The Basic Infantry Weapons

By Erich Tobey--edited by Marsh

Marksmanship instruction was called Schießlehre. The trainee would fire a certain number of rounds from various positions and ranges and would have the results logged in a small book called a Schießbuch. Later in the war, the Schießbuch was reduced in size to a small 4-page pamphlet which was often glued inside the Soldbuch.

Gewehre (Rifles)--The K98.k (Karabiner 98 kurz) rifle (the "Mauser") was the basic weapon of the Wehrmacht and one which was familiar to all of Germany's servicemen. The following is a condensed version of what the recruit would have been required to know:

  • Basic Parts (including serial number) Nomenclature of the Gewehr--Learn the German terms and nomenclature for the Gewehr!
  • Disassembly & Cleaning--The reenactor should be able to disassemble the bolt and dismount the floorplate. Further disassembly is not necessary. To clean his weapon, the Landser was issued a small cleaning kit which looked like a cigar tin and which contained two brushes (a small one for scouring the rifle bore, and a larger, softer one to oil it), an oil can, a floorplate dismounting tool/chamber cleaner, and a chain-type pull-through.

The K98 was also issued with a bayonet, the S.84/98 Seitengewehr.

Other rifles occasionally seen in the hands of the Landser would have included the Czech G-24t (the VZ-24, a straight-bolt, carbine-type Mauser) and the Gewehr 98b (a reworked version of the German WWI-issue Mauser). Later-on, the semi-automatic K-/G-43 was issued in limited numbers. Although the G-43 was the German equivalent of the M-1 Garand, it was generally only carried by the assistant squad leader in an infantry squad (Unfortunately, American reenactors seem to all feel that they need one of these...).

**Numerous other captured rifles were used by German troops--notably in the east, the Soviet SVT-40 (Tokarev) semi-automatic rifle and Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle. Besides these last two, other captured rifles were not commonly used by frontline units. No other captured rifles should be used!!

  • Pistole (Pistols)--Pistols were meant as a self-defense weapon for soldiers who did not carry a rifle or sub-machine gun. Many different types were used, including many foreign models. The primary models were the P.08 "Luger" and the P.38. Typically, the only soldiers who carried pistols were officers, senior NCO's, MG gunners and their assistant, mortar crewmen, and medics on the Eastern Front (this last was because the Soviets were not signatories of the Geneva Convention and ignored its covenants, i.e. rules such as those prohibiting the killing of medics).
  • Machinenpistolen (Submachineguns)--Contrary to the Hollywood myth of every German soldier toting a "Schmeisser," submachine guns were usually only carried by squad leaders. When MPi.'s were carried, usually it was the MPi.40, MPi.38 or a captured Soviet PpSH (the PpSH was quite popular due to its ruggedness, reliability and large magazine capacity). Occasionally, on the Western Front, the Berretta machine pistol was also used by German troops. Since we also want to avoid the common WWII reenactor mistake of every man carrying an Mpi, only Gruppenführers and those types listed above should carry such weapons.
  • Granaten (grenades)--There were two basic types of grenades: small ovoid "Eiergranaten" (egg-type) grenades, and the Stiehlhandgranate (the infamous "potato masher" stick grenade). There were both high explosive and smoke versions of both types of grenades. The grenades and the simulators that we use will be covered more extensively in the weapons section of this manual.
  • Schießbecher (grenade cup launcher)--The most experienced private in each Infanterie squad was also equipped with a weapon known as the Schießbecher, or rifle-grenade launcher. It was basically a cup-type attachment which clamped onto the end of the K98k.