Pawn Shop Sniper Rifle

Don’t give up on basket cases
91

Duke’s luck brought him the better part of this German bcd4
sniper rifle from a rare visit to a pawn shop.

Luck? I couldn’t win a lottery if only two of us entered. Back in the 1970s, I once indulged in playing Blackjack at a Montana casino. After a while of steadily losing, the lovely gal dealing whispered to me, “Mister, you shouldn’t gamble.” More or less in my life I have lived her advice. When ignoring it I’ve paid the price!

That said: I have had some excellent luck in finding good guns and good gun deals. One of my best finds came out of a Montana pawn shop. But get this: I almost never go in pawn shops! Why? Because most firearms in them are run of the mill and fantastically overpriced.

The extra-wide left receiver rail told Duke this was one of the K98ks
built from the ground up to become a sniper rifle.

Kismet

One day Yvonne was having a minor medical procedure in Bozeman, Mont. Her doctor told me to come back in two hours and she would be ready to go home. Yvonne wanted me to pick up a few sacks of horse feed, which I did and was heading back to the hospital early. Passing a pawn shop on a rare whim I quickly turned into its parking lot.

As expected, their rifle racks and handgun counter had nothing of interest but I happened to glance behind the counter. There sat what was obviously a tampered-with military Mauser rifle. When asked what it was the counter fellow said, “It’s what’s left of a German sniper rifle.” Naturally I wanted to examine it and with a quick glance asked about its cost. The counter guy’s price was a giveaway so I nabbed it.

Brothers did I luck out! Examining it in my car, I quickly determined it was more than just a good buy. It was a K98k with the factory code of bcd4. (The German Wehrmacht put codes on almost all military equipment instead of manufacturers’ names.) The code meant my new rifle had been made at the Gustloff-Werke facility located in the city of Weimar. The “4” stood for the manufacturing date of 1944 and was likely the only time a German code used a single numeral for a year.

Most noteworthy is K98k Mausers coded bcd4 were intended from the very start of manufacture to become sniper rifles. Not all did but they were meant to be. The giveaway is the receiver’s left side rail is approximately 1/8″ thicker than other K98ks. The reason was so the side rail could then be planed flat on its exterior surface. Thusly the scope mount was affixed to a flat surface making it sturdy in combat conditions. Collectors have come to call this mount the long side rail. A short side rail version preceded it. Having the mounts’ flat surface attached to a rounded action rail resulted in easily loosened scope mounts from rough handling. My collection contains one of those also.

There was another feature particular to bcd4 Mausers I was not aware of at time of purchase — a checkered steel buttplate instead of smooth steel ones other K98ks wore. Mine has the proper buttplate.

Gun Butcher

Now you’re wondering why the counter guy said, “What’s left of a German sniper rifle.” It’s because some yahoo cut the stock off from rear barrel band forward, which also meant its forend cap with bayonet lug was missing. Duke does not fear trivia! Proper-era steel replacements were quickly found on the Internet. Also obtained was a broken K98k stock with its wood from barrel band forward intact. All that was needed was a good gunsmith and locally that was Rocky’s Gun Works of Logan, Mont.

What about mounts and a scope? I had on hand a German commercial Hensoldt 4x scope which could be war-time or post-war vintage. As the United States did with Weaver 2.5x scopes for their Model 1903A4 sniper rifles, early in the war German ordnance people gathered up scopes from the civilian market. For mounts I turned to a company called Accumounts that supplies replicas of most World War II sniper rifle mounts and even reproductions of some scopes. I’ve used their products for many years with satisfaction.

Within a reasonable time, Rocky called one day and said my rifle was ready. I hotfooted to his shop. He did an amazing job. If an observer didn’t know the wood from the barrel band forward was grafted onto the original stock, it wouldn’t be noticed. With a minor outlay of money, some questing for vintage parts and the efforts of a talented gunsmith, I became the owner of a fine shooting, mostly-original German K98k long-siderail sniper rifle.
And let’s not forget a healthy dose of luck!

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