Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 88/05 S Commission Rifle by Danzig Arsenal with Turkish Markings - Dated 1890
Original Item: Only one Available. This is a very 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 1891. It then and then saw long service, as indicated by condition and markings on the gun.
The rifle still does have a regimental designation marked on it from a reserve unit, which means it is most likely not the original regiment it was issued to. The lower barrel band is marked 1. R. R. 10. 23., indicating issue to the 1st German Reserve Infantry Regiment. The stylized "R" in this case is what indicates a reserve unit. It was very common practice to arm the reserve units with obsolete weapons such as the GEW 88 during WWI.
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 particular rifle does has notched plates welded to the rear of the receiver on either side to accept the 1905 pattern stripper clips, making this a Gewehr 88/05 S. It also has the tell tale "notch" cut into the rear of the receiver, as the loaded clip would run into this area. The bottom of the magazine has a cover dated 1914, possibly the date of conversion.
The right side of the receiver is marked Gew. 88 in German blackface type and also has serial number 5990 / h on the receiver, barrel, and trigger guard. It looks however like these numbers may have been remarked at arsenal. The barrel bands and many smaller components are marked with shortened number 90. Over the chamber it is clearly marked (CROWN) / DANZIG. / 1890., for manufacture at the Imperial arsenal in Danzig on the Baltic Sea Coast. However in addition this rifle was then shipped to Germany's World War One Ally TURKEY, who stamped CRESCENT MOON markings over the chamber and on the bolt components along with Arabic numerals. They also remarked the rear sight with Arabic style numbers. something we do not often see.
Rifle is in very good used condition, showing wear from service but not a lot of abuse. The stock does not look to have been reconditioned, as the original stamped cartouches are still crisp. The barrel jacket and fittings are blued, while the receiver and bolt have a slightly oxidized look, faded from the original bright steel. There are also swirl marks and other evidence that the receiver area was polished at one point.
There is some wear on the bolt bearing surfaces, and the bore shows light wear on the lands. The finish is mostly bright, showing only a bit of oxidation and fouling. The bolt extractor, which is easily lost during cleaning, is still present, as is the rare double slot cleaning rod. The rifle cycles correctly, and has an intact firing pin. As with many of these rifles in Turkish service, there is a GEW 88 / 98 sling slip on the butt stock fitting, so that any type of sling could be attached.
An absolutely genuine GERMAN contract M-1888 Service Rifle issued to a German Infantry Regiment in 1896 and subsequently shipped as Military Aid to Turkey during or before World War One. This possibly saw service on TWO fronts of the Great War. Fully cleaned and ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1890
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
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