M1867 (and M1867/77) Austrian Werndl (aka Werndl-Holub)

GENERALLY:  This is the rifle that got Styerwerks off the ground! As a result of the obvious superiority of the Dreyese Needle guns shown at the battle of Sadowa, Austria decided to adopt a small calibre metallic cartridge breech loader.  The Austrians knew that the Wanzl conversion of the M1854 Lorenz was a stopgap at best and they engaged in extensive trials to adopt a successor. The Werndl was principally the invention of Karel Holub who associated with Josef Werndl, director of Styerwerks, to manufacture the rifle.  At trials at the Vienna Arsenal, the Remington Rolling Block system was the clear front-runner until submission of the Holub and, when a decision could not be made, both rifles were submitted to the King who, (surprise!) chose the Holub.

PHOTO: The rifle shown is a M1867/77 jeager (light infantry) rifle. It differs from the Infantry rifle only in its pistol grip triggerguard. The "67/77" indicates that the rifle was rebarreled to chamber the improved 11.15x58R bottleneck cartridge (converted from the 11.15x42R) and resighted.  External appearance between the M1867 and M67/77 are very slight.

DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS:  This is a rotating drum-action breech loader that can't easily be missed for anything else. When the hammer is drawn back the longitudinal drum breechblock is rotated on a central pin by means of a flat lever protruding from and integral with the drum. The drum has a section cut out to allow loading of a fresh round and, when loaded, the drum/ block is rotated back, the cut-out being replaced by the solid face of the block. The firing pin is located offset within the block in a manner reminicent of the Snider and Trapdoor blocks and recessed within the block allowing the block to pivot within the receiver.

Top: Muzzle of the M1873 Werndl infantry Rifle.  Bottom: M1867/77 Werndl Rifle


This view of the Werndl rear sight leaves little doubt as to how virtually identical it is to the M1879 Argentine Remington Rolling Block.  Remington scholars have questioned why the Argentine sight is so different from every other Remington made Military Rolling block. I suggest that the Argentines had a very close connection with the Austrians and simply considered their sight superior. In any event, the Werndl rear sight is about interchangeable with the M1879 Argentine rear sight.  (If anyone has any additional information I would sincerely appreciate it.


 Breech and barrel markings from two different M1867/77 rifles, (above and below)
   An early production rifle and a later production.


Page Revised: June 29, 1997
Revised March 7, April 16, 1999
Revised May 7, 2000

Updated: Oct 28, 2021