The Gewehr 43 or Karabiner 43 (G43, K43, Gew 43, Kar 43) is a 7.92×57mm Mauser caliber semi-automatic rifle developed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was a modification of the G41(W) using an improved gas system similar to that of the Soviet Tokarev SVT-40.
In 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union as part of Operation Barbarossa. Just prior to the opening of hostilities the Soviet Red Army had started re-arming its infantry, complementing its older bolt-action rifles with the new semi-automatic SVT-38s and SVT-40s. This proved to be somewhat of a shock to the Germans, who ramped up their semi-automatic rifle development efforts significantly.
The SVT series used a simple gas-operated mechanism, which was soon emulated by Walther in the G41(W), producing the Gewehr 43 (or G43). The simpler, sturdier design and mechanism of the G43 made it lighter, easier to produce, more reliable and also much tougher than the Gewehr 41; elite German mountain troops would use them as ladder rungs during climbing. The addition of a 10-round detachable box magazine was an improvement over the fixed box magazine of the G41(W). The Gewehr 43 was intended, like the G41, to be loaded using 5-round stripper clips without removing the magazine. Soldiers armed with the weapon typically carried one standard stripper clip pouch and a Gewehr 43 pouch with two spare magazines. The Gewehr 43 was put into production in October 1943, and followed in 1944 by the Karabiner 43 (K43), which was identical to the G43 in every way except for the letter stamped on the side. The name change from Gewehr to Karabiner was due to the fact the rifle was actually only two centimetres longer than the standard Karabiner 98k and therefore the term Gewehr (meaning: long rifle) seemed somewhat strange. The Wehrmacht intended to equip each grenadier (infantry) company in the army with 19 G43s, including 10 with scopes, for issue as the company commander saw fit. This issue was never completely achieved.
Total production by the end of the war was 402,713 of both models, including at least 53,435 sniper rifles: these G43/K43s were used as designated marksman/sniper weapons, fitted with the Zielfernrohr 43 (ZF 4) telescopic sight with 4x magnification. The weapon was originally designed for use with the Schiessbecher rifle grenade launcher (standard on the Karabiner 98k as well) and the Schalldämpfer suppressor, however these accessories were deemed unsuccessful in tests and were dropped even before the rifle made it to serial production. The rifle was also not equipped to use a bayonet. The Gewehr 43 stayed in service with the Czechoslovak army for several years after the war. Likewise the East German border troops and police Volkspolizei or VoPo issued reworked G43 rifles, which are recognizable by a sunburst proof mark near the serial number and the serial number engraved by electropencil on removable components.