UVF Gewehr 88: Gun Running Into Ireland in 1914

The Ulster Volunteer Force was a Loyalist organization dedicated to keeping Ireland in the United Kingdom, in reaction to the Home Rule bills being considered by the UK parliament. In 1914 they purchased nearly 25,000 surplus rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition in Hamburg and arranged to have them smuggled into Ireland. The gun consisted of Vetterli-Vitalis, 1904 Steyr Mannlichers, and Gewehr 88s like this one. The operation was pulled off successfully, and many of the guns were stamped with the mark of the UVF upon their arrival in Ireland – including this one.


  1. Ian-I came about your videos serendipitously, and they are no less than superb. You are a Professor of Firearms, and present yourself very well. Please kindly answer a question-I recently obtained a Colt 1875 Open Top S.A. Revolver. Please confirm that I CAN use safely .22 short and .22 long, but NOT .22 LR, and explain exactly why. Thank you!!!

    • If you don’t mind an answer from the public, .22 long rifle is the .22 long case loaded to higher pressures and greater velocity. However if your handgun dates to 1875 I strongly advise you not to fire any modern smokeless-powder cartridge from it, and have it thoroughly examined by a gunsmith for safety before attempting to find or shoot black powder loads from it; or never shoot it at all.

  2. Well I mean to be fair to Luther, the idea that you can pay a Priest to release a loved one from purgatory; if the Church of… Something established in 1990 say, said this “well I would imagine folk, would question the notion in 2020”

    Put a dollar in the box, hallelujah!

  3. This would be confiscated in Canada as ‘assault rifle’, given the time shift. Imagine how today’s true assault rifles will be looked at 100 years from now. Completely harmless.

    Seriously, this was not the best rifle of the time, was it? Not exactly “high-tech”, as we call it now.

    • Political stupidity never ceases to amaze me. I was almost arrested for terrorism just because I was shooting my air-soft pistol at a cardboard box on my own property! The cops were a bit annoyed with the panicked caller after they found no trace of a terrorist in the neighborhood.

      • Not exactly “stupidity” as far as I can see; rather just plain and nasty trickery. This (assault rifles ban) in Canada was made on background of fear of Covid 19. A sneaky move how to make oneself popular with weak and subjugation loving individuals.

        But then, we do not want to read about “politics” right? We want to shoot, if we have something left 🙂

        • By the way, COVID 19 was a nice opportunity to pass bills that should be rejected in ordinary time…

          Where there is a terrorism or a firefight problem, what is targeted?
          Legal guns.

          What was used?
          Black market guns.

          • They had this S–T in plan long time. It shows their true character by doing it in this connection. Despicable.

          • In some world states documents, governments proclaim their goal of reducing the number of both illegal AND legal firearms.
            So its easy to see they are the mortal enemy of any firearm in citizen posession.

    • “(…)Not exactly “high-tech”, as we call it now.”
      That sounds like hindsight for me. Keep in mind that Komissiongewehr replaced Mod. 71/84 http://www.militaryrifles.com/Germany/71-84Mau.htm
      which fired 11,15 x 60 R cartridge https://naboje.org/node/2619 which has muzzle velocity 440 m/s as compared to 635 m/s in case of Komissiongewehr, which naturally result in flatter trajectory. In case of Mod. 71/84 you have to load cartridges one-by-one, whilst in Komissiongewehr clip greatly speed-up reloading and thus sustained enhanced long-term Rate-of-Fire. Finally, but very importantly, nitro-powder did not make big cloud of smoke, which make aiming easier.

      • Second rate “junk” is better than nothing and German military has happy to get rid of it, at least partially. I see it as a pretty prosaic case.

    • The Gewehr 88 was only a decade earlier than the Mauser 98, which we still revere today. The Gewehr 88 action isn’t bad – it’s just not as good as the succeeding Mauser actions, but would have done reasonably well if put up against the Lee-Enfield in combat, particularly in guerrilla tactics. I’m impressed w/ the amount of ammo they brought in – enough to not only fight, but train with.

  4. ONe of these gun running missions into Ireland during WWI is depicted in the movie “Ryan’s Daughter” starring Robert Mitchum. It’s a great movie but didn’t get good reviews at the time, probably because Mitchum played a mild-mannered elderly schoolteacher, instead of his usual macho character. THe move, script by Robert Bolt, shows the IRA and the British both in three dimensions. Fabulous scenery, photography, everything topnotch.

  5. UVF was a terrorist org. Just like IRA. They, like the IRA killed many a innocent
    of the opposite religion, and also co-religionists that they deemed traitorous.
    Only terror orgs. have to smuggle to get their weapons these days.

  6. Trudeau says the AR15 was only meant to shoot the largest amount of people in the shortest time. What was the Henry lever action rifle invented to do

    • As far as we’re concerned, politicians like him would be content to sit inside a burning building because they assume that the fire department will save them, even if the closest fire house is 20 miles away from the fire and cut off by some landslide… and they assume that any random person fleeing the fire actually set the fire.

      • This website is an excellent platform for the discussion of
        the technical and engineering aspect of firearms. There are
        4,781,211 other sites to discuss the political aspects of firearms.
        I implore FW participants to keep this site clear of the hackneyed
        claptrap that is so readily available elsewhere. Thanks!

        • To be frank, they are gradually being closed down, or at least censored. Sorry for the inconvenience to you awareness.

        • If I may be so bold as to postulate, your dislike of discussing “the political aspect of firearms” comes from the fact that, while you may have recently developed an interest in firearms, the political ideology you support is behind most gun control legislation.
          Instead of comment shaming people for speaking their mind so you’ll have a safe space, why not do something constructive and change the minds of those you agree with on other socioeconomic issues?

          • Very well said, Sir.

            Without supporting legislation which permits us to own, shoot and collect firearms, we are in “platonic love” only. Nothing comes to nothing. Just plain dreaming.

          • I’ll just say this. Ian McCollum doesn’t push his political ideology
            on this website. HIS OWN WEBSITE. it’s called Forgotten Weapons. Not “ The Latest Idiotic Rant”. But you can keep guessing wrong as much as you want.

  7. BTW Ian they were dedicated to keeping NORTHERN IRELAND in the UK.
    Much about guns you know young paduan, litle about the things you don’t.

  8. The Hamburg arms dealer was probably actually called Bruno Spiro, though Fred Crawford referred to him as “Benny”. Later in life Bruno was arrested by the Gestapo, initially for arms dealing and then convicted of currency offences. He “committed suicide” in the concentration camp at Fuhlsbuttel in 1936. His family received a substantial sum in damages in 2008.

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