The Gewehr 43 or Karabiner 43 (G43, K43, Gew 43, Kar 43) is a 7.92x57mm Mauser caliber semi-automatic rifle developed by Nazi Germany during WWII. It was a modification of the G41(W) using an improved gas system similar to that of the Soviet Tokarev SVT-40.
Germany's quest for a semi-automatic infantry rifle resulted in two designs-the G41(M) and G41(W), from Mauser and Walther arms respectively. The Mauser design proved unreliable in combat when introduced in 1941 and at least 12,755 were made. The Walther design fared better in combat but still suffered from reliability problems. In 1943 Walther introduced a new modified gas system with aspects of the G41(W) providing greatly improved performance. It was accepted and entered into service as the Gewehr 43, renamed the Karabiner 43 in 1944, with production amounted to just over 400,000 between 1943-45.
Gewehr 41(M) and G41(W)Edit
By 1940, it became apparent that some form of a semi-automatic rifle, with a higher rate of fire than existing bolt-action rifle models, was necessary to improve the infantry's combat efficiency. The army issued a specification to various manufacturers, and both Mauser and Walther submitted prototypes that were very similar. However, some restrictions were placed upon the design:
- no holes for tapping gas for the loading mechanism were to be bored in the barrel;
- the rifles were not to have any moving parts on the surface;
- and in case the autoloading mechanism failed, a bolt-action was to be included.
Both models therefore used a mechanism known as the "Bang" system. In this system, gases from the bullet were trapped near the muzzle in a ring shaped cone, which in turn pulled on a long piston that opened the breech and re-loaded the gun. This system is in contrast to the more common type of gas-operated system, in which gasses are tapped off from the barrel, and push back a piston to open the breech to the rear. Both also included 10-round magazines that were loaded using two of the stripper clips from the Karabiner 98k, utilizing the same German-standard 7.92x57mm Mauser rounds.
The Mauser design, the G41(M), failed. Only 6,673 were produced before production was temporarily halted, and of these, 1,673 were returned as unuseable. the Walther design, the G41(W), is in outward appearance not unlike the Gewehr 43. Most metal parts on this rifle were machined steel, and some rifles, especially later examples, utilized the bakelite type plastic handguards. The Walther design was more successful because the designers had simply neglected the last two restrictions listed above.
These rifles, along with their G41(M) counterparts, suffered from gas system fouling problems. These problems seemed to stem from the overly complex muzzle trap system becoming excessively corroded from the use of corrosive salts in the ammunition primers, and carbon fouling. The muzzle assembly consisted of many fine parts and was difficult to keep clean, disassemble, and maintain in field conditions. The rifle was redesigned in 1943 into the Gewehr 43 utilizing a gas system somewhat similar to that on the Tokarev series of rifles, and a detachable magazine used for easier cleaning access. Coincidentially, the M1 rifle followed a similar course being first designed with a gas trap mechanism which was quickly discarded in production.
Gewehr 43 / Karabiner 43Edit
In 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union as part as Operation Barbarossa. Just prior to the opening of hostilities the Soviet Red Army had started re-arming its infantry, complementing its older, bolt-action rifles with the new semi-automatic SVT-40s. This proved to be somewhat of a shock to the Germans, who had ramped up their semi-automatic rifle development efforts significantly.
The SVT series used a simple gas-operated mechanism, which was soon emulated by Walther in the G41 (W), producing the Gewehr 43 (G43). The simpler, sturdier design and mechanism of the G43 made it lighter, easier to produce, more reliable, and also much tougher than the Gewehr 41; elite German mountain troops would use them as ladder rungs during climbing. The addition of a 10-round detachable box magazine was an improvement over the fixed box magazine of the G41 (W). The Gewehr 43 was intended, like the G41, to be loaded using 5-round stripper clips without removing the magazine. Soldiers armed with the weapon typically carried one standard stripper clip pouch and a Gewehr 43 pouch with two spare magazines. The Gewehr 43 was put into production in October 1943, and followed in 1944 by the Karabiner 43 (K43), which was identical to the G43 in every way except for the letter stamped on the side. The name change from Gewehr to Karabiner was due to the fact that the reifle was actually only two centimeters longer than the standard Karabiner 98k and therefore the term Gewehr (meaning: long rifle) seemed somewhat strange.Total production by the end of the war was 402,713 of both models, including at least 53,435 sniper rifles: these G43/K43s were used as designated marksman/sniper weapons. The weaponn was originally designed for use with the Schiessbecher rifle grenade launcher and the Schalldampfer suppressor, however these accessories were deemed unsuccessful in tests and were dropped even before the rifle made it to serial production. The rifle was not equipped to use a bayonet.