Although this rifle was designed by Mannlicher, this model was manufactured by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr, between 1896 and 1918. It is a slightly unusual design in that it incorporates a straight pull bolt and a special clip loading internal magazine (rounds cannot be loaded loosely into the magazine without the clip)
The rifles serial No is 7023W and I have no knowledge of this rifles history other than it was imported into UK through the company; By Sword & Musket. The calibre is 8x56R and due to the rifles age, difficultly in obtaining ammunition and the clip which is essential to the rifles function, these rifles are fairly uncommon in the UK. Therefore this rifles holds a particular interest for me as it is only the second M1895 that I have had the pleasure to restored.
The stocks are manufactured from a number of woods including elm, birch, beech, walnut and this rifle has a mix, oak for the upper forend and walnut for the stock. The stock weathers well regardless of age but the upper handguard is more fragile and tends to split around the rearsight and gets easily damaged close to the muzzle and this rifle was no exception. Receiver to wood fitting is good therefore no bedding is required but to be honest I do not think much would be gained if the action was to be bedded. To restore and repair the woodwork, it is removed and any repairs made good. The barrel should touch the end of the forend but nowhere else between that point and the receiver. The woodwork is cleaned and all the years of grim, bruising and varnish is removed. Historical markings are retained and a new finish in keeping with the original is applied.
Trigger, Barrel & Action
The original calibre for these rifles was 8x50R, however in the late 1920’s the rifles were upgraded for the 8x56R cartridge and the barrel shank was stamped with a large “S” to denote the modification. This rifle has the “S” stamped barrel and therefore has matching serial numbers throughout, although I have some reservation with regards to the bolt. For a rifle that is hundred years old the rifling is remarkably sharp, overall build quality is good, although this particular rifle had lost most its protective finish upon receipt. To restore this rifle, the rifle is fully stripped and all the parts are cleaned in solvent, years of debris, rust and solidified oil are removed. Parts are polished and because this rifle was to be re-blued, the barrel receiver and magazine housing were polished with 400grit paper. All parts were checked for wear or damage and the rifle rebuilt to its original specification. The Steyr trigger mechanism is a good design and can be tuned but in this case the customer requested that the original trigger be left serviced but untuned. The barrel, headspace and firing pin protrusion are gauged and the trigger pull is measured. The action is function tested to ensure all the rifles mechanisms operates correctly and dummy rounds are cycled through the rifle to ensure the rifle feeds, extracts and ejects without fault.
The rifle is fitted with infantry sights, typical for a rifle of this period, sliding ramp rearsight and a barleycorn foresight. With the rearsight folded down the lowest sight setting is 500 paces and with the rearsight elevated, the maximum range was 2600 paces. With most shooters shooting 100-300yrds with iron sighted classic rifles, shooters should be mindful that the fall of shot will be high.