Austro-Hungarian Mannlicher M1903 Pistol

Mannlicher Model 1903 Pistol

Type: Recoil Operated Automatic Pistol
Caliber: 7.65mm Mannlicher
Length overall: 280mm [11.0"]
Weight unloaded: 1020g [36oz]
Barrel: 115mm [4.53"] rifled
Magazine: 6-round charger-loaded detachable box

This was the last Mannlicher pistol to be marketed commercially, though development had begun in 1896 and a gun (possibly made by 'Waffenfabrik Neuhausen) was tested in Switzerland in 1897-8. It chambered yet another special cartridge, a 7.65mm bottle-necked rimless round offering the same dimensions as the 7.63mm Mauser but less velocity. This was a grave mistake, as the Mannlicher pistol was not strong enough to stand up to firing the Mauser round. A strengthened model was produced experimentally in the early 1900s but was never exploited. Mannlicher had died in 1904 and his locked-breech pistol was soon overtaken by more effectual rivals.

A steel strut attached to the barrel extension was forced up by a ramp in the frame to lock the bolt. The barrel and barrel extension moved backward on recoil, forcing the strut off its ramp and allowing the bolt to reciprocate independently. It had a detachable box magazine instead of the integral charger-loaded patterns of the prototypes, ahead of the trigger guard in Mauser fashion, and firing was performed by an internal hammer. A cocking lever appeared on the right side of the frame and a safety catch at the rear acted directly on the hammer. A retracting knob on top of the bolt rendered the cocking lever superfluous.
Though the breech-lock design was strong enough to withstand the Mauser round, the rest of the pistol was not (even though the gun was much handier than the C/96 Mauser. It never achieved popularity, despite being offered as a fully-stocked carbine with 30cm barrel. The standard pistol could also be provided with a wooden holster-stock, which attached to the butt. Pistol and carbine alike were tested by the Austro-Hungarian Army, without success. The carbine was briefly fashionable as a hunting weapon, even though handicapped by its ineffectual cartridge. It is doubtful if more than a thousand 1903-type pistols and pistol-carbines were made, work having stopped well before the outbreak of WW1.