John Northmore is happier than a dog with two tails as he looks at what might be considered the rarest Mauser G98 ever – the 1898-1998 anniversary rifle
Classic rifles are a bit like buses, you sit there for hours waiting then two come along together… Two months ago I looked at an example of the classic Mauser G98 in the form of the CZ-made Persian M1310. Before I go any further I would like to apologise for a mistake I made in that article as I said the M1310’s rear sight was marked in Arabic script. It is in fact marked in Farsi and I should like to thank Andrew Claxton for pointing this out to me.
I said at the time I feel the G98 is perhaps the most elegant of the old service bolt-actions and a design I would very much like to own. Though the Persian was a shooter, it was a bit cosmetically worse for wear and I do prefer my guns to be in good condition. I did not think anymore of it until I got a phone call from Henry Krank & Co saying would I like to look at a proper G98? I said that I had not long done the M1310, but they said this is a bit different and sent it along.
One of 1000?
What came out of the box was a mint G98, which in itself is a rarity, but I then took a closer look and realised that what I had been sent was possibly the rarest example of all. For the rifle was in fact brand new and one of the 100 year anniversary guns made by Mauser to celebrate the 98 design. This then got the old grey matter ticking and I remember reading the 1998 catalogue.
What Mauser had done was to recreate the G98 and offered I believe just 1000 examples as collector’s pieces. They also as I recall had K98s too, but not of such high quality. Back then I had tried like mad to get one without success, but out of the blue here it was - the real deal. How the design has been recreated is a mystery, as I spoke to Mauser and they told me that they had no information, as not long after 1998 the company broke up with the sporting division going to Blaser.
My guess is that Mauser had the major components like the bolt and receiver and made the rest or sourced them elsewhere, as there are a lot of un-issued spares floating round the international arms market even for old designs such as this. My gut feeling on the furniture is that it has been made out of factory and looks Italian, as it’s very similar in wood and finish to my Bremmer Arms 1903 A3 Springfield, which is another recreation on an original classic bolt-action.
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Regardless of that, it was all there and pristine too. The only real difference being the receiver, which is in the white and shows the legend MAUSER – WERKE OBERNDORF A/N 1898 – 1998 on the forward bridge with Gew. 98 on the left side of the action. The serial number is unique too as they all start with 1998 followed by four digits, which makes me think that only 1000 were produced.
Also in the white are the butt plate, bolt, bayonet bar and cleaning rod, with the barrel, bands, magazine/trigger guard and sights nicely blued. The action screws, trigger blade and bolt release catch are peacock blued. The overall effect is magnificent, even down to the blank identification disc on the right side of the butt. If you had one of these you would have to put your own details on it; well I know I would…
If you’ve never seen it before the G98 rear sight is rather unusual. It’s a tangent-type but with a curiously deep and curved lever with a cam track cut into both sides. At the back is a fine V-notch at the back, which is set deep in the U-shaped arm. I have often pondered about this build and come to two possible conclusions. The first is that it protects the V and the second the massive U-shape perhaps acts as a short range, quick point system.
Not being one of those sterile collectors who never fires their guns, I asked Kranks if I could shoot the Gew.98? Expecting a stern no, due to the fact the gun is rare and to all intents and purposes brand new, I was pleasantly surprised when they said I could. I was not expecting anything out of the ordinary as I loaded up with some Prvi Partizan 8x57mm ammo. But the chance to shoot it was too good to miss. With the large front blade nestling into the V, I popped a few rounds, just to say that I had. Accuracy was good with the rifle putting all the shots into a 2x4” rectangle at 100 yards. I would love to turn up to a Classic event with one of these!
This is a nice and unique rifle, being as it is a re-creation/re-issue of the original G98, as opposed to a reproduction, as there is a difference! With a maximum of 1000 units made; getting one of these would put you in a very exclusive club and it would be interesting to try and find out where the other guns are. For that matter I wonder how many have been sold, as this is the first time I have ever heard of one of these 1898-1998 Gew.98s coming up for sale.
As you might expect something as unusual as this is not going to be cheap. Kranks said the Gew.98 is going to be around £1000, which is about the same as the quoted price from Mauser back in 1998. I’ll tell you - if I had a grand to spare I’d snap it up right now, but I have not, so it will go back and eventually someone richer and luckier than me will get to own this unique piece of firearm’s history.
My thanks to Henry Krank & Co for the opportunity to test this beautiful piece.
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