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Gewehr 98: The German WWI Standard Rifle


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian, I am here today at the Rock Island
Auction Company taking a look at some of the guns from their upcoming June of 2016 Regional auction. And I wanted to take a look at this one today, it is definitely not a forgotten weapon.
This is a German Gewehr 98 Mauser, the main rifle for the German military in World War One, and of course the mechanical base for the main rifle of the German army in World War Two, and also the main rifle of a whole
lot of other countries, for a whole bunch of decades. The Mauser 98 is generally considered
to be the best bolt-action rifle ever made. It is certainly the most popular
military bolt-action rifle ever made. Adopted by scads of countries for many decades. Now, the Germans … Actually, a lot of these countries were adopting Mausers before the Model 98, Models 96, 95, 93, 91, 1889. Through this whole period
Paul Mauser was improving and tweaking the design, getting
it a little bit better every single time. And by the time the Germans were
ready to get rid of their Gewehr 88s, their commission rifle, which
wasn’t necessarily a totally bad rifle, but it had some shortcomings, especially in, like, how
it handled leaking gas if you ruptured a cartridge case. The safety elements on the
Gewehr 88 really were kind of lacking. And that’s one of the areas where the
Gewehr 98, the Mauser, really shines. It has a lot of built-in safety features. And they are things that we don’t
really pay that much attention to today. The idea of a ruptured cartridge case is a lot
less likely today with modern manufacturing and quality control on ammunition. A hundred
years ago, or a hundred and thirty years ago, this was a more significant issue. You’d have a
lot more ruptured cases due to poor materials. And what the gas did, how the action was
able to handle and redirect that vented gas was a lot more important at that point. So I’ll leave
some of the developmental history for another day. We’ll just stick with taking a
closer look at this particular 98 today. These were adopted by the
German military in April of 1898. And even after that adoption they did go through a
couple changes, the most significant one being this change from a round nose bullet to a
pointed one, or a Spitzer as it was called. This was something that virtually
every military in the world did. Everyone had started with round nose bullets,
because that was kind of the default. And it was discovered that a pointed bullet has
much better aerodynamics, it drops less, it travels farther. It’s better
in pretty much every way. And this was generally development done in
concert with also lightening the weight of the bullet. Realising that a lighter bullet for the calibre will
also have better ballistics, better aerodynamics, and work better in general. So, for the Germans
this was about 1903 that they changed from the round nose to the pointed. Now, pretty
much every country that did this also, … They usually made the cartridge hotter at the
same time. So they made some changes to the chambering to make sure that the hot
new ammo couldn’t be used in older guns that may have been chambered
for the old round nosed cartridge. Now in the German case … they
actually changed the bore diameter. They went from a round nosed .318 diameter
bullet to a Spitzer .323 diameter bullet. Now the exact details of what’s safe and what’s
not with that conversion and especially in some of the older guns like the Gewehr 88s, that’s a
really detailed topic that we’ll get into another day. Suffice to say, one of the problems,
or one of the issues, that comes up when you make a change like that,
is you have to change your rear sights. This applies to everybody. In the case of the German
military they had this, it was called a … Lange Visier, what’s in today’s parlance commonly
called a rollercoaster rear sight. And with the original round nose ammo
this went from 200 out to 2,000 metres. And because the bullets got more aerodynamic
when they changed to the Spitzer, they discovered that this sight actually couldn’t
go any lower than 400 metres. Which OK, that’s fine. In the prelude to World War One, everyone
thought that with these new high velocity, long-range projectiles wars were going
to be fought at much greater distances. You know, we now have a cartridge that’s
effective out to 2,000 yards and, you know, I can actually set this sight and
legitimately aim at 2,000 yards. Now whether I can see anything
out there is a different issue, but people thought this was actually
how wars would be fought. So the idea that our rear sight is now, you
know, the minimum sight is now 400 metres. Oh, OK, no big deal, that’s where we’re
planning to be shooting at people anyway. Well, turns out that’s not the case.
World War One breaks out and it’s discovered that, you know what? A lot of
this shooting is done at very close range. And a 400 metre zero on the rifle means that you
are going to be shooting way high at close range. If you aim at the centre of a man’s
body at 100 yards with a 400 metre zero, the bullets gonna go, like, way over his head. Which was a problem, and the Germans
looked at a number of ways to fix this problem. … There were some modified
taller front sights that were tried. They sometimes tried cutting out, or deepening,
the notch on the back of the rear sight. Ultimately, nothing really happened in
World War One, they just stuck with this change in zero, and you learned to
aim really low with these guns. Now after the war they would come up with a different
pattern of rear sight that could go down lower. And … that evolved into the sight
that we commonly see on the K98k, the Karabiner 98, that was
used in World War Two. Anyway, this Lange Visier rear sight … is one of
the defining visual characteristics of the German 98 Mausers. These weren’t
really used by anybody else. Now I should probably bring the camera
back here so we can take a closer look at some of these details.
So let’s go ahead and do that. Alright, let’s start at the front
end here. We have a cleaning rod. This is a half-length cleaning rod
and it’s threaded at the end, so if you were going to use this for
cleaning, you would … find your buddy and you’d both pull out the cleaning rods, thread
them together, and then you’d have one that’s long enough to actually use. Now,
the Germans also used pull-throughs, that was probably the more common
way to actually clean the guns. This is our bayonet lug. The Mausers, the
German Mausers, are a little bit unusual in that the bayonets didn’t use a muzzle ring.
Instead they just had this very long engagement surface back here that snapped
into the back of the bayonet handle. And that was deemed to be strong
enough for mounting the bayonet. I think the other idea was that
would do less to deflect your point of impact when you had the
bayonet hanging on the end of the rifle. Better to do it here than to actually
have it hanging directly on the barrel. Now this hook is a little bit unusual to a lot of
people. That is actually a sling attachment point. We have what appears to me to be an original
World War One German sling on this rifle, which is actually a fairly rare thing to find, fairly
valuable piece. One thing you will notice on these rifles is this wire hook, that loops or snaps into that front sling hook like that. And
that’s an alternative way to hang the sling. You would have it hooked here
and in front of the trigger guard. Now here’s that rear sight. You obviously see
where the rollercoaster name comes from. And it’s got a button right here that you can
depress, and then the whole thing slides forward and back. So this cam track in your
base here determines how far up it’s going to go. The one advantage to this sight is that
it is not dependent on a spring at all. So there’s no spring tension
that you can lose in this sight, and I suspect that was a big part of
why it was adopted in the first place. Unfortunately, the downside is this actually
is not a particularly good rear sight picture. These wings kind of get in the way. Might not seem like they would, but they’re a bit
annoying to have in your field of view the whole time. At any rate, we have a little pointer down
here that tells us what range we’re set at. This one, of course, is the upgraded pattern, this is for the Spitzer. So it starts
at 400 metres and goes out to 2,000. Now we have the receiver ring here,
this will have our Imperial crest. It’ll have the manufacture location and the
manufacture date. Now prior to World War One, or rather prior to 1915, these were made by
about a half-a-dozen different arsenals. They were made by Amburg, Danzig
DWM, Erfurt, Mauser and Spandau. And this, of course, is a Spandau example.
After World War One got going they added a another handful of manufacturers to try
and pick up on the increased demand of wartime use. Those additional ones would be Saur,
Schilling, Simson, Haenel, and Oberspree. So, as for the dates, not all of these factories were
making these guns continuously, so there’s a whole special set of date ranges that you can
look for if you get really into these. We’ll ignore that for now. Simply, this being
a pre-World War One gun is pretty cool, I think. You’ll also have the exact
bore diameter, in this case 7.9, stamped up on the barrel ring. That was something
that was done … when the barrels were made. So you may notice that the barrel is nicely
blued and the receiver has no finish on it at all. That is actually correct. When originally made as Gewehr 98s, a
number of parts of these were left in the white without finish, the receivers, the bolts, also the
cleaning rods and the butt plates should not be blued. However when the guns were re-arsenalled
after the war, or sometimes by other countries, those parts were generally blued. So if you find
one with a finished receiver or a finished bolt, that’s a clue that it’s been refurbished,
or parts have been changed, or it’s in some way not
directly World War One original. Moving back to the bolt we have, well, the same
thing. The bolt is in the white as it should be. This one is a matching bolt. And
we’ll take the bolt apart in a minute after we finish going through a
bunch of these features. So next up, our trigger guard. One of
the interesting things about these World War One German slings is that
the rear of the sling actually comes with a quick-detach swivel. You thought quick-detach
slings were this modern fancy thing, eh, no, the Germans had these over 100 years ago. Now
there are two positions where this sling can be attached. You’ve got the front of the trigger guard and you’ve got
a rear sling attachment. If you’re going to carry the rifle you would put it back here. If you want to have
the sling basically strapped up out of the way, you would put the rear sling swivel
here, and you would use this front hook here to snap the front of the
sling all the way up here out of the way. Now looking at the very back on the
butt-stock we have a disc back here. That was a place where you
could put a unit mark on the gun. This would be abandoned at a
later point, and actually replaced with a reinforced hole in the stock that was
used to aid in disassembly of the bolt. So you’ll normally see that, it’s a bit unusual.
And again, this is a sign of an early, unmodified gun that it still has the stock
disc. There are a couple of proof marks, Imperial proof marks, in the stock.
These are a bit worn but not surprisingly, this rifle
is over 110 years old. We’re going to see more of those proof
marks here on the side of the receiver. And that’s a variety of things. That’s a
nitro proof, a final inspection proof, etc Seeing a series of them like that is correct.
And that’s how the guns would have come. On the opposite side of the receiver, I’m going
to have an Imperial proof and a serial number. Now this one’s number is 4898 ‘d’. There’s a script alpha suffix after the serial
number. The way that these were numbered, every year they would start at 0001,
and then run up to number 10,000 and then they’d restart at 0001 ‘a’, and
go to 10,000 ‘a’, and so on and so forth. So each batch is a group of 10,000 rifles. So in 1905 production, because this is a 1905
gun, this would have been in the fourth batch. So this would be number … 44,898 rifle made by Spandau in 1905. On the side rail of the receiver here we
have the rifle model, in this case Gewehr 98. If this were a carbine, you would expect
it to say Kar 98, and then there are other designations that were used
later on in smaller numbers. Alright, now a quick bit of disassembly on
the bolt, obviously I have the bolt out here. First thing we’re gonna look at is, the bolt handle
is straight, as it should be for a Gewehr 98. These are all straight handled. Only if you had
a carbine did you get a bent bolt handle. These two holes are part of this on-going
series of gas safety upgrades made by Mauser. These give a vent location down and out of
the way for gas that happens to come back through the firing pin hole into the inside
of the bolt. That way it doesn’t get channelled to the back of the bolt, and
maybe come out in the shooter’s eyes. Now at the same time, we also have this
round extended shield. So any gas that comes back along the outside of the bolt will be
deflected away from the shooters eyes by that. One of the defining characteristics of the
Model 98 Mauser is this third lug at the back. It’s not used in regular service, but it
gives you a backup in case both of these locking lugs shear off which, by the way, is
a phenomenally unlikely thing to happen. But if they do, you’ve got this third
lug that will engage at that point, and prevent the bolt from
coming out of the gun. Now in many cases a similar function
is performed by the bolt handle itself, but on the Model 98, Mauser
specifically put in this third lug to do that. The extractor on the 98 is quite the stout
and impressive piece. And it does actually slide back and forth, which allows it to do a
couple things. It actually improves its performance at extracting really tight cases, and at the same time it allows it to snap over cartridges when single loaded. So this is really an elaborately, well designed extractor. They are renowned for being very
strong and very durable and long-lasting. And the extractor is one place that you can
often get a lot of problems in a combat rifle, and the Mauser 98 extractor is
one of the best designs out there. It is for good reason that the 98 was considered
one of the best bolt-action rifles of the war. … It’s not just that they were potentially quite accurate
and they were, you know, had a good extraction. It’s also that when it comes to issues like only
a military will see, like long-term field durability, the Model 98 proved very, very successful. These didn’t have a lot of parts breakage.
They … didn’t go down in the field. They tended to just work and work and work, and when
you’re in World War One, that’s really what you need. Well, thanks for watching guys.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the video I know this isn’t a forgotten weapon, but this is
actually a really nice example of a World War One pattern German Mauser 98, and those
are getting harder and harder to find, so I thought it’d be a good idea to take a close look
at this one while we have the opportunity to do so. Now maybe you’ll already have
one of these, maybe you have several, but if you don’t have one and you’d like
to add one to your collection, of course this one is coming up for sale. If you
take a look in the description text below, you’ll find a link to Rock Island’s
catalogue page on this rifle. You can take a look at their pictures, and
if you decide you really need to have this … hanging on your own wall, or taken
out to your own shooting range, then place a bid right there on their website. Thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “Gewehr 98: The German WWI Standard Rifle

  1. It wasn't a " Spitzer" which actually is a pencil sharpener, the then new bullet was called "schweres Spitzgeschoß". The converted rifles were marked "S" for Spitzgeschoß .The rear sight is called "Kurvenvisier". The extractor definitely does not snap over, it's one of the engineered safety features. Therefore, if you load a cartridge by hand into the chamber, you can't close the breech. On the other hand, that prevents you from loading a new cartridge on the back of a non shot one which is still in the chamber. There can't be one left in the chamber, the extractor extracts in every case.

  2. You are rad ian. I never would have thought that the Internet would become something that delivers such excellent things to me when my parents had net zero and told me that if I looked at the computer it would develop viruses that would ruin their credit score….

  3. I've never even seen a firearm fire, I'm just interested in the engineering that goes into them.

    So I was wondering: What is a good sight picture?

  4. My first rifle was a gew 98, unfortunately the previous owner sporterized it, I do plan to return it to its former glory, it didn't serve two world wars to have its dignity stripped from it

  5. I know , it is long ago , but the "d" looks like more as an "a",  a small a is written in German  like that, for a d the Vertical line is to short don't go by an a like this one on a Keyboard.

  6. Hi! Love this channel. I have a question. 🙂 I've found one of those g98 rifles that was refitted with a tangent rear sight in the 1920's. I do like the look of it but I really want it to look 100% original. Is it possible to refit the old rollercoaster sight again?

  7. I have a 1917 Gew98 sent to turkey for a refurbishing and somehow missed all turkish arsenal stamps. Joy to fire! Recoil little felt and oh so accurate.

  8. Forgotten or not, doesn't matter. Forgotten Weapons was and will remain your unique theme Ian, but now I want to see your takeaway of every gun, bazooka, and slingshot that turns your fancy. Keep up the awesome work.

  9. most of the countries that used the wrapon never won a war, but its the brest military rifle? I think its ironic how so many people think its the best weapon of all time.

  10. Best rifle of all time!? Pffft, Lee-Enfield hammers this thing across everything if you look at it as a battle winning rifle, not a target rifle. JUST SAYING

  11. Spandau is actually a Suburb of Berlin, the then and now capital of Germany. Looks like we Germans are good at one thing, having good technology in two world wars but (luckily) loosing them.

  12. The Brazillian Mauser in 7mm X57 of 1908 has all the features that the K98 does and better sights too. Und a nickel plated receiver with the Brazilian regime of 1889 on it. only with a 29 inch barrel…

  13. Kinda ironic, the channel called forgotten weapons shows one of the most popular weapons in history^^ (I don't mean it negative, it is just a little bit ironic)

  14. They weren't able to change the rear sight when they switched to the new ammo. One wonders why they didn't just install taller front sights to solve the problem. Admittedly, the markings on the rear sight would no longer correlate with real ranges, but you wouldn't have to aim ridiculously low at short ranges.
    I'd guess, from my experience with similar calibers, that, with a 400 yd setting on the rifle, you would have to aim between the hips and knees to hit a man in the sternum at 100 yds.

  15. Because of the overshoot of the guns, finnish had a saying in ww2 called "tulta munille". Translated in to aim for the balls or shoot at the balls. They were mostly using russian outdated weapons

  16. Wish I had $750. My local pawn shop has a 1914 Gewehr 98, and that's what spawned me to binge on Gewehr 98 vids.

  17. I love your videos, where did you receive so much education on firearms and their history? Just lots of literature over time, or did you study somewhere?

  18. Your video is full of bad information . You should look the info up from original German sources , not just make it up .  Neither 1903 or 1905  is a correct date for the S ammo . The S bullet was not .323 dia [ just measure a real one ] . The S ammo WAS designed to be fired in the Gew-88 rifle  [ no German military rifle EVER have a groove smaller than .3208 and the S bullet was .3208 dia with a driving band ] . You should measure the 400 German military rifles YOU own , no just barrow some . The 400 meter setting was a battle zero that would allow a belt buckle aim to hit from 0 to 400 meters . That is why they went with such a light bullet , for the 400 zero even though they lost killing power  [ again all you have to do is read the Germans ammo tests ] . At 100 yards the bullet would hit in the chest [ not go over the head ] , have you never fired any original ammo at those distances ? , or try reading the German military shooting manual  ? The problem in WWI trenches was they were aiming at a 1/2 of a head at 75 yards , you will miss a 6 inch target then .  It is sad the bar is so low that people think you are an expert .

  19. whats funny regarding the zero is that most 7.62 (x51 for example) chambered rifles have the same aimpoint at 25m as at 400m. Not sure wether that applies to the G98 or if mauser knew about this, but still worth considering.

    Thank you for your videos keep rolling
    J

  20. US troops felt the sting of the 98 Mauser during the Spanish-American War as they looked questioningly at their own inferior Kragg-Jorgensen rifles. The 1903 Springfield was a result of this experience and pretty much a copy of the 98.

  21. Excellent quick video. Please make one on the Gewehr 88 as I feel that is certainly a forgotten weapon compared to the Gew 98 and later Kar98k.

  22. My favourite weapon on Battlefield 1. Iron sights of course. Only cowards use a scope. I kill the scopers because i'm just better 🙂

  23. I have a Gew98 made by schilling, dated 1916, serial # 4898 with a symbol that resembles a capital A under it. fun to shoot and still very accurate.

  24. The stock on this example has been sanded. The brass pins should be punched below the surface of the wood, the 'unit disc' should be bedded about .5mm deep and the stamped cartouches and serial should be noticeably deeper. Almost all surviving early G98s have very tatty stocks – if a Gewehr looks too good to be true after 113 years, it certainly will be. I have a 1902 and I've come across a couple of others dated to the same year. Anyone seen an earlier dated one? Oh , and mine has GER scratched into it. The LOL seems similar, I'm sure there was lots of trading and thefts on the troopships home in 1919; these initials might be connected with that.

  25. Please everyone fucking block pragerU. Everything they say is twisted and more or less false. It's just propaganda that nobody needs to see. Please everyone block them.

    P.S. LOVE YOUR VIDEOS! Very informative and it's clear you know your stuff. You speak with confidence and it shows in your presentation of information.

  26. One of my biggest rifle regrets is not buying a pristine 1908 Brazilian contract Gewehr 98, had the chance for $600 but I used my cash on surplus 7.62×39 ammo for a weekend of shooting

  27. I have one of these, my grandfather brought it home from WW1 with a luger in its leather case. He was shot down and spent 2 weeks in French trenches before he got back to England(he was over there to "train" British pilots).

  28. 3:58 Hi, don't think you're going to see this, but just to let you know, Ian, it's pronounced lah-n-geh vih-zee-ehr, not lah-n-j vi-zeer, sorry for the pedanticism

  29. The fact that this video is 2 years old aside, guess what, folks? Yall like this rifle? Mauser still makes these things in a variety of cartidges! 8mm Mauser, .30-06, 7.62 NATO/.308 Win., etc.

    … Jesus, i sound like a living ad…

  30. Ian, the city of Spandau is pronounced [shpandau]. In German "sp" is pronounced "shp" and st like an English "sht". So a "Stukas" was…"Shtuckas".

  31. Any chance you could do a video on the Ciener ultimate over/under, masterkey and M26? It's crazy how many people I run into have no idea any of these exist.

  32. Lee Enfield had a 10 round magazine and it's turn bolt action was smooth and flowing were you could get a really good rhythm going.
    The Mauser had a straight pull back bolt .This feels less natural and more stiff and it's magazine only held 5 rounds.Lee Enfield was the best rifle weapon of WW1 and WW2 and was used by the British army until 1957.Though the Mauser was more accurate over 1000 yards.
    In WW1 this was irrelevant. Anyone who says the Mauser is the better weapon is just an anti Brit scrote. Cheers.

  33. In 1936 American soldiers were armed with a semi-automatic M1 Garand while the Germans were still running around with slightly modified version of this thing until 1945. Talking about the myths of German tech superiority.

  34. Love the videos bloke keep it up please. Can you shed any light as to why the Germans never adopted a 10 round magazine like the British.

  35. Reminds me of talking about this old Scottish dude, when he was switching his .270 from the iron sights he's used for decades to a scope. "Ach, I never could see anything past 300m. Beyond that it just looks like a smudgy rat".

  36. Ian this is another fine video. I Love and respect your work.
    I research old weapons and kinda document them in my 'journals of sorts' but I don't have access to the firearms you show Us all here.
    I think you must be working crazy hours to bring all of this to the viewers. You are one of the absolute best on weapons and I truly enjoy your videos on the off the wall BS, that folks made to peddle off on American buyers. They are the modern 'Snake-oil' salesmans and it is You who helps the average individual from wasting their time and money on the junk they have to peddle! Thank You and I pray you Well!
    I just wanted to clarify something about the G98 rifle, here. I think that you may have accidentally confused veiwers about.
    Like you said, back in the day, ruptured cartridges were more common and always a bad thing, especially with smokeless powder. The G98 protected the shooter very well.
    In the video, you mentioned that the slots in the bottom of the bolt vented a potential gas issue down but it really didn't. The vents were in the bottom of the bolt, so when the bolt rotated 90* right into lock-up/firing/exploding cases mode, they were pointed to the left. The ejector slot, firing pin hole and any seepage would direct this blast thru those slots into the solid slot of the receivers left bolt lug slot. This could vent rearward and exit out of the big relief on the left of the receiver in front of the receiver bridge. The bolts shroud, carrying the safety pretty well sealed this from the shooter's face, with this Avenue of escape!
    I hope this helps the veiwers understand this better.
    Again, Thank You for Your Excellent Work. Great Video!

  37. Honestly, the Gewehr 98 is a great rifle, but after using one, I will say that the sights are pretty bad. I mean, its very hard not to focus on those two massive posts sticking up beside the actual rear sight. Very good idea to change it for the Kar. 98.

    Damn, now I realized that you said that in the video, sorry about that. But the point still stands.

  38. 110 year old rifle. Still works completely fine and it almost indestructable after having seen 1 maybe 2 world wars. Try that with todays plastic guns in 100 years.

  39. Forgive me, but one of the things that should have been highlighted is the "Mauser play". When unlocked from the chamber, the rear retaining ring for the bolt has a lot of room, this was so that the bolt area could have some dirt or mud, but the rifle could still function. A little more should be brought up on the world contracting Mauser to buy them, or bring up the case of the Springfield M1903. Mauser took the Springfield Armory to US courts and won a lawsuit, so Springfield had to pay Mauser a royalty.

  40. Back in the late 70's when I was a Marine Sgt, I had two rifles I bought at Woolworth's in San Diego. I had a K91 Argentine Mauser in 7.92mm, complete with a huge bayonet, and a K95 Steyr

  41. is youtube automatically translating the text to german for me or did you really put the video information in german?

  42. I bought one that was sort of turned into a sport rifle it had the same rear sight and it Is one of the few things I don't like about the rifle its next to impossible to see through unless it's at least at a 100 meters or whatever the measurement is

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