Austro-Hungarian Mannlicher Rifles and Carbines

Mannlicher Model 1888 Infantry Rifle
Infanterie-Repetier-Gewehre M1888

1,000,000 made by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr, 1888-96
95,000 made by Fegyver és Gépgyár, Budapest, 1891-96
Caliber: 8x52mm rimmed (8mm M.88 Scharfe Patrone)
Muzzle velocity 615 m/sec with M1888 ball cartridge
Integral clip-loaded box magazine, 5 rounds
Straight-pull bolt action, with a locking bar under the back of the bolt engaging in the bolt-way floor
1280mm [50.4"] overall, 4.41kg [9.7 lbs]
765mm [30.1"] barrel, 4-groove rifling, RH, concentric
M1888 knife bayonet. Made by OE.WG. Steyr, Austria and Simpson, Germany. 374mm overall, 247mm blade length
Quadrant sight graduated 400-1700 schritt as shown
Long range volley sight graduated 1800-2500 schritt

As soon as mass-production of the M1886 began, the results of the caliber trials drew attention to the grave mistake in accepting the obsolescent 11mm pattern. Archduke Rudolf, the Inspector of Infantry was made scapegoat for the embarrassment.

Work on the M1886 ceased in 1887, and trials began again. Major contenders were a Belgian-made Schulhof, an 1887-pattern Mannlicher with a drum magazine, the M1887/88 Mannlicher-Schoenauer, and a new 8mm small-caliber Mannlicher M1886.

In 1888 concerned by the complexity of the Schulhof and Mannlicher-Schoenauer, the trials board recommended the simplest 8mm variant of the M1886 rifle, production tooling for most of which already existed. The Repetier-Gewehr M1888 was identical with its predecessor, apart from chambering a smaller cartridge and having a graduated back sight. The auxiliary long-range sighting system sufficed for 1800-2500 schritt. Owing to the reduced diameter of the cartridge base, the magazine case of the M1888 is noticeably shallower than the M1886.

Some of these rifles were sold to other countries. 32,000 rifles were sold to Chile. This picture shows the Chilean 'R.Ch' stamp on a buttstock of an M1888

During 1913-14 Austria sold 140,000 M1888, M1886-90 and M1888-90 used rifles to Bulgaria. These rifles have a crown over 'F' stamp or a small Bulgarian rampant lion stamp on the barrel. The receivers are marked with 'OEWG'.

The tapered post shown on the left is for the long range volley sight

Bolt Disassembly: (Information provided by Gunboards members) You may need 3 hands to perform some of the operations :-)
Remove the bolt from the action
Grasp the rear portion of the bolt and twist it 90 degrees counterclockwise viewed from the rear. You should then be able to pull off the bolt head.
Put the point of the firning pin down on a piece of wood (to protect the tip). While pushing down on the bolt handle, push down on the safety wing to get it out of the way. With both the mainspring compressed by pushing down on the bolt handle, and the safety wing pushed down out of the way, you can then unscrew the round "nut" from the rear end of the firing pin.
Remove or pry up the extractor until you can unscrew and remove the bolt head. Stick a wooden dowel in the front of the bolt and push back the firing pin until you can unscrew the striker sear at the rear. When it comes free the firing pin and spring come out the front. Be careful, it's under strong pressure.
An "original" manual says: "use the stacking-hook on the upper band to push back the firing pin...."

8x52mm rimmed (8mm M.88 Scharfe Patrone)

Mannlicher Model 1888-90 Infantry Rifle
Infanterie-Repetier-Gewehre M1888-90

Note: due to conflicting sources this section originally was made under the assumption that there was no M1890 long rifle only the M1888-90 variants. This section will be revised for the M1890 rifle variant.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Kroh (Empire Arms)

Manufactured by OEWG Steyr and by F.G.GY. Budapest 1891-96.
In 1890 the Austrian 8x52Rmm (8mm M.90 scharfe Patrone) cartridge with semi-smokeless powder charge was introduced. Muzzle velocity was increased to 594 m/s (1950 fps). The sights of the M1888 rifle were modified for the new and more powerful cartridge by the addition of powder graduation scales which were engraved on plates and attached to the sides of the sights. Rifles thus modified are called M1888-90. New sights were adjustable 400-1800 schritt
Bayonet Model 1888/16 was used with this rifle in WW1. 360mm overall, 248mm blade length. Muzzle ring 15mm dia.

Unknown markings on an F.G.GY. M88-90, 'T' and 'B*'.

The adoption of smokeless powder forced changes to the sights in 1890. Most existing guns were modified by attaching new plates, suitably graduated for the M90 cartridge, over the old M1888 black-powder graduations on the side of the quadrant-base. Rifles made after 1890/91, generally known as 'M1888-90', had newly made sights graduated to 1800 schritt. Long range sights on the left side of the gun - an extension to the back sight slider and a protruding pin on the front band - were used for distances up to 3000 schritt.
The original M1888 ammunition was black powder, quickly followed by a semi-smokeless load of the available mixed nitrocellulose/lignocellulose powder being developed at the time. By 1893 a new cartridge with all Nitrocellulose powder was developed and the cartridge dimensions were fixed at 8x50R (the earlier M88 and M88/90 cases were about 52mm long, to allow for the inefficient powder being used. The new cartridge was best suited for the M90 front locking carbines, and the M95 tifles and carbines. Pressure levels were at the 40,000 psi level, and the earlier wedgelock M88 and M88/90 rifles were marginal at this pressure. They were originally based on the M86 11mm BP cartridge design. (Doc)
These Mannlichers had very generous barrel throats so they were capable of safe firing of the 8x52R and the 8x50R (8mm M.93 scharfe Patrone)

Reloading: 7.62x54R cases trimmed and formed, fitted with either Flatbased .323" projectiles or cast .329" lead projectiles will do very well in any M88 or M88/90. The loads have to be kept mild to take into account the age of these rifles.
The Hungarian Weiss Brothers Factory located in Csepel started to manufacture ammunition for the infantry in 1892.

The 'M1886-88' 8x52R rifles were also modified with the new designation of 'M1886-90' given.

The Bulgarian M1888/90 rifles have rear sight conversion side plates in a half-moon shape with new distance calibration markings. These rifles have a crown over 'F' stamp or a small Bulgarian rampant lion stamp on the barrel, as shown above at the M1888 rifle. The receivers are marked in Steyr style with 'OEWG'.

1891 Steyr accepted M88-90 rifle

1892 Wiener-Neustadt accepted M88-90 rifle

1896(?) Wiener-Neustadt accepted FGGY made M88-90 rifle

Budapest made M1888-90 rifle bayonet

M1888-90 rifle bayonets: Two "Ersatz" and an NCO

OEWG Serials: St91: 6316E
FGGy Serials: 1889: 8382F

Siamese Mannlicher Model 1888-90 Carbine

Not an actual Austro-Hungarian weapon. Steyr sold a large number of M88/90 rifles to Siam in the 1890s when Bulgaria defaulted on a large contract of M88/90 style rifles. This sale introduced the 8x50R cartridge to Siam, where it was eventually used again in the M1902 (Type 45) Mauser rifle. The 'Carbine Form' of the M88/90 was probably made in Siam at Bungsoo Arsenal (Royal Thai Army). Later these were used by the Thai Police. Very few survived.

Greek Mannlicher Model 1888-90 Infantry Rifle

Conversion of M1888-90 to 7.92x57mm.
The barrel has been shortened and a wooden handguard added (Note: the Austrians used a laced canvas handguard on the M1888 and M1888-90 rifles in WW1), and a new rear sight added. This weapon also has a clip permanently attached to the interior of the magazine. The conversion was done in Belgium.

Mannlicher Model 1888-95 Infantry Rifle
Infanterie-Repetier-Gewehre M1888-95

Upper rifle with M95 rear sight

Lower rifle with M88-90 rear sight

The M1888's and M1888-90's were fitted with M.95 rear sights during WW1. Some had their worn out barrels replaced by M.95 barrels. Usually a short handguard was also added as part of the repair work. The handguard was held in place by two clip springs, similarly to the M1893 and M1903 rifles. Rare conversion.