Battle RiflesTwo battle rifles: The M1 Garand and the Gewehr 98 share a case following their scrubbing.

The M1 Garand, which General George S. Patton called, “the the greatest implement of battle ever devised,” loads eight rounds in an en bloc clip. As the last round is fired, there is a distinctive “ping” sound when the clip is ejected.

Pushing a new clip in place closes the action and loads the first round in battery. Sometimes, your thumbs hasn’t gotten out of the way before the action closes; hence the term “Garand thumb.”

This rifle was manufactured in 1941 by Winchester. The new stock was purchased from CMP. All the original wood has been retained to avoid any damage that may occur with use.

The Gewehr 98 (this from Wikipedia) named for 1898, the first year of its manufacture, superseded the earlier Model 1888 Commission Rifle (also known as Gewehr 88) in German service. The G98 itself was the latest in a line of Mauser rifles that were introduced in the 1890s. It was a bolt-action rifle, 1250 mm in length and 4.09 kilograms in weight. It had a 740 mm long rifled barrel and carried 5 rounds of 7.92 x 57 mm Mauser ammunition in an internal magazine.

The German Rifle Testing Commission adopted the Gewehr 98 on 5 April 1898. The action was derived from the experimental Gewehr 96 Rifle. In 1901, the first troop issues of the Gewehr 98 Rifles were made to the East Asian Expeditionary Force, the Navy and three premier Prussian army corps. In 1904, contracts where placed with Waffenfabrik Mauser for 290,000 rifles and DWM for 210,000 rifles. In 1905 the 8 mm standard cartridge was changed from an “I” (it has been declared that the common “J” reference was a miscommunication with American intelligence, and it ended up sticking) .318 in (8.08 mm) bullet to the new .323 in (8.20 mm) IS-Patrone spitzer bullet which was indicated by a small ‘s’ stamped above the chamber and on the barrel at the back of the rear sight base, the sight was changed to the ‘Lange Vizier’ which is distinctively large. The Gewehr 98 received its baptism of fire in the Boxer Rebellion.

The bolt used in the various Mauser designs was very good, with extra large gas escape holes designed to protect the user in case of a primer or cartridge rupture or explosion, good extraction of fired cartridge cases, shrouded bolt face, guide rib, under-cut extractor, and a three-position safety at the rear of the bolt which can be flicked from right (safety on, bolt locked) to middle (safety on, bolt can be opened for reloading), to left (ready to fire) but only when the rifle is cocked, otherwise the safety will not move. The bolt handle on the Gewehr 98 is straight and protrudes out (although on Gewehr 98s equipped with sniper scopes, the bolt was replaced with a model with a turned-down handle, so the scope could be mounted directly over the rifle, and to accommodate the turned-down handle a cavity was cut into the stock). The Gewehr 98 has two sling swivels, open front sights, and a curved tangent-type rear sight, known as the ‘Lange Visier’.

Combat service

The Gewehr 98 saw service primarily in World War I, as well as various colonial actions in the preceding years. As with all contemporary bolt-action rifles, it was a powerful and accurate rifle with long range that was poorly suited for the close quarter fighting of trench warfare.

Its successor, the Karabiner 98k, would go on to be the standard rifle of the German infantry during World War II. Some Gewehr 98s also saw service in World War II, though many of these older rifles were converted to carbines.

The Gewehr 98 after World War I

After the World War I, the Treaty of Versailles left Germany extremely constricted in terms of military power. Civilians were not allowed to have any use of standard military weapons or ammunition. Since the 8 x 57 mm Mauser round was so stout and great for hunting, people did not want to give up on it, so a redesign of the cartridge was made for the civilian market and the 8 x 60 mm (8 x 60 Spitz) was born, by extending the case by 3 mm while retaining use of the same bullet.

Some custom rifles were made using Mauser 98’s and chambering them for the 9 x 57 Mauser.

The extended case had added advantage of allowing more powerful loads for hunting and it was easy to extend the chambers of the Gewehr 98s to accommodate the new longer case. Since the purpose was hunting and sporting, the bolt was professionally bent down, gradually the bent bolt became the standard and replaced the older straight bolt (though that was of course not always the case).

The standard military sights were replaced by a 100 m sight, along with a flip-up on the rear sight for 200 m. The military stocks were replaced by newer ones that did not include the extra piece of stock for the bayonet lug. The 8 x 60 was only popular through the 1930s and 40s.

Today this sporter rifle is extremely rare and the 8 x 60 is nearly obsolete, as only two mainstream ammunition manufacturers (RWS and Norma), along with some other smaller companies continue to produce it.

Also, many Gewehr 98 rifles acquired as trophies by Allied forces during the war and brought home were converted to the 8mm-06 cartridge, a modification of the chamber from 57 mm to 63 mm to accommodate the use of common and inexpensive surplus .30-06 cartridges, with their 7.62 mm (.30 caliber) bullet replaced by a 8 mm (.32 caliber) bullet more appropriate to the bore of the rifle. Such conversions are indistinguishable from unmodified rifle without careful examination, and can be quite dangerous if fired with the shorter 8 x 57 mm ammunition, as the cartridge case will stretch to fit the elongated chamber and possibly rupture in the process, spraying the shooter with leaked propellant gas. However, the Mauser 98 action is designed specifically to direct gas away from the shooter in the event of a case rupture.

However, when correct ammunition is used in a converted rifle, an 8mm-06 modified Gewehr 98 can be an extremely potent and inexpensive long-range big-game rifle.

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