Object Title

Steyr-Mannlicher Modell 1895 rifle

Steyr-Mannlicher Modell 1895 rifle


In 1884, just as the conventional bolt-action magazine rifle was being adopted around the world, Austrian inventor Ferdinand Ritter Von Mannlicher was pushing the technology still further. Conventional bolt-actions had a handle that had to be rotated through 60 or 90 degrees before the bolt could be pulled back. This ensured that the bolt remained closed during firing and that hot, pressurised gas did not escape and harm accuracy, the fabric of the weapon, or the shooter. Mannlicher came up with a mechanical system to convert forward and backward motion into the rotary motion needed to lock the bolt. For the 1895 version of his rifle, Mannlicher borrowed the locking arrangement of the Mauser rifle. This meant two large locking lugs at the front of the bolt, making it stronger and the rifle more reliable and accurate. He had also devised an 'en bloc' clip system that held several rounds within the rifle, ready to fire, and ejected the clip automatically when empty. Carbines and short rifles for non-infantry roles (for example the 'Stutzen' short rifle variant pictured below) were also designed based on the full-length rifle.

Use and effect

Mannlicher's design was indeed faster to operate, requiring only that the soldier pull back and forth on the bolt handle between shots. It could in theory reach a rate of fire faster than any bolt-action, and was still more reliable than the unproven self-loading rifles of the time. However, in practice it could be difficult to get the bolt moving to the rear because of the heat, friction and dirt produced on firing. This could reduce the rate of fire to that of a conventional rifle, or even lead to a serious jam. Turning bolt designs overcame this problem by providing greater leverage. Like all straight-pull designs, the M1895 required more moving parts in order to reduce the number of motions the shooter had to perform to operate the bolt. Increased mechanical complexity inevitably made the weapon more likely to jam than a simple turn-bolt design and harder to get back into the fight when it did. Factoring in the mud of the trenches and accumulated dirt from heavy firing, it was a less reliable weapon than the bolt-action rifles of the day. Its clips had to be inserted the right way up to reload, and whilst it was impossible to insert one upside-down, attempting to do so could cost precious time in a firefight. The en bloc clip system also had pros and cons. If kept clean it was faster than any other loading system then in use. In fact, it is quicker than many modern rifles. A similar system was used on the later self-loading American M1 Garand. Unlike the Garand though, it ejected out of the bottom of the rifle, meaning that mud could get into the action. It also meant that having fired part of his clip, a soldier had to make do with whatever rounds he had left, or eject the whole clip and insert a fresh one. Single rounds were useless unless collected and loaded into a clip, which had to be full for insertion. In close-quarter battle, this could be disastrous for individual soldiers. Austro-Hungary did seek to replace the rifle, but was unable to do so amidst the economic pressure of the War.


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Steyr-Mannlicher Modell 1895 rifle being loaded and fired into a ballistic soap block


Action / Operating system Straight-pull bolt
Barrel length 1.272 m (50 in)
Calibre / Bore 8×50mmR Mannlicher
Capacity (rounds) 5
Country of manufacture Austria-Hungary
Date entered service 1895
Effective range 550 m (600 yd)
Feed En bloc clip
Manufacturer Steyr
Muzzle velocity 620 m/s (2030 fps)
Overall length 76.5 cm (30 in)
Primary operator Austria-Hungary
Rate of fire (rounds per minute) about 35
Weight 3.8 kg (8 lb 6 oz)


Jonathan Ferguson