Item:
ON10848

Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 1888 S Commission Rifle by Amberg Arsenal - dated 1891

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 at the Amberg Imperial Arsenal, located in Amberg, Bavaria, and then and then saw service through the end of the 19th century, but does not look to have been reissued for WWI use, as it was not adapted for stripper clips.

These rifles were originally chambered for 7.92mm Patrone 88 ammunition and had a fixed magazine. Virtually all Gewehr 88 rifles in service were converted to take the 7.92×57mm Mauser S Patrone, and had an S stamped above the chamber, indicating the conversion. This rifle has the "S", but not the notch at the front of the receiver, and it has no stripper clip guides, so it was not converted after 1905 for the clips. The design of the clips necessitated making a notch in the front receiver, so the cartridge tips would clear it.

The right side of the receiver is marked faintly with Gew. 88. in German blackface type and also has serial numbers 5078 / e on the barrel,  receiver, and trigger guard. Other components show shortened number 78, though the bolt has been replaced, and is not matching, a common occurent. Over the chamber it is marked (CROWN) over Amberg, indicating manufacture at the Amberg Arsenal, located in Bavaria.

Rifle is in good used condition, with a solid stock and metalwork. It does however retain the rare "double slot" cleaning rod, which is in good shape. The metalwork overall has a worn gray patina, acquired from years of service and cleaning. The stock does not have any repairs or major damage, but has been sanded down several times, so the original markings are not visible. It also is missing the head of the stock bolt on the right side. The bore is excellent, with crisp lands and grooves and a bright finish, so this rifle was not fired much.

An absolutely genuine GERMAN contract M-1888 Service Rifle. Almost all of these were later updated to the 88/05 S standard, 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

Specifications-

Year of Manufacture: circa 1891
Caliber: 7.92×57mm Mauser S Patrone
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 29 Inches
Overall Length: 49 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 5 round internal magazine

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