• 1916 Austro-Hungarian M95 Infantry Rifle

    Austro-Hungarian M95 Infantry Rifle
    (Osterreichisches Repetier-Gewehr M.95)
    (Mfg in 1916 by Osterreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: ....................... 8x50R (M.1893 scharfe Patrone)
    Rifling: ........................ 4 groove, 1 turn in 10 inches (Right Hand Twist)
    Barrel Length: ............. 30.0 in. (762 mm)
    Overall Length: ............ 50.1 in. (1273 mm)
    Weight: ....................... 8.3 lbs. (3.78 Kg)
    Magazine capacity: ...... 5 rounds.
    Qty Mfg: ...................... 2,500,000 (approximately)

    Source: ........................ Mannlicher Military Rifles by Paul Scarlata, ISBN No. 1-931464-14-6

    Canadian Collector Market Value Estimate: $

    Austro-Hungarian M95 Infantry Rifle

    (38 picture virtual tour)

    Observations: by Claven2
    Note: Rifle provided courtesy of MILSURPS.COM Advisory Panel member "Andy" with photo montage pictures taken by "Claven2".

    The 1886 adoption, by the French, of the 1886 Fusil d'Infantrie dit Lebel with its corresponding 8mm Lebel smokeless powder round set off a furor of arms development activity in Europe as the Great Powers attempted to play catch-up. the 8mm Lebel round was the first smokeless round to be fielded and its introduction was the 19th century's equivalent of the atomic bomb.

    The Austro-Hungarian Empire had just adopted the straight-pull Model 1886 infantry rifle designed by Ferdinand von Mannlicher, almost a year before, chambered in an 11x58Rmm (11mm Werndl) compressed black powder loading. The initial order placed with the Steyr factory for 143,000 rifles was immediately suspended after only 80,000 rifles had been produced while the General Staff figured out what to do about France's new superiority in the field of small arms.

    Two years later, the semi-smokeless 8x52R Gewehrpatronnen M1888 was adopted and existing mannlicher rifles were upgraded to suit the round and re-designated the Model 1886-88. The Steyr (and the FEG plant in Budapest) began manufacturing purpose-built Model 1888 rifles at this time, chambered from the beginning in 8x52R.

    By 1890, the Austro-Hungarians, like most of the European great powers, had perfected smokeless powder in the new 8x50R calibre. At the same time, the Cavalry was looking for a new carbine to field and concerns were being raised about the strength of the 1888's locking mechanism given the new, higher chamber pressures being generated. Mannlicher fell back on an early trials rifle design that had been discarded as too complicated to manufacture during the development of the Model 1886 rifle. The newly designed bolt employed dual, opposed front locking lugs with a floating stationary extractor. Helixes on the bolt head shaft engaged helixes in the bolt body to rotate the bolt head 90 degrees during extraction. This greatly increased the strength of the action and also allowed for a somewhat shorter receiver and bolt throw. The resultant rifle, the Model 1890 cavalry carbine, was liked so much that it's action became the basis of Austro-Hungarian firearms design until the break-up of the Empire, and also of Austria and Hungary until the onset of the second world war.

    The 1890 action is of a straight-pull design. The rifle is loaded by means of a charger clip containing 5 rounds of ammunition inserted from the top into the open action, whereby the clip becomes an integral part of the magazine. Once all 5 rounds have been expended, the empty clip falls out the bottom of the magazine and a new clip is inserted. In 1890, this was arguably the fastest repeating rifle available, in terms of loading and sustained firepower, as most contemporary rifles were either using single-loaded box magazines of the Lee design, or tubular Kropatschek-type magazine systems below the barrel. Additionally, the straight-pull bolt was faster to cycle than other rifles employing the mannlicher clip system like the Gewehr 1888 Commission rifle.

    By 1895, the 1890 carbine was so well regarded that the Austro-Hungarian Authorities directed Steyr to build infantry rifles based on the 1890 Carbine's action. The ensuing rifle was predictably adopted as the Model 1895 Infantry Rifle (Osterreichisches Repetier-Gewehr M.95). Eventually Stutzen and Cavalry carbine versions of the M95 were also produced which made use of adaptations of the M95's leaf-type sights and fittings and earlier patterns of Mannlicher rifle still in service were upgraded to incorporate some of the M95's features. The basic M95 pattern rifle formed the backbone of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces until the fall of the Empire.

    The development and adoption of the M95 had made Steyr the largest arms maker in the world at the time and Steyr was then responsible for much of the world's efforts to re-arm with modern repeaters. Countries that bought Steyr M95's included Albania and Bulgaria. After the break-up of the Empire, countries that either received and used M95's from war reparations or battlefield capture, or retained the rifles by having been former provinces of the Empire, included Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia and Serbia. Steyr also produced a variety of other rifle types, including Mauser 98's, to order for a myriad of other clients.

    After the war, in the late 1920's, Austria sought to modernize its remaining M95 rifles by converting them to a calibre more in line with the ballistic performance of cartridges of the day and redesignating them as the M95/30. A new round based off the 8x50R case was developed - the 8x56R. The vast majority of M95's still in use in Europe were subsequently converted to 8x56R, often under contract with the Steyr factory. Much smaller quantities were also converted to 8x57JS Mauser, primarily in Yugoslavia/Serbia. Today, M95 rifles in the original 8x50R chambering are relatively rare. 8x56R conversions can often be readily identified by a large "S" stamped over the chamber on the barrel.

    Rifles originally made at Fémáru Fegyver és Gépgyár in Budapest are marked "Budapest M95". Rifles originally made at Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr are marked "Steyr M95". Rifles originally made at either factory under contract to Bulgaria are marked with the Bulgarian Rampant Lion crest over "M95" and the original manufacturer (Budapest or Steyr) will be roll-stamped on the side-wall along with the year of the contract.

    The M95 used a bayonet with a 14mm diameter muzzle ring that fit over the new barrel and locked at the bayonet lug. The sharpened edge of the blade unusually faced up towards the axis of the bore.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. Bulgarian crested M95s are the most uncommon versions, followed by Budapest marked receivers and finally Steyr which is the most common maker. As such, Bulgarian crested rifles will often command a premium. It is not uncommon the find an M95 in matching condition. Typically, only the barrel, receiver and stock were matched, though the Bulgarians sometimes numbered the bolts in either stamps or electro-pencil.

    The year of manufacture is not marked on the receiver, but typically these rifles retain their original barrels. The year the barrel was manufactured is usually stamped over the chamber. An example and translation of the markings are depicted in the Virtual Tour.

    At this time, despite being used by axis belligerents in both world wars, M95 rifles and carbines remain inexpensive and readily collectible to the money-conscious enthusiast. With typical reloading care, these rifles are very capable and are certainly worth the effort if they interest you.

    Rifles and carbines in the original 8x50R will command a significant premium ofver the more common M95/30 versions updated to accept the 8x56R cartridge.
    .......... (Feedback by "Claven2")
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1916 Austro-Hungarian M95 Infantry Rifle started by Badger View original post
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