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 M1885 Portuguese Guedes


(Photo courtesy Ken Hallock)


(Photo courtesy D. Goss)


(Photo courtesy D. Goss)

GENERALLY:  (Must Read: ----> Article by Jaime Regalado)   The Guedes was an indigenous design, unique to Portugal, developed by Portuguese Luitenant (later General) Luis Guedes Dias.  The last of the Europeon single-shot designs (the Nepalese Peabody-Wesseley was probably later), it was initially designed for an 11mm cartridge, the adoption of smokeless propellant in France and the quick adoption of small calibre cartridges across Europe during this period causing the design to be changed to 8mm before production began.  40,000 rifles were ordered to be manufactured by OEWG (Styer, in Austria) but the contract was cancelled in favor of the M1886 Kropatchek, utilizing essentially the same cartridge. Portugal paid a cancellation fee and ownership of the rifles remained with OEWG. In about 1896 practically all of the rifles were sold to Transvaal and the Orange Free State and used extensively in the Boer War. Many such rifles are marked Z.A.R. (Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek, Dutch for South African Republic) and saw combat service there.

The Guedes action was a creative, unique, dropping breech-block form in which the breech-block contains the trigger, hammer and mainspring. When the operating lever/trigger guard, hinged at the front of the trigger guard section, is lowered, it moves the breech block which is attached to it away from the breech and downward, cocking the hammer and ejecting the spent case in its downward stroke.

PHOTO: The rifle shown is a a typical M1885 made on contract By Styer in 1885 and subsequently used by the Dutch South Africans during the Anglo-Boer wars. It is marked Z.A.R.

DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS:  Dropping breech-block single shot, with operating lever combined with trigger guard, and a relatively large safety alongside the trigger, within the trigger guard. There is nothing else quite like the Guedes. It is a unique rifle and easily distinguished once one has ever been seen. Check out the photos.
References in some books (Barnes' Cartridges of the World, for example, refer to the Guedes as a kind of Martini, but it is in no way, shape or form a Martini, having a dropping rather than pivoting block and internal hammer rather than firing pin.

MISC NOTES:  These rifles are always referred to a "Portuguese Guedes" but the Portugese only designed and ordered them, they never actually followed through on buying them. The rifles might be better called "Styer Guedes" or even better yet "Boer Guedes!"


  (Photo courtesy Ken Hallock)


  Non-Arsenal and crude, but telling evidence of martial service in South Africa.


This rifle has been fired.  (see photos below)


This is the action used to extract, eject and cock the piece.
   Cocking occurs on opening.


The lever & breechblock are lowered and
   the chamber is exposed for loading.


Steyrwerks, Austria, manufacturer of these rifles.


 Rifle is pointing to the right  ----->
Leftphoto:  The rifle is COCKED!!                                                       Rightphoto:  The rifle is fired.
The line on the triggerguard is the cocking indicator. The above is correct.  The trigger relaxes toward the muzzle after firing.


Page built  April 10, 1998
Revised October 8, 1999

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

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