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M1888 & M1888/90 & M1890 Austrian Mannlicher

(Infanterie –Repetiergewehr M1888, M1888/90, M1890)  


M1888 Austrian Mannlicher (Infanterie –Repetiergewehr M1888)      

  We also graciously acknowledge the help of Heino Hintermeier with information and pictures for this page.


  The historical context of the M1888, M1888/90 and M1890 Mannlicher is identical to that of the M1885 Mannlicher, please view that page for more information.


  On March 10, 1888 the introduction of the 8mm bolt action rifle was sanctioned by the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War and Österr. Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft (OEWG) contract on the M1886 Mannlicher was changed.  The 53,000 weapons still to be delivered from the original order would be manufactured as 8mm M1888 Mannlichers.

M1886_90 Mannlicher.png

8mm M1886/90 Mannlicher -  Photo Credit Heino Hintermeier


8mm M1890 Mannlicher -  Photo Credit Heino Hintermeier

  With the introduction of the 8mm smokeless round, it signaled the end of the black powder era in Austria-Hungary.  With this new cartridge the speed and accuracy of the rifles could be increased considerably.  The M1888 Mannlichers were converted for the user of this new modern round and recieved their new designation the M1888/90.  For brand new rifles they were designated the M1890 Mannlicher.  The breech design of these rifles was designed for black powder rounds and with the one-sided support of the breech bolt, firing the new smokeless round lead to a heavy load on the breech bolt and inaccuracies.    


  A direct and immediate descendant of the M1886 Austrian Mannlicher, this rifle too was a straight‑pull, bolt action, box magazine repeater of the von Mannlicher design. As early as the beginning of production of the M1886 the need and desirability for a small bore rifle was evident. The M1888 is virtually identical to its predecessor but for chambering a newly designed 8mm cartridge, loaded originally with black powder but converted to smokeless as soon as such reliable propellant became available. (Note that this is the 8x52R Austrian Mannlicher cartridge, not the 8x50, which is purely a smokeless cartridge, introduced with the M1895 series of rifles and carbines.) (KD Note: maybe not, check Huon)  When the new ammunition was introduced, the sights of existing black‑powder 8mm Mannlicher rifles were converted to accommodate smokeless ammunition. This was done by the expedient yet functional arrangement of screw mounting re‑graduated sideplates onto the outsides of the existing rear sights. M1888 rifles built from and after 1890 had newly made sights, and were denominated M1888‑90.

M1888 Mannlicher (Infanterie Repetiergewehr M1888)  


M1888/90 Mannlicher (Infanterie Repetiergewehr M1888/90)  


M1890 Mannlicher (Infanterie Repetiergewehr M1890)  



  The M1888 chambers the 8mm Mannlicher cartridge. The M1888's box magazine is noticeably thinner and shallower than that of the 11mm rifle. Otherwise the two rifles are nearly identical.


Top is an M1888/90 Mannlicher and bottom is a M1886 Mannlicher, notice the magazine size differences

  In addition to the smaller caliber barrel and the thinner box magazine, the M1888 is slightly shorter at 1,283mm (50.5in) overall (52+” for the M1886), and the sights are graduated differently. Original M1888 sights are graduated from 500 to 1,700 paces ( 410 to 1,395 yds, 377 to 1,280 meters) for the original M1888 black powder loaded ball cartridge. The auxiliary long range sighting system marked along the right top edge of the sight is graduated for 1,800 to 2,500 paces (1,475 to 2,050 yds, 1,355 to 1,883 meters)

  When the M1888 rifles were upgraded to utilize the smokeless powder M1890 ball cartridge, existing M1888 rifles were modified to M1888-90 by the very simple expedient of attaching side plates to each side of the rear sight, which are (plates or sight?) graduated for the M1890 cartridge ( from 600 to 1,800 paces; 492 to 1,475 yds, 452 to 1,355 meters), and the long range sights are re-graduated for distances from 2,000 to 3,000 paces (1,640 to 2,460 yds;  1,506 to 2,260 meters).


M1888 Mannlicher Sights (above & below)


M1888/90 Mannlicher Sights (above & below)


M1890 Mannlicher sights(above & below)


  The rear tangent sight is graduated from 300-1,500 paces (___- 1,230 yds, ____ - ____meters) along the top left edge of the rear sight body. The sight is also graduated from 1,600 - 2,300 paces (____- 1,885 yds, ____- ____meters) along the right top edge of the sight body, and these rangings correspond to use of the long range (volley) sight, 

  The volley sights consist of a small slide dove-tailed into the back of the sight leaf, which extends outward to the right approximately 13mm (.5 in), and corresponds to a front sight mounted on the right side of the middle barrel band. The sight leaf has a pair of integral locking wedges, which positively lock into ridges built into the inner edge of the rear sight wall.



  Identical to the M1886 Austrian Mannlicher; the action is locked by a downward pivoting bar at the back of the bolt dropping into a recess in the bolt-way floor as the bolt moves forward, chambering a cartridge.



  The M1888, M1888/90 and M1890 Mannlicher have very similar markings and most if not all can be found with the "OEWG" marking on the top of the reciever ring.  To identify M1888, M1888/90 and M1890 Mannlichers that were Austrian or Hungarian issued vs exported there are few things to look at.  There should be an acceptance stamp on the receiver below the sight as well as the Austro-Hungarian rifles had letters in there serial numbers.  However there are exported rifles that have letters in the serial number, so the main thing to look for is the acceptance stamp.  Below is an acceptance stamp with W-n, then eagle, then two-digit year.


  Some Mannlichers will have the markings for F.G.G.Y. on the reciever, this signifys that they were manufactured in Budapest and not OEWG Steyr.  

FGGY mark.jpg

F.G.G.Y. Budapest marking - Photo Credit - Austria Hungary Mannlicher Rifle and Carbine M1888 (

  Roughly 140,000 M1888, M1888/90 and M1890 Mannlichers were sold to Bulgaria (Die Gewehrproduktion in Osterreich-Ungarn 1867-1918 - pg. 5). These rifles can be identified by having a small Bulgarian Lion or a crown over a F stamp (there is debate on whether the F stamp is for Bulgaria or Chile, please share with us any information you have on this).  The receivers are still marked OEWG see the picture below.


  Below is an example of a Bulgarian stamped M1888/90 Mannlicher that has was appears to be Russian markings on the reciever.  Could it have been a captured rifle, we do not know.



M1888, M1888/90, M1890 Austrian Mannlicher (Infanterie –Repetiergewehr M1888, M1888/90, M1890)      

  • Overall Length:  1,280mm ( in)

  • Weight, empty:  4.0Kg (8.9 lbs)

  • Barrel Length:  765 mm ( in)

  • Rifling:  4-groove; RH, concentric

  • Magazine:  Integral clip-loaded box magazine, 5 round capacity

  • Sight:  See text at Distinguishing Characteristics, above



  No black powder carbine versions of the M1888 were produced. However, an M1890 cavalry carbine, as well as a gendarmerie carbine capable of accepting the standard knife bayonet were produced, both chambering the M90 smokeless ammunition.



  M1888 knife bayonet on differs from the M1886 only by the bore diameter ring.  Below are 5 M1888 knife bayonets, the two on the left are standard knife bayonets and the 3 on the right are for NCOs, with hook on crossguard end and porteepee ring on pommel.

Five 'M1888' knife-bayonets - 1.jpg

5 M1888 Bayonets, left 2 standard M1888 knife bayonets and 3 on the right are for NCOs.  - Photo Credit - Bonhams : Five 'M1888' knife-bayonets


  8 x 50R, aka: M1888 8mm Mannlicher, 8mm Austrian Mannlicher, 8mm Bulgarian Mannlicher. The cartridge remained in use in Austria as late as 1930.  The cartridge consisted of a rimmed, bottlenecked brass case, originally loaded with black powder and ignited via a Berdan primer, but with a Roth (Vienna) patented central vent. The bullet consists of a round-nosed lead core with steel jacket, and developed a muzzle velocity of nearly 620 mps (2,015 fps).


  • Bullet diameter:  8.19mm

  • Neck diameter:  8.73mm

  • Base diameter:  12.49mm

  • Rim diameter:  14.92mm

  • Case length:  50.6mm

  • Total length:  76.2mm

  • Total weight:  25.7 grams


8mm M1888 (Left) and 8mm M1890 (right)  - Photo Credit Heino Hintermeier

Information Provided to us:
FYI, while researching my book on Mannlicher rifles I discovered the following about Austrian cartridges. According to the Austrian authority, Herr Josef Mötz,* the M.1888 Mannlicher chambered an 8x50R blackpowder cartridge (8mm scharfe Patrone M.88) while the M.88-90 and M.90 rifles and carbines used a semi-smokeless propellent in a 8x52R cartridge (8mm scharfe Patrone M.90). In 1893 a smokeless propellant was perfected and the 8mm scharfe Patrone M.93 reverted to the 50mm case. Due to the generous throats in all Mannlicher straight pull rifle barrels, cartridges of various lengths could be used interchangeably with no problems.

Hope this is of some help.
Paul Scarlata

* - Mötz, Josef. OSTERREICHISCHE MILITARPATRONEN, Volume 1. Vienna: Verlagsbuchhandlung Stöhr, 1996.


  1,100,000 made for Austria-Hungary by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr, 1888-96. An additional 94,000 of the Austrian contract M1886 Mannlichers were converted to 8mm M1886/90 by OEWG.

Rifle                                                                                        Quantity

11mm M1885 Mannlicher                                                        5,500

11mm M1886 Mannlicher(later changed to M86/90s)             90,000

8mm M1888 Mannlicher (later changed to M88/90s)             1,067,517

8mm M1888/90 Mannlicher (new production)                        16,850


  OEWG produced the M1888 not only for Austria-Hungary (about 1.1 million total) in addition to converting virtually all of the 100,000 Austro-Hungarian M1886’s to M1888’s by rebarreling and recalibrating.  August Schriever was a arms dealer representative for OEWG and had branches in both Liege(Belguim) and Dusseldorf.  Between 1888 and 1898, OEWG delivered exactly 178,629 M1888 & M1888/90 Mannlichers (Part II quality).  These weapons were sold througout the world


  Bulgaria purchased roughly 140,000 M1888, M1886/90s and M1888/90 Mannlichers.  After bulgaria defaulted on their payments, some of the rifles were sent to Siam.  



  On April 22, 1890 a contract for 12,000 M1888 Mannlichers was signed with Steyr for Chile.  Some sources state that it was upwards to 32,000 M1888 Mannlichers.  A shipment of M1888 Mannlichers headed to the dictator/president Balmaceda was intercepted by the "Congressionalist" forces.  There is a great article with more details here: How much does a revolution cost? – Surplused  


The ‘MdelE’ crest is Chilean and stands for Ministerio del Esercito. Found on most of the 10,000 M1886s shipped to the Congressional side in September 1891. Chilean Mannlicher M.1888 had similar crest but with ‘RCh’ (Republic of Chile) although a few had the ‘MdelE’ crest in addition. Credit - Robert Wilsey 


  The Kingdom of Siam also was supplied by OEWG between 1890 and 1901 4,004 M1888 Mannlicher rifles.  Other sources state that it could be as high as 15,000 rifles.

Transvaal (Z.A.R.)

  Mannlicher M1888 rifles have been seen in pictures of the Boer War in South Africa.


Predecessor Rifle: M1886 Mannlicher


Follow-On Rifle(s): M95 Mannlicher




Die Mannlicher-Repetiersysteme in Österreich-Ungarn 17 (2004) 143-151 - Heino Hintermeier

Manuskript für den PALLASCH Die Mannlicher-Repetierkurzwaffen M.1890 im k.u.k. Heer - Heino Hintermeier

Stuart C Mowbray & Joe Puleo, "Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World'

Page built June 3, 1997
Revised February 15, 1999
Revised September 25, 1999
Revised April 22, 2003

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

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