Object Title

Centrefire bolt-action rifle - Model 1888 Prototype

Centrefire bolt-action rifle - Model 1888 Prototype


about 1888

Object Number



Gifted with the Pattern Room by the Ministry of Defence, August 2005 Deposited with the Pattern Room, then at Enfield, by the Small Arms Committee, 1889.

Physical Description

The model/year designation of 1888 has been applied to this rifle because the action is that patented by Paul Mauser in the United Kingdom in April 1888 (Patent No. 5244). It has also been described as a 'Mauser-Metford' rifle. The detachable vertical box magazine holds 8 to 10 rounds of .303 ammunition.
Mauser's patent covered a bolt with two opposed locking lugs on the rear portion of the bolt body. This same concept was patented in Germany on 29 February 1888 (D.R.P. 45,792). This bolt design is somewhat similar to that of the British Lee action. The bolt head is detachable (as in the Model 1888 Commission rifle) and does not rotate when the bolt is operated. A long integral rib, with an appearance similar to an extractor, is mounted on the top of the bolt body, strengthening the bolt head and acting almost like a narrow dust cover for the action. The safety is the typical Mauser wing safety, mounted at the rear of the bolt on the cocking piece. The barrel is rifled with the Metford rifling adopted by the United Kingdom in 1888. The twist is left handed: instead of the British regulation seven grooves, the Model 1888 Prototype rifles have eight. This barrel is chambered for the original pattern .303" cartridge case designed by Major Eduard Rubin (who conceived the German Model 1888 8mm cartridge). The cartridge case had straight sides and was loaded with one tubular 'pellet' of compressed powder/. To reduce the case diameter to .303 at the mouth, a brass collar was inserted to neck the case down to hold a .303 bullet. This cartridge design from the Thun, Switzerland ammunition factory resulted in this chamber being designed with a rather sharp shoulder. There is a magazine cut-off on the right side of the receiver, above the magazine.
The stock, its fittings, the front and rear sights and the magazine all appear to be similar, if not identical, to the British Lee-Metford Mk.I rifle adopted in 1888.
The only markings are M.M. and the serial number 2 on the flat of the barrel where it joins the action. The letters M.M. have given rise to the 'Mauser-Metford' designation. Enfield proof marks appear on both the barrel and receiver. Many of the component parts are marked 'W.D.'. The Enfield proof marks indicate that the Model 1888 prototype rifle was delivered to the British authorities; this is confirmed by the 'W.D.' or War Department markings on various parts.
These Model 1888 Prototype rifles are very similar to the first sample submitted to the Belgian government during 1888.





BarrelLength30.2 in.
BarrelLength765 mm
OverallLength50.6 in.
OverallLength1285 mm


Serial Number M.M.2


.303 in

Inscriptions and Marks

Serial number
on the noxform
model designation
on the noxform