Gill - know this isn’t a gun forum, but I am not at all sure your comments regarding the K98a are correct or justified. In what way was it inferior to any other Mauser 98 military rifle? The quality was as good, since it was manufactured at German military arsenals. Further, it was shorter and lighter than the Gewehr 98. It was the first of the Mausers to have the 600mm barrel length (about 23-1/2"), the length used in most of the Muaser rifles made after it. Its design led to the realization that what the Germans referred to as a “Karbiner” or shortened rifle was actually sufficient for general issue, and resulted in further improvement in the K98k.
In the great book “Backbone of the Wermacht,” by Kurt law, primary WWI complaints are pinned on the G98, not the K98a. The G98 was considered too long and unwieldy for use in the close confines of trenches. There were compalints related to both the K98a and the G98, but they related to having to produce and supply two differenc e versions of the same rifle. This was rectified with the advent of the K98K, much more similar in tactical concept to the K98a than to the original G98.
As to withdrawal from service, many WWII pictures show German military personnel armed with the K98a. It was likely substitute-standard by then, of course, but it was still in some use. I used to own one years ago made by Erfurt, and it was every bit the equal of any other Mauser, although the Germans wisely got rid of the silly stacking rod when they revised it to the K98k variation.
I am not an expert on Mauser military rifles, although I have owned dozens of them over the years, and still have perhaps half a dozen, for shooting. I have never formally collected Mauser rifles and carbines. But, this is the first time I have heard an assessment like yours.
Is there any source for the fact that it was found inferior and withdrawn from service?