Austro-Hungarian Steyr Pistols


Steyr-Hahn Pistol Commercial Model 1911 and Army Model 1912
Steyr 9mm M.12 Steyr RepetierPistole

Type: automatic pistol (recoil operated)
Maker: Österreichische Waffenfabrik Steyr, 1912-1919, 300,000 made. A number of parts were made and pistols assembled by Fegyver és Gépgyár Részvénytársaság, Budapest ('FGGY')
Chambering: 9x23mm Steyr, some in 9x19mm Parabellum
Length overall: 216mm [8.5"]
Barrel: 128mm [5.04"] rifled 4 groves, rh
Weight unloaded: 1020g [40.2oz]
Magazine: 8-round charger-loaded internal box
Muzzle velocity: 1115-1200 fps (360-385 m/s)

This well-known pistol is believed to have been designed by Karel Krnka on the basis of the Roth-Steyr 1907. A conventional full-slide contains the barrel, the components being locked together by two lugs on top of the barrel engaging recesses in the slide. The barrel is held in the frame by a helical lug beneath the breech, which engages a groove in the frame. Slide and barrel move back together for a short distance after the gun fires, drawing the helical lug through the groove in the frame to rotate the barrel through about 20ř. This disengages the top lugs from the slide and, as they do so, a fourth lug under the barrel strikes a transom in the frame and brings the barrel to a stop. The slide continues moving back, extracting the empty case and cocking the external hammer, then returns to chamber a fresh cardidge from the magazine. Barrel and slide then move forward and the helical lug rotates the barrel back into engagement with the slide.
The magazine, integral in the butt, is loaded by pulling back the slide to open the action, inserting a charger and forcing the cartridges downward. A quick-release catch allows the contents to be ejected through the open action. The pistol chambered a powerful 9mm round specially developed for it, which has since become known as '9mm Steyr'. It was loaded with a 115-grain bullet to give a muzzle velocity of 1115 ft/sec. The dimensions almost duplicate the Bergmann-Bayard, but the Steyr round usually has a steel-jacketed bullet with a sharper point than other 9mm types.
Safeties: (a) A thumb safety somewhat like that on the Colt .45 auto will be found on the left side of the pistol just below the hammer. Turning this up into its notch in the slide makes the pistol safe. (b) An automatic disconnector on the right side of the pistol under the slide prevents this pistol from being fired until the action is wholly closed.

The Model 1911 was developed for military adoption, but was initially ignored by the Austro-Hungarian Army until 1914, when it was adopted as the M12. Regular units had the Roth-Steyr 1907 and the Rast-Gasser 1898 revolver, while the Hungarians were considering the Frommer Stop pistol for their forces. It seems as though small numbers of the commercial version of the Steyr pistol known as the M1911, were purchased by army officers. There is a claim that the first 500 pistols had adjustable rear sights, however a known example from that serial number range features the standard sights and no pistols with adjustable rear sight have been reported.
Österreichische Waffenfabrik relied on substantial exports to Chile (5000 guns) in 1912 and to Romania (25000-56000 guns, sources disagree) in 1913 to keep the production line in operation. It has been said that the Steyr pistol was adopted by the Landwehr (the Austrian reserve units) as the '9mm Repetierpistole M.12'. Other sources call the pistol: '9mm Selbstiade Pistole M.12'.
When the WW1 began, the Austro-Hungarian authorities predictably found themselves short of handguns. As series production of the Roth-Steyr had finished, work on the Steyr pistol was immediately redoubled. By the end of the war, approximately 300,000 guns had been made. 10,000 pistols had even been ordered by the Bavarian Army in 9mm Parabellum in 1916, with a similar contract in 1918 to offset shortages of Parabellums (P-08's). Bulgaria also ordered an unknown number of these pistols.

Steyr-Hahn M11/M12 Pistol Assembly Drawing

The Steyr pistol was extremely reliable and robust, deserving greater recognition than it received. As a pistol design, it must have been one of the strongest ever made. Many were held in store after the end of WW1. After the German unification with Austria in 1938, about 60,000 pistols were re-barrelled for the standard 9mm Parabellum cartridge. These weapons can be identified by the '08' stamped on the left side of the slide and Nazi Eagle stamped on the frame above the trigger. The official German designation: '9mm P12(o)'. These excellent pistols raise the question of how successful the Steyr Model 1911 might have been had it been chambered for the 9mm Parabellum ammunition from the start.

The standard Austrian military guns simply bear 'STEYR' and the date on the left side of the slide above the grip. The date may vary between 1914 and 1919, though a few pistols were made after the Armistice.

An inspector's mark 'Wn' for Wiener-Neustadt, a Habsburg eagle and a two-digit date (1914-1919) will be found on the frame recess immediately above the trigger-guard. Most Steyr manufactured parts are stamped with a 'K' (Kontroll) inspection stamp. The 'S' stands for 'Scarfe patrone'.

The initial Steyr commercial marking on the left side of the slide above the grip. Commercial pistols were serialized on the frame, slide, hilt and barrel.

Romanian Contract examples, in a serial-number sequence of their own, have a large crown above 'Md.1912'. Numerous pistols can be found with their markings ground off and blued over. The bird-like stamp is a proofmark on the Romanian Contract pistols.
Known Romanian Contract serial ranges:
1913: 4590a
1914: 7660b - 1888c - 4256d

Chilean guns have the national coat of arms on the front left side of the slide, ahead of 'STEYR 1912 and 'MOD. 1911', in addition 'EJERCITO DE CHILE' will be found on the right side of the slide above the grip. The Shield and the Star are Chilean Proofmarks.
Known Chilean Contract serials:
184
1570A - 1955A
2225B - 2582B
3586C - 3720C
289D - 4358D


Original holster above. IMA has reproduction holsters for the pistol, which include a pouch for a couple strippers.

Ersatz holster for the M12.

A wooden stock was available for this pistol. For this option, the frame was slotted and tapped at the back of the grips for the stock attachment. Both Romania (6000) and Chile received Pistols adopted for the stock.

In 1916 a small number of pistols designated as 'Repetierpistole M1912/P16" were made with an extended magazine area with a 16 round capacity. This pistol was also equipped with a wooden stock with sculptured buttplate.

The original Steyr 9x23mm cartridge, usually found with nickel jacketed bullets. When reloading, use 9x19 load data on the hot side of normal. Military Load: 116gr. FMJ. Muzzle energy 370. Bullet dia 9.02mm [.355"], Cartridge length 33.02mm [1.3"], Berdan primer, Rimless straight case.

To improve trigger pull: If your pistol was re-blued, you can greatly improve the trigger pull by removing the bluing from the moving surfaces - the sides of the hammer and trigger, the portions of the hammer that contact the hammer spring and sear spring, the slide and frame contact areas, and the surfaces of the sear spring and trigger spring. Examine the trigger bar, and lightly stone the underside if it is rough, otherwise just polish it a little. Check the frame opening where the trigger bar rides and remove any burrs. Don't overdo it. You might want to examine the trigger where the sear and trigger spring ride, and polish smooth any burrs or machining marks, but be EXTREMELY careful not to remove metal, just smooth and lightly polish it. If you overdo any of this, the trigger pull may be too light or the weapon fail to function properly. Go slowly.

Date - Serial number data:
1912  comm      60 - 4127
1914               1638f
1915  Wn-15   3643i - 8247j
1916  Wn-16   2200m - 2376q
1917               218r -  5398v
1918              1414t - 6589x
1919  Wn-19  5907y - 8861y


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