The Mauser 98 (Gewehr 98) is a bolt-action rifle chambered in 7.92x57mm Mauser. The Mauser 98 was the German military’s service rifle beginning in 1898. German soldiers carried and fought with it in the trenches of World War I. Afterward German law enforcement carried it, when necessary, as did hunters. It was an advanced model for its time with a sturdy and accurate barrel. It revolutionized bolt-actions hence “Mauser-type.” The bolt had a large non-rotating claw, so shooters could depend on it to do what it was designed to do: chamber, fire and eject casings. It has a detachable floor plate that holds five rounds. Originally it didn’t have any sights, but little by little, like most rifles, the design evolved. Iron sights were added and later it was redesigned for a scope creating a sniper model. And, finally it was replaced as the German service rifle around 1935 by a shorter version called the 98k.
|Mauser 98 (Gewehr 98)|
Almost every bolt action rifle in the world owes something of its design to the genius of Paul Mauser’s model of 1898. The 98 Mauser has been produced in literally hundreds of variations; both by Mauser Waffenfabrik and as out-right copies made with or without licensing agreements.
The 98 is best-known as the standard battle rifle for German forces throughout both World Wars. When first introduced it was the assault rifle of its day. A five-round staggered magazine could be instantly loaded using stripper clips, allowing for a previously unseen sustained rate of fire for infantrymen in battle. The action was strong enough to handle cartridges with power and velocity well above what most other designs were capable of. It was tough, reliable, powerful and accurate.
Variants of the 98 Mauser were also the standard battle rifle of many other countries. The used market amounts to a veritable history of the twentieth century, with rifles from Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Czechoslovakia, Iran, China, Israel and Russia all available to the dedicated or deep-pocketed collector. Even the American 1903 Springfield’s design is close to the 98 that the US federal government paid royalties to Mauser right up until the outbreak of the First World War.
Mauser Waffenfabrik made and sold sporting versions of its rifles. Many other gunsmiths acquired surplus 98s and customized them into hunting rifles. Shorter and lighter stocks were fitted, bolt handles turned down to clear a scope, and often the rifles would be rebarreled for different cartridges. Unlike most other rifles of its time, the 98 was over-engineered to be capable of handling higher pressures and both bigger and smaller cartridges than the original cartridges order. This has made it very flexible platform for a customized sporting rifle.
Today it still makes a first-class hunting rifle. Hobbyists continue to pick up old surplus Mausers on the used market and turn them into hunting rifles and many gun-makers use the 98 pattern to produce brand-new guns. Remington has recently offered a ‘Model 798’ in homage to its muse and Kimber’s Model 84 is largely a Mauser action.
If you want one to shoot rather than just hang on the wall, inspect the barrel closely before buying a military surplus Mauser. While most hunting rifles have only a few rounds a year put through them, military rifles have often been fired a lot in training or battle. Corrosive ammunition may have been used without proper cleaning. Common trouble spots include the last inch of rifling at the end of the barrel and an eroded throat. These types of problems lead to abysmal accuracy. Rebarreling and ‘sporterizing’ a military Mauser is done more often these days as a labor of love than a cost-effective way of getting a hunting rifle. If you just want one to shoot then you will be better off finding one with a barrel that will do the job as-is.