Bulgarian Mannlicher M.95 Rifles and Carbines
Made by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr, 1903-1914 and by Fegyver és Gépgyár Rt, Budapest, 1909-1914 as the 'Bulgarian Contracts'
Action: Straight-pull bolt action, with two lugs on a detachable bolt head engaging the receiver. Integral clip-loaded box magazine, 5 rounds
Caliber: M1893 8x50mm rimmed
Rifle muzzle velocity 620 m/sec [2030 fps] with M1893 ball cartridge
Stutzen/Carbine muzzle velocity 580 m/sec with M1893 ball cartridge
Rifle: 1272mm [50.1"] overall, 3.78kg [8.3 lbs] 765mm [30.1"] barrel, 4-groove rifling, RH, concentric
Stutzen/Carbine: 1003mm [39.5"] overall, 3.09kg [6.8 lbs] 500mm [19.7"] barrel, 4-groove rifling, RH, concentric
Bulgaria adopted the M95 weapons in 1897. These contract weapons were manufactured by the Budapest and Steyr factories, and were purchased and used by the Bulgarians in 8x50r original caliber. Some references designate these weapons as M.03 or 'Pushka Mannlicher Obrazetz 1903g' due to the fact that 1903 was the 1st year of the contract.
The place and date of manufacture are stamped on the left side of the receivers
Known BUDAPEST contract dates: 1909 1914
Known STEYR contract dates: 1903 1904 1907 1908 1911 1912 1914
The combined Steyr production was 83,000 rifles and 2074 stutzen/carbines. Earlier Steyr made Bulgarian Contract was 140,000 M1888 rifles and 10,218 M1890 carbines
About 9000 rifles and 500 carbines were sequestered at the start of WW1 in 1914, from the '1914 Budapest' Bulgarian Contract guns. These guns were stamped on the barrel shank with 'Bp crest 1914', while the Lion crests were left intact.
In 1934 Bulgaria adopted the M30 8x56R Austrian Cartridge, began acquiring M.95's from all over Europe (mainly from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland,
Finland), and begun manufacturing 8x56R ammunition.
Most of these rifles were rebuilt during 1930-1945 by both Austria and Bulgaria. Between 1938 and 1940 a large number of Austrian M90/30 weapons were transferred from the Austrian Army to Bulgaria on German order. By 1940 the Austrian forces were re-armed with German type weaponry.
The M.95 weapons rechambered for the M.30 S-Patrone with the "S" chamber marking were normally referred to as 'Pushka M95 S' or 'Karabina M95 S' or 'Kal. 8mm Mannlicher S'. According to some sources, in Bulgaria these rechambered Mannlichers were also referred to as 'Karabina Mannlicher obrazetz 1938g'. (g = godina, year). In 1939 Germany supplied Bulgaria with quantites of ex-Austrian Karabiner M.95/30 which were known in Bulgaria as the 'Karabina Mannlicher obrazetz 1939g'. If it has the Bulgarian Lion Crest, it is a 1938g. Crestless guns can be either.
Rebuilding was completed to either 8x56R Long Rifles or 8x56R (Police) Carbines, by shortening the barrel, shortening the stock and fitting side sling swivels only, filling in the underneath slot in the stock with a fitting wooden piece, and replacing the underneath front swivel in the band with a small washer. The rear sight was not changed for the long rifles, and the front sight blade was replaced with a very tall one, Most of these Carbines were used post-WW2 as "Internal Security" type weapons, or stored as part of Bulgaria's Strategic reserve. Some of these weapons were sold to Third World hot spots/countries (such as Mozambique) by Bulgaria during the 1970's.
Electropenciled serial numbers on the M95 bolts indicate Bulgarian refurbishing. Only the original Bulgarian Contract rifles & carbines had serialized bolts of all M95 guns. The serial was on the bolt stem, although some appeared on the bolt body.
Bulgarian Lion Crest on receiver. Some of these weapons can be found with their Lion Crest ground off, but the city an date of manufacturing were left
intact on the left side of the receivers.
Comparison of Czech and Bulgarian Lions
Original rear sights were numbered on both sides. Only Bulgarion contract bolts had a gas escape hole on top of the bolt.
Receiver marked 'VF' (Cyrillic B and Phi) Voenna Fabrika (Military Factory, Bulgaria), repair facilty mark
Bulgarian barrel shank markings
Bulgarian 'Pinecone' stock mark (from Dennis Kroh)
Nearly all of these rifles can be found re-chambered/re-barreled to the 8x56R round, with most of this work completed in Austria during 1930-1940. The
8x56r cartridges were a large-rim with a pointed bullet (Spitzgeschoss) and an 8-12mm (or so) high letter 'S' was stamped on the barrel shanks to
differentiate it from the unconverted weapons. These guns are called M95/34 incorrectly by a U.S. importer. There was no such designation neither in
Bulgaria, Hungary nor Austria. A very few converted weapons have no 'S' mark at all probably due to late-WW2 or post WW2 Bulgarian conversions or rebarrel jobs.
Bulgarian sheet metal front sight protectors, copy of the post WW1 Austrian brass front sight protectors,
believed to be added in the 1930's. Some sources claim, these sight protectors are of Czech origin.
"Rampant Lion" at the 12 o'clock position and a cyrillic 'CA' or 'B0' arsenal marking at 6 o'clock position.
'CA' = Cyrillic SA superimposed, Sofia Arsenal, 'B0 = VF (Cyrillic B and Phi) Voenna Fabrika (Military Factory).
The 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock position shows the date of manufacture.
Most bayonet pictures are courtesy of Old Smithy's Bayonets
Auxiliary front sight on top of the muzzle ring. This compensated for the change in point-of-impact caused by firing the Stutzen with the bayonet fixed. The effect was much more marked in the
short-barrel Stutzens than the full-length rifles. Some experts do not accept the change in point-of-impact reasoning, however they do not provide an alternative explanation for the muzzle ring sight.
Bulgarian Lion marked bayonet. The serial number was added in Bulgaria
After 1907 some carbines were given additional swivels under the buttstock and under the front band, so that they could be used interchangeably for
mounted or foot use. However, in Bulgaria, a number of the butt-swivel additions were removed and their 'hole' filled in wooden plugs. According to some sources these are
called 'Police Carbines' and usually come with the side-mounted fixed front sling loop, with bottom swivels removed.
|Original 8x50R standard military Stutzen/Carbine sight on the left. Taller sight in the middle for the more powerful 8x56R. The tallest sight on the right is for 8x56R close range/police(?) use. (Not everybody agrees with the last usage, however no other explanations were provided for the tallest sights.)|