Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 1888 S Commission Infantry Rifle by Erfurt Arsenal - Dated 1893
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 made at the Royal Erfurt Arsenal, located in Thuringia, in 1893, and then was put into service in the German army. It still retains the original German Regimental Markings on the top band:
This indicates use by the 155th (7th West Prussian) Infantry Regiment, Company 7, Weapon 112. These were originally chambered for 7.92mm Patrone 88 ammunition and had a fixed magazine. As with virtually all Gewehr 88 rifles in service, this was converted to take the 7.92×57mm Mauser S Patrone, and has an S stamped above the chamber, indicating the conversion, making this a Gewehr 98 S. The Spitzer-shaped S Cartridge was ballistically superior to the M/88, however the chamber required modification to accept the thicker walled shell casing. This particular rifle does not however have the the tell tale "notch" cut into the rear of the receiver ring to accept the 1905 pattern stripper clips, so it is not a Gew 98/05.
It even retains its very unusual correct M-1888 cleaning rod with double slots, which were often lost or broken over the years. The right side of the receiver is marked Gew. 88 in German Block type, and also has serial number 2403 on the barrel, trigger guard, and receiver. Many fittings are also marked 03 to denote that they match the rifle. Over the chamber it is marked CROWN / ERFURT /1893. The bolt is marked with number 708 and 08, as it was replaced when converted. There are also various German proof marks, but no Turkish proofs, or other import markings, and the receiver and bolt are in the white, as they would have been issued.
Rifle is in very good condition, with a solid stock, though it has been refinished, and much of the original metal finish still present. There are still the original stock cartouches on the right and bottom sides of the stock, though they are somewhat faded from the refinishing. Bore is mostly bright with clear lands and grooves, though there is a bit of rounding on the lands, so this rifle did see a bit of use.
An absolutely genuine GERMAN contract M-1888 Service Rifle issued to a German Infantry Regiment in 1893. 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
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