Austria’s Mannlicher M1895 (Steyr M95): No Wonder They Lost the War

June 7, 2023  
Categories: Guns

The Steyr M95 is a straight-pull bolt action rifle designed by the Austrian engineer Ferdinand Karl Adolf Josef Mannlicher before the First World War. That rifle (aka the Mannlicher M1895 et al) served in vast numbers…but it kind of sucked.

World War I represented a tumultuous time in world history. Ancient empires struggled to remain relevant and vassal states that composed those empires were yearning for self-rule. Military forces were armed with a hodgepodge of rifles, machine guns, swords, pikes, revolvers, and semiautomatic pistols. The cavalry still charged on horseback in some corners of the globe while poison gas rained down on others…

None of which should excuse the designers of the M1895. Quite the contrary.

Regardless, off of these battlefields (where to be fair, they killed a lot of people) came the Steyr Mannlicher M1895 rifle.

The Mannlicher M1895 was designed by Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher.

The Steyr M95 rifle was an updated version of the previous Mannlicher 1890 carbine.

The Steyr M1895 was a straight pull bolt action rifle designed by Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher. The weapon was loaded using an en-bloc clip instead of a stripper clip.

The Steyr M1895 was a straight-pull bolt action rifle designed by Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher. The weapon was loaded using an en-bloc clip instead of a stripper clip.


  • Barrel Length: 30.1 inches (long rifle),
  • Overall Length: 50 inches (long rifle),
  • Capacity: 5 rounds
  • Cartridge: 8x50mmR, later 8x56mmR
  • Action: Straight-pull bolt action
  • Safety: Left-side striker block

Mannlicher M1895 (~Steyr M95)

The Mannlicher M1895 (Infanterie Repetier-Gewehr M.95) was designed by von Mannlicher to improve his original straight-pull action from the earlier Mannlicher M1890 carbine. This gave the M95 a higher rate of fire (30 to 35 rounds per minute) than a traditional rotating bolt action rifle.

We like to think of them as the poor man’s Schmidt-Rubin.

M1895 Mannlicher in the mountains

EnBloc Clip Design

Typical of a Mannlicher design, these rifles are fed via an en-bloc clip instead of a stripper clip.

An en-bloc clip holds the rounds within the clip, and it is inserted into the rifle from the top in the same manner as a magazine. When the last round is fired, the clip drops free through a hole in the lower receiver.

Think of the M1 Garand in reverse. Although if you have a loaded or partially loaded M95, you can push a button on the receiver and send a perfectly full clip of ammo sailing through the air if you feel the need.

Although fielded in the First World War by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria bought large quantities of them beginning in 1903. After the war ended and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved, the rifle continued to see use by the armies of Austria and Hungary but also in many of the Balkan states where the rifle was given to these countries as part of war reparations.

Over 3 million of the venerable bolt action rifles were ultimately manufactured, roughly 3/4 of them at Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr. Most of the remainder were produced at Budapest’s Fegyver és Gépgyár Rt.

Steyr Männlicher: from 8x50mmR to 8x56mmR

Initially, these rifles were chambered in 8X50mmR. This round was the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s first step toward a smokeless powder round, as the powder used was considered “semi-smokeless”. So when the M95 came out, they used true smokeless powder in the loading and achieved 2035 fps with a 244-grain round-nosed bullet.

The Steyr M1895 was initially chambered in 8x50mmR but vast numbers were later re-chambered in 8x56mmR.

Some M95 rifles were later converted to 8×57 Mauser by the Germans for World War II. Shortly after the First World War, Austria and Hungary re-chambered the lion’s share of their rifles in the same cartridge as used in the Steyr-Solothurn light machine gun (MG-30, q.v.): 8X56mmR. To date no one we’re aware of has upgraded one to 6.5 Creedmore, but that’s probably just a matter of time.

The loading of the 8x56R round was similar but used a 210-grain conical or Spitzer bullet. Keep in mind that they did two things: they made a more powerful round while shortening the barrel.

3 decades after its introduction, many Steyr M95 rifles were rechambered in 8x56mmR, the same as the Steyr-Solothurn light machine gun.

Buy it and back the bang

Where to Find a Steyr M95 For Sale


Mannlicher M1895 series Sights

There was one other thing they did that makes us think that Hans and Klaus were very much asleep at the switch.

They changed the rear sight measurement from paces to meters.

Seems legit. Old action, new shorter barrel, and a more powerful smokeless round, why would you not change the sights?

That’s what I thought; from their perspective, it was 40 years ago when they were pacing toward the enemy in foppish uniforms with a five-foot-long rifle complete with a sword bayonet mounted on it. Now they were fielding something shorter and more powerful. Paces be gone! We need meters dammit!

Again, we go back to our arms engineers sleeping on fire watch.

When we picked up a Steyr M95 for the first time, there was a note on the side about how the rifle was hitting two feet high at 100 yards. It sounded like we had a shooter who was off to one end on some kind of spectrum so we took the Pepsi challenge and sure as hell, he was right.

Then we looked at the rear sight and shook our heads thinking of the legacy of those early 20th-century engineers whose descendants would produce the Glock, Steyr AUG, HK P7M8, and a plethora of other Teutonic goodness.

The sight’s lowest setting is 600 meters and goes up. Not exactly something a Jerry should have been toting in either of the World Wars if they wanted a tactical advantage, if you ask me. But they didn’t, so there’s that.

Mannlicher M1895 sights flipped up for use.

At one point they changed the Steyr M1895’s sights from paces to meters – unfortunately.

In our estimation, the sights are kind of on the small size for long-range, too. I guess they were preoccupied with new strains of mustard gas and rocketry experiments to really notice.

Still, we use our M95 to ring the same steel we do with our M1A and open sights. It’s not nearly as accurate, kicks like two rented mules, but dammit, we hit about eight times out of ten.

A Steyr M95 rifle displayed on a grey rock background.

You can find a more in-depth review on the Steyr M95 in a couple past issues of Legendary Arms, published by Inside Military Surplus. Check it out if you have some time.

The Mannlicher M1895s do represent a unique footnote in small arms development, especially in the realm of what not to do with sights.


Steyr M95 Addendum(s)

Steyr M95 straight pull bolt action rifle.

Steyr Mannlicher M95 bolt has a separate head with two frontal locking lugs; bolt head was inserted into the bolt body from the front. Bolt body had internal spiral-shaped ribs, with matching spiral-shaped cuts in the tail of the bolt head. These ribs and cuts forced the bolt head to rotate on the pull of the bolt body, locking and unlocking the action. Box magazine contained five rounds in en bloc clips; as the magazine emptied, the clips were ejected from the opening at the bottom of the magazine. Non-empty clips could be removed from the top with the bolt open, by depressing the clip catch inside the triggerguard. One specific feature of this system was that the clip has specific “top” and “bottom” sides, and could not be loaded into the rifle upside down. The safety was located at the rear left side of the bolt. Large ear-shaped cocking handle at the rear of the bolt served as a manual cocking handle, to re-cock the action without operating the bolt. M95 rifles were issued with detachable knife bayonets. Other than basic rifle, M95 also was issued as Stutzen (short rifle or carbine, with bayonet lug), and slightly shorter cavalry carbine (without bayonet lug). Modern 


Steyr-Mannlicher M1895 Carbine: Smithsonian Style

The weapon, bearing serial number 3775V, is a carbine variant of the M1895 housed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History. It measures 40 inches long but they don’t have the weight listed. If you’d like to know more, check out catalog number 59595M.

Steyr Mannlicher M1895 Carbine at the Smithsonian

Steyr Mannlicher M1895 Carbine at the Smithsonian


Steyr Mannlicher M1895 Carbine at the Smithsonian


On Video

Of the many versions of M1895 rifles that saw combat, one of the more unusual was a conversion to semi-auto (yes, semi-auto).

Another is a sniper model carbine.

Looking to know more? Go balls-deep with C&R Arsenal (see below).


This article originally ran in November 2016.

⚠️ Some hyperlinks in this article may contain affiliate links. If you use them to make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. It’s just one way to Back the Bang. #backthebang 


Mike Searson

Mike Searson

About the Author

Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of a dick and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson.


  1. Bemused Berserker

    Pretty sure that Austro-Hungary’s loss in the Great War had more to do with Feldmarshall Conrad Hötzendorf’s ineptitude and reliance on 19th century Tactics and Strategy than the Steyr-Mannlicher M95 Rifle.
    Considered by many to be in of the great strategists and tactician of the 19th Century, he failed to adapt to the 20th Centuries changes in war, just as many Generals on both sides failed.
    The Central Powers flat out lacked the resources to fight a prolonged war of attrition. Otherwise if it rested solely on small arms,, the French Chauchat could be called the greatest weapon the Central Powers fielded.

    It took a while and the deaths of several million men before the General Staffs on all sides of the Great War came to the realization, that the days of long lines of men standing a few hundred yards away volley firing had ended.

  2. Chuck

    While in the USMC over half a century ago, we set our battle sights on the M-1 at 300 yards. Aimed at the belt buckle, it would guarantee a hit somewhere on the body of an enemy no matter his height and pretty much no matter the distance out to about 500 yards, assuming your Kentucky windage in the heat of battle was correct. Even if the shot was high the crack of the round as it passed overhead made a lot of folk flop on the ground which helped slow up an assault.

    I agree with Sean. It is possible to unload a partial clip form the M-1 with the clip latch. The biggest drawback to the M-1 was its inability to be able to top off a partial clip. It can be done but requires three hands or very good manual dexterity. Far easier to eject a partial and reload with a full. Partials can be loaded into an M-1. The standard rapid fire course of 10 rounds was to load a partial clip with 2 rounds and then a full clip of 8.

    When standing guard duty with the M-1 we always loaded 7 rounds with an empty chamber. It is possible to override the clip and the top round with 7 rounds in the clip inserted in the magazine. When all else fails, the M-1 had enough heft to make a satisfactory impact weapon.

  3. Bat Ray

    I thank the author for explaining how Austria-Hungary lost WWI. Just because of this rifle? Wow. Thank you, Von Clausewitz. Who knew that WWI was a “tumultuous time”? Great analysis. I hear the Department of War History at Berkeley is hiring.
    The rifle was designed in 1895…yet “out of this mix (WWI)” came the M95??? Do you even know when WWI WAS?
    Shots fired in wartime, under great stress and battle conditions, don’t hurt the shoulder. There are OTHER things to think about. I would want a hard hitting, accurate round like the 8x56R or 8×50. I’m not at my local range in a tee shirt. I’m on the front in my heavy wool coat and the enemy is trying to KILL ME. Wimps like the author should not apply.
    Poor man’s Schmidt-Rubin. Oh, ok. (Cringe.) I think it is as good as, if not smoother than, the Swiss rifles.
    By the way, you seem to denigrate this rifle at every turn. Paces to meters is such a HUGE change for you and it’s clearly too powerful for you. And you obviously don’t know how to use the sights. Yet for all your insults of this fine weapon you STILL call it “venerable”. You realize that means respectable, worthy of respect, don’t you?
    Lastly, I’m not a freak nor a weirdo, but I still like to collect old ammunition. But thanks for telling me I’m not a REAL American. Typical liberal thinking, “if you don’t act like me, you’re WRONG.” Now you’re going to tell me we should plug the en bloc clips so they only hold 3 rounds?
    No respect given to this author.

    • David Reeder

      You mad bro?

  4. randall dunkley

    I like this M-95/30 Carbine. I bought it with a small group of rifles. I had been aware of the “S” rifles but never pursued them. What a great action. I looked forward to shooting it. Had to pay $20.00 for ten rounds just to get the two clips. Research lead me to the system of firing 7.62X54R Winchester cartridges (because I had them already) to fire form the cases to 8X56R since everyone was sold out of re-loadable brass for this cartridge. Works like a charm,a bit short but doesn’t present a problem. Using a Lee bullet mold of .329 #90775 after slugging the bore. Loaded with lubed,hard lead bullets with a charge of 10 grns. of Unique powder it was a mild load that was great fun. The chamber size and throat of these rifles will vary a bit and I had to resize the neck before I could reload the cartridge. Cases should work for 4 reloads before annealing. Gas checks should be used IF you increase the FPS up around 1800 and above. I had no leading of the bore with my load. Great little carbine and an interesting history when used by Storm Troopers in WW1 in 8X50R.

  5. Kenny

    One thing I hope someone can elaborate for me. I’m dutch and before the 2nd world war the Mannlicher M95 was our service rifle. But it was a normal bolt action rifle and not a straight pull. Are there 2 different guns from the same manufacturer with the same name or am I missing something?

    • Ed Jones

      The Dutch rifle was a turn-bolt Mannlicher. It had the same Mannlicher clip system, but not the straight-pull bolt. Romania had a similar design.

    • Chris.

      The Dutch initially commissioned their rifles from Steyr Mannlicher in 1895, which were turn bolts as per their request. Then before the out break of WWI in 1904, the Dutch fully took over production and produced the same gun in the smaller caliber of 6.5x53R instead of the more powerful and original 8x50R cartridge. What the Dutch gun really is, is a hybrid of a M95 and the 1888 ‘split receiver’ Mauser, with the magazine of the M95 essentially being welded to the receiver of an 1888 receiver.

  6. Domenik

    Hello Mike, Thank you for the article on the M 95. I have a question, how difficult are the M 95 to re-barrel.
    Thank you,

  7. Sean

    600 M battle sights? umm Our M1903 Springfields battle sight was 547 Yds adjustable up to 2,800 yds. And the button to send a clip sailing? M1 Garand clip latch does the same thing IF you ever handled one.

    My unit in Baghdad captured a M95 in 7.92 Mauser with a full length Sound suppressor replacing the barrel fitted with a scope base

  8. jonathan nichols

    Like a previous comment on the ladder sight standing up move the slider up and you will find a 300 meter notch. The ladder flipped down is 500 meters.

  9. chris

    Thanks for the work you put into this Mike. I appreciate the time you took to share your knowledge with the internet 🙂

    I just this week picked up an old Mannlicher in 8×57 at an auction and your thoughts don’t make me all warm and fuzzy! That said, I am excited to play around with the old girl as I have never fired one before. Hopefully it doesn’t fall to pieces!

    Anyway, thanks again for the info. Take care!

    Chris from Canada

    • E. Robert

      I bought some in High School, the shortened AUstrian 8x57R, the ammo came wrapped in paper with a thin brown german labeled box containing 2 strippers. A norwegian professor that fought the Nazi invasion as resistance their read it for me and pointed out the austrian and nazi insignia and the ammo and clips are on par with the price of the gun. He offered me a case for an unissued Swiss k31 straight pull bolt, I bought another and obliged. I’t s all fmj naturally and mine cost around 59US when Turn m1938s were sellig at Dunhams for 30US olus tax and 8mmMauser is ubiquitous, I reloaded and the fine mauser sights give me great milk jug hits at 300 yards with no sight elevation every time, piles of deet. My steyr front sight is perhaps off or it’s an issusion due to the stacking rod. The loose action from wear might put a few miniscule powder sprinkles in your face, (or Austrian dust lol). I read that they were cut down from the MBR to be used as home gaurs (Like our Nat lGaurd or Reserves) and I know a man named Tibor Joos that said the civillians gaurding all german prisoners and pows or detainees were issued them. Mine shows good wear. Wouldn’t reccoment it, but I have less than intelligent neighbord that fire .30-.40 Krag ammo out of them instead of buying the wrapped Weatherby priced ammo. Keep the strippers, they are priceless with the markings and the brass is dateed with an Eagle with Swastika in it’s feel as March 1938, the Year moustache annexed the Sudetenland and Poland. Ya know, before Neville Chamberlain gauranteed :Peace in Our Time”. CAI imported the hell out of so much at rock bottom prices, my highschool routine was buying romanian double stacks and any other milsurp rifle Dunham’s could get. If you know of any other PA outlets like this, letme me know. Love that rifle.

  10. John

    My shots were way high at close range too. Then I discovered if you stand up the ladder sight and slide the sight notch all the way up out of the way, you will find another fixed sight notch hidden underneath it at the bottom of the ladder. Use this and you will be on target at 100 yards.
    Also this ammo is insane. Do yourself (and your shoulder and eardrums) a favor and reload lighter ammo for this rifle. I have a good load using IMR 4198 but can’t recall it off the top of my head.

    • E. Robert

      AM I incorrect in wondering if when you found the note that stated that it fired high with the grad sights starting at 6 (600) your friendly seller may have not noticed that the standard battle sight flips the graduated piece all the way forward laying flat, with a fine notch now facing the shooters eve with sight folded forward on the breech. It was thought that main battle would be within this 300yd/meter range and elevation was for (grandiosely overengineered) higher shots. I’m super curios, I’ve been touting this theory.!
      You answered it perfectly, I don’t get people that dont take time with weapons, do a little reading, and inspect and safely manipulate all moving parts before using, especially high tolerance milsurp battle weapons. If you cant take it apart and rebuild it, don’t buy it for a collectors piece. I just got my Enfield 5Mk1 Jungle Carbine together and it took a winter, very over engineered but I’ll never not know hoe a piece fits or in what sequence.

      • 3l120

        My grandmother had a brother who served in the Honved. Met him once and my grandmother translated the conversation. Seems, among other things, the infantry was supposed to aim at the crotch and the hits would be in the chest. Sounds kinda suspicious to me but the conversation took place in 1963, when I was in my first year at ASU.

        • Andrew

          That was probably right, belt buckle was another standard target. They weren’t shooting for groups, they were just trying to make a solid hit.

          The big numbers on the flip up ladder is for volley fire. No one expected your average infantryman to make a hit on an individual target out past 1000m let alone 2000 plus. Also, there is a ~300 m notch at the bottom of the ladder and when you lay the ladder down it’s ~500m battle sight. Pretty typical for the era.

          The Stutzen/carbine versions are a bit of a handful as are all full powered carbines but the m95 Mannlicher was really a good military rifle and was probably the best straight pull military rifle of all.


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