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

(Infanteriegewehr und Jägergewehre Modell 1867)

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An Original  M1867 Werndl built in 1868

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A M1867 built in 1871 converted to M1867/77

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

  Austria is today a landlocked country in the heart of central Europe which, over the centuries, has also been at the heart of political and military turmoil.  To give you an idea of how tumultuous the 19th to the 20th century was for Austria, consider that of the seven different countries bordering Austria today (Switzerland to the east, Bavarian Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary on the East, Slovenia and Venetian Italy to the south), only Switzerland existed in 1864, the year Austria uneasily followed its German Confederation ally Prussia, against the Danes during the Second Schleswig War.

 

   For 600 years, from 1282 to its final humbling after the First World War in 1918, Austria had been a possession of the Hapsburg family, and for those six centuries Austria’s history was completely entwined with Hapsburg history. Over the centuries, a succession of wars gradually but continuously whittled away at the Austrian Empire.

 

   A turning point accelerating Austria’s decline came with the “Seven Weeks War” of 1866, in which Austria was soundly defeated by Prussia, forced out of political affairs with the German confederation, and gave up its control over Venetian, Italy.  

 

After the disastrous Seven Weeks War, the Austro-Hungarian army was reorganized into three components:

   1st) the K.undK. Armee (Kaiserlich und Koniglich--Imperial and Royal) being the Common Army, made up of draftees from both countries;  

   2nd)  The K.K. Landwehr (Kaiserlich-Koniglich--Imperial/Royal) made up of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, who resided in Austria;

   3rd)  The Hungarian Honvedseg, (K. Landwehr, Koniglich - Royal), which was composed exclusively of Magyars and those minorities residing in Hungary. 

  We mention these units because they are regularly referenced in the buttplate unit markings on most all Austrian Werndls, as noted in MARKINGS below. 

   Except during time of war, the K.K. Landwehr and Honvedseg were under the respective control of the Parliament in Vienna and the Hungarian Diet in Budapest.  This neither was a recipe for success, as WWI would very amply demonstrate.

 

  In 1867, Hungarian nationalists took advantage of Austria’s weakness and forced Emperor Franz Josef I to sign an agreement giving Hungary equal rights with Austria. Called the “Dual Monarchy,” (surprisingly parallel to that of Norway-Sweden during the same era) the Austrian empire and the kingdom of Hungary were united under one ruler, combining foreign affairs, war and the treasury, but each had separate governments. This left both the Slavs in the Empire and Magyars of Hungary under the rule of the German speaking Austrians, resulting in years of struggle for independence.  This eventually culminated in the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, then heir to the Austrian throne. This assassination set off WWI, at the conclusion of which, Austria-Hungary was carved into the new states of Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, with other parts of the Empire going to Italy, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia.  It was in all of this turmoil that the Werndl rifle was born, and with it the small arms manufacturing powerhouse which would grow up to become Steyr.

GENERALLY

(Note:  Info on the M1873 & M1873/77 Werndls can be found at this link.)

    The Werndl (note that this rifle’s pronunciation should be “verndle,” rhymes with the composer Wagner (Vagner!)) was principally the invention of Karel Holub (1830-1903) who associated with Josef Werndl, director of Gewehr Fabrikanten Werndl (Werndl Rifle Works), which would later become Öesterreich Waffenfabrik Gesellschaft [OEWG, Austria Arms Factory Company] in Steyr, Austria, later still to become Steyrwerks, and eventually just Steyr, to manufacture the rifle. 

 

   Steyr is as important to the history of European and world arms as is Remington, and produced just as many rifles in this period.  The Werndl is Steyr’s initial foray into small arms for national armies, and the Werndl rifle is the piece that got Steyr off the ground and made everything else possible.

 

  The man who would give his name to this improbable rifle, built in the hundreds of thousands, was himself the heir to a rich manufacturing family tradition. His father had been a successful toolmaker in the relatively small Upper Austrian village of Steyr who added gun parts manufacturing to the business.  He was successful enough to allow young Josef to travel extensively where he would be exposed to a variety of European business models and, critically, to current English and especially American manufacturing systems as well, gaining valuable experience and insights from time spent at Colt’s and Remington’s facilities.

 

   At the time of his return to Steyr (1853) and his sudden thrust into running a large manufacturing concern (his father died in 1855), the family business already employed some 500 skilled workmen.  A remarkably able administrator as well as promoter, Josef Werndl reorganized his company along modern industrial lines adopting the mass production techniques he had witnessed during his travels, with a focus on supplying small arms parts to the European trade on a mass produced scale.

 

   Werndl’s foreman and chief designer was also remarkably talented.  During his military service Karl Holub gained his initial experience being assigned to the Austrian arsenal in Vienna and thereafter was worked in one of the manufactories of Steyr which was already the hub of a significant industrial and manufacturing area.  In 1861 Holub went to work for Werndl and they jointly began development work on a modern cartridge breechloader. In 1863, at the height of the American Civil War, they together traveled to several arms manufacturers in the United States, including Colt's where Holub would acquire personal exposure to arms design and mass production. 

 

   Recognizing the value of the newly emerging metallic cartridge, Werndl set the creative and skilled Holub the task of designing a new breechloader while he and his brother incorporated a new business to handle small arms, as distinct from merely parts.  This company, Josef und Franz Werndl & Comp. Waffenfabrik und Sägemühle, was the predecessor to OEWG, eventually Steyr.    During 1866 Holub designed and refined what would become the company's breakthrough breechloader.  In the meantime, European events were transpiring that would offer Werndl the opportunity of a lifetime.

 

   As a result of the obvious superiority displayed by the breechloading Dreyse guns pitted against the Austrian muzzle-loading Lorenz rifles at the battle of Sadowa (an Austrian disaster during the Seven Weeks War of 1866), Austria decided to adopt a “small caliber,” metallic cartridge breech loader of its own.  A very great number of Lorenz rifles were supplied to the warring armies of the US Civil War (the Lorenz was the 3rd most used rifle of that war) but large stores remained in Austria.

 

   In 1867, Austria elected to convert the army's vast stores of M.1854 Lorenz rifled muskets into breechloaders by means of a lifting block breech system named for its designer, Vienna gunmaker Franz Wänzl.  The Wänzl rifle was adopted as the Infanterie-Gewehr M.1854/67 Wänzl chambered for a rimfire cartridge.

 

   The Austrians knew that their immediate fix, the Austrian Wänzl conversion of the Lorenz, was a stopgap measure at best, and they engaged in extensive trials to adopt a successor.  A number of state-of-the-art designs vied in the trials, including the Remington Rolling Block system, the Peabody and various European designs.  Although the Holub designed and Werndl promoted M.1867 Werndl was entered late, it was nevertheless in time to be considered.

 

   During initial trials at the Vienna Arsenal, the Remington was the clear front‑runner until submission of the Holub design.  Indeed, such was the borrowing of ideas and technology at the time that the Holub trials rifle was originally submitted for operation with a Remington rimfire cartridge.  In a marketing stroke clearly the equal of Sam Colt or Remington's, Werndl "patriotically" offered his new rifle to Austria free of all patent fees and claims.  Of course, Werndl’s company would be the only firm capable of actually producing the rifle in the numbers needed by Austria's huge army and reserves.  While possibly apocryphal, the Werndl adoption story is that when a decision could not be made, both rifles (the Remington and the Werndl) were submitted to Emperor Franz Joseph I, who, not surprisingly, chose the Holub.  (In 1874, after adoption of the improved M.1873 Werndl, Holub’s contributions were acknowledged with his being awarded of the Knight's Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph, an exceptional decoration for anyone not a military officer or otherwise of high social status.)  While the emperor certainly would have had a hand in the process for such an important decision, there were both economic and national reasons why adopting a local product for domestic manufacture would be hugely desirable.  The rifle need not be the very best possible rifle; it only needed to be good enough.  The new Werndl rifle was good enough, thus jump-starting one of the great arms manufacturing concerns of Europe. 

 

   Thus in 1867 the company secured an initial contract for 100,000 of the new rifles, soon followed by a subsequent order for 150,000 additional rifles. This necessitated substantial expansion of the Werndl company which soon grew to 6,000 employees.  In August of 1869 the firm “went public” as Österreichische Waffenfabrik AG (OEWG) headed by Werndl.   Note that M1867 Werndl rifles initially produced bear the name “WERNDL” across the top of the receiver ring.  Those produced after the reorganization of the company are receiver marked “OEWG” in lieu of the earlier “WERNDL”.  Please see the photos under MARKINGS, below.  Within a few years, OEWG was producing a variety of rifles on contract from nations around the world including Europe and South America, growing to an output of as high as 8,000 rifles per week during the late 1870s and 1880s.

   Werndl was an extraordinary man even outside the realm of small arms.  Like the American tycoons of the early 20th Century Ford and Hershey, he was considerably more committed to his employees than was usually the case, paid higher than prevailing salaries, built modern housing for his workers and provided free health care.

   Wide-ranging in his interests he was a major promoter of electrification and water-powered electric generation.  A division of OEWG manufactured arc lamps and electric street lighting.  With Steyr as his showcase, the city became the first in Europe to be illuminated with electric street lighting, courtesy of Werndl.

   For the most part, the Werndl is a conventional military rifle of the day but with a uniquely creative metallic cartridge action. Its early version is fitted with a back-action lock powering a conventional hammer, but the receiver is a large, hollowed-out fist of steel, left unblued,  enclosing a solid cylindrical drum rotating on a central axis pin, one side of which is scooped out to form a loading ramp and to expose access to the chamber.  Its early cartridge owes some of its design to Remington’s cartridge of the day, being mostly straight-walled with only a slight taper to aid extraction.  Back sights were an un-notable ramp-and-leaf variety, and the remaining features were also completely conventional.    

 

   From about 1870, the lower trigger guard tang was altered to incorporate a significant finger spur type of “pistol grip” formed from a folding of the lower tang itself.  The spur is substantial, curving downward, and readily noticeable.  All Werndls after late 1869 are fitted with this trigger guard spur, and these later rifles were issued to Austrian units without regard to whether they were straight infantry, Jäeger (skirmishers, light infantry) or otherwise.   This is simply a later rifle improvement.

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The lower trigger guard tang of the early M.1867 Werndl rifles.

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The lower trigger guard tang of Werndl rifles after late 1869.

  As a result of stocks cracking at the wrist (most commonly in the area between the upper front of the lock and the receiver), the Werndl was redesigned to bring the hammer inside the lock mechanism and to merge the lock and receiver, thus eliminating all of the space (and, of course, the thin wood) from between the lock and receiver.  This greatly strengthened the design, and this design was adopted and put into production as the M.73 Werndl discussed in greater detail at the link.

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Photo of a M.1867 Werndl with a ubiquitously typical cracked wrist, this condition being one of the reasons underlying the development of the improved M1873 Werndl.

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Left: M.1867 and Right: M. 1873

   Beginning in 1877, all Werndl infantry rifles (including both the earlier 1867 models discussed here and the later 1873 models discussed at the link above) began undergoing a program of updating to modify them for use with the new and significantly more powerful M1877 cartridge.  The earlier cartridge was the straight walled 11.15x42R.  The improved cartridge is the longer and larger 11.15x58R bottleneck cartridge, substantially copied from the French M1874 Gras cartridge (indeed the Werndl cartridge can be utilized in the Gras rifle, although this one-way use fireforms the cartridge shoulder to the Gras dimensions and it doesn’t work in the other direction).  Modifications entailed a bit of re-manufacturing of the breech as well as re-chambering the barrel to accommodate the significantly longer cartridge.  The breech block locking wedge, at the back of the action, was originally fitted with a small steel nipple located on the rear face of the breech retainer wedge.  This nipple was used to secure a leather cover over the action, which was later found to be superfluous.  This nipple is discarded and the bowl shaped loading ramp of the breech block and the breech block retaining wedge are cut more deeply to create easier access to the chamber for the long cartridge.  The rear sight, discussed in more detail below, was replaced with a larger and heavier sight with increased ranges and secondary sight leaf extension.

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Loading ramp area of a M1867/77 modified Werndl (above) and an original M1867 Werndl (below).   Note how much  larger the loading area of the M1867/77 is.  Also note that the threaded nipple hole is still visible in the modified M1867/77 after modification (above).  The breech-cover nipple remains present on the original M1867 (below).

  Because Austria, as a major European power, still possessed very large stocks of the M.1867 Werndl’s original cartridges, the 11.15x42R, Austria held back a quantity of earlier rifles from converting to the newer M.1877  11.15x58R cartridge.  It order to differentiate clearly for the troops the older, unaltered  rifles from the large majority which had been converted, the receiver rings of some unaltered M.1867 rifles were stamped with a large “O P.”  See more info and pic at the end of DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS, below.

 

   Werndls were gradually phased out with the introduction of the M1886 Austrian Mannlicher, interestingly chambered for the very same M1877 cartridge as the altered Werndls, and its small bore follow-on, the M1888 Austrian Mannlicher.  However, Werndls were still issued to secondary forces and saw field use as late as World War I.

 

OPERATING MECHANISM

  Operating the Werndl is comparatively similar to operating the M1866 British Snider, perhaps simpler. An external hammer design, the Werndl is first brought to half-cock. The longitudinal drum breechblock is rotated on a central pin, located just below the barrel chamber, by means of a flat lever protruding from, and integral with, the drum. The thumb lever, which is a part of the drum breechblock, is rotated counter-clockwise through about sixty degrees. This brings into view one “face” of the drum which has a large groove dished out of it, allowing the cartridge to be chambered via thumb-pressing when the drum is rotated to the open position, but sealing the breech when the drum is rotated in the opposite direction.  When loaded, the drum/ block is rotated clockwise back into battery, the cut‑out being replaced by the solid face of the block.

 

   The firing pin is located offset and diagonally within the block in a manner reminiscent of the 1866 British Snider and M1866 Springfield Trapdoor blocks, and recessed within the drum block, allowing the block to rotate freely within the receiver to the limits of the thumb lever but exposing it to the hammer when in battery. 

 

  Firing is straightforward. The conventional external hammer is driven by an equally conventional back-action lock and trigger.  Bring the hammer back to full cock and pull the trigger.

 

   After firing, extraction takes place by operation of a rather intricately shaped extractor which rides in a diagonal (more helical-like) groove in the outer radius of the breechblock, effectively camming out the spent case. If done quickly, the spring tensioned drum breech rotation will cleanly eject the spent case back out of the action totally clear of the rifle and over the shooter’s shoulder.   It’s quite cool to watch.

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DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

  The Werndl is a rotating drum‑action breech loader that can't easily be mistaken for anything else.  The photos provide a better explanation of the unique character of this rifle than any text could.

 

   The breach block consists of a relatively large drum that rotates longitudinally along the axis of the bore by means of a prominent thumb lever affixed to the outside of the drum.  The center of the drum is directly below the barrel chamber.  One side of the drum has a large cut-out that, in loading or ejecting position, allows cartridge access to the chamber.  When pivoted and closed, a solid face of the drum is presented to the chamber sealing in the cartridge.

 

   Aside from the unique action, the Werndl is quite conventional.  The stock is one piece walnut, and mounts two screw-retained barrel bands and a simple nosecap.  The end cap is about 32mm (1¼ in.) behind the bayonet lug, which itself is fitted 100mm (3 7/8in.) back from the muzzle.  The stock does not extend especially far along the barrel, leaving about 150mm (5 7/8 in.) exposed.  This leaves the cleaning rod, a usual type with a smooth, plain, cylindrical slotted head, mounted conventionally below the barrel being noticeably exposed.  A bayonet lug without tenon is fitted along the right side of the barrel to mount the M1869 Werndl Sabre Bayonet to the right of the barrel.  Screw-retained sling swivels lay below the upper band and about 4 inches forward of the butt plate on the underside of the stock.

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  M1867 and M1867/77 receivers are rounded on either side. The hammer is externally mounted on the right side of the receiver and powered by a conventional back-action lock affixed to the stock with a bolt at the front and wood screw at the back.  The top of the rear sight ladder has a wedge which faces the back, but not the front, as part of the sight notch. The rear sight base has three progressive lobes on the sight base walls and the left base wall is numbered 2-5.

 

   The firing pin is a straight pin of three gradually decreasing diameters, the thicker portion maintaining a retracting spring. Note that the rear end of the firing pin, the face which is struck by the hammer, is slotted for a screwdriver, but the firing pin does not unscrew!  The slot is merely to aid in loosening the pin in the event of it becoming jammed or fouled as, should the firing pin fail to retract, the drum breech block could not be rotated open rendering the rifle inoperable.   

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Photo of a M1873/77 Werndl, but offered to illustrate the back end of the slotted firing pin.  The slot is only to be able to loosen the firing pin in the event of a jam.  It does not remove the firing pin, which is held in place by the screw seen in the sidewall of the drum itself.

  Extraction is another feature unique to the Werndl-Holub.  The hardened cast steel extractor consists of shaft on the left of a vertical claw which grips the cartridge head.  The right end of the shaft is a pressure lever turned almost 90° which sits in a spiral slot in the breech block which actuates as the block is rotated.  As the breech block is held firmly in either it’s open or closed position via a strong flat spring housed on top of the wrist acting on the cammed rear end of the breech block, flipping open the block provides sudden enough extraction to forcibly fling the empty case (or even a loaded cartridge) completely clear of the rifle.

 

    Early manufactured examples were fitted with conventional trigger guards consisting of a single piece incorporating a shorter front tang and a long flat lower tang running back along the underside of the grip extending 127mm (5 in) back from the trigger.  Later examples (after 1869) were fitted with a trigger guard which incorporated a prominent finger rest as part of the trigger guard casting, again, these are standard rifles issued to both infantry and jaeger units.

 

   Distinguishing unaltered M1867 rifles from the same rifles modified to the M1867/77 configuration, however, is a little challenging. The altered rifles were re-chambered to the improved 11.15x58R cartridge and re-sighted, but external differences between them are slight.

 

   All M1867 series rifles will have external hammers mounted on back action locks, with date of manufacture on the lock plate. Many will be marked with a parts maker or with the Austrian double-eagle in a small circle.  Unaltered rifles are fitted with a Ramp-and-leaf back sight, graduated to 1,200 paces. The altered rifles utilize the same back sight base, but the actual sight itself is substantially more massive and incorporates an extended leaf sighted to 2,100 paces when fully extended.

 Interestingly, except for ranging marks, this sight is virtually identical and indistinguishable from the back sight of the M1879 Argentine Remington Patria discussed at the link.  The M1879 Remington sight demonstrates the influence of European advisors in developing Argentina’s army in the late 1870s as no other black-powder Remington-manufactured rifle was ever fitted with such a precise back-sight.

   A second but also quite telling distinguishing characteristic of the unaltered rifle is that the breechblock locking sleeve (which drops into the back of the receiver and secures the breechblock within the receiver), is fitted with a small 3/8” (9mm) nipple, which for the M1867/77 upgrade is removed and the threaded hole filled in (but still visible on the ramp face).  Additionally, because the M1877 cartridge is significantly longer than the M1867 cartridge, the cutout of the breechblock retainer and the breechblock itself are both noticeably wider than on the unaltered rifle.

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Note how much thicker the breechblock locking sleeve (just to the left of the face of the hammer) is on the original M1867 (above photo) is compared to the altered M1867/77's locking sleeve (bottom photo).

  Unaltered rifles, only always M.1867 and never M.1873 rifles, are sometimes found somewhat crudely marked “OP” in 4.5mm high letters on top of the breechblock, denoting “Old” or “Obsolete Cartridge” (Patrone), although not all unaltered rifles are so marked.  (Eine mogliche Erklarung der Abkiirzung „OP" ware vielleicht „Obsolete Patrone". Mit diesem Ausdruck wurde seinerzeit das bezeichnet, was man heute unter „altmodisch" bzw. „nicht meter aktuell" o. a. versteht.  Shuey, p.259).   Converted rifles are not specially marked, but have the receiver modifications as well as having their chambers reamed for the newer cartridges and are fitted with new and larger back-sights.   Interestingly, the M1877 modified sights completely ignore the option for volley sights which are found on many contemporary rifles (e.g., M1867/96 Danish Remingtons, M1871/89 Spanish Remingtons and even the M1888 British Lee Metfords).

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MARKINGS

  Early examples of the Werndl, manufactured between 1867 and 1871, are marked “WERNDL” on the top of the receiver.  Later examples, beginning about 1872, are marked “OEWG” (Österrichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft) on the receiver top.  Also, when building of the locks was brought in-house, these are also OEWG marked.

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  The upper side of the barrel at the breech end is often marked with Inspector’s initials and date, for example “St70” (Steyr 1870) and “G.a” (We do not know what the G.a indicates.  If you do, please contact us) or Wn 71 (Wein, that is, Vienna, which would indicate proofed at the Vienna Proof house 1871).  The "St70" means the Barrel was "accepted" at the Steyr Works of J. Werndl & Co. (as it was known then).

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  Initially, locks were not manufactured by Werndl but rather were subcontracted out to various Austrian workshops including:  Leopold and Johann Gasser (with the lockplate marked “GASSER”), M. Greiner (marked “M. GREINER”), Leopold Wurzinger (marked “WURZ”), Matthias Lenz (marked “LENZ”), Wenzel Maschek (marked “MASCHEK”) and the AZF state arsenal in Vienna (marked with a very small small circular stamp containing the Austrian Double Eagle, but you have to look closely).  This last marking is often overlooked as an inconsequential circle, but on closer examination can be seen to be the Austrian Imperial double-headed eagle in a small roundel punched into the sideplate steel.

 

   The lockplate is usually found marked with three digits, such as “871" which is the original year of manufacture code of the lock only (in this case 1871), or sometimes only the “OEWG” after production was brought in-house.

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   A Lock number of "869" is the Manufacturing Date of the Lock in 1869. There may also be the Lockmaker's Name there as well as locks were not made in-house for the first several years of production.

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  The barrel and receiver are matching serial numbered, but below the woodline and seldom readily apparent.  Indeed Werndl rifles are often profusely marked below the woodline, including with the double-headed eagle in roundel stamped into the barrel.  The same marking may also be found stamped on the barrel, behind the rear sight, and on the rear sight base itself.

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  Many if not most Werndls, short variants as well as infantry rifles, are also regimentally marked on the buttplate tang.  These markings usually consist of the regiment notations above the rifle’s unit inventory number, such as, for example:

61.L.St. B.

1089.

   This tang marking denotes 61st Landsturm Battalion, rifle number 1089.  Landsturm is the equivalent of a 'ready reserve' as opposed to professional troops. Some locally mobilized Landsturm battalions from the eastern provinces during World War I went into early action. They fought the first battles on the Eastern Front (Roumania/Russia) and had been issued the single‑shot, black powder Werndl.

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Note the much shorter & redesigned buttplate tang of this M.1873 Werndl as compared to the tangs of the above M.1867 Werndls.

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SPECIFICATIONS, STATISTICS & DATA

Overall Length:  1,285mm (50.6 in)

Barrel Length:  844mm (33.2 in)

Weight, empty:  4.4Kg (9.75 lbs)

Rifling:  6-groove; RH, concentric

Early Sight:  M1867 Ramp-and-leaf graduated from 200 to 1,200 schritt (paces), but with sighting notch to 1,400 paces (1,180 yds) (schritt being equal to roughly a bit more than .75 meters).

M1877 Rear Sight:  (for M77 cartridge), graduated from 200 to 2,100 paces (about 166  to about 1,750 yds).

   The top of the M1877 sight also has a wedge protruding forward as well as to the rear. Sight base as in the earlier sight, wedge between the legs of the sight ladder, no round projections in front outside the sight ladder.

  Remington scholars have questioned why the M1879 Modelo Argentino Rolling Block sight is so different from every other Remington made military Rolling Block. However, the Argentines had a very close affiliation with the Austrians at this time, and simply considered their sight superior and ordered it from Remington.  Not surprisingly then, the rear sight of the improved M.1867/77 Werndl is nearly interchangeable with the M1879 Argentine Remington rear sight.

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Photos showing an unaltered M.1867 Werndl exported to Argentina and marked “E.N.” (Ejército Nacional) as many imported Argentine army rifles were marked.

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Photos showing the rear sight of a M1879 MODELO ARGENTINO

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Photos showing the rear sight of a M1867/77 Werndl Infantry rifle

 

CARTRIDGES (Rifle)

   When originally developed, the M1867 Werndl issued to troops was chambered in the straight-walled 11.15x42R cartridge (Hoyem). Barnes refers to this cartridge as an 11.4x50R (certainly incorrect), but my examination of what appears to be an unaltered M1867 cartridge suggests that it is more properly an 11.2 x 42R.  As you can guess, because of multiple manufacturers with slight differences in tolerance, rough dimensions are the order of the day.

 

   This early cartridge remained the official Austrian military cartridge until 1877, when the longer, more powerful, bottlenecked 11.15x58R (M77) cartridge was adopted.  Nearly all Werndl Rifles, the M1867s and also the improved M1873s, were converted to the latter cartridge.  Although the rifles are not especially common in North America, both Winchester and Remington loaded the M77 round in the first part of the 20th century. This cartridge was also subsequently adopted for use in the M1885 Mannlicher issued for field trials, and later widely issued for use with the M1886 Mannlicher infantry rifles (also produced by Steyr), which supplanted the Werndls.  This production and interchangeability of cartridge with the M1886 Mannlicher, widely exported to South America, may explain the relatively late Winchester and Remington loadings.

M1867 11mm Werndl Cartridge  (11mm scharfe Gewehr-Patrone M.67) Aka:  11x42;  11.15x42R; ,  in Europe: 11,2x41,5R Werndl; Scharfe Hinterladungs-Gewehr Patrone mit 5''' Kaliber;  11 mm Gewehrpatrone M.67
 

Dimensions will vary!

Brass Case

Length:  41.3mm with a very slight bottleneck,

Full length: 60.3mm

Charge:  4g (62 grains) of Black Powder

Bullet:  314 grain paper-patched lead

Cartridge weight: 32.6g,

muzzle velocity of 1440 fps (variously also listed as 435 m/s (1414 ft./s)

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11.2x41.5R M.67 Werndl rifle cartridge

M77 11mm Werndl Cartridge aka:  11mm scharfe Gewehr-Patrone;  11x58R,  11.15x58R,  11mm Mannlicher.


  The M.77 was a completely different and more modern cartridge from the M.67.  It is a rimmed, bottlenecked cartridge with a 58mm long case loaded with 77.5 grains of compressed black powder topped with a 372 grain, paper-patched, lead bullet producing a muzzle velocity of 440 m/sec (1445 fps).

M1873/77 cartridge introduced w/24 gram bullet and 5 gram Black Powder load

Case:  Brass, rimmed, bottlenecked

Load:   5 grams Black Powder

Primer:  Berdan type with priming compound in a copper cup enclosed by a brass cap

Bullet:  20.3 gram (313 grain) paper-patched lead.

Muzzle velocity:  (M1873/77 increased to 450 m/s (1463 ft./s)

 

DIMENSIONS: 

Bullet diameter:  11.19mm

Neck diameter:  11.77mm

Base diameter:  13.78mm

Rim diameter:  15.72mm

Case length:  58.1mm

Total length:  74mm

Total weight:  31.4 grams

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BAYONET

  The Werndl rifle is fitted with a bayonet lug without tenon on the right side of the barrel end, about 100mm (3 7/8in.) back from the muzzle, and mounts a corresponding saber bayonet. Several varieties were produced and are encountered  (Janzen #7), vis: M.1867 (Kiesling Vol II, #376, M.1867 all the way to Kiesling Vol II, #380), and the M.1873 (Kiesling Vol II, #381-3).  Scabbards were browned steel or subsequently painted black.

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SHORT RIFLES, CARBINES AND SPECIAL VERSIONS

  During the basic Werndl’s service life, which extended from its 1867 adoption to substantial quantities being issued to support troops as late as early World War I, a significant variety of “special purpose” variants were issued, only some of which can be touched upon here, but see REFERENCES, below. 

 

   Because of the very close similarities among the carbines and Extra‑Korps‑Gewehr  (Special Corps Rifles) of Werndls, there is an understandable need to define a bit more precisely the varieties and applications of the shorter Werndl arms.  Both were introduced with the rifle in 1867, and all of the principal components of Werndl varieties are the same as those of the underlying M.1867 rifle.  Initially both cavalry carbines and special troop carbines and short rifles were nearly identical, although through the evolution of their use and application the models later diverged such that late models are distinctly different from one another and more easily categorized.

 

   As Werndl’s arms factory was taxed with gearing up for production of the new infantry rifle, the early production of carbines and special troop short rifles was farmed out to the manufacturer Ferdinand Fruwirth, famous for developing and manufacturing the first bolt action repeating long arm adopted by a nation, for the Austrian Gendarmerie.  After about 1871 production was shifted to the Werndl armory.

 

   While the Karabiner M.1867 was a cavalry arm, the Extra‑Korps‑Gewehr were sometimes issued to artillery units, but most often to pioneer and engineer troops, railroad and telegraph regiments, medical corps, gendarmerie and various guard units.

 

   Initially, cavalry carbines and special corps short-rifles were easily distinguished via their sling swivels.  Unlike the cavalry carbines, original M.1867 Extra‑Korps‑Gewehr were never made with the sling loop on the trigger guard but rather mounted to the lower edge of the buttstock.  Later, however, both varieties borrowed from each other.

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Unfortunately low-res photo of a M.67 carbine with sling swivel on the butt, but clearly showing that it had a sling swivel on the trigger guard.

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Typical M.67 carbine rear sight

  While most Werndl infantry rifles encountered in North America are the M.1867/77 version, most carbines and special corps rifles are variants of the M.73/77 Karabiner or Extra-Korps-Gewehre, which are described following the M1873/77 Werndl Infantry rifle discussed at the link.

Model 1867 Cavalry Carbine (Karabiner M1867)

  The Cavalry Carbine, along with the Extra‑Korps‑Gewehr, below, was adopted concurrently with the infantry rifle in 1867.  While generally similar to the rifle, including the same action, cleaning rod and nose cap, this variant lacks barrel bands.  The upper sling point is a steel loop mounted via a transverse bolt through the forestock about 90mm (3½ in.) back from the nose cap, and the swivel was issued covered in leather (unlike that of the Special Troops short rifle).  The lower sling swivel is mounted ahead of the trigger guard but is made offset to the right to aid in carrying the carbine across the back, although the asymmetrical lower sling loop was later dropped in favor of a symmetrical, centered loop.

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M.67 Werndl Cavalry Carbine

   The rear sight is a ladder type with leaf pivoting at the rear, and the hammer is made with a rounded, knob-like finial in lieu of the rifle’s sharper spur.

 

   Like the infantry rifle, early examples are fitted with a simple bow shaped trigger guard and are “WERNDL” marked on the receiver ring above the chamber.  Later M.1867s are fitted with the distinctive spur as a part of the trigger guard casting and, after 1869, will be marked “OEWG” on the receiver ring.

Model 1867 Naval Carbine (Kriegsmarine Karabiner M.67)

  A nearly identical m.1867 carbine was also produced for the Austrian Navy having identical dimensions as that of the Army (cavalry) carbine, differing only in rear sight.

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I believe this to be a Model 1867 Werndl Navy Carbine (Kriegsmarine Karabiner M.67)

Special Troops Short Rifle M.1867 (Extra‑Korps‑Gewehr M.1867)

  This short rifle is very similar to the cavalry carbine except that its lower sling swivel is not mounted at the trigger guard, but rather is mounted to the bottom edge of the buttstock.  Lower sling swivels may be encountered in forms mounted through the head of a single large screw, through a base plate fixed to the stock with two wood screws, or with lower sling loop removed and the sling swivel screw hole plugged with a single slotted screw.  Early variants produced by Fruwirth will mount a simple trigger guard bow as seen on the early rifles.  Later production guns made after 1870 and all made by OEWG mount the trigger guard incorporating the finger spur.  Lengths of the lower trigger guard tang may vary as well.

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  I have also read that there was a M.67 Werndl version for the “Judicial Guard” with an overall length of 1035 mm, barrel length of 593 mm and weight of 3.75 kg, but I have not been able to find additional information.

M.1867/77 Cavalry Carbine (Karabiner M.1867/77)

  Beginning in late 1878, most surviving M1867 carbines were adapted to chamber a new M77 carbine cartridge.    The modified carbines mount the rear sling loop at the front of the trigger guard. These will also be chambered for the M.67/77 carbine cartridge and rear sights re-graduated to 200‑1600 Schritt.

Cartridge:  Karabiner-Patrone M.77  (aka:  11x36R Werndl Carbine).

   The M.77 cartridges employed a 36mm bottlenecked case for use only in the 1877 carbines (it will not chamber in M.67 carbines).  The charge was 37 grains of improved rifle powder beneath a its 372-grain bullet producing a muzzle velocity of ~318m/sec ( 1045 fps).

 

   In 1882 the carbine cartridge was redesigned with an improved rim (11mm scharfe Karabiner-Patrone M.82) but is otherwise identical to the M.77 cartridge.

Special Troops Rifle M.1867/77 (Extra‑Korps‑Gewehr M1867/77)

  Generally identical to the Special Troops Rifle M.1867 but again rechambered for the 1877 carbine cartridge and sight changed to 200‑1600 paces.  However, depending upon which special troop corps they were issued to, these variants may also be fitted for sabre bayonet.  In some cases the bayonet lug is soldered to the right side of the barrel, in which case the nosecap incorporates a cleaning rod channel in the nosecap to guide the rod, and in other examples the bayonet lug may be incorporated into the nosecap itself, also with integral cleaning rod channel.

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Bayonet lug on a Werndl M.67 (maybe M.67/77) Short Rifle & its Rear Sight (Note:  Cleaning rod is incorrect, probably a Mosin-Nagant)

  Cartridges for Carbines:   Werndl carbines originally chambered the 11mm scharfe Karabinerpatrone M.67, a short- necked 11mm cartridge of noticeably lower power than the infantry cartridge, but most were upgraded beginning in 1878 to accept the improved Karabinerpatrone M.67 oder M.67/77.

Case:  Rimmed, Straight Walled case

Length:  36mm

Bullet:  314 grain paper-patched bullet

Charge:  34 grains of black powder

Velocity:  1007 fps.

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M.67 Werndl Carbine Production:  Approximately 11,000 M67 Werndl Karabiner of all varieties were produced between 1867 and 1874

Overall length:  987.75mm (some sources indicate 995mm)

Barrel length:  566 mm

Weight:  3.16 kg (7 lbs.)

Rear Sights:  graduated in increments of 200, 400 and 600 Schritt (paces).

 

MANUFACTURING DATA

   Approximately 600,000 M.1867 Werndl rifles and 11,000 M1867 Werndl carbines were made by Gewehr Fabrikanten Werndl and by  Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr between 1867 and 1874, afterwhich production shifted over to the improved M.1873 Werndl.

UTILIZATION BY OTHER COUNTRIES

  Argentina imported numbers of European arms during this period including significant numbers of Werndls, but actual numbers are unknown.

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Photos of a M1867 Werndl rifle utilized by the Argentine Army (E.N. = Ejército Nacional)

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PREDECESSOR & FOLLOW-ON RIFLES

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REFERENCES

  For perhaps the quintessential treatment of the Werndl rifle, in all of its manifestations, the reader is referred to the definitive: Schuy, Joschi, Das Waffensystem Werndl: Josef Werndl - Erfolg und Dynamik aus Steyr, Linzer Straße 10, 5280 Braunau, 1997, 485 pgs.

See also:  Kropatschek, Alfred Hptm: Hinterladungsgewehr-System kleinen Kalibers mit Werndl-VerschluB., Wien, 1870.

Watch : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ALwBZiN7G4

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

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Updated: Mar 25, 2022