has a capacity of 5 rounds. These were fed (on a ‘stripper clip’) into the
magazine from the top when the bolt was drawn to the rear.
The K98k went into production in 1935, the only difference from the earlier K98b was that the stock was manufactured from beech instead of walnut.
Various attachments were manufactured for the K98k including a
number of sniper scopes and a rifle grenade launcher.
The K98k was highly accurate but by the end of the war it was
obsolete. However it continued to see service with various armies including
Israeli and Yugoslav forces.
Effective range: 800m (double if sniper scope used)
German research showed that the vast majority of infantry combat took
place at ranges under 500m. It was therefore decided that a weapon was needed
with a high rate of fire and the accuracy of a rifle within this range.
A cartridge which had been developed in the mid-1930s would be ideal for this weapon. This was the 7.92x33mm or ‘kurtz patrone’ (short cartridge). This meant that more rounds could be carried in a magazine of a given size and there would less weight to be carried by the infantryman.
However, Hitler was opposed to the development of new weapons firing
pistol-calibre ammunition so the weapon was secretly developed under the guise
of a ‘machine pistol’.
The result was the MP43 which was designed by Hugo Schmeisser at
Haenel. This was a ground breaking new weapon, the predecessor of the Soviet AK47
and other later assault rifles.
Hitler ultimately found out about the weapon and it was then correctly designated as the Stg (Sturmgewehr – ‘Assault rifle’) 44. The Stg 44 had a 30 round curved magazine and had the capability to fire fully auto or single shots. This weapon gave the infantrymen considerably more firepower compared to their bolt-action rifles and the weapon became highly prized. By the end of the war almost half a million had been produced.
An odd invention that appeared in small numbers toward the end of the war was the Krummerlauf. This was a curved barrel and periscope arrangement that attached to the end of the Stg 44 barrel for shooting around corners.
Rate of fire: 500-600 rpm
Effective range: 700m