Know Your WW2 Weapons: The German K43 Rifle, Deutschland’s DMR



K43 is German shorthand for Karabiner 43. The same weapon was also known as the Gewehr 43. A relatively simple gas-operated design, the K43 was the German answer to our M1 Garand. However, manufacturing pressures and a suboptimal design conspired to keep the K43 from reaching its full potential.

The K43 was an evolutionary development of the previous G41. Produced as the G41(M) from Mauser and the G41(W) from Walther, these two rifles suffered from an inexplicable design mandate that German engineers craft the weapons without drilling a gas port in the barrel. The end result was a gas trap design that was front-heavy, cumbersome, heavy and unreliable. About the time the Wehrmacht was convincing itself that the G41 was a dry hole, they encountered the Soviet SVT-38 and SVT-40 self-loaders in combat on the Eastern Front.

The subsequent G43/K43 featured a more conventional short-stroke piston-driven action with a flapper locking mechanism. Much of this rifle’s entrails seem eerily similar to those of the Soviet SVT-40. This system was easier to manufacture, more reliable and fairly robust. The weapon was semi-auto-only and fed from detachable 10-round box magazines that could also be charged from the top via standard stripper clips.