Thursday, July 29, 2010

Austrian M95 "Stutzen" Carbine

The Austrian M95 "Repetier Stutzen" Carbine was used by the Austrio-Hungarian empire during World war I and was one of the first successful magazine fed rifle used by any army. The Stutzen (it means "Support") was intended for use by artillery units, combat engineers, and other 2nd line support troops. The weapon features a unique bolt system called the "Straight Pull" and unlike most bolt action rifles, it does not require that the shooter rotate the handle upward to unlock the bolt. You simply pull backward and the bolt head rotates to unlock and retract. Rifles were manufactured in the Steyr plant and are marked STEYR M95 and also in Budapest and are marked BUDAPEST M95.

The rifle uses an enbloc clip (shown loaded with 5 rounds above the rifle)and is similar to the later M1 rifle. When empty the clip falls from the bottom of the rifle rather than flying out of the top like the M1 does. The enbloc clips can be difficult to find and are almost a necessity. Loading the weapon by hand is not advised as the extractor must then be forced over the cartridge rim when closing the bolt and can be easily broken.

After World War I, Austria-Hungary collapsed and many of the M95's were distributed to the victorious Allied countries. Several were modified by the new owners to work with their standard ammunition types and no longer use the original 8mm*50R ammunition. In 1930, Austria, who still had a significant quantity of these rifles, re-chambered them to a more powerful 8mm*56R cartridge. The re-chambered rifles are typically marked with a prominent 'S' or 'H' on the receiver, above the manufacture mark.

The example in my collection was made in 1917 and is Budapest marked. The round is 8.32mm and one of the heaviest rounds I fire. Because of its shorter length, recoil is very strong. Ammunition can be difficult to find and I have a quantity of ammunition dated 1938 (Bulgarian) and 1940 (German). that I still fire (Yes, it still works and no duds yet). I have found some new production that is about $1.25 per round but that is not much more than what you might pay for the much older ammunition, and is re-loadable. The rifle is in excellent shape and looks like it was just put into storage a few years ago.

The straight pull bolt system allows the shooter to reload without having to take the rifle off the shoulder as you would with many turn bolt guns. This allows you to hold your aim better than is typical. How the bolt doesn't embed itself into your forehead after each shot is still a mystery to me, but it works.

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