September 2001:

Austrian War Ensign, 1897
The Mannlicher Model 95 Straight Pull Magazine Rifle
Austrian War Ensign, 1897
Mannlicher Model 1895 and Accessories
Type:  Straight Pull Bolt Action Rifle
System of Operation:  Manual
Caliber:  8x50mmR (later 8x56mmR)
Capacity:  5 round en-bloc clip
Sights, front: Drift Adjustable Blade 
Sights, rear:  V-notch on ladder, adjustable from 300 - 2600 schritt or 500 - 2000 meters
Length: 50"
Weight (unloaded): 8.9 lbs
Barrel: 30.12", 4 grooves, right hand twist, 1 turn in 9.842"

The Mannlicher Model 1895 Infantry Rifle was initially adopted in 1895 by Austria, Bulgaria, and Greece, and was the standard Austrian service arm during World War One.  Huge number of Model 95's were surrendered to the Italians as part of the peace treaty that ended Hapsburg participation in that conflict.  These rifles surfaced again in the hands of Italian troops during World War Two, and were also used by Austrian formations within the Wehrmacht as well as by government and resistance forces wherever Austro-Hungarian influence had been prevalent.

The most widely used and well known of Mannlicher's rifle designs, the Model 95 evolved from the earlier Model 90 carbine, and shares the same fundamental design characteristics.  There were minor mechanical improvements, however, most notably in the shape of the striker nut, and of course those involved in converting the earlier design from that of a carbine to a rifle.  The rifle was designed to use the standard 8x50mmR Austrian Army cartridge.  Due to the development of new metallurgy at the Steyr factory during the rifle's development, the Model 95 used a

8x56mmR Ammunition in Clip M31 8x56mmR
ammunition in en bloc clip
8x56mmR Headstamps - Before and after the Anschluss
M31 8x56mmR ammunition headstamps
before (left) and after (right) the Anschluss
much lighter and thinner barrel than previous smokeless powder designs.  By shortening the receiver and the magazine and using a revolving bolt head locking mechanism, the designers were able to reduce the Model 95's weight by about 1.75 pounds from previous Austrian service rifles.  Originally chambered for the 8x50mmR Austro-Hungarian service cartridge, many Model 95's were rechambered for the improved and more powerful 8x56mmR M31 cartridge in the 1930's.  This rechambering gave the Model 95 and its carbine and short rifle variants accuracy and striking power comparable to any other contemporary infantry rifle.

The Design and Components
The heart of the rifle, the receiver, is milled out to the rear of the barrel, which is screwed and torqued into it, to form the locking lug recesses.  There is a long slot cut in the receiver's tang for the sear and ejector, while further to the rear, a transverse slot is milled so that the trigger horns can project through it.  The receiver tang is also grooved to accept the cocking piece guide stud, and on either side of this groove there is an undercut groove in which the feathered portions of the bolt slide so as to provide rotation during the straight pull and push motion of the bolt handle.

M95 Receiver Tang
M95 Receiver Tang
The rearward motion of the bolt is arrested when the feathered portions contact projecting horns on the trigger; this also serves to prevent the bolt from being inadvertently removed from the receiver during rearward motion.  (Pulling the trigger forward will permit easy removal of the bolt.)  A groove on the right side of the receiver is slightly cut away to permit the empty case to be ejected and to enable the magazine to be rapidly loaded.

The barrel has a noticeable taper, diminishing in diameter from the chamber end towards the muzzle and is screwed into the receiver with a standard right hand thread.  The front sight block is part of a sleeve affixed to the barrel by means of a

cross-pin.  The front sight itself is of barleycorn design which is dovetailed into the sight block perpendicular to the axis of the barrel.  The rear sight bed fits around the barrel and is secured to the barrel by means of a crosspin.  The rear sight itself has two components.  When folded, a fixed V-notch battlesight, graduated to 500 schritt (paces) is presented to the shooter.  When the rear sight leaf is raised, an adjustable V-notch graduated by hundreds for ranges between 600 and 2,600 schritt is presented.
M95 Rear Sight
M95 Rear Sight

The Straight Pull Bolt
The bolt proper consists of the hollow bolt body with the bolt head inserted from the front.  The rear portion of the bolt body is heavily reinforced and carries the horizontally projecting bolt handle.  On either side of the bolt body are ribs that move in corresponding raceways in the receiver.  At the lower forward edge are two projections that produce the revolution required to lock and unlock the action.  At the rear of the bolt is a small safety projection with a groove in it for the ejector to rest on when the bolt is closed.

M95 Bolt Bottom
M95 Bolt Bottom. Note Czech acceptance stamp on bolt root
M95 Bolt Top
M95 Bolt Top
The rear portion of the reinforced area of the bolt is milled out to receive the nose of the cocking piece.  The cocking piece is separated in the bolt from the bolt head by a collar secured by a screw.  A point on this collar projects into the firing pin hole where it bears against a flat on the firing pin to prevent the firing pin's rotation.  The center section of the bolt cylinder has two helical cams on the inner surfaces that work on corresponding grooves in the tail of the bolt head. There is also an internal groove to receive the extractor, and the locking and safety bolt is positioned on the left side of the bolt cylinder reinforce.

The bolt head is composed of the head itself, which projects beyond the face of the bolt body and a tail which enters the hollow body.  Two cam shaped locking lugs are machined into the the head of the bolt.  These enter their recesses in the receiver after passing along the cam shaped travel grooves and hold the bolt head firmly against the cartridge head when locked.  The bolt head has a groove milled into it for the ejector, as well as helical grooves in which the bolt body cams ride.  Each of the helical grooves has a small groove leading out in the direction of the length of the bolt, forward and rear.

The striker spring (which is coiled to a length of about five inches) and the striker within it are housed in the bolt head.  The rear end of the tail of the bolt head is closed by a screw plug against which the striker spring bears at the rear while the striker passes through the plug hole.  The front end of the mainspring bears against a collar on the striker.

The Extractor
The Model 95's extractor is a long, flat spring housed in the right rib of the bolt cylinder.  The front end fits over the right locking lug and ends in a broad hook that grasps the rim of the cartridge case.  The rear end has a small nib on the underside engaging in the longitudinal grooves in the tail of the bolt head.  When the breech is closed, this nib engages in the longitudinal groove at the top of the bolt head tail, but when the bolt is pulled to the rear, the nib rises out of the groove, and when the bolt makes a ninety degree turn to the left, it seats in the opposite groove.  At this point the right lug is under the extractor head and the extractor is pulled to the rear by the bolt.

The Model 95 extractor is of the controlled feed type where the extractor snaps over the rim of the top cartridge in the magazine while the bolt is advancing to push the cartridge into the chamber.  Since the cartridge is thus held securely during all forward and backward motions of the bolt, save at time of ejection it makes it impossible to "double load" and jam the rifle.

Fire Control Mechanism
The cocking piece which works in the rear end of the bolt body screws on to the end of the striker.  It has a groove in the left side into which the safety locking bolt can engage when it is used to lock the action.  The safety can only be engaged when the action is cocked.  When the striker is at full cock and the locking bolt thumb piece is turned, the locking bolt is thrust between the front face of the cocking piece and the rear face of the bolt cylinder.  The tip of the lock is cam shaped, and as a result, when thrust into position it forces the cocking stud back out of engagement with the sear to prevent the rifle from being fired accidentally, and pulling the trigger will not discharge the rifle.  The locking bolt is fastened to the reinforced area of the bolt cylinder by a screw, a system adapted from the Mannlicher Models 1888 and 1890.

The ejector is pivoted to the front of the sear body, with the lower end forced forward by the action of a small spiral spring and its upper end pressing the sear and the sear nose backward.  The upper end of the ejector is somewhat depressed by the bolt, and the spring therefore partially compressed, thus providing tension to enable the sear and sear nose to function.  The sear has two parts, a body and a nose pivoted on the same pin which passes through the receiver.  The sear nose fits into a slot cut into the receiver.  The trigger is a bell crank lever whose long arm projects downward through the trigger guard as a finger piece while the short arm terminates in a hook which engages the rear of the sear.  The cross piece has two arms that project into the path of the bolt so as to prevent inadvertent withdrawal is set at an angle.  The trigger is not pivoted to the receiver, but supported in its groove in the receiver by the sear.

Firing Sequence
When the bolt is drawn to the rear, it moves only in a straight line and cannot revolve due to the ribs on its underside moving within the corresponding linear grooves in the receiver, and the cocking piece moving within the tang groove.  As the bolt is drawn to the rear the bolt head cannot begin rearward movement until the locking lugs have been turned out of engagement with the locking lug recesses in the receiver.  The necessary rotation is effected by the twisting motion given to the tail of the bolt head by the helical projections on the inside of the bolt body working on the grooves on the bolt head tail.

Primary extraction is effected by the cam shape of the locking lug recesses.  At the same time, the first movement of the bolt to the rear partly compresses the striker spring.  The turning bolt lugs assist in the rearward motion of the bolt.  Cartridges are stored in an en bloc clip within the triggerguard/magazine and forced upward  by a spring loaded follower.  The bottom rear of the magazine is open to permit the empty clip to fall out when the last round is chambered.  Interestingly the Mannlicher clip is a "one way" device that can only be inserted if held in the proper vertical orientation.  The front of the magazine bottom is closed by a trough piece secured by a screw.  The magazine follower is pivoted at the front end of this trough and is actuated by a strong flat spring attached by a screw to the rear end of the trough.  As the loaded clip is inserted from above, the bottom cartridge depresses the follower.  During operation of the rifle, the spring thrusts the cartridges up.  A clip release is provided; when the action is open, pressing the catch at the forward end of the triggerguard will withdraw the locking hook at its upper end from engagement with the clip and permit the follower to drive the loaded or partly loaded clip out of the top of the action.

When the bolt head has rotated far enough to disengage the lugs from the recesses, the lugs are then in line with the ribs on the bolt body.  From that point onward, the entire bolt assembly moves directly to the rear.  Rearward motion is halted when the feathers on the underside of the bolt strike the horns projecting from the trigger into the receiver.  The cartridge case being extracted is held firmly by the extractor until it strikes the ejector and is hurled from the rifle.

Forward motion of the bolt handle reverses the sequence.  The sear nose catches the stud of the cocking piece to complete compression of the striker spring.  The bolt studs force the bolt head to twist into the locked position as a cartridge is driven into the chamber.

Squeezing the trigger lowers the nose of the sear to release the cocking stud and permit the striker to move forward under pressure from the spring.  The front of the sear body is then elevated into the boltway behind the safety projection at the rear end of the underside of the bolt, positively preventing any rearward movement when the rifle is being fired.  Additionally, when the bolt is slid forward, the safety projection slides over the forward edge of the sear to prevent it from rising, thus preventing accidental firing and insuring that the rifle cannot be fired until the head is fully forward and the lugs locked into their recesses.  In the event of a misfire, the striker can be manually cocked without having to open the bolt and the shot retaken.

Despite its length, the Model 95 rifle feels surprisingly light.  This is due to the long, thin barrel and the use of a comparatively thin stock and fore-end, which distribute the rifle's weight quite evenly along its length.  Well balance, the M95 comes easily to the shoulder and has a natural pointability akin to that of the Tokarev SVT-40, the M1 Garand and the Dragunov SVD.

For those used to Mauser or Enfield bolts, the straight pull action feels jerky and rough at first.  Indeed, we found it almost impossible to operate the rifle without powering the bolt back and forth.   While the action may not be ideal for snipers or other employment where the need for stealth is paramount, it is one of the fastest bolt actions we've ever tried.  On the range we were able to fire thirteen rounds to the Mauser's five and the Enfield's eight during a speed test, a feat more impressive given that the Mannlicher had the most stout recoil of the three.

Speaking of recoil. . . the Model 95 we tested was chambered for the 8x56mmR cartridge.  This round pumps a 208 grain bullet downrange at approximately 2,350 feet per second, which puts it right in the ball park with the .303 British (174 grains, 2,440 fps) and 7.92x57mm Mauser sS (198 grains, 2,500 fps).  Despite these ballistic similarities, the Model 95 easily had the heaviest recoil when compared to a No. 1 Mk. III* Enfield and a Gewehr 98.  Not enough to be painful, but definitely enough to make even the most recoil inured shooter stand up and take notice.

The big "if" for the casual shooter in terms of accuracy with a Model 95 is sight in.  The sights really ARE graduated for 500 paces, and shooting at a 100 yard target can leave the shooter frustrated and perplexed as to why there aren't any impacts on the target.  We affixed a 2" orange dot to a sheet of newsprint and were able to see groupings that struck about seven inches above the point of aim.   Average groups using 1938 surplus ammunition were about 2.9".  Our best group was a cloverleaf of about 1.1".

Bolt removal is easy - just push the trigger forward and pull the bolt out.  Bolt disassembly is a bit more . . . challenging and should not be attempted without a very cogent set of instructions, lest .  We've reprinted Cody Wykert's excellent article on stripping the Model 95 bolt below:

For Assembly Info Click Here

Step 1 - Remove the bolt
Put the safety lever in the "fire" position and pull the bolt as far back as it will go.  Perform standard safety checks here, making sure the rifle is unloaded, etc..  Now push the trigger forward, hold it there, and quickly pull the bolt backwards out of the receiver.  If it doesn't come completely out, the bolt head is trying to rotate and is slightly binding under spring pressure.  Wiggle the bolt around while pulling it back and keep the trigger pressed forward.  It should eventually slide out.
Push the trigger forward to remove the bolt.

Step 2 - Rotate the bolt head
The bolt head may, or may not retract inward from spring pressure when the bolt is removed from the receiver.  If it does not, you will need to tap on it with a soft-faced hammer.  I use the rubber coated handle of my $10 Kmart driver.  Try to avoid hitting the extractor.  You want the bolt head to be retracted inward for disassembly.
Bolt head in outward position.
Bolt head being tapped.
Bolt head retracted inward.

Step 3 - Unscrew the cocking piece
Hold the bolt so you can manipulate the safety lever with your index finger.  Hold the safety lever halfway between "safe" and "fire" positions.  With your other hand, grab the cocking piece and pull it back.  Now move the safety lever into the "safe" position and hold it there while unscrewing the cocking piece.  After about 8 revolutions, you can lift the safety lever slightly and let the cocking piece retract back into the bolt body.  This makes the last few turns easier.
Hold the safety lever at halfway position.
Pull cocking piece back (heavy spring pressure).
Hold safety lever in the "safe" position while unscrewing cocking piece (counter-clockwise).
Cocking piece removed.

Step 4 - Remove the bolt head assembly and extractor
Grasp the bolt as shown below.  Rotate the head 90 degrees clock-wise and push the assembly out with your thumb at the same time, until it "clicks".  At this point you can pull the head assembly out with brute force, or very carefully tap it out from the back, being conscientious of the threads.
Hold the bolt like this.
Turn the bolt head clockwise while pushing the assembly out with your thumb.
Kmart wonder driver to the rescue.  The hollow tip fits perfectly over the rear of the firing pin shaft.   A rap on the drive handle pushes the entire assembly out.
Bolt head assembly and extractor separated from bolt body.

Step 5 - Take down the bolt head assembly
The spring inside this assembly in under a lot of tension.  Hang on tight!
Unscrew the retainer as shown below.
Unscrewing the retainer.
Components of the bolt head assembly.

Miscellaneous Info
At this point the bolt is almost completely taken down.  There are two part that I don't mess with.  If you look inside the bolt body (breech side), you can see a bushing that the firing pin shaft passes through.  I can't see a reason for removing it unless it's damaged.  Besides, it's appears to have a pin passing through it that's been ground flush with the outer bolt surface.  Also, the screw holding the safety lever in place has been punched.  It's not coming out without being drilled.
Slots in the bushing.
Pin holding bushing in place.
Screw holding safety lever in place


 Step 1 - Put the bolt head assembly back together
Undo everything you did in step 5 above.  When the retainer is fully screwed into place, it's grooves will probably NOT align with those on the bolt head's shaft.  This is ok.  Just unscrew it until the grooves line up.
Retainer tightened completely down.  Grooves are not aligned.
Unscrew retainer until it's grooves line up with those on the bolt.

 Step 2 - Orient the firing pin
Notice that the firing pin shaft has a flat slide.  Orient the flat side of the firing pin so it is facing the same direction as the notch in the bolt head. 
Flat side of firing pin shaft.
Firing pin oriented for assembly.

Step 3 - Install bolt head into bolt body
Note: Hold the safety lever in the "safe" position during this procedure.
With the flat side of the firing pin shaft aligned towards the bolt handle, insert the head assembly into the bolt body.  If everything is aligned just right, the bolt head will smoothly slide into the body, rotating counter-clockwise as it goes in.  If it doesn't completely slide into the bolt body, follow the directions below.
Hole that firing pin shaft passes through.
Insert the bolt head into the bolt body as shown.
If it goes in about this far and then stops...
...push in and turn clockwise.  In about 1/3 revolution it should slide in a bit like this.
Now, keep pushing in and turn it counter-clockwise.  In about 1/2 revolution it should slide into the bolt body.
When the bolt head is fully seated and properly aligned, it will look like this.  Notice that the notch in the head faces away from the bolt handle.

Step 4 - Install the extractor
With the bolt head extended to the position shown below, put the extractor into it's slot and push it into place.  Rotate the bolt head counter-clockwise while simultaneously pushing it into the bolt body, until it "clicks" into place.  Keep the safety lever in the "safe" position during this procedure.
Putting the extractor into its slot.
Pushing the extractor into place.  Bolt head is extended about 1 inch.  Notice that slot in bolt head is almost lined up with the extractor slot.
Rotating the bolt head counter-clockwise until it "clicks."
Thumb holding safety lever in "safe" position.

 Step 5 - Seat the bolt head
Now give the bolt head a rap with a soft faced hammer and rotate it into the retracted position.
Rap on the bolt head ... 
... until it turns counter-clockwise and seats.

Step 6 - Install the cocking piece
Hold the safety lever at the halfway position and screw the cocking piece onto the firing pin shaft until it touches the bolt body.  Now pull the cocking piece back and move the safety lever into the "safe" position.  Let the cocking piece move inward under spring pressure.  Holding the safety lever in the "safe" position, screw the cocking piece onto the rear of the firing pin shaft.  If it's tab doesn't line up the the notch in the bolt body when fully tightened, just unscrew it a 1/3 turn or so until it does.  Pull the cocking piece back and move the safety lever to it's halfway position.  Let the cocking piece move inward.
Hold the safety lever at the halfway position...
...and screw the cocking piece onto the firing pin until it touches the bolt body.
Now pull the cocking piece back and move the safety lever to the "safe" position.
Let the cocking piece retract inward while holding the safety lever at the "safe" position.
Screw the cocking piece fully on.  If it doesn't line up properly...
...unscrew it about 1/3 turn until the cocking piece tab line up with the notch in the bolt body.
Now put the safety lever at the halfway position and let the cocking piece move inward.

Step 7 - Extend the bolt head
NOTE: Wipe any oil off the bolt so you can get a good grip on it.  The bolt head must be in the extended position for installation in the rifle.  I find it easiest to accomplish this by holding the bolt in my left hand and pressing against the extractor with my thumb.  Then I grab the bolt head with my right hand and pull it outward while turning it clockwise simultaneously until it "clicks" into place and locks.

The trick is to push with your left thumb and pull with your right hand at the same time.

The bolt may now be installed in the rifle.

Holding bolt in left hand with thumb on extractor
Pull & rotate bolt head clockwise until it "clicks" into place.

The Mannlicher Model 95 straight pull rifle served admirably for almost fifty years, and saw service in two world wars as well as a number of post-war "wars of national liberation."  It was a reliable, accurate and hard hitting rifle that was well liked by the troops who carried it.  Moreover, it boasted one of the fastest actions ever devised for a manually operated rifle.  Despite this, the design fell by the historical wayside, overshadowed by they wildly more popular (and more marketed) Mauser design.  However, it's interesting to speculate as to how successful the design might have become had the Hapsburg empire survived the First World War.  One only has to look to the Swiss use of the Schmidt-Rubin as an example of the longevity of the straight pull rifles.

Current availability of the carbine and short rifle variants of the M95 is quite good, with prices that are very reasonable.  Infantry long rifles are available, but are somewhat harder to find and command slightly higher prices.  Ammunition is also available, and can occasionally be found for as little as eight cents per round in volume.


Smith, Walter H.B., Mannlicher Rifles and Pistols, (Military Service Publishing Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:  1947)

Mannlicher Rifles and Pistols is an out of print volume.  You can search for it on any of many out of print search engines on the 'Net.
Mannlicher Rifles and Pistols

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