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Small Arms of WWI Primer 005: German Gewehr 1898 “Mauser” Rifle

In 1888 the German military responded to
the French Lebel. This Mannlicher clip loading Commission rifle was based on
Paul Mauser’s 1871/84 with a series of updates, all done without his
involvement. Perhaps because of this slight, Mauser would go on to create a
revolutionary Belgian model 1889. Whatever his actual reasons, within a
year of its introduction, he had made the 1888 obsolete. But Germany would take a
decade to try again. Netting years of improvements into what
some consider to be the ultimate bolt action rifle. [music] Hi, I’m Othais, and this is the German Gewehr 1898
“Mauser” service rifle. Let’s go ahead and take it to the lightbox. At 49.2 inches in length, this is a long rifle and it weighs in
right at nine pounds. It feeds from a five-round stripper clip into a
staggered flush fit magazine. It is chambered and 7.92 x 57mm. If you can’t tell, it’s a rotating bolt action. The story of this
rifle really breaks down into two separate sections: one is the story of
this particular model with its fittings and its sight and its ammo and you know
just the fine details of this adopted model, the ’98, as a German
infantry rifle. The other story is the development of the Mauser action all the
way to this point and we’re kind of working backwards on that one because of
the 98 is really considered the final version of the Mauser bolt action.
We’re gonna tell the former story. The latter, the one that works through
numerous models over decades, that’s going to come out in other episodes as
we get our hands on different models. If we told them all at once now there’d be
nothing to tell you later and honestly it would be a whole episode on own anyway. Alright we will cover some basic details
though so let’s take a look at this guy: his name’s Paul Mauser. We could really
double the length of this episode trying to do even a brief biography so let’s
just go with: he’s very important. His first success was the 1871 which was a
split bridge cock on open black powder single-shot rifle for the German
military. It would be adapted into a newer 71/84 which was paired with a Kropatschek
tubular magazine. Then France would put everyone into overdrive when they
released the Lebel 1886 as we discussed in episode 1. So Germany rushes
into a secret rifle production. It’s done by commissioned its comes out of the
model 1888. We’re actually prepping for an episode on this one so we’re not going
to go into a whole lot of detail right now. What you do need to know about the gun
for now is that it uses a lot of the principles from Mauser’s 1871 rifle,
which Germany had the rights to do, but they didn’t involve him in the process and
this wounded him pretty deeply. It may have even been a major factor in what
was going to come next. By the end of 1888, he’s worked up a
prototype rifle for the Belgians that would go on with major modification to
be the model 1889. Now this gun is revolutionary and completely blows the
brand new German commission rifle out of the water. It introduces a solid bridge
with forward locking logs and a combination bolt-stop ejector on the left side. It also introduces the very concept of a
stripper clip and strangely it stepped over to cock-on-close when his
previous designs had been cock-on-open. From there he’ll make changes through the
Ottoman 1890 and South American 1891, the Spanish 1893 in the Swedish
1894. Each of these are important in their own but again we’ll get to them in more
detail later. The point is, the Mauser rifle as a concept is evolving and
evolving quickly and it’s being battle tested, and Germany’s still lugging
that 1888 around. Around 1895-1896 the Germans are actually looking to adopt a new rifle.
This time they turned to Paul Mauser as they probably should have before and
they’re looking hard at all these changes he’s made to his designs in the
past couple of years. Now there’s a prototype 1895-ish rifle that he’s
been working on and it gets taken in two separate directions: one school of
thought is to bring it closer to the current Gewehr 88 so it’s given a
jacketed barrel. It’s also given an unusual bayonet mount that requires a tubular
hilt on the bayonet. It has a Lange Visier sight which was designed by another
man we’ll get to that in a moment and overall it’s sort of closer to his
current production Mausers. This thing actually gets adopted as the 88/97 and
is ordered in production at Erfurt but there’s a pause. It seems like the
factory might have known that the other school thought that has been cooking for
a while might actually win out. And it did. So let’s go down to the other side: the other side is that the Germans are considering
going to a smaller caliber cartridge so a six millimeter. Now they invest in this
pretty heavily in terms of research but they ultimately find out that the
performance gains aren’t worth re-equipping and messing with the supply
chain to this huge degree that they’d have to go through to switch off of 7.92×57, but the 6mm prototype rifles are turning out to be a
lot better than that 88/97. They’re just more robust and they’re a little more modern and
he’s included a couple of upgrades that we’ll get to in just a moment. So at the
last moment the 88/97 is merged with the prototype rifle, and merged might be light
term because it seems like the only thing that came over were the rear
sights, but let’s take a look at what these upgrades included using our actual
adopted 1898. The receiver diameter has been increased: this is the birth of the
large-ring Mauser. Now you can’t see it but inside here the shroud has been improved
and reshaped to get a better seal with the bolt face and allow the gas to vent down
the left channel and out this thumb cut further improvements the gas system can
be found on the bolt if we take it out. There’s two escape holes here and back
here on the shroud, the bolt shroud rather, there is a gas shield to prevent any hot
gases from getting into the shooter’s eye. Also a safety lug has been added down
here. This isn’t part of the locking process. People called third log but it
doesn’t really add locking strength. What it does is if the two front lugs fail, it
prevents the bolt from driving back into your eye. Also the shape of it, again, has helped to redirect gas away from the shooter’s face. Now, new to this gun is
also this little pin here. Its job is to keep this cocking shroud from rotating
out of battery, so if I twist on it nothing’s happening. Now if I
depress it, I can actually release the shroud and we need to do that anyway to
show you the next couple features. Another good thing about this gun is that they
have decreased the distance the firing pin needs to travel in order to discharge
the round. That improves lock time. Now, while we’re looking at in here I also
should probably show that on the bolt sleeve, we’ve gone back to a cock-on-open,
and if you notice, kinda hard to see but, that diameter increases right at the end
there to help provide easier leveraging to get that cock-on-open process to
happen. It just makes it a little smoother for operation. Now the last
major change it is probably gonna be hard to pick up on the camera but it has to do with
this extractor. It’s undercut which means that there’s a diagonal interaction
between the extractor in the bolt body itself right at the front so when the extractor
is further forward, I’ll just press that forward, it is better locked and tighter
locked to the bolt body. So that means if I’m trying to extract a difficult
cartridge, the harder I’m pulling, the harder it pulls into the bolt body. Now
the inverse is true as well. So if I single load a cartridge and then shove
this into the action, the extractor gets pushed back out of the undercut, which
gives it the room to flex outward to lip over the cartridge and not damage
the extractor. That combined with just the sheer length of the extractor is why Mauser 98’s have really long lasting extractors compared to most
other bolt action rifles. Alright, a few more details about this gun. It was equipped
with a semi pistol grip stock, it has a half-length cleaning rod which is
threaded at the end so it can be combined with another, although usually
they used a pull-through. Mostly this was used for stacking of arms so you can
make your rifle teepee. Lange Visier sight, again we’ll get to that in a moment and these
originally would have come with a stock disc for marking the unit. Now early on
this thing switched over to spitzer cartridge, the pointed cartridge, from
that round nose. This process wasn’t too involved on the gun. They mostly just
deepened up the grooves in the rifling, but it required refitting a new sight.
Again we’ll get there in just a moment. Otherwise, mostly unchanged throughout
the war. One big point of variance on these guns though is just what bayonet you got issued with the thing. There’s so many to choose from. There’s
no way we have time for a complete list but let’s hit the highlights: there was the model 1898 spite style, the 84/98 short pattern, the 98/05 pioneer’s,
lovingly nicknamed the butcher’s bayonet, Allied propaganda would cause the
Germans to order these shaved late in the war. Also some commandeered export
bayonets: a variety of short dress bayonets for walking out, many of these were sold
commercially, a smattering of emergency production material-saving ersatz
models, usually all-steel construction. For each of these there are old and new
models depending on updates and many of the models other than the 05 also came
in saw back variations for NCOs. It’s a researcher’s nightmare and a collector’s
dream. Personally I think the butcher might be
my favorite but I’m a little biased. Let’s go take a look at the action. We’ll load five rounds from a stripper clip, bolt forward to chamber the first round. A
pull of the trigger tips the sear and releases the cocking piece. Lifting the
bolt cams the cocking piece rearward. The safety is a simple circle with a
cut away to allow the cocking piece to pass through. Flip the flag to engage it. Now
the cocking piece cannot travel forward. The safety also fits into a notch in the
bolt body, locking the action shut. Otherwise we’re fairly familiar with this rifle. So no real extra explanation needed while we let this animation wind down. Easy peasy. Now let’s ask Mae to show us it in action. While I will never get sick of hearing that gun fired, it’s
time to get back to the history. These guns would serve through the Boxer
Rebellion and through WW1 in that conflict they kinda proved themselves to
be the ultimate bolt action rifle of the day. Many people say of all time. They were
robust, reliable, few breakages, accurate. I mean it’s everything you want to stake your
life on in a rifle at that time, with one glaring exception: remember we spoke
about how they were updated to that spitzer cartridge? Well, the Lange Visier becomes a problem. The original Gewehr 98 rear sights were set up
for 200-2000m when they adjusted for the new spitzer
cartridge’s trajectory the new replacement sights for shorter and could
only range down to 400 meters. Now this wasn’t a big deal when you thought you were
gonna have long range engagements on mostly open terrain again standing
targets, but in the trenches of WW1, that 6 inches of play becomes a major factor
when you’re trying to hit somebody’s watermelon of a head hidden in a trench at less
than 200 yards. A simple solution was found by just
modifying the front sight so that 400 ultimately became 150
meters, effectively. Now there are other changes to the gun in WW1 would
include the groove finger rest and they’d get rid of that stock marking
disc and put a through hole, as it were, so that it would aid in
disassembling the bolt so that you didn’t crack the firing pin while trying to
take it apart. The other modifications are less common. There were some stamped
steel dust covers that appeared, and 25 round extended magazines, called trench
mags. These didn’t get issued vary widely but they did exist. Now these guns
didn’t just serve Germany during that conflict. A great many were given over
to the Ottoman Empire as aid and ours is no exception to that because it has a
wonderful little Turkish crescent. It will be marked right on the receiver right up
front. Pretty easy to tell. They’re also usually a little more worn. Now after WW1
these guns didn’t just disappear, but the Treaty of Versailles kind of limited how
many were in German inventory. After 1920 they pulled a little trickery in what’s known
as the kar98b. That’s a separate episode but basically the 98b is why
the 98’s disappear so quickly and isn’t really seen in large numbers in WW2. Alright, let’s go over to Mae and get her impressions of shooting this thing. Okay we’ve made room for Mae again. Let’s
go ahead and get her impressions this rifle. I think we know how this works by now.
I’ll hand it over. Thank you. Well, as far as handling went for this rifle, it’s long and heavy, so I
was expecting to be a lot more difficult but the weight distribution is fairly
even and the recoil as a result of the weight was really light. Lighter than what I was
expecting, at least. Okay, now in addition to being the “Gewehr 98”, the particular model, this is the birth of the Mauser 98 action and that are going to
see time and time again. Can you give us your impressions of that action? Well, for the action itself,
it’s fairly smooth and we actually didn’t have any failure to feed’s or
failure to eject’s for this gun which is for the condition of it we thought was
going to be a lot worse and for the trigger: take up is average, the break is
fairly quick. I thought was easy to use. Alright, good. I understand that this is sort
of because of the way our collection works with world war two which were not
covering yet, you’re used to the Mauser 98 so it’s fairly average, but I mean would
you say that it is a robust, reliable system that you would bet your life on? You know we have a lot of 98’s in our collection and not a single one of them
has given us any trouble unless some previous owner did something to it. I mean they really are by a lot of metrics the definition of the bolt action rifle
in terms of reliable military service. Many people consider them to be the
pinnacle of bolt action rifles. I would argue that point, but that’s a separate
episode. Alright, what about that safety? You know, you do have to mean it for the
safety to flip it over, but I understand I’m working against the cocking piece so that
makes sense to me and it is easy to read so I definitely know when it’s on or when it’s off. I mean this is really an intuitive design and when you look at a lot of
other safeties from the era… again this is from 1871, the actual flag safety as we’re
used to it. That flag safety still appears on modern sporting rifles I mean
it really is a brilliant and simple design that both blocks the cocking piece
and locks the action shut and it’s very easy to read Beautiful honestly. Alright so I guess we
gotta get to kind of the worst stuff. What about those sights? You know, I found the sights
easy to read and if I moved it into place it really wasn’t going to come out of
it slot, but my biggest concern was these little wings right here because while I
could be focused on a target if I was trying to lead a target I could see it
being incredibly difficult with those. They block my vision. Yeah also if you got one little guy poking his head up and another
little guy pokes his head up right next to him you’re not necessarily gonna see him
because of the way these sights are configured. Let’s take another look at
the photo of ’em actually what we’re talking about it. So yeah they’re not my favorite either.
Alright final question I guess, same question as ever: would you take it into battle? You know yes I would take it into battle because of how reliable it was. Would I prefer to
take it into battle? No. Like I said before it’s a very awkward gun handle in
terms of the weight and the length and the sights, so there are a lot of negative
points about it, but I would still take it into battle if I had to. So you would… you would bet your life on its reliability but you would not be all that comfortable having to defend yourself with its configuration? Exactly. Alright well that wraps us up.
Again, for those of you who were following us on Patreon we are nearly
at our breakeven point to keep producing episodes and we’ve actually had a couple
anonymous donations that have come through outside of Patreon that have us afloat at
the moment. It’s not 100% sustainable but it’s definitely got us for the next few
episodes. Everything’s going well. Now I’ll have the totals in the comments. If you
have any questions or follow up with us, again, comment below or you can email us if you’re viewing this somewhere else at a later date and one last thing I have a message
for a good friend Jim I love you [music]

100 thoughts on “Small Arms of WWI Primer 005: German Gewehr 1898 “Mauser” Rifle

  1. 2nd video of yours that I have seen. Great information and production quality.I have one of these obtained from a Pawn shop. It is a bit rough and needs the mag floor screw replaced. Someone decided to put a stainless steel screw in for a missing one. Hoping they did not mess the threads up. I was very impressed with the quality of this rifle despite its age (1917). My example, I believe, was a trophy rifle, probably keep at one of the many American Legion posts. The firing pin has been cut but the barrel is not blocked. The rifling, while shallow, does not appear to be damaged by any steel rods that were usually placed in them after the war before being given to the various veterans organizations.This is a Looooong rifle. I am surprised that may was able to handle it as well as she does. I am 6'3" and am still amazed at how long it is. The action is very smooth, and relatively uncomplicated, unlike A Mosin Nagant 1898. Great info about the extractor.Keep up the great work on the video's and the web site. Your stuff is top notch, and again, very unique in how it is presented with a working animation of the actions.

    $ 1,000,000.00'S SPENT ON DEVELOPMENT I.E. 1888,'89,'91, ECT. , ECT. ECT. :-O

  3. It is my favorite Rifle in WWI, I will own it……if where i live allow its folks own a rifle…….

    Greeting from HK

  4. The "butcher's blade is my favorite too, I saw it and instantly fell in love with that great big double saw tooth bayonet

  5. Love the episode! One little gripe: It would have been nice to see a visual representation of the multi target situation that you mentioned at the end of the video, rather than just the super quick static shot.

    Awesome series, really learning a lot!

  6. I'm here through your contributions to The Great War channel, and I've found your videos to be everything I hoped they'd be. One small question, though; Do you do a video talking more in-depth about bayonets?

  7. BTW here is a picture of the 20 round trench magazine that I scanned from a photograph:

  8. Used by dozens of countries including Brazil, the Mauser is the antecessor of the AK rifle series. +TFB TV knows it better.

  9. I am Super H&K inclined. Their history before Spain (cetme) though is kinda blurry to me. I'm gonna leave it that way and hope that you clear it up later!

  10. Figured I'd ask this here since it relates to a rifle you touched on. A gun shop local to me had an odd Argentine Mauser variant on their surplus rack, later I did some research and found pictures of the Peruvian Mauser carbine variant (turned down bolt, rollercoaster rear sight, and a 17.5 inch barrel). One of the shop owners described as an original long rifle that got cut down in country when they became obsessed with the Calvary short rifle concept. Is that a pretty close history lesson or was there something missing from that? Do you have one on the rack behind you?

  11. i would suggest a basic video that discusses how these bolt action rifles work, with animations or whatever. I'm somewhat knowledgeable about how guns work but when you start talking about how gases are vented out the side of the 98 as if this is somehow common knowledge, I'm confused. Isn't the open end of the barrel where gases should be vented? Or I guess it's just giving a channel for gases to escape in the event the bolt does not make a seal, instead of just any old random direction/path? Again, these are kinds of things the audience probably doesn't know or at least a wider audience doesn't know.

  12. This is one of my favorite weapons. I love Bolt-action weapons in general, but the this one takes it up a notch.
    Sadly I have never fired it, nor even held it, or seen one in real life. But the general vibe it gives is amazing.

  13. big mauser question, why do you not mention the third position of the flag safety system on the 98? port is "action unlocked, trigger releases cocking piece" (fire). second position is "UP" (flag vertical), which is "action unlocked, cocking piece cammed off sear and restrained" (allowing cycling action without danger of discharge, or "inspection safe"). starboard is "action locked closed, cocking piece cammed off sear and restrained" ( "marching safe", the action is locked shut so can't pop open due to rough handling). it's actually one of the major safety advantages over most of the mauser flag, all in that tiny yet handy and ultimately user-friendly package, which has basically only ever been shown as disadvantageous with low slung scopes, which i guess can be forgiven of a brain-child of the late 19th century. it also adds a step to mess up in drill, which has always been the wind beneath the wings of the NCO class, lol

  14. Othais-I was referred to you from Indy Nidelle's channel on "The Great War" for this question: My grandfather (I'm from the U.S., as was he) went to France in mid-1918 as part of the 77th Army Division, and saw fighting in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In early November, just a few days before the Armistice, he "captured" a German soldier while on watch duty in the forest where his unit had advanced to after leaving their trenches. Actually I think the German was probably in the process of surrendering, and my grandfather happened to be the first American he encountered. Anyway, my grandfather then disarmed the German soldier of his weapon-a 98 Mauser rifle with this stamp in the metal on top of the bolt action- "Berlin 1916" He managed to get the rifle home somehow, and I still have it today. How did he do that? There couldn't have been any way to mail it, plus I thought they were supposed to turn in any captured weapons for counting and documentation. Could he simply have brought it home on the troop transport ship with him? He couldn't have hidden it. BTW-it works perfectly, 100 years later. The bolt action is still smooth, and it is the most accurate rifle i've ever fired. I can understand why the regular German infantryman was held in such high regard. In trained hands, the 98 Mauser was a superb military weapon.

  15. Excellent video. I just purchased a 1904 Gewehr 98 made at Spandau and was looking for more information. Great job!

  16. @C&Rsenal, if you have any interest, I have one of these in very rough, deactivated, and badly abused condition that could probably be used for a torture test.

    Somebody pounded a file into the muzzle, and glued or brazed a spent case into the breech. It's missing the extractor too. I only have it because I yanked it out of a trash can…So the price was right!

  17. I just started watching your series on WW1 rifles and it's great. I like this channel and I think you should keep up the good work.

  18. What's with that last rifle on the white rifle racks behind you? It looks like the handguard on the bottom is shorter than the handguard on the top, and it also looks like the muzzle is not reaching the other peg of the gun rack, but the rifle is still floating there horizontally!! ??!

  19. thx for great job You're makin' for us. I've got Mauser 98 hunter version chamberd 7 x 64 made by FN Belgium, of course the iron sights are diffrent much comfortable. Greetings from Poland.

  20. I have a question about that undercut on the extractor you mentioned. I understand the concept, that it's cut in such a way that it grips tighter to the bolt when pulling and then looser when pushed so it will fit over the case rim, but I want to visually see it happening so I can better comprehend how it works. However, I can't really find any pictures or anything really demonstrating this. I've even used the GunDisassembly2 app to look at the inner working but I still don't see it. Can you help? Best regards.

  21. Will the Belgian mausers be covered at some point during the show? I'm very curious about their service history during the war.

  22. This video was great. I've wanted one of these for a long time and I finally got my first today: a 1917 made in Danzig. The Lange Vizier "roller coaster" sight is pretty cool and very different than the K98k and Kar98AZ tangent sights I'm familiar with.

  23. I absolutely love the Gewehr 98 ,,,it's a man's rifle with the reliability that's expected from the Germans ,,, rollercoaster sight is very cool ! P.S. As always a great video !!

  24. Are you guys a couple? I really like your format of videos… Although I can't help feel the May steals the show

  25. Great video instructional! There is a lesser known gas handling feature of the bolt. At the rear of the ejector slot in the left locking lug there is a raised portion that prevents gas from escaping through the groove into the shooters face through the clearance gap between the bolt body and the receiver ring. .

  26. You cant help fall in love with this rifle. I own 4 diferent Mauser G 98' model 1909 chambered for the Argentine 7.65mm x 54 bullet. 3 hunting + 1 military long rifle. Thanks for the video!

  27. Always like your videos they are well done. On a side note I love the 98 Mauser rifles but if I had to go to war with a bolt action it would be the Lee Enfield.

  28. I think the Madsen light rifle is the pinnacle of bolt action military rifles. It's just that by the time the pinnacle was reached, nobody wanted bolt action military rifles anymore.

  29. Paul Mauser and John Browning are undoubtedly the most ingenious gun inventors ever,and mechanically I'm sure your Gewehr 98 is fine but damn its ugly,what happened to the metal that makes it looks like it was made out of brass,and what happened to the reciever?was it scrubbed?

  30. I thought that I was the only one who found that gun awkwardly long. I've got one of the Belgium ones from my grandfather.

  31. 15:14 Maybe because they were used in the Turkish war of Independence. Turkish leader Atatürk issued the "Tekalifi-Milliye" orders to get more supplies for the army. So ALL-Ninety-eights-no-exception were at the front. The ones that were captured when Constantinople fell were smuggled back to Atatürk's army by "Kağnı" google it yourself, just cattle-drawn carts pulling tons of equipment for the Turks.

  32. I have an old 8mm Mauser, is there an email address that I could send a picture of my rifle and maybe you could send me a link to your video (if you have one) or A weblink to learn about. it's my deer rifle.

  33. I just purchased a gew 98 spandau 1917 manufactured in 1920. Stock is not original and rearsight is missing. Having a hard time finding the stock. Can you please point me in the right direction for one. And great job!!

  34. I love my Mauser!
    Mine's a 24/47, so a slightly shorter action (but mechanically the same) and a shorter barrel. I simply must have more Mauser pattern rifles. They have more gravitas than modern bolt guns of comparable price, and they're superior to their contemporaries.

  35. like is comment if you're here cuz some dumbass tried showing you this to disprove a character's bruise

    and that gun was open breach or whatever. didnt have a clip

  36. This is one of my top priority must have guns however of course I'm looking for a Imperial German mark early war/pre war 1898.

  37. Yep,The roller coaster rear sight is true nightmare,it is very hard to aim anything with it..It is very possible to replace it with standard Mauser 98K rear sight through some modefications…Besides that 98 Gewehr is an kick ass rifle,with S patronnen range increasing up to 4150 yards which is 4 kilometers and change…No single rifle in the world can do such trick unless it is Chay Tec 2000 or higher caliber antimaterial rifles like Barret M82A1 or it's improved military version M107…The Chay Tec caliber is based at 7,92x57mm Mauser round,so we know where that wind blew from…

  38. Hey Othias, I’d recommend looking up the basics of German pronunciation. Compared to French, it’s extremely straightforward and fairly easy for English speakers to pronounce.

  39. ปืนไรเฟิลรุ่นนี้ สวยมาก เกแวร์ 1898 ประเทศใช้ มีเกาหลีเหนือ สาธารณรัฐประชาชนจีน ญี่ปุ่น อังกฤษ สหรัฐอเมริกา ฝรั่งเศส พม่า ไทย อินเดีย เนปาล สเปน เม็กซิโก กาบอง แองโกล่า อาร์เจนติน่า ศรีลังกา ซูดาน ยูกันดา เซียร์ร่าลีโอน โอมาน มอลต้า และมาดากัสการ์

  40. The G98 (or better the Kar98 k version) is still in use in Germany. For 121 years! Surely the best action ever produced.

  41. The channel is awesome, it's obvious. I love it and I am watching next episodes all the time. Nevertheless I've one question. Do you plan cover also WWII small arms?

  42. As great as this video is, I'm hoping it's next on the redo list. If only because I really want a 90 minute video about the Mauser 98.

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