Fine Austrian Model 1888 Mannlicher - Chinese Marked


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A scarce and fine O.G. Steyr produced Austrian Model 1888 Mannlicher infantry rifle with Imperial Chinese Government markings on the butt stock.

In 1886 the Austrian government adopted a straight-pull bolt action repeating rifle based on Mannlicher’s design , caliber 11 mm. Due to French adoption of the 1886 Lebel and its smokeless powder cartridge the Model 1886 was re-designed for the 8 x 52 mm smokeless powder Mannlicher cartridge. In 1890 the 8mm Mannlicher cartridge was re-designed and most Model 1888 rifles were converted to the new more powerful 8mm ctg. Model 1888 rear sight elevation ramps were replaced with ramps for the new round and the rifles were re-named Model 1888/90. This Mannlicher is in its original unaltered 1888 form. The Austrian govt. proof on top of the bbl. behind the rear sight includes an '89' mark which seems likely as the year of manufacture of this rifle.

During the second half of the 19th century Western industrial nations were rapidly developing new breech loading, repeating, and smokeless powder infantry rifles at a very fast pace. Consequently relatively new designs became obsolete quickly leading to large inventories of costly 'obsolete' arms. Western nations solved their problem by selling newly surplus arms to less industrially developed nations who were glad to acquire modern arms to protect themselves from their neighbors and rapacious Western powers.

This particular Model 1888 Mannlicher is an excellent example of late 19th cent. international arms trade. The right side of the butt is deeply stamped with six large Chinese characters. In addition to these marks a good 'Boxer Incident' period photograph taken inside an Imperial Chinese arsenal near Tientsin, China shows numbers of these Mannlicher rifles stacked in front of breech loading cannon. This picture is of considerable value to the arms collector and can be found in the, 'OSPREY . MEN-AT-ARMS SERIES', publication 95, 'The Boxer Rebellion', by Lynn Bodin & Chris Warner, page 19. A color illustration featuring an Imperial Chinese infantry soldier with a Mannlicher rifle can be found in the same volume, color plate'F'.

This Imperial Chinese Mannlicher unaltered Mod. 1888 is in excellent condition. The receiver, barrel, trigger guard/magazine, and bbl. bands retain well over 90% fine quality arsenal blued finish with crisp contours, sharp markings, and some aging. The bolt, trigger, and front part of the bolt release are in the white with fine light patina. Mechanical functions are excellent. The bore is dirty but shows very strong sharp rifling and some brighteness indicating it should clean very nicely. The walnut stock is excellent showing some attractive grain striping. The stock has fine contours and crisp finger grooves on the forestock. The stock has an excellent old oil finish that has aquired attractive patina with some light handling marks. The Imperial Chinese marks are crisp and deep. It looks like another mark, behind the rearmost Chinese mark was removed, thus was most likely an Austrian military mark removed at the time this rifle went into Chinese service. The only serial number I can find is on the left side of the bbl. behind the rear sight. The bolt is not numbered. There are no import marks.

This is the only 1888 Chinese issue Mannlicher I have encountered and though the period Chinese Arsenal photo referred to above indicates a good number oif these rifles were issued to Imperial forces it would appear very few have survived - especially in the excellent condition of this example. A rare and historical military piece for the collector from an important period in history. This rifle has been in one collection for over twenty years and is fresh to the market.

Overall length 50 1/2", barrel length 30", caliber 8 x 52 mm rimmed

NOTE: This rifle is being sold as an antique collector's item only, not as a shooting firearm. Buyers are fully responsible for abiding by their local firearms regulations. It can not be shipped to NY, NJ, DC, IL, or any location where Antique long arms arms are not fully exempt from firearms regulations. It can only be shipped to an FFL dealer in those locations. I will not ship outside the USA. For the benefit of foreign buyers I will ship to a fully licensed firearms export agent of their choice within the USA.

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