History of the G/K43 Sniper
At the start of WWII, the German Army did not have a standard semi automatic rifle. There had been several experimental semi autos but none had yet to be put into large scale production. It was in 1940 that the HWaA ordered Walther and Mauser to present a design for a semi auto. Supposedly Kreighoff and Rheinmetall were also told to present a proposal. There were certain requirements the rifle had to meet:
The barrel may not be bored to extract gas
No part on the upper surface may move with the automatic loading movements.
If the automatic mechanism fails, the use of the rifle must not be halted. In the case of such a failure the rifle must be manually loaded similarly to the Model 98.
Mauser submitted a design which met all the requirements known as the G41(M). The design was not successful and was only manufactured in small numbers. There were attempts to mount an optic to the G41(M). Initially a 1.5 power scope was mounted using a double sided “straddle” mount that was placed over the rear sight. However, the HWaA rejected this design. It would appear then that a small number of rifles had an experimental version of the ZF40 mount on a single rail attached to the side of the rear sight, similar to the failed ZF41 mount used on K98k rifles. and examples today are almost non existent. By the end of 1942, Mauser stopped production of all G41(M) rifles as they proved to be an unreliable rifle in combat.
Walther disregarded several of the requirements and proposed the G41(W). Despite not meeting all the requirements given by the HWaW, the G41(W) was a superior design compared with the G41(M), and it was accepted and put into large scale production by 1943. A small number of G41(W) rifles were also equipped with optics. The mount used on these is referred to as the “straddle” mount, so named for straddling the rear sight. What allowed the mounting of these straddle mounts were rails on either side of the sight base which were a part of the receiver itself. The scope used on the straddle mount was the ZF40. Sometime in 1943, a rail was added to the right side of the receiver near the rear. This would be continued on the G43. Despite many G41 rifles having the capability to mount a scope very few were actually equipped with optics. In 1943, the gas system on G41(W) was redesigned after the Russian SVT 40 and became the G43.
By early 1944, the G43 was being produced by three factories, Walther (code ac), Berlin-Lubecker Maschinenfabrik (code duv and later qve) and Gustloff-Werke II (code bcd). Nearly every G43 was manufactured with a integral scope rail machined on the right side of the receiver, and it was intended that every G43 be a potential sniper rifle since K98k sniper production was too slow requiring rifle selection and time consuming mounting of scopes. The G43 was to remedy these problems and speed up the production of sniper rifles. However, in the end, the G43 proved not accurate enough for sniper use due in part to mount and scope issues.
Walther and Berlin-Lubecker were the only factories to produce rifles equipped with optics. Gustloff was only able to produce the G43 for a short period and never produced any sniper rifles. The first G43 sniper rifles were produce in May of 1944 and were produced until the end of the war. A total of 46,042 rifles equipped with scopes were delivered during this time period. That is about 10% of total production. Aside from a matching mount there is no way to identify a rifle as a factory produced sniper rifle. G43 snipers have no external markings to designate them as such with one exception. A number of late qve45 snipers have “ZF K43” stamped in the stock below the scope rail. These stamps only seems to appear in the c, d and e block rifles produced in 1945. It is unclear why this practice was done but is certainly war time done and relates the rifle being equipped with (or at least selected for) optics.
There was only one style of scope used on the G43 sniper, the ZF4. The ZF4 scope was a small, simplified 4 power scope very similar to the Russian PU scope and was intended to be used on all German sniper rifles. It would be used on the G43, FG42, MP44 and even the K98k. It was produced by three companies, Voigtlander und Sohn (ddx), Opticotechna GmbH, Prerau (dow), and AGFA Kamerawerk (bzz). In 1944 and 1945, a large number of these ZF4 scopes were manufactured and delivered. It is clear from original examples that far more scopes were produced than scope mounts. Voigtlander (ddx) and Opticotechna (dow) produced the majority of the scopes used. Kamerawerk (bzz) scopes are seen less frequently and are uncommon in today’s collecting market. There was one other scope produced in very small numbers by Carl Zeiss known as the ZFK 43/1. It is not clear if these scopes were ever used in production of G43 snipers. Only about 100 of these scopes were made.
The mount used on the G43 was designed to slide onto the rail and a lever was closed to tighten it to the receiver scope rail. The scope sits in a saddle and two bands with screws and dowels secure it in place. These bands are very similar to the ones used on the long side rail. Original mounts are found in two different variations, a square end and a round end. These are often referred to as early (square) and late (round). However, this is not entirely accurate. While early mounts are always square ended, square mounts can be found until the end of the war so they are by no means limited to early rifles only. It is possible that two subcontractors made mounts for the G43, one who made square ended mounts and another that made round ended. At some point in mid 1944, round mounts start to show up which suggests that the subcontractor that provided square mounts was able to produce them sooner. The subcontractor of round mounts likely had difficulty producing mounts initially but was soon able to deliver them to Walther and BLM. From observing original mounts it can be deduced that more round mounts were produced then the square examples.
These mounts went though small changes in the short year they were produced and used. One such change was the finish. Early mounts have a higher degree of metal finish while mid and late war mounts are rougher. Walther used a rolled pin on the under side of the mount to hold the locking arm in place. Some time in 1945 this was replaced with a solid pin that was staked in place. BLM mounts also used a rolled pin with a flared style pin showing up late. The numbering of mounts also changed. On early mounts, the rifle and scope serial number were added. It was not long before the scope serial number was dropped, likely due to issues with scopes. Some mounts can be found with no number at all. Some of these are probably field replacements, but most are unfinished or unused mounts that were captured at the factory. The lever used to tighten the mount to the scope rail went through a small change also. Early mounts used a lever that had a more drastic center bend in them. Sometime in mid 1944 this lever was simplified to a more subtle bend and is referred to as a standard lever. By 1945, many of the small parts stopped being blued, instead being finished in phosphate.
The G/K43 was a somewhat successful rifle. Had Walther and BLM had more time to perfect the rifle design, it would have been a far better rifle. It’s role as a true sniper was minimal. Most war time sharp shooters preferred the bolt action K98k, citing issues with the K43 scope and mount.
Collecting the G/K43 Sniper
Authenticating a G43 as a rifle assembled as a sniper without the matching mount is impossible. There are no markings on the rifle itself to denote it as a sniper with the sole exception of late 1945 BLM rifles that were stamped ZF K43 on the stock below the scope mount. If a rifle does have a matching mount, it is important to study the features of the mount to insure they match the same timeframe of the rifle. A late rifle should not have an early dual numbered mount and vice versa. When rifles were assembled at the factory, the mount was fitted to a rifle and then stamped or engraved to match. As a result, the rifle serial number will be engraved through the finish while the inspection stamp (either 214 or 359) will be under the finish. In general Walther used ddx scopes while BLM used dow scopes. However, it is likely that ddx and dow scopes were sent to both factories. True G/K 43 snipers are tough to find in the collecting market.