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Thread: 🔧A Technical Look at the Gewehr 88/05

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Josh Smith's Avatar
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    🔧A Technical Look at the Gewehr 88/05

    Hello,

    If you have trouble viewing this, you may see it at http://smith-sights.com/tech-look-gew88 .











  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Congratulations on a well written and informative article, and especially appreciated is your good photography. I became interested in the '88 and '88/05 several years ago, acquired several, and gunsmithed most into nice, useable rifles. If you ever expand this article I would suggest that you contrast the differences between the '88 and '88/05 with photos that show the mechanism by which the '88 was turned into the /05 eliminating the en bloc clip. A photo of an unaltered '88 receiver bridge without the added charging bridge would be helpful for a novice, as he/she may not understand the difference just looking at the photo of the altered charging system without two photos to compare. Also, in the last photo you mention a "Turked" 88/05, but a new student of the firearm might not be familiar with the term, and the fact that most of these rifles sporadically available fall into that category. Especially interesting is your admonition to use only .318 projectiles in the original bores (good advice), but it should be noted that the Turks reworked some of them with new .323 barrels (I have one). Once the bore diameter is determined, these rifles are very good cast bullet shooters. Again, I think your article and photos are very good, and more of this type of post is needed on the Forum.

    DG

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Josh Smith's Avatar
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    Hello,

    The reworked Turks were the 88/05/35 rifles, weren't they?

    I intentionally only touched on the historical aspects as I wanted to cover the more technical aspects that an owner of one of these fine rifles would find immediately useful. There was a bit of history on the 'net when I found mine, but less from a gunsmithing perspective. This is an article I've been meaning to write for a few years now, and just never got around to it.

    I'd really like to cover the Gew 88/05/35 and the original Gew 88 rifles. I've not found any yet, and I usually don't like to mail order used guns, preferring to look them over before buying.

    If I find these examples, though, you bet I'll be doing write-ups!

    Regards,
    Josh

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    The Mauser family got their due from their home country 10 years later with the Gew98. Great article.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Very nice article, also a good view of the elusive bolt head, which seems to be missing from so many of these rifles. Maybe someone will make another run of these?

  6. #6
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    Nice write up.
    You can miss fast & you can miss a lot, but only hits count.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I have not personally encountered the model designation 88/05/35, but can see where it might come from, as the Turks instituted a modernization program of their rifles in or about 1935 trying to achieve standardization of their several different makes and models then in service. Hence, we have the M1937 Mausers. The authority, or one of them, on the '88 is Paul S. Scarlata's book "The German Gew. 88 "Commission" Rifle", 2007, Mowbray Publishers. I'm kind of surprised that you haven't as yet encountered any original 88's, as my impression (maybe incorrect) is that they are more common on the market than are the 88/05s.

    If you continue to build your '88 collection, here is something to beware of: I obtained all of mine via internet auctions, and all were functional and about NRA Good when received. I kick myself daily for not having become interested in them many years ago when they were being sold at dirt cheap prices in Excellent condition. When purchasing these rifles, make certain that both the bolt head and blot head mounted ejector are present. The bolt head is a separate part from the bolt body, unlike the Mauser which is one unit. When the Germans wanted to reward a retired soldier or citizen for something outstanding and decided to make the award a rifle, they often presented them with a GEW 88 minus the bolt head and a nipped firing pin tip. Some of these find their way onto the market.

    Because the bolt head is a relatively small part ordinary owners and heirs often seem to lose them over the years. Once the bolt head is removed the ejector is free to fall out and disappear. Not only are the ejectors very difficult to come by, but the situation is a bit complicated by the fact that there were at least two variations of the part that usually will not work in a bolt head designed for the other variation, thus doubling the replacement difficulty of a 130+ year old part. I did receive one rifle that was minus the ejector, and the purchase of a proper replacement cost half of what the rifle had cost. The part is smaller than a thumbtack and is shaped like a tiny doll's head. Normally they are only available by another rifle being parted out. I avoided making a similar mistake twice more by interrogating the sellers before making the purchase, so can testify that this problem is not uncommon.

    Another area of difficulty is obtaining the original en bloc clips used in the original '88. I've seen them go for as much as $35 each on e-bay. Think of how many millions of them must have been produced and lost in the mud of the WW I trenches. After market replicas have been made that themselves are not inexpensive, currently out of production again and running about $15 each, but they do not work well, if at all. I suspect that had the en bloc clips for the M1 Garand terminated with the end of WW II we'd be in the same boat for finding them. Fortunately production continued for several years and that's not a problem, although the prices on them have certainly risen and finding new ones is sometimes spotty.

    These rifles are fascinating for a history buff, like myself. They saw action all over the world, and the Chinese thought enough of them to mass produce a copy of their own. Just as interesting as the rifles and their several makers are the bayonets. It seems as though there may have been bayonets produced specifically for the '88, but even more that were made for other rifles and reworked to fit. An original production bayonet is a rare bird.

    You can start not just a "flame", but a real firestorm by investigating and opinionating about just exactly what is the proper bullet diameter and exactly what were the production bore sizes, by whom, and when. The Germans widely issued the '88 and '88/05 in WW I and although they had all been reworked to the "S" chamber modification it is thought that many retained the .318 bore, and that the Germans shot the standard 8x57mm through them that was designed and in use for the Gew. 98. Not a practice that anyone would advocate today. Lots of years ago Remington 8x57mm commercial ammo was loaded with .321 diameter bullets, and a powder charge well below European standards, as a precaution against their loads being fired in '88 rifles with .318 bores. I was researching for an article on the '88 and its bore sizes and telephoned them hoping to chat about it. They refused to discuss it at all. Today, if you encounter a box of Remington 8x57mm made in the last perhaps 15 years the bullets will measure .323. I still have a box of the older late '50s - early '60s .321 diameter loads, and they were very unsatisfactory for use in the Gew. 98 or K98k rifles, underpowered and inaccurate, but I never tried them in the '88s as it made me a bit nervous. However, that's a good place to start for a cast bullet, especially the Lyman .32 Win. Special mold.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's a couple of photos of an original '88 that was the worst of those that I purchased. As a now-retired gunsmith, to me the best and worst feature of the '88s were the barrel jacket. Good, in that it protected the operator's hand from a hot barrel and free floated it for most of its length, bad because condensation from firing and water from rainy weather found it's way between the jacket and the barrel and caused rust. It's rare to disassemble one and not find corrosion. It is my belief that when issued the jacket was easily unscrewed and removed for maintenance, but I doubt if the ordinary soldier was allowed to disassemble it that far, and it wasn't long that field use caused the jacket to rust to the barrel. In the case of this particular rifle the jacket was actually rusted to the wood of the stock's barrel channel, and the steel was rotten in those areas and pulled off when the jacket and stock were separated. I had a bit of a dilemma in that at the time there didn't seem to be any takeoff jackets available (now an easy part to acquire) and if I tried to remove the jacket it would likely be destroyed beyond use. What I did, and what isn't visible in the photos or with the rifle assembled, was to mill out slots removing the rotten areas so that the underside of the jacket now looks like the barrel jacket of an MG42. This allowed me to get a rust removal solution into the inside of the jacket, and subsequently to allow it to be blued with hot salts bluing and then to be boiled out and then soaked in water displacing oil. It turned out o.k., and shoots fairly well.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing DG. The 88 is rare around here, I've never fired one and only handled a couple at gun shows. I hate it when folks call it an "88 Mauser"!

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  9. #9
    Boolit Master Josh Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Der Gebirgsjager View Post
    I have not personally encountered the model designation 88/05/35, but can see where it might come from, as the Turks instituted a modernization program of their rifles in or about 1935 trying to achieve standardization of their several different makes and models then in service. Hence, we have the M1937 Mausers. The authority, or one of them, on the '88 is Paul S. Scarlata's book "The German Gew. 88 "Commission" Rifle", 2007, Mowbray Publishers. I'm kind of surprised that you haven't as yet encountered any original 88's, as my impression (maybe incorrect) is that they are more common on the market than are the 88/05s.

    If you continue to build your '88 collection, here is something to beware of: I obtained all of mine via internet auctions, and all were functional and about NRA Good when received. I kick myself daily for not having become interested in them many years ago when they were being sold at dirt cheap prices in Excellent condition. When purchasing these rifles, make certain that both the bolt head and blot head mounted ejector are present. The bolt head is a separate part from the bolt body, unlike the Mauser which is one unit. When the Germans wanted to reward a retired soldier or citizen for something outstanding and decided to make the award a rifle, they often presented them with a GEW 88 minus the bolt head and a nipped firing pin tip. Some of these find their way onto the market.

    Because the bolt head is a relatively small part ordinary owners and heirs often seem to lose them over the years. Once the bolt head is removed the ejector is free to fall out and disappear. Not only are the ejectors very difficult to come by, but the situation is a bit complicated by the fact that there were at least two variations of the part that usually will not work in a bolt head designed for the other variation, thus doubling the replacement difficulty of a 130+ year old part. I did receive one rifle that was minus the ejector, and the purchase of a proper replacement cost half of what the rifle had cost. The part is smaller than a thumbtack and is shaped like a tiny doll's head. Normally they are only available by another rifle being parted out. I avoided making a similar mistake twice more by interrogating the sellers before making the purchase, so can testify that this problem is not uncommon.

    Another area of difficulty is obtaining the original en bloc clips used in the original '88. I've seen them go for as much as $35 each on e-bay. Think of how many millions of them must have been produced and lost in the mud of the WW I trenches. After market replicas have been made that themselves are not inexpensive, currently out of production again and running about $15 each, but they do not work well, if at all. I suspect that had the en bloc clips for the M1 Garand terminated with the end of WW II we'd be in the same boat for finding them. Fortunately production continued for several years and that's not a problem, although the prices on them have certainly risen and finding new ones is sometimes spotty.

    These rifles are fascinating for a history buff, like myself. They saw action all over the world, and the Chinese thought enough of them to mass produce a copy of their own. Just as interesting as the rifles and their several makers are the bayonets. It seems as though there may have been bayonets produced specifically for the '88, but even more that were made for other rifles and reworked to fit. An original production bayonet is a rare bird.

    You can start not just a "flame", but a real firestorm by investigating and opinionating about just exactly what is the proper bullet diameter and exactly what were the production bore sizes, by whom, and when. The Germans widely issued the '88 and '88/05 in WW I and although they had all been reworked to the "S" chamber modification it is thought that many retained the .318 bore, and that the Germans shot the standard 8x57mm through them that was designed and in use for the Gew. 98. Not a practice that anyone would advocate today. Lots of years ago Remington 8x57mm commercial ammo was loaded with .321 diameter bullets, and a powder charge well below European standards, as a precaution against their loads being fired in '88 rifles with .318 bores. I was researching for an article on the '88 and its bore sizes and telephoned them hoping to chat about it. They refused to discuss it at all. Today, if you encounter a box of Remington 8x57mm made in the last perhaps 15 years the bullets will measure .323. I still have a box of the older late '50s - early '60s .321 diameter loads, and they were very unsatisfactory for use in the Gew. 98 or K98k rifles, underpowered and inaccurate, but I never tried them in the '88s as it made me a bit nervous. However, that's a good place to start for a cast bullet, especially the Lyman .32 Win. Special mold.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IM005039.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	78.3 KB 
ID:	251485Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IM005043.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	82.3 KB 
ID:	251486

    Here's a couple of photos of an original '88 that was the worst of those that I purchased. As a now-retired gunsmith, to me the best and worst feature of the '88s were the barrel jacket. Good, in that it protected the operator's hand from a hot barrel and free floated it for most of its length, bad because condensation from firing and water from rainy weather found it's way between the jacket and the barrel and caused rust. It's rare to disassemble one and not find corrosion. It is my belief that when issued the jacket was easily unscrewed and removed for maintenance, but I doubt if the ordinary soldier was allowed to disassemble it that far, and it wasn't long that field use caused the jacket to rust to the barrel. In the case of this particular rifle the jacket was actually rusted to the wood of the stock's barrel channel, and the steel was rotten in those areas and pulled off when the jacket and stock were separated. I had a bit of a dilemma in that at the time there didn't seem to be any takeoff jackets available (now an easy part to acquire) and if I tried to remove the jacket it would likely be destroyed beyond use. What I did, and what isn't visible in the photos or with the rifle assembled, was to mill out slots removing the rotten areas so that the underside of the jacket now looks like the barrel jacket of an MG42. This allowed me to get a rust removal solution into the inside of the jacket, and subsequently to allow it to be blued with hot salts bluing and then to be boiled out and then soaked in water displacing oil. It turned out o.k., and shoots fairly well.
    This is really awesome. Thank you.

    The barrel jacket on mine was easily removed, and the barrel didn't look too bad. It had some obvious pitting, but nothing dangerous.

    Heck, most of the dried storage grease was on it. One reason I took the rifle down this time around was to get that stuff soaking in oil. I'd meant to clean it well for a few years, and business kept picking back up. During that time, I figured out that dried cosmoline will absorb oil nicely, and, if you let it set a few times in gun oil, you can just wipe it off instead of having to scrub and potentially take off the patina, which I really like.

    So, I did that, and took the pics at the same time. Business is picking up for Christmas, and the parts get to set in gun oil for the duration. I'll see what it looks like in Spring

    Regards,
    Josh

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I remember great stacks of these,covered in a sort of blue grey mould growing on the oil in the stock.The little "nub" on the firing pin nut may restrict up and down play,but it also performs a very important function of stopping gas blowing into the shooters face if a case head fails.....For some unknown reason,probably economy or style,the Steyr Works eliminated this important feature from the Mannlicher s,even the upmarket Mannlicher Schoenauers of the 1960s.

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