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The ZF41 Sharp Shooter Scope

A Brief History & Collectors Guide


The Zielfernrohr 41, ZF41 was a long eye relief scope, issued by the German's in large quantities in WWII for use by sharpshooters with the Karabiner, K98k rifle.

Specialist sniping was neglected prior to the outbreak of WWII, with standard of marksmanship being seen as sufficient to not requite individual specialist sniper training. Early wartime experience in Poland and France did show however, that there was a need to increase accuracy for sharpshooters, with a need to hit small targets, such as pill box slits etc. The ZF41 was therefore developed from a project started in 1939, not as an out and out sniping weapon, but as a general aid for sharpshooters.

The scope was 1.5 x powered, with a side rail mount, that was attached to the rail on the side of a K98, on the left of the rear sight, by rollers. Initially the rollers were flat, but changed at an early date to bevelled rollers. Factory issue K98's with the ZF41 were zeroed prior to final issue.

ZF41 Scope with rainshields, case, original issue klarinol cloth and dust brush

The ZF41 was issued with it's case (Behalter), dustbrush, 2 rainshields and clarinol cleaning cloth (specialy treated to clean the lenses). There were 2 main types of scope issued. An early model, approximately 13cm long, (17cm with rainshields extended) with a diameter of approximately 22cm to the lens barrel. Later scopes had a wider lens barrel of 24cm. The rainshields and cases are therefore not interchangeable between the two scopes.

ZF41 Scopes - Early scope in front with later type behind

ZF41 difference in adjustment dials, with later type lower and early model above

ZF41 Objective differences, with later model left and early model right

Initially, the scope was to bare the designation K.F. and then was developed in 1940 as the ZF40. When widespread production started in 1941, it was re-designated the ZF 41.

The later type scope was to go through a minor modification, with a simplified internal lens system although externally very similar the later ZF41, with a slightly smaller occular. This was to have the designation ZF41-1 or ZF41/1. Scopes were reworked by factories, prior to issue, often with the earlier designation milled out or with strike throughs and re-named ZF41 or ZF41-1

ZF41 Scopes - Early ZF41 scope bottom, with ZF41 scope middle and ZF41-1 top

ZF41 Occular difference - ZF41 scope below with the longer occular of the ZF41-1 on top

From 1942, six percent of all K98's were to be equipped with the ZF41, although it is doubtful whether anywhere near this figure was achieved. By 1944 the telescopic equipped K98 was not held on the inventory or considered as a sniping weapon, enabling general wider issue to non specialist troops. By this date, around 90,000 were known to be issued. The ZF41 was due to be phased out with issue of the ZF4, 4x power, optical sight, but production was known to be continued until 1945 and the ZF41 remained in service until the end of the war.

ZF41 Scopes in Period service

It is very hard to date scopes, due to serial numbers being assigned to all optics generally and not specifically to any one type, such as the ZF41.

Although field modified ZF41 rifles can be found with most manufacturers, there were 3 manufacturers of factory issue ZF41 K98 rifles:-
duv, Berlin-Lübecker, Lübeck     1941
ar,  Mauserwerk, Borsigwalde    1942-1943
byf, Mauserwerk, Oberndorf     1943-1945

A full list of scope makers

bmj: Hensoldt & Sohne Optische Werke A.-G., Wetzlar                 
cag: Swarovski, Tyrol, Austria                                                                  
clb: Dr. F. A. Wohler, Kassel                                                                 
cxn: Emil Busch A.-G., Optische Industrie, Rathenow                  
ddv: Oculus, Berlin                                                                                 
dow: Opticotechna G.m.b.H., Prerau, Czech                                  
dym: Runge & Kaulfuss, Rathenow                                                 
eso: Rodenstock Optische Werke, Munich                                       
emv: Hertel & Reuss, Optik u. Feinmechanik, Kassel                  
fvs: Spindler & Hoyer, Gottingen                                                        
fzg: Feinmechanik G.m.b.H., Kassel                                                  
gkp: Rufs & Co, Kassel                                                                            
jve: Ernst Ludvig Optisches Werk, Weixdorf                                   
kov: Etablissement Barbier, Benard et Turenne, Paris                  
mow: Seidenweberer Berga C.W.Crous & Co., Berga/Elster       
kay: Ford-Werke A.G., Werk, Berlin
hap: Kohl, S.G, Max Physikalische Apparate, Chemnitz

A large number of reproduction scopes and mounts are now on the market. They all have the cxn code and are in the 970000 number range. The highest serial number range seen on original cxn scope is in the 193000 range.

ZF41 Reproduction Scope & Mount

Mounts were originally stamped with a Waffenamt WaA 214 stamp and sometimes duv. This stamping has also been added on the reproduction mounts.

ZF41 Mounts with Waffenamt 214 stamps - reproduction on the left & orginal right

Some later original rainshields somtimes carry a number 27-1079J2. This is though to be a stock or order number.

ZF41 Rainshield

The ZF41 carrying case (Behalter) was made only by jvb, Wessel & Müller, Beschlagfabrik (WaA542).

Early cans were a green colour, (or blue for Luftwaffe issue) with a leather or web belt strap. The hinge was mounted internally with a tube inside for the dust brush. The serial number of the scope was stamped on the case on the left side of the lid.

ZF41 Early Carrying Case - 'Behalter'

The case was then modified to have an external hinge, with all other features remaining unchanged.

ZF41 Second type Carrying Case with externally mounted hinge

Later cans then appeared in ordnance tan, dunkelgalbe and the internal dust brush tube was removed.

ZF41 Carrying Case in Ordnance tan

A fourth late war case was issued with a metal D-ring strap as opposed to web strap.

Late War ZF41 Carrying Case with metal D-Strap

There are a number of reproductions / copies on the market, which have over time, been reproduced to a very hight standard. There are a number of minor variations between original and reproduction cases, but the most visible difference, is on the back of the case, where the belt strap is secured. Original cases will always have three strap rivets. The shape of the steel holder has a slight curve shape, which is missing from all current reproductions.

Reproduction ZF41 Carrying Cases

Original ZF41 Carrying Cases
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