Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 88/05 S Commission Rifle by Spandau Arsenal Serial 5150 v - Dated 1890

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 during 1890 at the Spandau Imperial Arsenal, located in Berlin, and then and then saw long service, as indicated by the condition of the gun. It is marked on the lower barrel band with 1. G. R. R. 7. 96., indicating issued to a reserve unit in the Kaiser Alexander Garde Grenadier Regiment, also known as the "1st (Emperor Alexander) Guards Grenadiers". Designated in German as the Kaiser Alexander Garde-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 1, this unit was first raised in 1814 and located in Berlin.

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 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 magazine floor plate is dated 1914, most likely the year of the last conversion.

The right side of the receiver is marked Gew. 88 in German blackface type and also has serial number 5150 / v on the receiver, barrel jacket, and magazine housing. Many of the other parts are non-matching, typical for an arsenal refurbished rifle. Over the chamber it is clearly marked CROWN / SPANDAU / 1890, for manufacture by the Imperial Arsenal in Spandau. There are NO Turkish markings on this rifle, which is definitely a rarity. Virtually all of the 98/05 S converted rifles we have seen were sent to the Ottoman Empire as War Aid during the first world war.

Rifle is in very good used condition, with a lovely gray patina over all of the metalwork, and a lovely lightly worn look to the stock. It looks like the barrel jacket was painted over with black paint at some point. The stock still shows plenty of original stamped cartouches, indicating that it has not been sanded down or refurbished excessively. It has a great service worn look, with no major damage, just the usual dents and dings from service.

There is some light wear on the bolt bearing surfaces, and some areas of light oxidation staining on the bright bolt, especially on the handle. The rear sight is intact, however the slider has been replaced by a bent steel simplified example. The bore is in very good condition, with clear land and grooves and a bright finish. There is just a bit of wear on the lands, and no major fouling or oxidation. The bolt extractor, which is easily lost during cleaning, is still present, as is the rare double slot cleaning rod. The rifle cycles correctly, with a functional safety, and has an intact firing pin.

An absolutely genuine GERMAN M-1888 Service Rifle, updated for service during WWI! We very seldom see one upgraded to the 88/05 S standard that was NOT sent to Turkey during or before World War One. A rare example well worth further research!


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

Amberg: 425,000

Loewe: 425,000

Steyr: 300,000

Haenel: 100,000

Total: 1,675,000

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