Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 88/05 S Commission Rifle by Erfurt Arsenal - Dated 1890
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 Erfurt Imperial Arsenal, located in Erfurt, Thurigina, and then and then saw long service, as indicated by the large number of different markings on the gun. It still retains the original German Regimental Markings on two of the barrel bands. The lower barrel band is marked: B. 3. R. R. 2. 36. The stylized R indicates use by a reserve regiment, so this rifle was last used in Germany by the Bavarian 3rd Reserve Regiment, 2nd Company, 36th man. The upper band is instead marked 35. R. R 4. 148., for a different reserve regiment in the Imperial German army. The gun has definitely been arsenal re-worked, so neither of these are the original regiment it was issued to. After service in Germany, it was shipped off to Turkey for more service 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. It is marked and dated 1914 on the magazine floor plate, indicating the year it was converted to a 88/05 S.
The right side of the receiver is marked Gew. 88 in German blackface type and also has serial number 7417 / l on the barrel and receiver. The rest of the markings on the gun are unmatching, and the barrel marking was also crossed out once. All of these are the signs of an arsenal re-worked gun. Over the chamber it is clearly marked (CROWN) / ERFURT / 1890. However in addition this rifle was then shipped to Germany's World War One Ally TURKEY, who stamped a CRESCENT MOON on all of the bolt components.
Rifle is in good used condition, with a solid refinished stock and metalwork which has been fully blacked. As the stock has has been sanded down, so the proof marks are all but gone. It does have wear on the bolt bearing surfaces, however the bore is actually very nice. It has clear lands and grooves, with a bright finish and no real signs of oxidation. It has a little rounding of the lands, but nothing major. The rare double-slot cleaning rod is still present, as is the bolt extractor, which is easily lost during cleaning. The rear sight is present, but missing the sight slider.
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!
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
Year of Manufacture: 1891
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
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