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M1878 and/or M1881 Portuguese (Styer Naval) Kropatschek


GENERALLY:  This isn't much of a photo, but it was sent to me directly, straight from the Portuguese Museu de Marinha (the naval museum in Lisbon Portugal) by Lt. Melo Ribeiro of the Museum's staff.   For reference see the M1878 French Kropatchek as well as the Portugese M1886 Mauser-Kropatchek which is very closely similar.  Also see the two letters I received from Portugal recently, re-printed below.

PHOTO:  The rifle shown is believed to be either a M1878 or a M1881 Portuguese Naval  Kropatschek Rifle.

I received these letters and later some additional information from Sr. João Rato.

Dear Sir:
I send this email to inform you that the Kropatschek (Werndl) Model 1878 Marine was also adoptes by the Portuguese Marine (the Naval Museum in Lisbon has one in exposition)

João Rato

The photo above was sent to me by the museum in reply to my correspondence with them, but was, I believe, misidentified by the museum (these are not common rifles!!!)

Sr. Rato also wrote:

Dear Sir:

I'm sure that the Portuguese Naval Museum has a Kropatchek Model 1878 Marine, that we know in Portugal by Espingarda Werndl Modelo 1878 Marine.  This weapon is in a showcase with a 1871 Mauser and three Portuguese Marines (models) in front of a showcase with a percussion Enfield dated 1861 lock engraved Tower and a Steyr Mannlicher Model 1896 caliber 6.5 and three portuguese marines.  These showcases are in the last large room of the museum and the showcase were is the Werndl is the first weapon at the right side when we come into that large room.  We also used in Portugal the Portuguese Kropatheck model 1886 (not 1866), but that is other weapon.

João Rato

(Sr. Rato is referring to the Museum's misidentification of this rifle.  But it is most likely that, based on his expertise, the Museum does indeed have a M1878 Kropatchek Marine in it's collection).

I also received from Sr. Jaime A. Regalado this excellent letter:

I'm a Portuguese Collector of Military Firearms from XVIII century till the end of the Monarchy I mean 1910.
I have in my collection one of this rifles (M1881 Portuguese Naval Kropatchek). As far as I could know the navy adopted this rifle in 1881 but I'm not very sure yet.

Portuguese Navy in the last century (and some how until today) had a different philosophy for choosing their weapons, very different from the army. In my last visit to the obsolete rifle depot from the Navy Museum there were only a few of these rifles. There were so few compared with some other rifles that I thought that these rifles came to Portugal just for testing purposes, in the rifle I saw there was no Portuguese inscriptions, no navy or Portuguese view or proof marks.
Even the Mont-Storm silk combustible cartridge were more numerous.

But there is another possibility to raise. While in the army to buy or choose a new weapon its a very long and complicated process (I have incredible stories about that commissions created to choose a new rifle, that when they arise to an agreement about which gun to choose it was already obsolete, I mean in the 2nd half of last century) because of the large number, the price implications, new training for the soldiers, and so on, in the Navy everything is much more facilitated. When a naval unit (ship or land) was created or needed to renew their rifles they just look for the best in the market and they get a contract. Its very easy to get the Government permission because we were talking about only a few dozens of guns. I think that the acquisition of this rifle was one of these situations.

This situation stills occurring. At this time in the Army we are using the P38, while the Navy uses the Walther PP and PPK, some law enforcement units are using Glock and SIG SAUER just because they buy such a small number of guns.

The rifle in my collection has a Portuguese engraved number that means that it belonged to a naval unit.  When they were retired from service I don't know, sometimes these weapons remained in service in the Portuguese colonies for long time. The Kropatschek rifle remained in service in India until 1961.

When I get my first Werndl Marine Rifle I compared it with my Kropatschek rifle and I realized the connection between them, after looking for the connection between Mr. Werndl and Steyer it seems clear but I don't think that in Portugal the acquisition of the M1886 Kropatschek by the Army had any relation of the previous use of the Werndl Marine Rifle.

Best Regards

 Jaime A. Regalado

Page built  April 16, 1999.

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

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