MY EXPERIENCES RE-BARRELING K98k RIFLES
In the 1990’s, I had ½ interest in a Military Firearms Shop. It was called “Great Southern Arms” and was located in Pricedale, MS. It was an amazing time for a shop like this to be in business. We used the Internet to sell our goods. We had an extensive website ad sold several thousand dollar worth of merchandise each month.
One of the bargains offered to us by Century Arms was, original K98k WW2 German rifles. The bolts did not match and the bores were NRA Horrible. All the original WW2 German markings were intact. The outside condition of the rifles was NRA Very Good. This was a good buy for $50.00 each, including shipping.
We saw an ad for K98k 8x57mm barrels from Paragon Supply for $4.00 each. The Germans donated K98k rifles to the Israelis and the Israeli Army replaced the barrels on these rifles with new 8x57mm barrels made by FN. Less than 5 years later, the Israelis replaced the new 8x57mm barrels with FN barrels in 7.62x51 NATO. The 8x57mm barrels had no markings on them and were in new condition. The front and rear sights were still on the barrels. We bought 200 of these barrels.
When I replaced the rotten 8x57mm barrels, most of them would headspace or would have short headspace. It was easy to deepen the chamber on these rifles if needed. If the headspace was long, I took off metal from the back of the barrel to allow the barrel to screw deeper into the receiver ring. The big problem was, the K98k has no witness marks to indicate where the barrel should be, so the sights would align. At the Arsenals, the barrels were installed and the sights were installed after the barrels were in place.
The first attempt at replacing a K98k barrel was successful. The sights lined up perfectly. I thought, these Germans really had it together when they built these rifles. The next attempt was not as successful. The sights were on the bottom of the barrel. I had to remove the front sight and rear sight leaf and spring and remove the two set screws on the sight bases. The sight bases were soft soldered onto the barrels. The bases had to be heated with a propane torch and turned the bases to the top of the barrel. To insure the sights lined up, I bought a square level with an adjustable needle to align the rear base. I took a reading on the tang of the action. There is a flat just behind the receiver bridge. I set the dial on the level and heated and turned the rear sight until they matched. To align the front sight, I replaced the rear sight leaf and spring. I elevated the rear sight leaf and after heating the front sight band turned it until it lined up with both sides of the rear sight leaf.
I spent 20-30 minutes on each re-barrel job and we turned $50.00 rifles into $250.00 rifles. We also re-barreled customer rifles for $100.00. One of the K98k rifles we received from Century Arms was a German sniper rifle. It was the sniper model with the ZF-41 long eye relief telescope. The only parts that did not match was the bolt assembly. We already had a ZF-41 telescope and we cleaned up the rifle and got $1200.00 for our trouble.
This endeavor was very profitable. We paid $6050.00 for the K98k’s, barrels and ZF-41 telescope. Over a period of years we cleared $29,700.00 on this deal and it allowed us to purchase more rifles for the shop.
Another great deal at that time was Lee Enfield No 1 Mk III* rifles. They were $40.00 including shipping. In one of the shipments I received, there was a rifle that was considerably heavier than the rest. When I inspected it, the rifle turned out to be a single shot Lithgow training rifle in .22 Long Rifle.
I wish the arms and ammunition that were available then were still available. It was an amazing time and I was happy being a partner in a shop like this.
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