Norwegian K98kF1 Repurposed Mauser

At the end of When Germany capitulated in 1945, there were nearly 400,000 German soldiers in Norway (largely thanks to the efforts of the Norwegian Resistance to prevent them from being transferred south). This provided Norway with a massive supply of K98k Mauser rifles to reequip their armed forces, and they picked about 250,000 of the best condition guns (mostly early war production, naturally) to take into service. These rifles were repaired and refurbished as necessary, and given new Norwegian serial numbers on the receivers, bolts, and buttplates. They were also modified to have “U”-notch rear sights and square post front sights.

In 1953 and 54, the a program was undertaken to rebarrel the rifles from 8x57mm to .30-06 (7.62x63mm) in order to be able to use supplies of .30-06 ammunition made available by the United States. While the Norwegian Navy retained its 8mm chambering, all the other service branches had their rifles modified to use the new cartridge, and these rifles were given the new designation m/K98kF1. A second rebarreling was begun years later to convert rifles to the new 7.62mm NATO cartridge, but this was quickly abandoned and the G3 rifle adopted instead, with the Mauser going into war reserve by 1973.

18 Comments

  1. I can see in the auction page that the rifle is listed as an “M/59”. This is completely inaccurate as the M/59s were sharpshooter variants with new barrels and stocks as well as diopter precision sights, later replaced with the M/67 which is a similar rifle (but in all ways better than the precursor).

    For what it is worth these rifles were technically/officially chambered for 7,62 mm x 63. All Norwegian used ammo for these rifles as well as converted MG-34s/-42s was marked as such.

    • There was also a very very small batch of M/98kF2 rifles made, chambered for 7,62 mm x 51 NATO. Some of these barrels survived the cancellation of the problems but I have never seen or heard of an original rifle in this configuration.

      The Norwegian firm Våpensmia (“The weapon smith”) located on Dokka later used unmodified 98 receivers, added a new receiver bottom using single stack 5 round magazines, a heavy cold hammered barrel, diopter sight (on first variant the front sight was stored in a hole in the stock, on second variant it was permanently fixed to the barrel with an AG3 flash hider), an d laminate beech stock. It used a fixed power S&B scope (6×42) and served as a DMR rifle along with a few HK G3SG1S/MSG90s until it was replaced by the HK417 in regular units and Barrett MRAD in specialized units.

      • I am an owner of a K98kF1 and loving it. I do have one question about its originality though. It’s been drilled and tapped and one point in time, looks like Weaver style holes that have been replugged. Where these common in Norway or likely done in North America? Would be interesting what type of optic it had on as there a few exactly like mine D&T’ed up north in Canada. Mine is a HAER 16911 and thanks.

        • That must have been a civilian job. As the K98kF1 rifles were sold out to active personnel in the 70s and onwards, most of them ended up in civilian hands. Many, many, many of these rifles are still being used for hunting, often with the original stock modified, Weaver bases put on and a cheap scope (often a 3-9×40 Tasco or similar type) put on top. I’d say with a lot of certainty that the K98kF1 is the most common hunting rifle in Norway, with Remington 700s and Tikka T3s close behind. On the range you will see tons of these rifles, often doing pretty well despite their age and being not the most modern and accurate actions.

          If it is completely stock aside of the plugged holes, it’s a lucky one, most will have the sights removed and/or the stock cut down and the upper HG taken off.

          During the 80s-90s-00s a big gun store/gunsmith chain (Landrø) sold tons of these rifles as hunting rifles. You could walk into a huge storage where there were literal pallets of stacked rifles, you’d find a nice one and take it with you. They sold many prepared for scopes.

          Ole

          • Yes, it is a mint condition which was expected, all original wood and metal plus all #’s matching K98kF1 except the bolt which has a pre-war white metal one. The rifle is a 1938 S/243 and the new KAL 7.62 barrel is in excellent condition so it hasn’t been fired much in Norway. Very informative Ole, Thank you.

    • And lastly markings for Norwegian used Mauser rifles
      HÆR = army
      FLY = flyvåpenet = air force
      K.ART = kystartilleri = coastal artillery (these used rifles in both 7,92 and 7,62)
      KNM = Kongelige norske marine = Royal Norwegian navy
      NSB = Norske Sporbaner = Norwegian railroads
      POLITI = police

      The Police and the NSB used G33/40s in original chamberings. The NSB had these rifles for quite a long time, they were kept in locked cases on trains to put down injured animals along railroads. The Police also used the M1 Carbine, designated SLK (Selvladekarabin/self loading carbine), in fact as late until the 90s where most of them were found directly unsafe to use and taken out of service.

      [“cancellation of the problems” was of course meant to be “…of the programs”]

      • I used an M1 carbine as a policeman in Greenland, as late as 2010. The Danish police still has it in stock, despite having switched to HK MP5 a long time ago. Rigspolitiet had not got around to issuing MP5s to every little policestation in the far north of Greenland, so I got to shoot a few stray dogs and handle a few tricky situations with “my” M1 carbine. I preferred the carbine to the MP5, mostly because of ergonomics.

        The Danish police also had German Mausers for a while, for the same reason that Norway had them.

        /A reader in Denmark

  2. Ole,
    Slightly off topic,
    If the rifles are still very popular for hunting, what weight bullets are popular for elk? (Moose in northern American​)

    • 165 and 180 gr bullets are quite popular. Many people choose to reload themselves as factory hunting ammunition in .30-06 quickly costs £2-3 for each round.

      The “big three” calibres used in Norway for hunting and general sports shooting are .308 W, 6,5×55, and .30-06 Sprg. .308 is the all rounder, while 6,5×55 is quite common for those who hunt everything between grouse/large forest fowl, foxes, roe deer, deer, and reindeer. For 6,5×55 to perform well enough for the pretty outdated and objectively overdone minimum energy requirements for bullets for hunting it usually needs a long barrel.
      Keep in mind that in Norway, hunting with suppressors is the norm rather than exception, and as such many choose to shorten the barrels of their rifles. .308 W is more suited to this than 6,5×55 and .30-06 Sprg (both will see uneccessary loss of speed as well as having a lot more muzzle signature.

  3. It’s just as well that Paul Mauser designed plenty of strength into 98 receiver rings.

    You can always trust the bureaucrapic mind to want to hack bits out of the critical strength parts in order to cover them with stress raising stamp marks.

    • The failure mode of many of the smaller ring bolt actions, especially those with coned breeches, such as 03 springfields, m17 Enfields, Model 70 Winchesters and flat faced breeches like 1964 Winchester m70s, is to blow the top of the receiver ring off in response to a major case head failure, or to a splitting barrel.

      The 98 Mauser tended to better contain the gas in the chamber and to better resist expansion and splitting of the area of the receiver ring around the cut out for the locking lugs, from any gas that did escape past the inner collar.

      While major case head failure may be rare. Accidentally getting mud or snow into the muzzle, is a very real risk during a battle, and a 98 Mauser’s ring provided extra protection for the soldiers eyes and face if that happened.

      It’s always comforting to know that bureaucrapic convenience counts for more than a soldier’s eyesight.

      • 8×63 is in the 2 12 inch Magnum class. The 98 action gets taken a lot further than that in sporting use, with good safety and long life.

        Most of the big cartridges for African use tend to be loaded to fairly low pressure, so despite the large case head area, they’re probably not putting much more backthrust on the bolt and the locking seats than a conventional belted magnum, and those belted mags were safely handled by husqvana sporters based on a small ring mauser 94 type action with a .980″ diameter barrel shank.

        The 98 has been successfully used chambered for high pressure rounds based on the .416 Rigby case head size, such as .338 lapua, and cases derived from the .378 wetherby, which simply adds an​ entirely superfluous belt to what is otherwise the rigby case head.

        The big crop of 2″ and 2 1/2″ length “short” and “super” mags based on the .404 Jeffery headsize that appeared in the 1990s (eighty years after Rigby and fifty years after vom Hoffe produced very similar cases) would represent an intermediate position.

  4. When I was a teenager I had a sporterized Mauser 98 which was rechambered for 8mm-06 (8×63) and it didn’t require any mods to the receiver ring or magazine to accommodate the longer case. I would often fire form .30-06 ammo to reload in the 8×63 loading dies.

    • What Ian fails to mention in this video is that the crescent cut on the front bridge is there to accomodate loading from stripper clips. Ammunition was issued on clips in the boxes and the bandoliers. Old US-made ammo cans for the M1919 were repainted and delivered with 5 round clips stacked.
      Single loading rounds into the magazine is possible without the cutout. Clips will however cause the round to hit the front bridge.

      Ole

  5. Time for a story. Ian, listen 🙂
    A friend of mine was living in Norway for some years, and was hunting there. Every Nowegian hunter is required to pass a shooting proficienty test before the season starts. The test is fairly easy, its about hitting a 30cm target on 100 meters.

    Next to the friend, an old hunter was shooting a mauser rifle that was rechambered for .30-06, just as the one in the video. It was refitted to be a hunting rifle (ie. scoped, maybe they changed the stock&trigger, that’s what they did in Europe after WW2 and still do it today).

    The shooter was not doing well, and the friend noticed that the gun ejected some really stange looking cases. It turned out the man was using .308 ammo in his 30-06 gun. And did for years without noticing. The Mauser action stripped the cartridge from the magazine, held it in place with its extractor claw and could fire it. The cases were fire-formed to kingdom come – yet, the accuracy was enough to pass the test.
    The gun was only marked with “7.62”, just like the gun in the video.

    I have no proof for that story, but the man who told it to me is quite credible.

  6. And the Germans maintained a huge force in Norway expecting a major ‘second front’ invasion as well. Certainly British intelligence encouraged them to think so, and there had been the Narvik campaign in 1940.

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