Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 91 S Artillery Carbine by Erfurt Serial 7698b with Stacking Hook - Dated 1896
Original Item: Only One Available. Adopted in 1888 the new German Infantry round in 7.92 X 57mm replaced the old 10.4mm large bore cartridge adopted in 1871. The M-1888 Rifle was referred to as the "Commission Rifle" and was manufactured as a full Infantry Rifle (Gewehr 88) and a Cavalry Carbine (Karabiner 88) starting in 1888. In 1891 Artillery Carbine was adopted called the Gewehr 91, and it was identical to the Cavalry carbine, except it had a stacking hook below the nose cap.
The gun was adopted for Prussia, Saxony and Wurttemberg on 25 March, 1891. They were produced between 1891 - 1896 by private contractors, mainly C.G. Haenel or V.C. Schilling, and the Erfurt Arsenal. Those manufactured or rebarreled post 1896 were Z modified (deepened rifle grooves), and most were "S" modified (like this one) between 1903 - 1905. The Gew 91 were replaced by the Karbiner 98 AZ between 1909 - 1910, and were stored away for the Reserves & Landwehr, then in turn for the Landstrum. They again were re-issued in 1914 after the war began. The rifle was carried throughout WW1, there are many known 1918 dated photographs showing it was still in use with the artillery at the end of the war.
Our example is of the Artillery Carbine Gewehr 91, and is marked over the chamber with (CROWN) / ERFURT. / 1896., for 1896 manufacture at the Imperial Erfurt Arsenal, located in Thuringia. The right side of the receiver is marked with Gew. 91. / n.m. in German blackface type, and there are additional proof marks on various components of the carbine. Serial number 7698 / b is marked on almost every part of the rifle, with 98 on some smaller components such as the barrel band and firing pin holder. This is definitely an "All Matching" example, very desirable to collectors.
The stock definitely shows its age, and has some damage and removed wood on top of the butt stock, which was probably done to make the top smoother. There also is a significant gouge on the front right forestock, which has also partly worn into the barrel jacket. This was no closet or barracks queen. Artillery service could be rough work, and it shows.
The carbine has an 18" barrel and looks to have seen use during service, as the bore is somewhat dark, with fouling and oxidation. The land and grooves can still be seen, but they do show wear. It bears an S marked over the chamber to indicate modification for the S-PATRONE cartridge introduced in 1903 (we do not recommend firing the S-cartridge in this carbine). It also has a crossed out regimental marking on the sight protector, 9. A.F. 10. 149., with another on the receiver, 8. A.F. 2. 149.. This second marking would be for the Imperial German 8th (Rhenish) Foot Artillery Regiment, 2nd squad, 149th weapon.
In 1891 this was cutting edge technology as the Gewehr 1888 Mauser rifles and carbines were the first to use the 7.92mm cartridge that replaced the 10.4mm used in the Mauser 1871/84 tubular magazine rifles.
This little carbine used an integral 5 shot box magazine and was extremely popular. It was superceded in 1898 with the introduction of the Gew 98 rifle also in an updated version of the same caliber and many 88s were updated and then marked with a small "S" on the receiver ring to indicate it could be used with the upgraded ammunition.
Both the Mauser Model 88 and 98 rifles and carbines saw extensive use in WWI. During the Great War cavalry was quickly becoming a thing of the past once trench warfare was introduced.
By WW2 the Germans had adopted the Mauser 98K Rifle, again in the improved 7.92mm caliber, this rifle was shorter than the Gew 98, longer than the carbine, and became the standard.
A very rare 1896 dated Mauser Gew. 91 Artillery Carbine, only 37" in overall length, federally classified as an antique due to its pre-1898 manufacture date.
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: 1896
Caliber: 7.92×57mm Mauser S Patrone
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 18 Inches
Overall Length: 36 7/8 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 5 round internal magazine
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