The Seitengewehr 98/05 was introduced into the the Prussian army in late 1905, as a replacement for the S98 "Feather" Bayonet as it was deemed too long and heavy for its intended purpose. Initial production was in two versions, one having plain back and the other having a "saw back" with 29 double teeth along the spine. The scabbard was leather with a steel throat and chape mounts. The bayonet was typical of German blades as it did not have more than a vestigial muzzle ring instead relying on the length of the hilt mounting to fix the blade to its rifle.
At the beginning of WWI it was found that the S98/05 had a problem when used with the Karabiner 98 rifle, the shorter barrel on this model led to burning and damage to the grips as the barrel stopped short of the vestigial muzzle ring. Therefore in 1915, it was decided to fit a steel flash guard (Schutzbleche) to the back of the bayonet to protect the grips. The bayonet was modified by removing most of the remaining muzzle ring, reducing the back of the tang, and adding the flash guard. Additionally, an all steel scabbard was introduced to replace the more easily damaged leather.
Grip without flash guard (top), with flash guard (bottom).
Many of these bayonets were modified during the war and post-war, by adding blue to the bayonet, or cutting the blade and scabbard down. Blued bayonets are discouraged, cut-down bayonets are not allowed.
Example of a M.1898/05 Seitengewehr cut-down by the Turks.
For members of IR63, each Seitengewehr must be complete with its appropriate scabbard and frog. The Seitengewehr scabbard should be either blued or painted black and both scabbard and blade will have no rust spots on it. Acceptable reproductions are available, they are offered blued and unblued — blued reproduction must have the bluing removed and the metal will need tro receive polishing and oil to inhibit rust. The Seitengewehrtasche should be made with the rough side of the leather on the outside.
Photos from Johan Somer's Imperial German Field Uniforms and Equipment 1907-1918
Allied propaganda had a field day with the "Terrible Hun's" saw-back bayonets, reported to cause terrible wounds that wouldn't heal. This bayonet was actually used as a distinctive blade for NCO's and as a actual saw for cutting wood fence posts, etc. After rumors of Allied mistreatment of prisoners captured with these blades, it was decided in 1917 to stop production of the saw-backed version totally. Existing saw-back bayonets were sent to rear echelon troops, or modified by grinding the teeth down. (Note, with the withdrawal of the saw back, troops had to be issued with separate wire saws).
Original "Saw-back" Butcher bayonet.