Austro-Hungarian Mannlicher Pistols

Mannlicher Pistol Model 1901

Automatic pistol (delayed blowback)
4000 made by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr, Austria, 1901-05
Chambering: 7.63x21mm Mannlicher
Length overall: 246mm [9.69"]
Barrel: 160mm [6.3"] rifled, 4-groove, rh
Weight unloaded: 910g [32.1oz]
Magazine: 8-round charger-loaded integral box

Note the difference between the 1901 Pattern above and the 1905 Pattern on the left.
Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher began work on a locked-breech pistol in 1896, in view of military demands, but it was not perfected until the early 1900s. In the interim, he refined the 1896-type blowback into what many consider the be the most elegant automatic pistol ever made. Usually designated 'M1901', the earliest guns dated from the year in which the first patents were granted: 1898. Unfortunately, a 7.63mm gun surviving from the Swiss trials of 1898-99 gives no dues to its manufacturer. The cartridge was not the contemporary 7.63mm Mauser pattern, which was too powerful for a blowback action, but a special Mannlicher pattern loaded with an 85-grain bullet.

The perfected M1901 was made by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft of Steyr, after the failure of von Dreyse (which had been purchased by Rheinische Metallwaaren und Maschinenfabrik). The new Mannlicher was purchased privately by many officers of the Austro-Hungarian army, though rejected officially after trials in 1904-5. It was particularly popular in South America, remaining so long after it had faded from view in Europe, and was adopted by the Argentine Army as the 'Modelo 1905'.

This Mannlicher introduced the open-topped slide to the automatic pistol world. A fixed barrel is screwed into the standing breech, forged as part of the frame. The slide consists of a short breech-block section behind the barrel, carrying the extractor and firing pin. Two arms run forward from this block, one on each side, to join transversely beneath the barrel. The return spring sits in a hole beneath the breech, extending forward to anchor on a stud in the front of the slide arms. Any rearward movement of the slide compresses the spring.

There is a large external hammer, and the simple trigger linkage is covered by a removable plate on the left side of the frame. The main spring lies in the right side of the frame, the lower arm pressing on the hammer and the upper arm on a small lever whose tip engages a notch in the underside of the slide. The plate covering the spring mechanism is joined to the lockwork plate by a forward-sweeping arm. This arm is locked beneath the return spring by a spring catch.

The M1901 is a delayed blowback. On firing, the slide runs back against the pressure of the recoil spring until the lever in the slot on the right side is forced downward. This is resisted by the pressure of the mainspring so that resistance additional to that of the return spring has to be overcome. The slide cocks the hammer as it runs back, movement of the hammer, by way of the mainspring, places even more pressure on the retarding lever. This adds friction to the slide, retarding its motion and absorbing some of the recoil energy. The slide returns alter reaching the end of its stroke and chambers a fresh round from the magazine. The magazine, integral in the butt, is loaded from a charger through the open action. A catch can usually be pressed to expel the contents of the magazine upward through the open action.
Early models have a large thumb lever, which locks the hammer internally, while later examples have a very simple safety catch (on the rear of the slide) which drops in front of the hammer when applied. Early guns have front sights with a rounded leading edge, later ones being vertical. The original back sight was simply a groove in a post above the breech, forged integrally with the frame, where it is surrounded by the front edges of the breech block when the breech is closed. The M1905 sight is a notch in the rear end of the breech block.
Variations in grip, magazine capacity and barrel length will be found, apparently with neither rule nor form. The normal barrel length was 140mm. Original 1898-type guns bore no marks other than Mannlicher's motif (a crowned 'M', in a circle or a cross) while those made in 1900-1 displayed 'PATENT MANNLICHER' on the front of the left slide arm. Subsequently 'WAFFENFABRIK STEYR' appeared on the lock cover on the left side of the gun. Excepting guns supplied on contract to Argentina, the M1905 is marked 'Md.1905/WAFFENFABRIK/STEYR' in three lines on the left frame panel and 'SYSTEM MANNLICHER' on the right. The Argentine guns had all five lines on the left side to accommodate the national coat of arms on the right. Numbering of the 1900 series was separate. The 1901-pattern Steyr-made guns began again at 1 and continued to the end of M1905 production about 1910. About 10,000 of these Mannlichers had been made.

Known serials: 9, 53, 430

Holster pic. by Wesley Terrel