RIFLES PART 6:

Three Mausers and One Terni

 

7,92 mm Carbine M/98a Mauser:

(Karabiner modell 98a)

Calibre:

7,92 mm x 57 JS

Length:

1090 mm

Barrel length:

590 mm

Weight:

3,7 kg

Magazine:

5, non-removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,92 kiv/98 rv"

Country of origin:

Germany

Prototype:

1907

Production:

1909 - 1918

Finnish use: 8,000 M/98a bought from France in 1919, used by Finnish cavalry, artillery and bicycle troops until 1924.

Carbine M/98a had been accepted to German weaponry in January of 1908. Estimated 1.5-million were made between 1909 - 1918 and used by German cavalry, bicycle troops, engineers, signal personnel and artillery. Some of these rifles survived till World War 2 and were used by German 2nd line troops during it.

Few hundred M/98a remained in Finland after war of 1918, in summer of 1919 about 8,000 more were bought from France. First units issued with these rifles were cavalry and artillery units, later also bicycle troops were equipped with them. Their service career in Finland turned out be very short. Already year 1924 the remaining 5,420 carbines were sold to Poland in exchange of Mosin-Nagant rifles. After this Mosin-Nagant cavalry rifles M/91 replaced them in those Finnish Army units, which previously had been previously using them.

After Civil War of 1918 few hundred 7,92 mm Mauser infantry rifles M/98 had also cumulated to warehouses of Finnish military. Finnish military wasn't interested about these rifles and had no use for them. So they didn't see any real military use in Finland after 1918. Small batches were sold to civilian market in 1920's. The biggest deal was made with Poland, which received 934 of the infantry rifles year 1924 in exchange of 7,62-mm calibre Mosin-Nagant rifles. Additional about 400 Mauser M/98 rifles, which cumulated to Army warehouses after this, were sold to civilian market in late 1920's and early 1930's.

 

7,92 mm Carbine M/98k Mauser:

(Karabiner modell 98k)

PICTURE: Mauser M/98k carbine. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (14 KB).

Calibre:

7,92 mm x 57 JS

Length:

1110 mm

Barrel length:

600 mm

Weight:

3,9 kg

Magazine:

5, non-removable

Official abbreviations:

"792 KIV SAKSAL"

Country of origin:

Germany

Prototype:

based to earlier Mauser rifle designs

Production:

1934 - 1945

Finnish use: Some 600 bought from Germany between 1943 - 1944 with rifle grenade equipment. Only 100 of these were used in battle, their main use was launching rifle grenades.

Versailles treaty that ended World War 1 had ordered bulk of German weaponry to be destroyed. This later proved to be double-edged sword by allowing Germany to re-arm itself with new weaponry in 1930's (just about all other countries still used large amounts of old World War 1 weapons when World War 2 started). During World War 1 many countries had noted, that existing infantry rifles were unnecessarily long and clumsy for many situations and decided to opt for shorter rifles. As to be expected this carbine was based to earlier German Mauser M/98 rifle and carbine designs. Developing of new German carbine sized rifle started already in 1924 and new 98k carbine entered to mass-production in year 1934. By year 1945 estimated 11.5-million Karabiner modell 98k were manufactured. The largest manufacturer of 98k was Mauser (some 6,3 million manufactured), but also Sauer, Steyr, Gustloff and Brünn each manufactured more than a million 98k carbines. During World War 2 Mauser 98k carbine was the standard issue rifle of German Armed Forces.

Finnish interest concerning M/98k was focused to rifle-grenade equipment and rifle-grenades used in it. Trench war period begun at end of year 1941 and last until June of 1944. During that Finnish military found that it very much needed rifle grenades, but there basically were no domestic designs and none of these designs never got to real large-scale production. So in this situation Finnish Army decided to solve the problem by purchasing German Mauser M/98k carbines with rifle grenade equipment. First 100 M/98k arrived in November of 1943 and were issued to military units for tests. This lead to at least some of these rifles being used in battles of summer 1944. The main delivery of 500 rifles however arrived too late for combat use. Somewhat ironically also the need for rifle grenades decreased considerably once the warfare turned mobile again in summer of 1944. Remaining M/98k carbines were scrapped in 1945.

From collectors stand point Mauser M/98k rifles are tricky ones. They have been highly popular for decades now. Good quality Mauser 98k rifles with matching serial numbers can be expensive and forgeries are not uncommon. So, if you want to buy such rifle I first recommend studying the matter extensively or dealing only with persons that you trust.

 

6,5 mm Infantry Rifle M/96, Swedish Mauser:

(6,5 mm gevär m/96)

PICTURE: Swedish made Mauser Rifle M/96. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (29 KB).

Calibre:

6,5 mm x 55

Length:

1260 mm

Barrel length:

739 mm

Weight:

4,0 kg

Magazine:

5, non-removable

Official abbreviations:

"6,50 kiv/96"

Country of origin:

Sweden

Prototype:

based to earlier Mauser rifle designs

Finnish use: Used by Swedish volunteer troops and some Finnish units (mainly ones located to northern Finland) during Winter War (1939 - 1940). During Continuation War used by Finnish Navy, coastal troops and anti-aircraft units (stationed in home front).

Rifle M/96 was rifle type developed from previous Mauser M/1893 and main rifle type of Swedish Armed Forces from 1890's to 1960's. This rifle was well known for its accuracy, so some 1,360 rifles M/96 that had ended up to Finnish Army by 1919 were then given to Suojeluskunta. The another less spectacular reason for this was that as far as Finnish military was concerned these rifles were non-standard calibre (anything other than 7.62 mm x 54R). Suojeluskunta issued the rifles mainly to its Swedish speaking districts at west coast of Finland.

However, Mauser rifle M/96 didn't play important role as Finnish military weapon before Winter War. During that war Finland had a serious shortage of just about all military equipment, including rifles. Sweden had been disarming large part of its military in 1920's, so Sweden had plenty of extra Mauser M/96 rifles, from which Finland bought 77,000 during Winter War.

Deliveries of Swedish Mauser M/96 rifles to Finland:

Extra 7,900 rifles M/96 were received with Swedish (SFK) voluntary unit that had been armed with weapons financed with Swedish donations. Large number of M/96 arrived too late to be used in Winter War (last deliveries had not even been yet unpacked when war ended). During Winter War Mauser M/96 were used to arm Finnish troops located to northern Finland. Another place where these rifles saw use during Winter War was Kotka coastal sector at March of 1940. Six Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) Battalions formed from volunteered boys and old men, who were Civil Guard members, took part defending this coastal sector and were armed with these rifles.

Soon after this situation for Sweden changed. Germany occupied both Denmark and Norway in spring of 1940, which alarmed Sweden to rearm itself. So Finland returned 25,000 of the M/96 rifles back to Sweden. Remaining M/96 rifles were used to arm Finnish Navy, most of coastal troops and half of anti-aircraft units (the ones stationed to home front) when Continuation War started in summer of 1941. By summer of 1944 anti-aircraft units had been rearmed with Italian Terni rifles and their rifles had been given to Suojeluskunta organisations, which did guard duty in home front.

In Continuation War Mauser M/96 rifles saw relatively small amount of actual battle-use (Viipurinlahti Gulf in 1944 being the exception), so their losses were quite small. For duration of Continuation War Mauser M/96 was the main rifle model for coastal troops. At 1941 the battles of these troops started with battle of Hanko (Hango, Gangut) Peninsula, where the Soviets had build naval base due to Finnish-Soviet peace treaty of 1940. Later battles of coastal troops armed with these rifles continued in various islands of Finnish Gulf until the bloody grand finale of Viipurinlahti Gulf at July of 1944. Year 1951 Finnish military had still 48,700 rifles of this type, they were sold abroad (mostly to Sweden) between 1951 - 1953. Swedish 6,5 mm x 55 cartridge is well known for its good ballistics, but unfortunately it seems that apprently all ammunition used with them in Finland was old Swedish M/94 ball-ammunition and its Finnish made copy (manufactured by VPT). The Swedes introduced new ammunition with spitzer-bullet in this calibre in 1941, but it doesn't seem to have been used in Finland, even if a cartridge with spitzer-bullet was included to Finnish Army ammunition manual in year 1941.

All Mauser M/96 rifles used in Finland were infantry rifles. The Swedes started using also scoped sniper rifle version of this rifle starting year 1941, but none of these were ever used by Finnish military.

PICTURE: Swedish made Mauser carbine M/94. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (24 KB).

Also about 1,000 Swedish 6,5 mm Mauser M/94 carbines arrived to Finland with Swedish (SFK) volunteer unit. As this Swedish unit left behind all its weapons when it returned to Sweden after Winter War also these carbines ended up to Finnish Army. Finnish Army never bothered really to issue such a small amount of rifles to anything, so they were mainly kept warehoused until being sold abroad with M/96 Mauser rifles around 1951 - 1953.

 

7,35 mm Rifle M/38 "Terni":

(7,35 mm fucile modello 38)

PICTURE: Italian made M/38 rifle. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (24 KB).

Calibre:

7,35 mm x 51

Length:

1020 mm

Barrel length:

540 mm

Weight:

3,6 kg

Magazine:

6, non-removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,35 kiv/38"

Country of origin:

Italy

Finnish use: Issued mostly to non-frontline troops (artillery and air-defence) in summer of 1941. Some unlucky frontline infantry units got issued with them also, in those units they got replaced with other rifle types during Continuation War.

This rifle was based to earlier Italian Carcano rifles originally mainly credited to Salvatore Carcano. Italian troops had become unhappy to ballistics of their 6,5 mm x 52 Carcano M/91 rifles during Italo-Abyssinian War (1935 - 1936). So a new version using 7.35-mm ammunition war introduced to production in 1938, but starting of World War 2 ruined Italian plans of making a transition the calibre of their service rifles. Hence the manufacturing of this rifle stopped in year 1940 and the Italians went back to manufacturing 6.5-mm rifles. As Italians decided to retain 6.5-mm as their standard service rifle calibre new 7.35-mm rifles become available with very cheap price. At the same time Finland had a serious shortage of rifles (and all other military equipment) during Winter War, so when the Italians offered new M/38 rifles the Finns immediately got interested. Negotiations took a lot of time, but finally in April of 1940 deliveries begun and 94,500 of ordered 100,000 rifles arrived to Finland in summer of 1940.

When Continuation War started Finnish military issued M/38 rifles were mainly to non-frontline troops like artillery, air-defence, supplies units and later after attacks of Soviet partisans even to civilians of remote villages close to eastern border. Also some unfortunate infantry units received these rifles. It didn't take long for Terni (most often used name in Finland used from this rifle, Fabbrica d'Armi di Terni was factory that had made the rifles) to gather a very poor reputation. Rifle had fixed (non-adjustable) rear sight (while the Finnish soldiers were accustomed for sighting in each rifle to get it hit exactly where the soldier using it aimed), poor ballistics and reportedly poor ammunition (with very large dispersion) just emphasised the whole issue. Bayonet of the rifle was removable, but folding. In typical the Mannlicher-fashion the 6-round ammunition clip was pushed through the non-removable magazine. Original Italian fixed sights had been set for distance of 200 meters, but the Finns equipped some of these rifles with new higher front sight blade, which reduced the setting of sights to 100 or 150 meters. However in majority of the rifles the original Italian fixed sights remained to the end. Finnish soldiers usually didn't trust this rifle one bit and whenever they got any possibility to switch it to any other weapon they typically instantly did so. Unfortunately, as transporting of extra weapons back was often difficult Finnish troops had also tendency to simply discard weapons that they had replaced with better (usually captured) ones. So if transporting Terni rifles replaced with better ones was difficult at that time, soldiers often simply threw them away.

PICTURE: Receiver area of Italian made M/38 rifle. Notice fixed rear sight. (Photo taken in Viestimuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (114 KB).

Also Finnish Army General Headquarters noted what was happening and reacted accordingly - M/38 rifles were transferred to home front and Finnish Air Force from those front-line units that had been issued with them. June of 1944 only about 74,300 M/38 rifles remained (broken ones not included). Plans about replacing non-adjustable rear sights with new domestic adjustable sight design existed during Continuation War. Production of these new rear sights with adjustable tangent-type rear sight was started in 1944, but ending of war stopped it before first production run was finished. Apparently only small number of prototypes were equipped with these new Finnish-manufactured adjustable sights. After World War 2 Finnish military had little use for these rifles. Remaining Terni rifles were sold abroad in exchange of used Sten submachineguns in year 1957.

 

OTHER RIFLE TYPES USED BY FINNISH MILITARY:

- 10,4 mm Infantry Rifle M/1871 Vetterli, "Grafton-rifle": Swiss made (designed by Friedrich Vetterli) model 1869/71 bolt action rifle with 12-round tubular magazine using 10,4 mm x 38 rimfire ammunition. During Russo-Japanese war of 1904 - 1905 Japanese were covertly supporting Finnish independence movement and Russian revolutionaries. Largest operation of this support was weapons delivery paid by Japanese government and loaded to old steamship S/S John Grafton. The most important part of its cargo were Vetterli M/1869/71 rifles (15,560 of them). Most of the cargo never got totally to its designed destination, as ship sailed to stone near town of Pietarsaari, got stuck and had to be exploded (there were also plenty of dynamite among cargo). The Russians managed to confiscate most of the rifles that local fishermen had tried to rescue from the ship wreck. Only small number of these rifles ended immediately up to hands of Finnish independence activists. Another more successful attempt was made year later, when activists succeeded smuggling 3,125 Vetterli-rifles to Finland. Later doing the Civil War large number of the rifles earlier confiscated by the Russian officials were recaptured. According the ship of the famous first failed smuggling attempt these rifles are also known as "Grafton-rifles" in Finland. During Finnish Civil War of 1918 small amounts of these rifles were used (mainly) by non-frontline troops of both sides. But already then their use was quite limited due to shortage of ammunition.


SUGGESTED LINKS FOR MORE INFO:

Carbines for Collectors More info about different rifles.

House of Karlina More info about Swedish Mauser rifles.

Mauser 98k Unofficial Web site More info about Mauser 98k rifles.

SwissRifles.com More info about Swiss Vetterli rifles.


SOURCES:

Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988 osat 1 - 3 (= Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988 parts 1- 3)

Timo Hyytinen: Arma Fennica 2, sotilasaseet (Arma Fennica 2, military weapons)

Bruno Bogdnovic and Ivan Valencak: Das Groze Buch der klassischen feuerwaffen

Jan Kronlund: Suomen Puolustuslaitos 1918 - 1939 (= Finnish Defence Department 1918 - 1939)

Article: Mauser G 98 ja K 98 kiväärit, osa 2 by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 3/98.

Article: Grafton kivääri by Matti Ingman in Kaliberi magazine vol. 6/2000.

Article: Frederich Vetterlin tulivoimainen luomus by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol. 1/2004.

Mika Pitkänen and Timo Simpanen: Suomalaiset sotilaspatruunat 1918-1945 / The Finnish military catridges 1918-1945.

Military manual: Italialainen jalkaväenkivääri Terni KAL. 7,35 (Printed 1940).

Military manual: Aseopas II, Ruotsalaisia aseita (Printed 1940).

Special thanks to Ilmatorjuntamuseo (Finnish Antiaircraft Museum), Tuusula.

Special thanks to Viestimuseo (Finnish Signal Museum), Riihimäki.

Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki.


Last updated 6t of June 2010
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