Vienna Museum

Blogger oper-1974 recently covered a trip he made to the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Military History Museum) in Vienna, Austria. In the museum are many artifacts from Austria’s rich military history, most dating from periods outside my expertise, and thus thwarting my ability to identify them. Fortunately, oper-1974 has provided descriptions for the images. Highlights below:


Assorted early breechloaders, from right to left: Prototype 10.5mm cartridge pistol for French officer use, prototype Jaeger breechloader, 13.9mm caliber, 1820, prototype Swiss Milbank Amsler breechloader, 17.8mm caliber, 1860, prototype Lindner rifle, 13.9mm caliber, 1860, prototype of a conversion of the Jaeger rifle to the Lindner system, 13.9mm, 1867, another prototype Jaeger, 15mm, 1867, and a prototype cartridge rifle from 1827, 17.8mm caliber.





11mm Montigny mitrailleuse, 1870.





The loading device for the Montigny mitrailleuse.





Experimental bolt-action rifles, left to right: 8mm Schulhof rifle from 1882, 11.2mm Shpitalski of 1890, 11mm Schulhof, 1882, 11.2mm Schulhof of 1882, with storage space in the butt, 11mm Schulhof bolt rifle of 1882, and another 8mm Schulhof of 1882. Apparently these were all developed around the same place, at much the same time.




A sectioned Schwarzlose heavy machine gun.




A trench crossbow from World War II.





Helmets, which have clearly been tested pretty thoroughly.



If any of our readers get the chance to head out to Vienna, it looks like the Military History Museum there is a great place to spend an afternoon.


H/T Maxim Popenker

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Vitsaus

    I would love to see this place. Great article! Lately I’ve been getting more into the black powder era European arms.

  • AMX

    Note that these photos are from a special exhibition in 2011 – most of that stuff is not normally on display.

    Also, that crossbow fired rifle grenades 🙂

    • If a man goes through life without firing rifle grenades from a comically large crossbow, has he really lived?

      • Will

        I was just thinking that’s something I need to do.
        I’ll put it on my bucket list first thing tomorrow.

      • Tassiebush

        And if a man has done it, but he hasn’t used it for fishing has he really lived?

      • Alex Nicolin

        They were also attacked by Smaug at that time?

        • I have no idea what that is.

          • screwtape2713 .

            The dragon from The Hobbit.

      • screwtape2713 .

        And if he DOES fire rifle grenades from a comically large crossbow, does he continue to live?

    • gunslinger

      crossbow? it reminded me of that UK soldier from the war who wore a kilt and fought with a sword (scottish?)

  • Sabertooth88

    I was just there in January and they have an awesome World War I display that is commemorating the centennial of the war. One of the most interesting firearms I saw was water-cooled bolt-action automatic rifle that troops had rigged together in the trenches, aptly named the “Hellfeuergeweher”. No idea how well/or if it worked, but sure looked funky!

  • Giolli Joker

    Been there several years ago, school trip, abandoned my class to visit the museum… loved it, but at the time the exhibition was maily focused on medieval and Renaissance weapons and armors.
    Definitely worth a visit.

    • Bud Spencer

      You are right, but since
      last year’s ww1 anniversary the focus has been changed a bit. They have a huge collection
      in the back of which only about a half has been categorized. Another reason that
      there isn´t much after ww1 is the traumatic Austrian interwar period particularly
      the civil war of 1934 and also the occupation and participation of Austrians in
      the Nazi regime. This only changed slowly since the 1980s. And today there are
      still some people who claim Austria to be the first victim of the Nazi
      expansion. Nevertheless the exhibits
      are great: For example a wehrmacht Borgward IV. A remote controlled Tank which
      has been discovered when the new Main train station in Vienna was constructed.

  • nova3930

    Stupid me missed out of that when during my trip to Vienna several years ago. I mixed up what days it was open and didn’t realize the mistake till it was too late….

  • Cannoneer No. 4

    Don’t leave Vienna without seeing this place! Take the time to study the paintings and uniforms. The car Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand was shot in is there.

    • iksnilol

      Heck, in Sarajevo you can see the gun he was shot with (+ the spot where he was shot).

      Just had to represent a bit.

  • marathag

    Schwarzlose… nothing else quite like blowback with a full power round

  • Q Ball

    If the prongs are made from wood or organics its a crossbow.
    If the prongs are made from steel its an arbalist.

    • Phil Hsueh

      At the size that trench crossbow wouldn’t it be more of a ballista or even scorpion than either a crossbow or arbalist?

    • screwtape2713 .

      Maybe in the medieval era. But I shoot a modern Excalibur crossbow with a metal prod, and I’m very sorry but it’s a crossbow, not an arbalest. The manufacturer makes it and distributes it as a crossbow, the sporting goods stores sell it as a crossbow, and for that matter, the hunting regulations describe it as a crossbow — not an arbalest. The arbalest died in the 1600s or thereabouts; long live the crossbow!