This firearm was a rifle directly patterned on the German Gewehr 88 and was initially fielded by the New Armies of the Qing Dynasty. From the start of production in 1895, the Type 88 was modified twice to improve performance, in 1904 and in 1930. Throughout the War of Resistance against Japan, the Type 88 more than held its own against the newer, higher-quality Japanese Arisaka Type 38 and Type 99 rifles. It served as one of the standard battle rifles used by the National Revolutionary Army from its founding in 1925 until the late 1940s, after the end of World War II. It was also used by the Chinese Communists, who not only used it during the same time period, but also during the early phases of the Korean War. Production of the rifle ceased in 1944.
The Hanyang 88 was essentially a copy of the Gewehr 88, with a few minor differences, including the absence of the barrel shroud, and an extension of the bayonet. It was a bolt-action rifle that cocked on opening, and its Mannlicher-style magazine could hold 5 7.92×57mm Mauser rounds. The magazine was loaded by using a 5 round en-bloc clip. When the last round was chambered, the clip would fall out of the magazine via a hole in the bottom. The main advantage of this kind of loading mechanism was that it allowed the user to reload very quickly. The disadvantages, however, were that the hole in the magazine could allow dirt to get in, thus possibly causing reliability issues.
The Hanyang 88 was originally chambered for the German round-nose 7.92×57mm I round. By World War I this round had already become obsolete. Nevertheless, it was still used by the Chinese National Revolutionary Army in their engagements with the Japanese in the early stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War. In 1935, however, the new Chiang Kai-Shek rifle was introduced. This new carbine variant of the Gewehr 98 used the modern and larger-diameter (using a bullet of 0.323-inch diameter rather than 0.318-inch of the round-nose bullet) 7.92×57mm IS or 'spitzer' round, which had much better ballistic performance. Although the 5-round en-bloc clips of Hanyang 88 can accept the new round, mass conversion of Hanyang 88 to accept the spitzer bullet, despite having been planned, did not take place.
The Hanyang 88 also had a carbine variant, which was shorter and lighter, albeit with inferior accuracy and range.