Home / gewehr 43 magazine / Karabiner Collector’s Network Feb 1996 The Modified …

Karabiner Collector’s Network Feb 1996 The Modified … - gewehr 43 magazine

Karabiner Collector’s Network Feb 1996 The Modified …-gewehr 43 magazine

Karabiner Collector's Network Feb 1996
The Modified Gew.98
Written by Mark Wieringa in 1996
as edited by Peter Kuck on 02/25/2003
The post-WW I modified Gew.98 rifle has not been given proper attention by German military rifle collectors. While it is
common knowledge that a Gew.98 with a K98k style rear sight is a post war conversion, other changes have gone unnoticed.
This article describes changes that identify Gew.98 reworks, and attempts to correct some misconceptions about them.
The Germans continued to use the Gew.98 designation for these rifles well past the time that the wholesale modifications were
made. In a few instances period German documents refer to theses reworked rifles as the Gew.98 mit s. S. Visiere, or Gew. 98
with sights for the 7,9mm heavy ball cartridge (the original Lange rear sight was calibrated for the lighter flat--base S ball
Some collectors incorrectly refer to the modified Gew.98 as a "Karabiner 98b". This is incorrect since all Kar.98b have side-
mounted slings and turned-down bolts. Nearly all Kar.98b rifles were new rifles produced by Simson in the 1920s and early
1930s, and were not modified Gew.98 rifles.
Converted Gew.98 rifles took several different forms, depending on where and when they were reworked, as well as who carried
out the modifications. The simplest conversions have only a replaced rear sight assembly, while the most extensively reworked
rifles will have all or some of the modifications listed below.
Front Sight Base: Occasionally a modified Gew.98 will be encountered with the original front sight base cut for the Kar.98k
front sight hood. This modification indicates that the rifle was reworked after 1940. Many rifles will show multiple
modifications that were made over time as changes were either dictated or replacement parts were available. A Gew.98 with cuts
for the sight hood is uncommon but these rifles do exist. Reworks are sometimes seen with the last two digits of the serial
number on the side of the front sight base, presumably done to ensure the part was mated back to the same rifle after the rear
sight assembly was replaced.
Rear Sight Assembly: The most common Gew.98 modification is the replacement of the Lange sight with a Kar.98k type rear
sight assembly ("Type" is emphasized, because they are not identical). These rear sight ramps have a different curve due to the
ballistics of the s.S. Heavy ball round in the longer barrel. Modified Gew.98 rifles are commonly found with a "K" marked rear
sight ramp that is serial numbered to the rifle. Many of the modified rear sight bases will bear a "S/42K" or a "S/42G" marking.
These marks indicate that Mauser was the prime manufacturer of the new rear sight assemblies, which makes sense given the fact
that Mauser was already producing them for Standard-Modell and Kar.98k. It is unlikely that Mauser made modifications to the
Gew98. Mauser was at the time fully occupied with new production, and many of these conversions bear rework markings
indicating modification by various Heereszeugamter, the base depots for their respective Army Corps. A few early sights can be
found with imperial crowned letters or early Weimar eagle inspection marks. These bases almost always have the cutout on the
bottom of the sight base as on the original Gew98.
Lower Stock Bands: Most converted Gew.98 have a replacement lower stock band, which is wider (18mm) then the original
lower stock band (10mm). The wider band has a larger bearing surface, and eliminates movement between the band and the
stock. The wider band retains the bottom-mounted sling swivel. The wider bands were fitted to the stock in two ways; the most
common involved cutting back the original band spring to form a new stop. You can also find rifles where the spring is not
modified, but the wood has been cut back by 8mm on both the stock and handguard to accommodate the wider band. Most
replacement lower stock bands have "Su" inspector's marks in association with "SuWw" over a date, usually 1935 to 1938. It is
believed that the modified bands were manufactured primarily by one source and supplied to the various rework facilities for
installation. Some replacement bands can be found with crowned letter inspector's marks (these may be of earlier manufacture
or produced by a different maker.
Followers: A common modification to the follower was the addition of a cut on the left rear of the follower. This allowed the
follower to block the bolt when the magazine was empty. Modified followers will have both the original bevel of the Gew.98
follower and the added relief cut. Replacement followers will not have the Gew.98 bevel. The modified followers are almost
always blued, but occasionally one will be found that remains polished steel.
Receiver & Bolt Assembly: A Post-WW I modified Gew.98 will almost always
have a blued receiver and bolt assembly in place of the polished steel finish of the
imperial Gew98 rifles. Sometimes this is the only clue that a rifle saw service after
WW I. Bayonet lugs and sears
may also be blued, showing
additional evidence of
postwar reworking. Look for
Weimar eagle acceptance
marks or small numerals to
the right of the original
imperial proofs.
Guard & Lock Screws: Reworked Gew. 98 rifles will often have the original
single-cut guard screws replaced with later three-cut screws. Some imperial screws
have been noted with added cuts to make them three-cut screws. Lock screws are
frequently the original imperial ones, but later replacements are also common, and
occasionally no-cut lock screws are found in modified Gew.98 which appears to be
original late replacements, and not collector additions.
Bolt Dismounting Washers: Modified early Gew.98 will often have added bolt dismounting washers if the stock did not
originally have them, which was the case until about late 1916. The added stock washers are aligned with the hole left by the
removal of the marking disk, and will often have inspector's stamps or rework facility markings of the later period.
Markings: Each reworked rifle is practically unique since any number of markings is possible, as. Added parts will normally
have inspection markings different than the original imperial German crowned letter inspector's stamps. There are an almost
infinite number of rework markings, most will take the form of a either a down-wing eagle if done before about 1938, or straight-
wing eagle if the modifications were done later. Both eagles will have letters and/or numbers associated with them. For the
individual who is interested in proof marks, these reworked rifles offer a wealth of unusual markings not found on factory-
original arms. While marks on production rifles relatively well known and predictable, the area of rework markings still yields
new marks to decipher and new mysteries to explore. Since Barrels were often more often then stocks, they will have later
markings, then rifle stocks.
A distinction should be made between the rework markings on parts, which are later inspection stamps indicating acceptance of
the part, and rework facility acceptance markings, indicating acceptance of the reworked arm for service. The latter are normally
HZa marks, and are usually found in three locations: the pistol grip area of the stock (most often), the right side of the stock
below the original three imperial stock stamps (common), and the center of the buttplate (seldom). The typical mark is an eagle
with associated letter/number group. Mention also needs be made of the 1920 stamp, which was applied according to
regulations to the top of the receiver and left side of the buttstock. The 1920 mark was added to distinguish Government property
from the thousands of other WW I rifles that were in civilian hands.
Keep in mind that many levels of repair and reworking that may be encountered. Technically, a "rework" can range from a
replaced safety or repaired buttstock "toe" to a rifle rebuilt on a stripped receiver from a battle-damaged rifle. Everything in-
between can be found. Arms were repaired and modified at every level from the field armorer to a main HZa depot. Depending
on the time frame and circumstances, replaced parts can be both carefully fitted and renumbered to match, or can be used or
replacement parts simply thrown onto the rifle to make it serviceable. While mismatched parts are always suspect, "righteous"
rifles can be found with mismatched parts, and such examples will always be worth about the same as a normal mismatch of
uncertain parentage.
The collector fraternity has in the past largely ignored modified Gew.98. The WW II collectors have focused on the Kar.98k, and
the WW I collectors want unaltered Gew.98 for their collections. The modified rifles are certainly worthy of more interest than
they receive. Photos of the invasions of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, the Low Countries, and France will show the
modified Gew.98 was a mainstay weapon in these operations, as supplies of Kar.98k had not kept up with the rapid expansion
arid deployment of the Wehrmacht. Most prewar parade photos show troops carrying the long rifles. In addition to their
prominent use in WW II, these rifles also survived the turbulent history of the between the war years and witnessed the rise of the
Third Reich, training many of the soldiers who were later to participate in the early campaigns. They're earlier service in WW I
also should not be overlooked. Due to their long service, surviving examples in collectable condition are getting scarce.