Monday, February 02, 2009

It shoots!

So I took the 1888 Commission rifle out to the range this morning, using a box of factory hunting ammo for the test. Saw the price sticker on that box of Winchester 8mm and wanted to cry: $7.00.

Yeah, I've had that ammo around for a while. Gee, it'd be nice to pay $7.00 for a box of American-made factory ammo again. It's about triple that these days, if you can find any.

But the rifle shoots, and it extracts and ejects just fine. No deformity to the brass noted, and everything works as it should. The downside: It prints about a foot and a half high at 100M.

Now this is probably a throwback to the old "volley firing" days, when soldiers were taught to aim at an opponent's belt buckle with the expectation that the round would produce some sort of upper-body hit from point-blank out to near maximum range, but it makes for some aggravating target practice when your only "opponent" is a paper plate stapled to a backer. Windage looks pretty good though--if I hold under the plate right, the rounds smack it pretty much dead center. (Good thing, too. There's no windage adjustment on the sights other than the old standard of taking a hammer to the front blade.)

The rifle's a pleasure to shoot otherwise, though. Nice trigger pull and no overly-harsh recoil. Hopefully that shooting helps clean the bore up a bit. It'll probably never be a match rifle, but it balances well and fits the shoulder and I look forward to taking it out again just as soon as I can load some new ammo for it.


  1. I was re-reading a book on the shelf the other day about the 'Boxer Rebellion', and there were numerous period comments about poor Chinese marksmanship, describing the constant 'shooting high'.

    I've been wondering for a while now how much of this effect with the old battle rifles was due to nervousness, or just sight settings. In Peking/Beijing, much of the gunfire was at more or less point-blank ranges, 100 meters or so, and a lot of the shooting had to be ranging up in the air. And a lot of the shooting was being done with Commission Rifles. Interesting.

    A thought:

    I don't know what vintage of Winchester you fired in that rifle, but I am compelled to ask what bullet diameter you used. You know as well as I do that standard 8x57JS is .323; 8x57J is .318-.321. Czech rebores run tighter than .318 sometimes. If your rifle is one of the Ecuadorean imports, with what looks like a small 's' stamped on the receiver ring, it is throated for .323 bullets, but likely not rifled for them. I'd be very, very hesitant to fire any modern .323 in any Commission Rifle, no matter the condition.

    Pretty much all US-manufactured ammo is seriously down-loaded, and it's probable your bore will slug around .321, but...

    You can disregard this comment, and I don't care, but don't give anyone the idea you can buy and fix up a garage-sale 1888 and stuff it with any old 8mm ammo off the shelf. 'Tain't true, and is dangerous.

    Just some observations about a rifle I like very much.

    Take care, and 'Hello' to the Big Black Dog.

  2. You're right, LN. These can be tricky to shoot safely. But I decided to shoot this one because it has the "S" stamp on the receiver, indicating that it was re-chambered for the more modern .323 cartridge. Preliminary research indicated that it was safe to do so, but I've since found other info to the contrary. It'll get low-powered cast bullet reloads from now on.

    But for today I chose to use the US hunting ammo precisely because it's downloaded (in large part because of old rifles like this one) instead of the military 8mm that I have a lot more of. There's no way that any of these rifles are safe to shoot with modern military-spec 8mm.

    And I'm grateful for any info that you have on these rifles, because this is my first and I never paid them any mind until this one came along a few weeks ago.

    And Lagniappe sends his regards.


    I don't know if these links will feed through or not; but they are discussions of bores and throats. The thing with Gew 88s is that the bores vary immensely, but also the chamberings are weird and unpredictable.

    I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, and I'm not a pedantic know-it-all, I just got concerned. I personally have yet to hear about anyone taking a bolt to the head from a .323 load in an '88, but I'd rather not start now. You didn't say or indicate if you'd removed the shroud, and if you didn't, if the barrel is Czech, that bore could be as tight as .308.

    Don't blow yourself up, please; your dog needs you. Regardless of what he thinks.

    Best regards,


  4. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Sounds like a ton of fun.......... You need to meet a friend of mine......... I tried taking a pic of his gun safe that is larger then my bedroom... and he said nooooooo.... but he is a consumate gun collector.... I gotta get you two together.

  5. Off-topic, but...

  6. Actually the Bren (and Erika) look good. But the cameraman is way too far forward of the firing line for my comfort. Darwin getting ready...

  7. I thought about that too, after sending you the link and admiring Erika's pinup girl poses.

    Those guys are idiots.

    I can picture a BFA-affixed gun, Swedish-style, with wooden 'bullets', with a shredder in it...