Austro-Hungarian Rifles of WW1 – By The Great War and C&RArsenal

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I recently gushed on what I consider one of the best YouTube channels out there *that is not guns-only, but is highly correlated. The Great War is a fantastic project documenting World War 1 week by week exactly as it happened 100 years later.

We’re about two years into the series and the show’s Patreon campaign is starting to bear some fruits for those of us with real interest in the weapons of the war. Recently, special episodes have been posted in conjunction with C&RArsenal (another great channel for firearms history buffs).

The most recent episode features the service rifles of the Austro-Hungarian Empire used throughout the war. Interestingly, and not like the other major powers of the war, The Austro-Hungarians used a straight-pull bolt-action. The rifles were well balanced, slim, and had some great sights (if a little ambitious 2,000+ meter sighting gradients).

The history behind the design is fascinating, especially on how the rifles went from black powder to a hybrid charge, and finally to full smokeless powder and how this evolution affected the action itself, which limited the loadings to avoid breaking the single lug used for locking.

I strongly recommend one checks out both channels here for weekly updates on World War 1 and old weapons, some of which even Ian from Forgotten Weapons has not yet published on:

The Great War

C&R Arsenal

 

 



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Major Tom

    I never could understand the difference between “regular” bolt action and straight pulls.

    Anyone care to enlighten?

    • Darkpr0

      Regular bolties you turn, pull, push, turn. Straight pulls turn the bolt for you, so it’s just pull, push. They’re supposed to be faster, but I don’t think it really amounts to much for the increase in complexity compared to easier stuff like more ergonomic stocks, or better sights. They are pretty slick, though. Semi autos with reciprocating charging handles can act like straight pulls by removing the recoil spring and disconnecting the gas, if you want to see what it’s like.

      Edit: Straight pulls are not super common compared to conventional bolts. Main suspects are the Austro-hungarian rifles, the Swiss Schmidt Rubins, and the Canadian Ross.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Straight pull bolt actions were an important transitional step in the development of self-loading rifles, since they have many parallel mechanical requirements in how the action has to open and close the breech (as per your example of how an autoloader with its gas system deactivated becomes a straight pull). Many key features of modern rifles were developed in straight pulls first, such as camming bolt and especially the multi-lug bolt.

        • Darkpr0

          From an evolutionary perspective, that’s completely true. Straight pulls were a necessary step for self-loaders. But as an end user it doesn’t get you much more performance over a well-made conventional bolt. Even as a whole army, the amount of extra conventional rifles they could make during the machine time a straight pull takes would probably make a larger difference in performance.

          • ostiariusalpha

            That’s indeed true of the majority of straight pulls, sadly. If the guns are produced in sufficient quantities during peace time, then the extra manufacturing needed is ameliorated somewhat (e.g. Switzerland). It would also have been better if any of the rifles had their bolt handles placed so that volley fire would be as simple and ergonomic as the SMLE is. The Mondrag√≥n cleverly got around this by using a fire-on-close mechanism activated by a selector switch, it was the fastest rate of fire obtainable with out going to an actual autoloader.

      • Phil Hsueh

        The one thing that I never understood about straight pull bolt actions is how the bolt stays in place, if all you do is pull back then what locks it and how do you unlock it since you don’t turn it?

        • ostiariusalpha

          The bolt cams in its carrier as the carrier travels backward, just like any autoloader.

        • Darkpr0

          The bolt is in two parts: a bolt body, and a sleeve. The head can rotate, the sleeve is what you push and pull on. Inside, there is a camming surface that forces the bolt head to rotate. Forgotten Weapons has a good disassembly video of a Ross Mk 3 that shows how that works. It’s called “Myth and Reality of the Ross MkIII”

  • The_Champ

    I had no idea the originals are supposedly much smoother than the re-chambered guns of the 1930s. I just assumed they were all pretty stiff to operate like the carbine I own.

    I think M95s are a blast to shoot and own. Definitely an underrated C&R.

  • Paul White

    heh. I used to have an SM 1895 carbine that I sold. It used an oddball 8mm caliber, kicked like a mule, and was in bad enough shape it was scary to shoot anyway. Neat piece of militaria but it wasn’t a particularly useful rifle for me

  • Sledgecrowbar

    Pretty sure the M95 has two lugs. Is one not a locking lug?