Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 88/05 S Commission Rifle by Erfurt Arsenal Serial 4388 W with Turkish Markings - Dated 1891

Item Description

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 the Erfurt Imperial Arsenal, located in Erfurt, Thuringia, in 1891. It then saw long service, as indicated by condition and mismatched serial numbers on the gun. There is also a crossed out regimental designation on the lower barrel band, which we are not able to read.

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 have 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 magazine floor plate is dated 1914, possibly the date of conversion.

The right side of the receiver would normally be marked "Gew. 88" in German blackface type, however it has been inlet in that area to make feeding the Gew 98 style feed strips easier. This has removed most of the marking, with just the "G" still visible. The receiver is marked on the left side with serial number 4388 W, with 3959 / u on the barrel jacket. There are also some additional number markings stamped on the top of the barrel jacket and receiver. The serial numbers on the trigger guard and other components are all also non-matching. This gun was definitely re-worked at arsenal before being issued for reserve use during WWI, and possibly earlier. Over the chamber it is clearly marked (CROWN) / ERFURT. / 1891., for manufacture at the Imperial arsenal in Erfurt. 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 very good service used condition, with a lovely stock that has a great worn patina from use and long service. It definitely looks to have been arsenal reconditioned, which has unfortunately made the original proof markings faint. We do not see any major cracks, and the front sling swivel is still present, and a sling swivel clip attached to the rear fitting, so that a standard sling can be used.

The metalwork shows an overall gray oxidized patina, the result of decades of service and cleaning. There is some wear on the bolt bearing surfaces, however the bore is actually in very good condition. It has clear lands and grooves with a mostly bright finish, showing just a bit of rounding on the lands. The rare double-slot cleaning rod is still present, as is the bolt extractor, which is easily lost during cleaning. The firing pin is still present, and the action cycles nicely.

An absolutely genuine GERMAN contract M-1888 Service Rifle issued to the German Army in 1891 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: 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

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

  • This product is not available for shipping in US state(s): New Jersey

    This product is not available for international shipping.
  • Not eligible for payment with Paypal or Amazon


Cash For Collectibles