I am Indy Neidell. And I am Flo
And welcome to a Great war special episode about Austro-Hungarian Rifles of the 1st World War. Say what you got a little bit about what you got for us today. OK! So, Let me start off with the rifles. I am gonna go over to the Mannlicher 1888/90 Now, this was a sort of old rifle for WW1.
This was the previous rifle for WW1 The reason it stocked around is because as we know attrition was severe. and manufacturing couldn’t keep up . Even Austria-Hungary, who had a huge standing army at the beginning of the war, had a huge stockpile of weapons. Even they started to stripping through them so fast, so they had to dragging this kind of stuff up. Now, the 88/90 is a straight pull rifle, just like what we are gonna see as the 88/95. However, it works differently. We’ll get into that just one second. I should cover just a bit of history. Ferdinand Mannlicher introduced this rifle At the time during the trail, he introduced 2 rifles. One using a rotating lock and one using what we will see as the wedge-lock The wedge-lock was simpler. They went with that. It was suited for black powder cartridges in 11mm, that is slower, lighter loaded. It doesn’t beat up the rifle as much, but it leaves fouling everywhere. So, they are weaker action than what we are gonna see later. Now, they come up with this in 1886, the big brother of this in 11mm. The French immediately release the Lebel, and we talked about how smokeless really changed the game. So the Austria-Hungarians have to go rushing to catch up. They quickly converted this to an 8mm small bore with compressed black powder, that is the model 88. Then in 90 the come out with a semi-smokeless cartridge in 8mm. That’s the 88/90, so every time they’ll have to re-barrel ever thing and reconfigure. As we zoom in, I’ll give them in the features of those changes. Alright, looking up close. First thing first, it is a straight-pull (rifle). So I’ve just pulled the bolt to the rear. That’s it. I don’t have to rotate or flip or do anything else. As a shooter, this is great. Because I don’t have to move my arm around a lot I don’t have to give up my elbow to show my position. I can stay flat along the ground. I can keep my eyes down the sights. My arm and the bolt handle ain’t coming up in my line of vision. I can just focus on that front sight and I don’t have to do anything else. It’s terrifically simple from the shooter’s perspective . Now, the magazine is really the big thing on these guns, the 86 and then the subsequent 88 and 90s They brought about En bloc loading. This is Mannlicher’s big contribution of firearms. It’s a huge deal because we have a 5 round packet. That we load it into the (magazine of the) gun. It stays in the gun. And then when we expended or chamber the last round, that clip is going to fall out of the bottom. And sorry these are live cartridges, so I’m not gonna load it. That means we also had the problem with the Mannlichers’ systems like what we saw on the Berthier and Gewehr 88. Which is that we had this hole on the bottom(of the magazine). Which we have to account for, because we are gonna have mud and stuff trying to enter it. This is not a great system for the trenches, because it’s so prone to getting dirty. Anyway, this really isn’t the top of the line gun for Austria-Hungary at the time. But one last thing to show you is that wedge-lock. So you can see, that sort of wedged shape right there. What that’s doing is it projects down into the receiver and keep it from traveling rearward, when we fire. If we have the action sorta cocked back, and I had to hold it with my hands. Sorry. If we have it cocked back you will see it rest flat. And if we let it forward like we bolt it forward, it locks it. And that’s it. This wedge only locks on the under side of the bolt. Which means there are some torque in there. It’s not a big locking surface. It’s fairly delicate by comparison to what we are gonna see in a minute. This gun limits the Austro-Hungarians for a while. Because they want it in service, so they keep down-loading their ammo. To make it not blow this gun up. You said it’s great for the shooter. Is there a “but”? Is it not great for someone else? Yeah! If you’re the shooter, it’s great. If you’re the manufacture and if you’re the army that’s trying to field this thing, you’ve got finer fitted parts, you’ve got kind of a pain in the butt mechanism to deal with from the engineering stand point. Because there is more fiddly moving bits there, then on a bolt action, that you have to raise it yourself. Also, on the bolt action, that rotating force is coming from the shooter, so you don’t have to the gun self-rotate. That means you don’t have any weird cam ways and stuff in there to deal with. It’s just… You just have a, you know, some channels that turns and it locks. And this you had to come up with a camming mechanism, that is a mechanism somewhere in the gun that takes liner force and turns it into some sort of rotary force. And so you have to then maintain that system. So more metal, more time, more things prone to failure. The gun we are missing is the 90 carbine. That was introduced specifically for cavalry and artillery, but it would later get expanded to other troops. There are a myriad of versions for both the 90 and 95 carbines. So I am giving you guys a link to share with everybody. Where I’ve done a much better job to sort of describing every variation. It’s just too much to going to on this show anyway. I can show you… the rifle that will be adopted shortly after. You see the 90 was so successful, that in 93 they came up with a truly smokeless cartridge. This was a little bit more powerful, but again like what I’ve said it was limited so they could still conceivably not blow up the 88/90s. They wanted an infantry rifle standardized around the 90 pattern carbine. So they came out with the Styer-Mannlicher 1895,
that’s this guy. And again, he is just like a longer version of that 1890 carbine with a differently shaped cocking piece. This is like a thumb rest
on the other one is a cylinder. That’s really it, In terms of mechanical differences. It also has an improved sight, that I will show you in just a second. But anyway, you can tell, this is a long and slender rifle. Very, very narrow up to the barrel and forward grip. This thing is fairly delicate feeling, compared to some of the other guns. As much as the others are the same length, this thing just isn’t as heavy. It’s pretty light. It also is very well balanced.
You can see it just sorta sets right there. It is a terrific rifle and has gotten a sort of a bad reputation of the years, that we will into in just a moment . So, this is a great rifle. It’s still the Mannlicher magazine system, as a matter of fact it has a updated clip. On this guy, we have a textured patch at the top,
so that in the dark in the trenches we can find the top of the clip, because it has to be inserted in the correct direction. Unlike, remember the Gewehr88 ,we’ve talked about,
They made it 2 directional so they though that would be enough to get away from the pattern,and it wasn’t. So, we insert one way again. When the 5th round is chambered, this thing drops out of the bottom. Again, we have a big obvious hole that can let mud in. Now, this gun is pretty simple, we got the flip over safety, that you kind of have to give it a cock and set, so safety is right there, easy to get to.
It’s a 2-handed operation unfortunately though. Otherwise, pretty straight forward. If we let her down, she is going to come back and then cock on the closing action. It’s fairly light, fairly easy to use. There is little bit of snap, when you first give her a yank. So you kind of have to give her a pop. You can’t do it too slow. But once you’ve passed that pop, it is really light and easy on the original rifles. Additionally, we have a rear sight which is set up for an ambitious 2600 Schritt. Schritt was an old Austrian unit of measure close to a meter. That obviously went away, like that was their imperial system. I like learning this stuff. I didn’t know that, you know. We Americans are not the only ones with a old imperial system. It’s just we are the last ones to give it up, as my fans keep reminding me. Yeah. But we got a flip up long range sight, this is for volley fire at longer distances. But yeah, this is terrific long range rifle.
this thing is set roughly… You know, you try them out all this long guns like this of the war, they are gonna be somewhere 200 and 300 meters for their short sight. When you get into WW1like we saw with a bunch of other guns again We end fighting so close, that…there it goes “what the heck are we doing with these long range guns” These are all built through a standard of basically sniping. And then you end up in this massive conflict with, you know, hand to hand combat. It just doesn’t work out as well. OK! So I think we get the idea:”big long gun, straight pull, rotating lock”. Let’s set this aside. And get into probably every Austrian’s favorite This is the Stutzen So, it’s the same as that Mannlicher 95.
I mean it’s identical in the action and operation. It’s just look at how handy and light. The Stutzen is sort of a standard short rifle,
which is that It emulates all the thing that a rifle would do, so it has a stacking hook for putting on the arms up in the You know, taking your rifle and make your little teepee, so they’ll stay out of the mud. It has a bayonet mount, a lot of cavalry models didn’t. Etcetera It also has slings bottom and side. So that you can carry it either on your back or over your shoulder. It lets it be a very versatile universal short rifle. These were one of the many models before WW1.
But by the time it gets to the conflict Austria-Hungary is going “Hey! We should not have made 19 different carbines. We should have made one short rifle.” So this is a lesson that gets leaned all the way around.
As a matter of fact, post war we are gonna see Austria and Hungary separate. And both countries are going to retain
the Mannlicher 95 Which is interesting, because they thought about replacing it right before the war. Because they thought it would be too weak. They were worried about the thin barrels.
They were worried the weak stocks. It turns out they weather the war really well, like I said. So they stock around all the way through WW2. In 1930 and 31, depending whether you are Austria or Hungary. They both converted them to the 8x56mm rimmed cartridge. That is a hotter loaded cartridge. That is a cartridge that is better suited for how strong this action really is. That is a cartridge that ignores the old 88/90. So they finally gets a pointed,
high powered cartridge in the 30s. This gun ends up serving through WW2. Almost a good number of the long rifles are going to be shortened for WW2 to this configuration. So if you are in the U.S.and you are in the collectors’ market. What we tend to see is a lot of these. These are actually very cheap in this configuration. Except the one I am holding is a little rare. Because it’s an original Stutzen in 8×50, the original cartridge. Which means again nice and easy to operate. When they refurbish them, -and this is what so many people in the U.S. are familiar with- They just sort of slap them back together.
These were finely fitted, hand fitted, and polished to perfection. They work well, when they are in the original chambering. The ones converted to 8×56…they just sort of put them back together willy-nilly, until they worked. They are stiff. You have to yank on them,
especially when they are decocked. It is a complete pain in the butt to work the gun. Everybody…A lot of people have an assumption that this is a very stiff gun in the U.S.’ collectors’ market. Because of the refurbs. The originals, the WW1s, they are actually very fine. They work very well. So far it seems that the quality of the guns is actually not a issue at all. Which might be what our fans and we were actually thinking. Especially compared with like when we are talking about French stuffs. You know. These all sound like handy…like really solid weapons. you know. To be fair, when we are talking about the M95 series, there is a couple weak points. Straight pulls problems with primary extraction. Which is that first little umph… that clawing force of pulling the stiff cartridge out of the chamber. So when you have looser tolerance ammo, straight pulls start to suffer. It has just sort of function of them. You can introduce… This gun does a pretty good job with primary extraction, compared to some others. Because it has such good force in that initial camming action. But there is still a limitation of the straight pull. However, straight pull mechanism is very important, because these innovations go on to be big factors in auto loading rifles. Because in auto loading rifles, you have to have a way to make linear force become rotary locking force . And so this is where the research starts.
It’s just that… If you attach a gas system to this, that drives this back..boom! It’s a auto loader. As a matter of fact, there is a great book on Serbian rifles that has a experimental design where the Serbians post war were strapping gas systems to the bolt handle, just to make them cycle automatically . It kind of went no where, but they could do it. It’s cool though So, it’s that close to an auto loader.
Wow! Wow! Yap! But again expensive to manufacture, and what are you really gaining? You know. So, yes they help. Do they help to a significant degree, compared to a well done rotary bolt action? That’s sorta iffy. If you like to Othais’ videos about that Mannlicher rifle in action, you can click right here to see that. And you should definitely check out his channel for all kinds of great weapons related videos. Don’t forget to like us on facebook and
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