Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 1888 Commission Rifle by ŒWG Steyr serial 8797e - Dated 1894

Item Description

Original Item: Only one Available. This is a good example of the iconic German Gewehr 1888 "Commission Rifle", also known as the Gewehr 88, or GEW 88. It was manufactured by the Steyr Mannlicher firearms division of Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft (ŒWG, Austrian Arms-Manufacturing Company) in Austria. The rifle then and then saw long service, as indicated by the large amount of wear on the gun, as well as the mismatch bolt serial numbers.

These rifles were originally chambered for 7.92mm Patrone 88 ammunition and had a fixed magazine. Virtually all Gewehr 88 rifles in service have the the tell tale "notch" cut into the rear of the receiver ring to accept the slightly longer spitzer-type S Patrone cartridge. This indicated that they were converted to take the 7.92×57mm Mauser S Patrone, and had an "S" stamped above the chamber, indicating the conversion. However, this rifle has neither the S, nor the notch, and also does not have the rear stripper clip guides. This means that this rifle is in the original configuration, something we have not offered before!

The right side of the receiver is marked Gew. 88. in German blackface type and also has serial number 8797 / e on the barrel and receiver, which is also marked on the trigger guard/ magazine housing, the trigger guard screws, as well as on all components of the bolt. Over the chamber it is marked  Œ / WG / STEYR / 1894. The bolt is marked with serial number 8552/C, and arsenal replacement.

Rifle is in good used condition, with a solid stock and metalwork. It has however seen significant use, so it has a lot of wear. Also the original cleaning rod was replaced long ago with what looks to be a GEW 98 cleaning rod variant. The receiver and bolt were originally bright steel, however the bolt has faded to gray, and the receiver was at some point blued. The barrel jacket still has a nice faded blue, with some rust peppering. The stock does not have any repairs or major damage, but has been sanded down several times, so the original markings are not visible. The bore shows lands and grooves and is clean, however it also shows wear.

An absolutely genuine GERMAN contract M-1888 Service Rifle, as originally issued! Almost all of these were later updated to the 88 S and 88/15 S standards, so finding one that was not updated or shipped to Turkey as aid is very rare. Fully cleaned and ready to display!

History of the Gewehr 88

In 1886, the French Army unveiled the Modelle 1886 "Lebel" rifle. There was an immediate reaction in German military circles bordering on hysteria. Why? Because the Lebel was the world's first small bore military rifle using an efficient smokeless powder cartridge. Now, the Lebel, which used a tubular magazine located under the barrel was not a particularly noteworthy design, but the power and flat trajectory of the new French 8mm round far outclassed the 11mm Reichspatrone black powder round used in the contemporary German infantry rifle, the Mauser 71/84.

In this rather charged atmosphere, the German Gewehr Prfungs Kommission (GPK - Rifle Testing Commission) went to work. Initially, the idea was to revise the Mauser Gewehr 71/84 to use a small caliber smokeless powder round based on the old 11mm black powder Reichspatrone. To this extent, production machinery was ordered from the Ludwig Loewe Company of Berlin-Charlottenburg in December, 1887. As things progressed, the GPK became disillusioned with this technical approach, and so a rather strange hybrid of ideas took shape.

The bolt design was highly revised by a Spandau Arsenal technician named Louis Schlegelmilch and features a separate bolt head. The ensuing rifle had a Schlegelmilch/Mauser action, a five shot clip loaded Mannlicher style magazine (note: while the clip falls out as with the Mannlicher clips, this one was markedly improved in that it could be loaded with either end down as opposed to only one end on the true Mannlicher), and a full length barrel jacket designed by Armand Mieg. The pitch and profile of the rifling were copied directly from that of the Lebel. The cartridge chosen was a modified Swiss style rimless design based on the ideas of Eduard Rubin. By March 23, 1888, the Bavarian military observer in Berlin, General von Xylander reported that the development was virtually complete.

Field trials for the new rifle were completed in November, 1888, and the GPK recommended that it be adopted immediately. The adoption orders were signed by Kaiser Wilhelm II on November 12, 1888. Issue of the Gewehr 88 as the new rife was designated, were first made in the spring of 1889 to the XV and XVI Armeekorps stationed in Elsass-Lothringen. Issue to the Bavarian military units began in October 1889, and by August 1890, all Prussian, Saxon, and Wrttemberger line units had been re-equipped.

The Gewehr 88 was made by the three primary Prussian arsenals at Danzig, Erfurt, and Spandau, a smaller Bavarian establishment at Amberg, as well as several private contractors, including the Ludwig Loewe Company, Osterreichische Waffenfabrik Gesellschaft (Steyr), and Haenel. Production figures up to the time production ceased in 1897 are as follows:

Prussian Government Arsenals: 750,000

Amberg: 425,000

Loewe: 425,000

Steyr: 300,000

Haenel: 100,000

Total: 1,675,000


Year of Manufacture: 1894
Caliber: Patrone M/88 8.08mm x 57mm
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Overall Length: 49 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 5 round internal magazine

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