Russian Berdan Rifles
Captured by Austro-Hungary



Berdan I M1868 Infantry Rifle
Pekhotniya Vintovka Berdana Obr. 1868g

30,000 made by Colt in 1869-70
Single shot, Breech Block Action
Caliber: 10.67x58mm rimmed
1346mm overall, 4.25kg
825mm barrel, 6-groove rifling, RH, concentric
Leaf type rear sight graduated to 1400 arshins
Muzzle velocity 442 m/sec

This Block Action was designed an patented by General Hiram Berdan of the American Civil War.
Drawing back the striker allowed the breech block to be raised, extracting the spent case and opening access to the chamber. A cartridge was then inserted, the breech was closed, and the rifle could be fired. The mechanism was locked at firing by the striker entering into the back of the breech block.
The top of the barrel shank was marked in Cyrillic. The rifle had 2 barrel bands. The back of the lower tang had a spur for a better grip. Sling swivels were located on the trigger guard and the front band. The rifle accepted the M1868 socket bayonet
An unknown number of these rifles were captured by the German and Austro-Hungarian armies. It is not likely that these were re-issued for the capturing armies and no 'AZF' or 'OEWG' markings were reported.

Brown background photos on this page are courtesy of 'jps' of Gunboards.com


Berdan I M1868 Carbine
Carabina Berdana Obr. 1868g

In 1873 a number of Berdan I rifles were shortened to a Carbine length for trial purpose. The Carbine was stocked to the muzzle, with no provision for a bayonet.


Berdan II M1870 Infantry Rifle
Pekhotniya Vintovka Berdana Obr. 1870g


100 prototypes Made in the USA, 1969
30,000 Made by Birmingham Small Arms Co, England, 1870-73
1,000,000+ Made by Ishevsk & Tula, Russia, 1874-92
Caliber: 10.67x58mm rimmed
Muzzle velocity 437 m/sec M1870 ball ammunition
Turning-bolt action, locked by the bolt-handle rib abutting the receiver bridge
1355mm [53.3"] overall, 4.4kg [9.6 lbs]
833mm [32.8"] barrel, 6-groove rifling, RH, concentric

Ramp & Leaf rear sight graduated 200-1500 arshins

The machinery for the Russian factories were originally made in Leeds, England. Manufacturing was started in 1874 in Tula and in 1878 in Ishevsk.
Russian experiments with quick loaders and magazines during 1877-85:
1. Sylvester Krnka Quick Loader: a 10-round canvas cartridge box strapped to a plate on the left side of the forend ahead of the chamber.
2. Lutkovskiy Magazine: a 6-round magazine, which hung on the left side of the breech.
3. Schulhof Butt-Magazine system: a 20-round tube and elevator cartridge feeding system located inside the buttstock.

Mostly in 1915 Austro-Hungarian forces on the Eastern front captured quantities of Russian Berdan M1870 (Berdan II) rifles along with the Mosin Nagant M1891 rifles, and also received large numbers taken by the Germans. Captured and inspected rifles were marked with 'AZF' (Artillerie Zeugs Fabrik) and/or 'OEWG' (OEsterreichische Waffenfabrik Gesellschaft) on the receiver.

The AZF marked guns in Austro-Hungarian service were issued with captured 10.67x58mm Russian ammunition. When supplies begun to run short, some guns were rebarreled in the Wiener-Neustadt Armory for the standard rimmed 8x50mm Austrian round.
The OEWG marked guns went through arsenal repairs/reconditioning or caliber conversion.

The original Russian M1871 Socket type Spike Bayonets were retained

Serials:
1877: 8603
1879: 22987
1882: 52672


Berdan II M1870 Dragoon Rifle
Dragunskaya Vintovka Berdana Obr. 1870g

Made by Tula, Russia, 1875-1892 & by Ishevsk, Russia, 1878-1892
Caliber: 10.67x58mm rimmed
Muzzle velocity 385 m/sec M1870 ball ammo
Turning-bolt action, locked by the bolt-handle rib abutting the receiver bridge
1238mm overall, 3.58kg, 720mm barrel, 6-groove rifling, RH, concentric
Ramp & Leaf rear sight graduated 200-1400 arshins
This Rifle had no provisions for a bayonet. The sling swivels were slot-mounted.



Photos courtesy of Peter Wildschut.


Berdan II M1870 Cossack Rifle
Kazachaya Vintovka Berdana Obr. 1870g

Made by Tula, Russia, 1875-92 & by Ishevsk, Russia, 1878-92
Caliber: 10.67x58mm rimmed
Muzzle velocity 385 m/sec M1870 ball ammo
Turning-bolt action, locked by the bolt-handle rib abutting the receiver bridge
1218-1238mm overall, 3.38-3.58kg, 700-720mm barrel, 6-groove rifling, RH, concentric
Ramp & Leaf rear sight graduated 200-1400 arshins
This rifle had no provisions for a bayonet. The sling swivels were slot-mounted. Examples can be found with 2 barrel lengths 20mm apart. This rifle was lacking the trigger guard. It had a ball-trigger (small reeded drum) with a slotted underside. It had 3 barrel bands.


Berdan II M1870 Carbine
Karabina Berdana Obr. 1870g

Very few were made by Ishevsk & Tula, Russia, 1874-75
Caliber: 10.67x58mm rimmed
Muzzle velocity 362 m/sec M1870 ball ammo
Turning-bolt action, locked by the bolt-handle rib abutting the receiver bridge
965mm overall, 2.8kg, 475mm barrel, 6-groove rifling, RH, concentric
Ramp & Leaf rear sight graduated 200-1000 arshins
This Carbine has been noted with both, a single and double barrel bands and had no provisions for a bayonet. The sling swivels were slot-mounted. Very rare.





4 Photos courtesy of Peter Wildschut.


Berdan Three Line Rifle and Carbine
Drelineinaya Pekhotniya Vintovka I Karabina Berdana

Approx. 200,000 Berdans were converted to the M1891 cartridge in Liege, Belgium, 1895-1905
Caliber: M1891 7.62x54mm rimmed
Muzzle velocity 605 m/sec M1891 ball ammo
Turning-bolt action, with 2 locking lugs on the bolt head and additional safety provided by the bolt-handle rib abutting the receiver bridge
1322mm overall, 4.23kg, 802mm barrel, 4-groove rifling, RH, concentric
Ramp & Leaf rear sight graduated 200-1000 arshins
M1870-type socket bayonet, slightly altered.

The photo above shows a Berdan II rifle (top) and the 3-Line rifle (bottom) for compatison.
In 1895 the conversion of the 10.67mm Berdan rifles to 7.62mm was started. The work was done by several Belgian factories. Most of these converted rifles carry Belgian markings on the receiver and on the top of the chamber. A new barrel was manufactured with added thickness at the chamber area. The new M1891 type rear sight was mounted forward of the chamber area. A new locking lug recess and raceway was milled into the receiver. A new bolthead with 2 locking lugs were made to withstand the higher pressure of the new M1891 cartridge. In 1905 a similar conversion of the 10.67mm Berdan carbines to 7.62mm was started.


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