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Mauser K98 Sniper Rifle

Mauser K98 Sniper Rifle

For many years I’ve hankered after a K98 sniper rifle, so I decided to search for a suitable candidate.  There are numerous variants of rifle, scope mounts and scopes available but it would be foolish to expect a “true” sniper rifle to turn up because they are extremely rare and could cost £10,000 plus. Most of the rifles you see advertised are “made up” snipers, often period K98 and scopes are used but after market mounts are usually fitted. To me it was of no concern as to the rifle not being a true sniper, just as long as the rifle and scope were period I could live with the modern additions.

I wanted a good working example as I fancied taking it out after deer to see how it would perform. So with that in mind, absolute authenticity will be taking second place to function and availability; this one is for shooting!

I have always had a soft spot for old sniper rifles mainly because I like old optics and there is something intrinsically interesting in shooting vintage equipment - whatever the make. There is also something very iconic about the WW2 German sniper rifle, primarily I guess it’s the Mauser actioned rifle that’s spawned so many other military and sporting variants to this day. Top this with some of the best optics of the time from Zeiss, Hensoldt, Kahles and Ajack and you have yourself a formidable shooting combination.

There are a few main versions of scope mounts and this can be a matter of personal preference, although some designs were certainly better than others. Claw or side mounted derivatives hark back to the K98 Mausers sporting heritage.

Both single and double claw variants are out there but I have to say these are probably the least likely mounting systems you will encounter. The double claw attaches with a bridge type front mounting with the recessed mount dovetailed into the front receiver ring, whilst the rear mount also has twin slots that the top mount attaches to and is then latched in place.

I like the single claw mounts as these have both front and back bases mounted to the left of the receiver and utilised a single claw attachment, being retained by a tensioned plunger that allows the scope to be tipped up and forward to be removed when the plunger is depressed.

As with all the mounting systems the windage is adjusted by the rear scope mount via a screw and pinion system, as scopes of that era only had elevation adjustment.

More common are the side mounted types. Here two models proliferate, the earlier short side/rail mount that is recognised by its single large clamping lever sited at the front of the mount. The base is attached to the left of the action via either three screws or later models had three additional locking screws and some had two/three locating pins. The top section that incorporates the scope rings attaches and detaches by a dovetail cut along the length of the mounts under side.

The short rail is good for short scopes and those that have a rear focus ring and thus restrict the mounting area on the scopes tube. Typically the rings are 26.5mm but some aftermarket mounts can also be ordered with 1 inch scope adapters if you so wish.

One problem with the short rail mounts were they worked loose under recoil and so you can see many variants with more or less attachment screws, and also an alternative with an additional securing wing clamp to the scope ring assembly in an attempt to keep the system from working loose.

As you can imagine the Germans being rather efficient chaps improved the short rail mount with the long rail or side mount. This had a longer or bigger bearing surface (2.5cm more than the short rail) on the action that stopped it yawing or tilting on firing and so remained more firmly fixed. Also the top scope ring section was improved by a large clamping lever sited in the middle of the mount and an additional locking arm to further stop movement. There are also three large screws retained by three locking screws and two additional pegs that all stop rotation and loosening of this mounting system.

For me though the Turret mounting system is the best, both for looks and also for solidity. There are low or high turret systems although both use the typical “German” swing off scope system rather like the Apel system you see on sporting rifles today.

Here the front base is secured to the front receiver ring and locates a top scope ring by a recessed slotted turret that locks in a 90 degree plane simultaneously as the rear mount locates on a dovetailed base and is secured by a small locking lever with tensioned pin location. Again windage is via a screw and dovetail arrangement on the rear mount.

Unsurprisingly the only difference between the low or high turret mounts are the heights, although it’s only some 5mm. There are also some differences to the front locating system but essentially both mounts offer a really good solid union between scope and rifle. This was the system I was after. Unfortunately these are the most expensive too!

This is just a potted history I am no expert, for detailed text please read , Peter Senich`s “The German Sniper” or Richard Law’s “Sniper Variations of the German K98K rifle”, and numerous others on Amazon, or contact The Lovat Society who specialise in collecting sniper rifles. 

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Again most scopes encountered on ‘made up’ K98 snipers are actually old sporting scopes modified to look the part. There is nothing wrong with that but be aware that many were never used on the rifle and it’s easy to spot these. Most German scopes of pre war era were attached to Mauser or Mannlicher rifles by typically claw mounts and so old sporting scopes with these types of mounts are soldered onto the body tube of the scope or objective. Check for differences of bluing or rust free areas which will indicate the removal of such mounts. A lot of old scopes again were not “Mil spec” and some elevation turret adjustments have no increment markings whilst mil spec ones will have the range indicated on top. This is no real problem; as we said before, finding a matching scope, rifle and mount system are extremely rare.

Zeiss scopes usually comprise of the Zielvier or Zielsech scope models. These are four power or six power variants both with 26.5mm body tubes and single elevation adjustment turret and retaining screw but the Zielsech is longer. You can find these on the internet usually at prices ranging from £350 to £500 depending on condition but because the eyepiece is easily removed you often find dust and moisture has entered the scope and caused light misting to the lenses and remember these are not nitrogen filled like modern scopes!

Hensoldt Dialytan models were also very poplar but rarer to find and look really nice in turret mount systems. War dated scopes can be distinguished by markings of BMJ which indicates the maker Hensoldt Wetzlar production during the war and a cross of varying colours to indicate in which climate the scope was intended to be used, ie blue cross was for winter/severe weather environment.

Kahles H4/60 and Ajack scopes of both 4 and 6 power are also encountered but the old Ajack models are super rare and an SS-Dienstglas (Service scope) can sell for £1200 plus without mounts. A really nice scope though that looks great on a short rail mounting system.

There are also ZF41 front mounted scopes and swept back mounts for ZF4 scopes but that’s for a later article.

I viewed some excellent variations at C and G Firearms headed up by Chris Goodwin. Chris specialises in military firearms and especially sniper variations. I was after a K98 rifle and a turret system and at the time Chris had none, so fate intervened…  Ewen Campbell of Benchgrade Products Ltd was having his K98 sniper rifle serviced at Norman Clarks gunsmith, I saw it there, and managed to make Ewen an offer he couldn’t refuse – and came away with it in my sweaty little hands. The only problem was that it didn’t have a turret mount but a long slide system. However there was a bonus in the fact that the scope was a Zeiss Zielsech which is more unusual but still period and authentic.

There is something very tactile about old rifles. You can sense the history in your hands. This sniper rifle is heavier than my stalking rifles but I like the laminated woodstock… but not so much the steel cupped recoil pad. Nice and comfy? Not! 

There was an old repair to the pistol grip with a screw but this just added to its history for me. This model was a BNZ 1944 model marked with a single 4 on the receiver bridge and means it was produced by Steyr.

The bore was very good and the matching bolt and stock numbers were welcome. Be careful as many K98`s have all non matching numbers, a non matching bolt can cause headspace issues, be careful.

As stated earlier, and more importantly, the mount was a long slide version and was certainly a modern manufacture as it was too clean. It looked like an Accumount system, a firm in America that specialises in reproduction sniper mounts of all types. It was securely attached to the receiver side by twin pins and three screws with locking screws and the large clamping lever was good and stiff with no wobble yet smooth removal of the top section with rings when slid rearward.

The scope was a nice low numbered Zeiss Zeilsechs or six power with great early patina and produced in the mid 1930`s, so right for the era and the war years, but it definitely came off a sporting rifle as you can see the old claw and objective bell attachment “shadows”. No problems at all for me, as the lenses were crystal clear and that’s all I wanted - those old Zeiss scopes are still good some seventy years on!

Not so good was the trigger, certainly a military unit and how can one say this tactfully, its trigger pull was like dragging a dead stag through a peat bog whilst bumping over every granite outcrop on the way… and then just when you thought it would never end there is a sudden sear release. This would have to be worked on later, but no worries.

With the donor rifle obtained I now had the fun in making some reloads to ascertain its accuracy potential and learning its idiosyncrasies. Over the coming months I will show my findings and culminate in a stalk out after deer to see how the old girl performs against venison. Watch this space

If you fancy one yourself then your best bet is give Chris a call at C & G Firearms on 01582 461769 or visit his website at www.cgfirearms.co.uk or alternatively Kirk Emmerich has some nice period K98 rifles and often sniper versions available on www.byswordandmusket.co.uk

Reproduction scope mounts are easily sourced from Accumounts at www.accumounts.com and as for period scopes - well that’s just a matter of scouring the internet! Good luck. GM

 

5 Comments

  • Interested in scope case for Hochturm ‘39 Hensoldt Ziel Dialytan 8x scope with 56mm OD objective lens bell, same as used by German sniper in "Enemy at the Gates". Please check for fit and let me know. Thanks.
    Otto

    Default profile image
    Otto H.R. Bartsch
    20 Apr 2017 at 04:20 PM
  • I have a K98 High Turret Scope case for sale. EMail if you are intersted. Cekjr1961 at gmail

    Default profile image
    Chuck
    27 Mar 2017 at 12:48 PM
  • I AM LOOKING FOR THE SCOPE MOUNT USED ON THE LEE HARVEY OSWALD JFK ASSASSINATION CARCANO RIFLE. I HAVE A LOOK ALIKE SCOPE, THE 1940 TERNI PRODUCED CARCANO 1000 NUMBERS FROM OSWALD'S RIFLE, AND THE WEAVER MOUNT. I NEED THE BRACE MOUNT THAT FITS BETWEEN THE SCOPE AND BASE, WITH THE CLASSIC "X" ON IT ON ITS FRONT AND BACK!!!

    I DON'T CARE IF IT IS A REPRODUCTION MOUNT, BUT AN ORIGINAL WOULD BE FANTASTIC! ANY INFO WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED! CELL: 817-313-6743

    SINCERELY,

    DOUG CONNOLLY

    Default profile image
    Doug Connolly
    07 Aug 2016 at 08:41 PM
  • I HAVE A BYF 1943 PRODUCED K98 RUSSIAN CAPTURE. I AM LOOKING FOR A BYF PRODUCED SNIPER STOCK "WITH OR WITHOUT" THE SNIPER BUTTPLATE. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CALL ME: 817-313-6743
    IRVING, TEXAS.

    SINCERELY,

    DOUG CONNOLLY

    Default profile image
    Doug Connolly
    07 Aug 2016 at 08:35 PM
  • I have a K98 Mauser sniper wth the scope case for side mount scope is being repaired,looking for original stock and rings to restore as close to original as possible

    Default profile image
    Floyd Colf
    15 Mar 2015 at 08:29 AM


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