I started writing a series of articles on surplus rifles. We have reviewed the Russian M91 Mosin Nagant, the British 303 Enfield and the venerable M1 Garand. Today we will look at an Axis rifle, the 8mm German Mauser K98. A lot of people agree that the K98 was the rifle by which all other rifles were judged back in the day. The Mauser action being arguably the most successful bolt action ever built. Even today it’s world known for strength and accuracy. It’s been copied time and time again, maybe the best compliment it could get.
There are plenty of these WW2 rifles still around. Mitchell Mausers offers a nice selection on average between 200$ and 400$. 200$ gets you a nice used rifle and 400$ gets you an as new arsenal reconditioned rifle. I’ve seen alot of them and no junky ones. They all seem to look pretty good. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one. Now the one we are going to review is NOT a Mitchell. It’s a vet “bring back” I bought from Johnsons Sporting Goods in Adrian MI. It was on consignment for the great price of 250$.
She has all matching numbers except for 1 barrel band up front that is also the front sling attachment. Chambered for 8mm (8x57mm) and generally shoots just under a 200 grain bullet depending on your ammo choice. The wood is darker than the Mitchells and shows age and use, “character” is what the wood has, it looks great! There’s a dozen or so proof marks on it, eagles with swastika’s, letters, numbers and one larger German army bird. The receiver is marked S/243 and 1938 for the year of manufacture. The rifle was made at the Mauser AG Borsigwalde plant and 176308 of them were produced with those markings. The trigger is what I’ve come to expect from old military guns, single stage and heavy. Somehow inspite of these triggers these old guns continue to amaze me at how well they will shoot. The action is smooth and has an overall high quality feel to it. It just seems to radiate quality. I think these guys did a fine job back in the day building these. I am curious if anyone has a later war last ditch rifle and what they think of the quality?? This girl was made when the Third Reich was at the top of its game. It holds the usual 5 rounds of ammo and has the leaf site so common of the times. It goes up to 2000 meters. I do not see a way to adjust windage. Overall a beautiful piece of history. I bought this for my Grandpa 4 years back, he brought back one from WW2 but ended up selling it in the 50’s to make ends meet. He said he had always regretted it and I gave him this one on what ended up being our last Christmas. He loved it and sadly we never got a chance to shoot it together. Gram gave it back to me after he passed.
If you look at the pictures you will see some accessories. The lower bayonet is your standard Nazi infantryman field bayonet, the one above the rifle is an Carl Eickhorn/Soligen bayonet called a “birds head” often times. This chrome bayonet is sharp but was a German Officers dress knife and was purchased by them, not issued. Both of the blades were brought back by my Gramps. When I was little and he first showed me the stuff now and then, I would always ask where he got it. In the case of the officers bayonet he said “I got that from a Nazi officer”. I said “wasn’t he mad??” LOL 🙂 out of the mouth of babes huh?? Gramps always replied “No, he wasn’t going to be needing it anymore” Of course as a little boy that went right over my head. Then that’s a few stripper clips of 1941 marked Nazi ammo I got from a gun show recently just to round off the collection. I’m sure it’s corrosive and won’t ever fire it.
So off to the firing line Jack the Dog and I went. We took the one box of ammo we had for it. A box of Mitchell Mauser ammo, clean stuff but I bet of only medium quality. I just wanted to be sure what I got wasn’t corrosive and that was the cheapest stuff I was sure of. It did fire pretty well though. I bet if I spent the $$ and got some top notch stuff from Federal or Hornady I could have some really tight groups. As it stands now you wouldn’t want a rifleman blasting away at you with her. It’s one of the many things I think I could get a lot more out of the old girl but we’ll never know. This, like the rest of the surplus rifles, are wall hangers for me. Once cleaned back on the wall is where she’ll go.
So wrapping up: If you are looking for a quality rifle on a budget which is what the series is all about then one of these old K98’s might be your baby. They are reasonably priced, built like Panzer Tanks and have a decades old fine reputation of being reliable performers on the battlefield. I’m sure after all these rifles have seen they can still put a deer in your freezer or print you some nice groups for fun.
As always thanks for reading and happy shooting.
By: Cary Kieffer