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Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 1888 S Commission Rifle by Danzig Arsenal Serial 9627 - dated 1890

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 Danzig Arsenal, located on the Baltic Sea in what is today Gdańsk Poland, in 1893. It then and then service in at least two different units, indicated by the two regimental markings on the rifle. Neither of these are reserve units, and the lack of conversion to a 88/05 S indicates it was probably retired from service in the early 20th century. 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!

The nose cap is marked on the side with regimental designation 76. R. 12. 90. for the 76th (2nd Hanseatic)(Hamburg) Infantry Regiment, 12th squad, 90th weapon. This regiment was first raised on 27 September 1866 and garrisoned in Hamburg, Germany. The middle barrel band has ;different marking, 31. R. 10. 204. for the 31st (1st Thuringian) Infantry "Count Bose" Regiment, 10th squad, 204th weapon. This regiment was raised on 6 September 1812, and garrisoned in Altona. There is unfortunately no way to tell which of these markings was added first.

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 G. Mod. 88. in German blackface type, short for Gewehr Modell 1888. The rifle also has serial numbers 9627 / d on the barrel, receiver, trigger guard, with 9627 / c on the bolt. The butt plate is non matching, however the barrel bands, bolt components, and many of the screws bear shortened number 27. We do not know why the bolt has a different letter suffix, so it is possible that it was replaced, however we find it unlikely that they would have hunted down the same serial number to replace it with. Over the chamber it is clearly marked CROWN / DANZIG / 1890, for manufacture by the Imperial Arsenal in Danzig.

Rifle is in very good used condition, with a solid stock and metalwork. It still retains the rare "double slot" cleaning rod, which is in good shape. The metalwork overall has a worn gray patina with light peppering, from decades of storage. The stock does not have any repairs or major damage, except for some cracking on the toe of the butt stock. There also has been a more standard sling swivel fitted on the butt stock, instead of the usual clip bolster.

The rifle cycles correctly, and both the firing pin and often-lost extractor are present and functional. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, with a partly bright finish. There is some darkness in the grooves, most likely from powder fouling.

An absolutely genuine GERMAN contract 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!

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: 1890
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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