The Mannlicher Model 1886 straight-pull bolt-action service rifle was the first such rifle adopted by the Austro-Hungarian Army. However, its honeymoon was short-lived for the arrival of the French Lebel 8mm of 1886 - utilizing a new revolutionary smokeless powder cartridge - immediately made all existing rifle types obsolete. As such, work began on a version of the 11mm Model 1886 chambered for a new 8mm smokeless powder cartridge and this produced the Mannlicher Model 1888. Early forms were still utilizing a black powder cartridge (8x50R - 8mm scharfe Patrone M.88) and this was followed by another cartridge type categorized as "semi-smokeless" (8x52R - 8mm scharfe Patrone M.90) until an indigenous smokeless powder round (8x50R - 8mm scharfe Patrone M.93) was perfected by the Austrians in 1893. Many existing Model 1886 rifles were then converted to the new Model 1888 form and sights were appropriately updated as each cartridge type became available. This Mannlicher design is noted as the first service rifle anywhere in the world to combine the benefits of a smokeless powder cartridge with the use of an integral box magazine.
The Model 1888 relied heavily on the existing framework of the Model 1886 before it including its straight-pull bolt-action design - the two designs were essentially externally similar. The box magazine remained integral and fed by five-round clips. As in the Model 1886, the magazine was situated apart from the trigger group creating a small noticeable gap in between. Of course the smaller ammunition caliber forced the reworking of all the internals including the magazine box itself which was now closer to the gun body and thinner in profile - a defining characteristic when attempting to differentiate the previous Model 1888 and the newer Model 1886. The body was a single-piece wooden element that incorporated the shoulder stock, grip, receiver and long-running handguard in a traditional fashion. The barrel ran about the design in the usual way, protruding a short distance ahead of the nose cap. Overall, the Model 1888 mimicked much of what the Model 1886 had already presented in years prior save for the new caliber. Mountings were present for the use of bayonets in close-quarters work.
In practice, the Model 1888 series proved serviceable weapons. However, work on a new pivoting bar lock began when the original design proved weak in the field. This resulted in the improved Model 1890 "Cavalry Carbine" which originated the evolved Model 1895 service rifle some time later. As the aforementioned cartridge types became available to the Model 1886 series, the actual effective ranges of the rifles accordingly increased in turn and made for a more practical ranged weapon. The Model 1888 series would then be differentiated by its two major forms in the M1888 designation and the M1888/90 designation.