Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 1888 S Commission Rifle by Amberg Serial 2279 with No Turkish Markings - Dated 1898

Item Description

Original Item: Only one Available. This is a very nice 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 long service, as indicated by the large number of different markings on the gun. It definitely looks to have been reconditioned at arsenal, where parts were often replaced with those from other rifles. It also does not have any export markings from Turkey or other countries, so this was never shipped off as WWI aid. We very rarely see these rifles in this configuration!

As is typical of rifles that saw long service, it bears multiple regimental designations, which can be used to trace the history of the rifle, or at least the parts it is made from. The nose band of the rifle is marked with the regimental designation 76. R. 8. 21., for the 76th (2nd Hanseatic)(Hamburg) Infantry Regiment, Garrisoned in Hamburg and part of the IX Army Corps. It is also marked on the lower band with an earlier number, now struck through: 41. R. 2. 74., for the 41st (5th East Prussian) Infantry "von Boyen" Regiment. This regiment was garrisoned in what is today Lithuania, but was at that time part of the Prussian province "East Prussia", located on the baltic sea.

These rifles were originally chambered for 7.92mm Patrone 88 ammunition and had a fixed magazine. As with virtually all Gewehr 88 rifles in service, this example was converted to take the 7.92×57mm Mauser S Patrone, and has an S stamped above the chamber, indicating the conversion. 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 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 correctly marked Gew. 88 / nm in German blackface type and also has serial number 2279 on the receiver, barrel jacket, and bolt components. The other parts are all unmatching, typical for a rifle that was serviced at arsenal. Over the chamber it is clearly marked (CROWN) / AMBERG. / 1898, for manufacture at the Amberg Arsenal in Bavaria.

Rifle is in very good service used condition, and looks to have been arsenal reconditioned in the past and the stock was refinished. Since that point, it does not look to have seen much use, as the stock is really in great shape, with just a few dents and other issues. This has however made most of the original stock markings extremely faint and very difficult to read. The metalwork now has an overall gray oxidized patina, faded from the original blued and bright finish that was applied at the factory. The barrel jacket also has a few scattered dents on the top.

There is some wear on the bolt bearing surfaces, and some areas of light oxidation staining on the bolt. However, the bore is in excellent condition with crisp lands and grooves and a bright finish. It looks to have seen very little use during service. The bolt extractor, which is easily lost during cleaning, is still present, as is the rare double slot cleaning rod. The rifle cycles and dry fire well, however the end of the firing pin was removed or broke off at some point.

An absolutely genuine GERMAN M-1888 Service Rifle, issued to a German Infantry Regiment. 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 research and display!


Year of Manufacture: 1898
Caliber: 7.92×57mm Mauser
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 29 inches
Overall Length: 49 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 5 round internal magazine

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

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