It’s 1940. The war is now well underway. Russia and Germany make some deals. In early spring, Germany invades Denmark and Norway to protect its imports of iron. By May, the Blitzkreig (Lightning War) swallows France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. K98k demands are strong.
In the K98k world, the German Heerewaffenamt orders changes to the date and manufacture coding systems for the K98k rifle. At the same time, Germany begins a hunt for a new rifle, a hunt that never quite finishes. Germany also takes over the FN plant in Belgium and begins operating under the name DWM Werk Luttich (Liege Works). During the course of the war, this factory would produce nearly half a million K98k rifle barrels and nearly 1 and a half million K98k bolts. In 1941 alone, over 1.4 million K98k’s are produced. Makers were changing, with Mauser produced rifles marked 42 if manufactured at Oberndorf, 243 if manufactured at Borsigwalde, Sauer 147, ERMA marked 27 if manufactured before the takeover/renaming of the company to Feinmechanische Werke GmbH, and later with ax (note the lower case letters), Berlin Lubercker Maschinefabrik 237, later changing to duv (again lower case letters), Gustloff Werke (BSW) 337, Styer’s rifles were marked 660 early, moving to bnz. (note both the lower case and the period).
In 1941 all K98k’s produced have moved to the new contractor codes and date markings. 1941 is the year that German’s war effort falls a bit. It doesn’t seem quite evident why, but manufacturing numbers show it clearly. “Only” 1.2 million or so K98k’s are produced. Even Hitler himself commented on the reduction claiming “there is no longer any opponent whom we could not defeat with the number of weapons we currently have”. Mauser produced rifles are now marked byf (lower case) if manufactured at Oberndorf, ar (lower case) if manufactured at Borsigwalde, Sauer is now marked ce in a slanted script, Feinmechanische Werke GmbH with ax (note the lower case letters), Berlin Lubercker Maschinefabrik, duv (again lower case letters), Gustloff Werke bcd (lower case), Styer’s rifles marked bnz. (note both the lower case and the period), and unusual double coded rifle also appears, being manufactured jointly by Feinmechanische Werke GmbH and Mauser, marked ax/ar. All rifles were marked 41 on the lower receiver under the contractor code.
1942 represents the Global War and I will be picking up there soon! Stay tuned!