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M1886 & M1886/98 Mauser‑Kropatschek

(Espingarda Mo.1886 & 1886/89)

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M1886 Mauser-Kropatschek

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M1886/98 Mauser-Kropatschek

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

  Portugal like many countries in Europe during this time was looking to modernize its military rifle.  Portugal had at one time a vast colonial empire but did not have the infrastructure at home to manufacture their own.  They turned to Austrian arms manufacturers OE.W.G (Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft) in Steyr.  They initially went with the M1885 Guedes rifle designed by Luiz Fasusto de Castro Guedes Dias who was a lieutenant in the Portuguese army.  This was chambered for the 8x60R round which was the first small caliber infantry bullet.  Portugal would order 40,000 Guedes rifles from OE.W.G. in 1886.

  When OE.W.G started to work on the contract for the Guedes rifles then encountered issues which they claimed were due to the rifles design.  Portugal then choose to stop with the Guedes rifles and instead move to the Kropatschek Rifle.  Oddly enough they had already in 1885 ordered Kropatschek rifles and carbine from OE.W.G.  The issue was that many Guedes rifles had already been manufactured so they had to pay for them even though they didn't want to use them.

DEVELOPMENT

  For more information on the development of the Kropatschek rifle, please see the Austrian M1881 Kropatschek page.

GENERALLY

  The Portuguese Kropatchek rifle is a bolt action, tubular magazine shoulder arm with a magazine cut-off, originally firing a black powder cartridge.   The tubular magazine system utilized in this rifle was designed by Alfred von Kropatchek in the early 1870s and first used in the Styer-built French Naval Kropatchek of 1878 chambered for the French 11mm Gras cartridge.. The Portuguese rifle is refinement of the French M1878 but now with elements of the Mauser M71 bolt.  This magazine system was also utilized for the well known M1886 Lebel, the first military rifle specifically built for smokeless powder.

  The M1886 was built for Portugal by Steyr in lieu of the short‑lived M1885 Portuguese Guedes‑Castro, an elegant, well made single shot rifle (never actually adopted) competing in the age of repeaters.  The Portuguese Kropatchek however did retain basically the same cartridge as the Guedes, a sharply bottle‑necked 8mm black‑power round.  The black powder loading was phased out when smokeless powder became available to Portugal in 1896. 

  Despite Portugal wisely scrapping the M1885 Guedes single-shot rifle in favor of the Kropatchek repeater, in the extremely fast evolving world of late 19th Century shoulder arms, however, these rifles were becoming obsolete even as they were being produced.  They chambered a black powder cartridge, and since 1886 France, then Germany and others were adopting new smokeless powder rifles.  Steyr was converting its recently manufactured Austrian M1888 Mannlichers to the smokeless powder M1888/90 models by adapting the rear sights to the ballistics of smokeless powder cartridges.  Steyr developed such a conversion package for Portugal, consisting of a new smokeless 8x60R round and a modified rear sight for the Kropatchek calibrated to a new a maximum range of 2,200 meters (2,405 yds).  The actual conversion work was undertaken in Portugal at the Lisbon Arsenal with Steyr supplying the sights and an Austrian firm the first smokeless ammunition. 

M1886 Mauser‑Kropatschek (Espingarda Mo.1886)

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M1886/98 Mauser‑Kropatschek (Espingarda Mo.1886/89)

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  The Portuguese began modifying their Kropatcheks in 1889 by adding a hand guard, ostensibly for colonial use, the modified rifles being denominated as the Mo.1886/89. 

   Portugal employed the Kropatchek throughout its colonial possessions in Africa, India and the Far East, with the rifle remaining in colonial service until as late as 1961!

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DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

  The trigger guard pistol grip spur, magazine spring cap extension, side mounted cleaning rod, lack of stacking rod and its 8mm bore readily differentiate the Portuguese Kropatchek from it's otherwise similar cousin, the German M71/84 Mauser.  The lower sling swivel is mounted on the underside of the buttstock of the Portuguese rifle; ahead of the trigger guard on the German.

  The rifle is an interesting amalgam of the Kropatchek tube magazine with rear pivoting cartridge lifter coupled with the Mauser inspired action.  The rifle’s markings also usefully also help to differentiate this rifle. 

  The Model 1886/89, sometimes called the Colonial variant, is the infantry rifle fitted with a clip‑on hand guard, which extends from the front of the rear sight to the middle barrel band.  It is suggested that the hand guard was fitted to rifles issued to colonial troops to reduce the effect of sighting due to radiated barrel heat on sighting, but may have been to facilitate carrying it after heating from extensive firing.  Hand guards are often missing, but modified rifles can be identified by the four small slots, two on either side of the barrel cut into the forestock to accept the hand guard on modified rifles.  Also, the rear sights have been changed out for smokeless cartridge use and extended to 2,200 meters on converted rifles.

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Trigger guard with a pistol grip

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side mounted cleaning rod

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Magazine spring cap

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Side mounted magazine lever for single shot or repeater

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Lower sling swivel

  The Model 1886/89, sometimes called the Colonial variant, is the infantry rifle fitted with a clip‑on hand guard, which extends from the front of the rear sight to the middle barrel band.  It is suggested that the hand guard was fitted to rifles issued to colonial troops to reduce the effect of sighting due to radiated barrel heat on sighting, but may have been to facilitate carrying it after heating from extensive firing.  Hand guards are often missing, but modified rifles can be identified by the four small slots, two on either side of the barrel cut into the forestock to accept the hand guard on modified rifles.  Also, the rear sights have been changed out for smokeless cartridge use and extended to 2,200 meters on converted rifles.

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extended to 2,200 meters

OM

OPERATING MECHANISM

  Like most all contemporary bolt action rifles of the day, the action is locked by the bolt rib abutting the receiver ahead of the bridge as the bolt handle is turned down.  Opening the bolt and drawing it back engages the elevator spoon at the end of its stroke lifting a fresh cartridge into position to be chambered.  The coiled spring firing pin cocks on opening and the back end of the bolt is equipped with the wing safety characteristic of Mauser rifles.  Closing the bolt simultaneously chambers the cartridge and lowers the elevator spoon to pick up a new cartridge.  A magazine cut off on the right side of the receiver disengages the bolt and locks the elevator spoon into place so that the rifle can be utilized as a single-shot. 

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MARKINGS

  The left receiver wall is well marked near the chamber “Œ.W.F.G. STYER” above “1886.”   The center of the receiver wall is stamped with the monarch’s cypher (a crown over “L.I.0” but substantially smaller than that found on the M1885 Guedes) and “M1886” to the right, on the left rear of the receiver.  The monarch’s cypher is also stamped as a roundel on the left side of the buttstock and the Steyr manufacturing marking roundel consisting of a large (25 mm; 1 inch) roundel reading “M%1885” above “STEYR 1886”, surrounding “ŒW.G.”  in the center.  Serial numbers appear on the right side of the receiver, right barrel knox flat and base of the left side of the buttstock.  Serial numbers also appear on the various bolt parts, but, for whatever reason, Portuguese Kropatchek rifles are scarcely ever found with bolt numbers matching the barrel and receiver numbers.  

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  The monarch’s cypher is also stamped as a roundel on the left side of the buttstock and the Steyr manufacturing marking roundel consisting of a large (25 mm; 1 inch) roundel reading “M%1885” above “STEYR 1886”, surrounding  “ŒW.G.”  in the center.

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  Serial numbers appear on the right side of the receiver, right barrel knox flat and base of the left side of the buttstock.  Serial numbers also appear on the various bolt parts, but, for whatever reason, Portuguese Kropatchek rifles are scarcely ever found with bolt numbers matching the barrel and receiver numbers.  

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SPECIFICATIONS, STATISTICS & DATA

  • Overall Length:  1,322 mm (52.0 in)

  • Weight, empty:  10.07 lbs

  • Barrel Length:  820 mm (32.25)

  • Rifling:  4-groove; RH, concentric

  • Magazine:  Tube magazine in forend, 8 round capacity

  • Sight:  Ramp-and-leaf with slider, graduated from 400 to 2,000 m (440 to 2,185 yards).  The later M1886/89 sights were extended to 2,200 m (2,400 yds).

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SHORT RIFLES, CARBINES & SPECIAL VERSIONS

Model 1886 Short Rifle

  4,800 M1886 short rifles were acquired between 1888 and 1889 for the use of Treasury Guards.  This was short version of the Mo.1886 rifle with the same fittings and fixtures including cleaning rod and the straight bolt handle of the rifle, but with only a 6-round magazine.  Most short rifles were altered after 1896 for smokeless ammunition, receiving 2200m (2405yd) rear sights. 

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Model 1886 Short Rifle - Photo Credit CollectorsFirearms.com

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Model 1886 Short Rifle - Photo Credit CollectorsFirearms.com

Model 1886 Carbine (Mosqueton Mo.1886). 

  4,000 carbines were manufactured for Portugal by Steyr.  Like the short rifles, they are similar to the infantry rifles, but have a short forend that holds only a 5-round magazine.  The carbines are stocked almost to the muzzle, and fitted with only a single barrel band, the bayonet lug being mounted on the side of the barrel behind the nose cap to compensate for reduced muzzle protrusion.  Unlike the rifle and short rifle, the bold handle of the carbine is turned down to almost vertical. 

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Model 1886 Carbine (Mosqueton Mo.1886) - Photo Credit ima.com

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Model 1886 Carbine (Mosqueton Mo.1886) - Photo Credit ima.com

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BAYONET

M1886 sword bayonet

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CARTRIDGE

  The 8mm Kropatchek, aks 8x56R and 8mm Portuguese Kropatchek is the black powder Guedes cartridge, carried over to the Kropatchek rifle.  This cartridge is a variation of 8x60R Kropatchek cartridge, using the same bullet with a 4mm shortened case.  The projectile is not set as deeply as the one in the 8x60R, so the overall length is basically the same.  It was updated to a smokeless version, believed to have been put into service in 1899.  Almost identical to its parent, the 8x56R is a sharply bottle-necked, rimmed design with a brass case, Berdan primer with twin flash holes and, in this case, later loaded with smokeless powder firing a round-nosed, lead core, cupro-nickel, copper, or cupro-nickel clad steel bullet.  The M1886 ball cartridge develops a muzzle velocity of about ____ m/s (1,755 fps) in the infantry rifle.

DIMENSIONS:

  • Bullet diameter:  8.19mm

  • Neck diameter:  8.93mm

  • Base diameter:  13.78mm

  • Rim diameter:  15.68mm

  • Case length:  55.8mm

  • Total length:  82.2 mm

  • Total weight:  30.3 grams

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MANUFACTURING DATA

  49,000 infantry rifles were produced by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft (OEWG), of Steyr, Austria for Portugal between 1885 and 1888, along with 4,800 short rifles and 4,000 carbines, contracts for which extended to 1894.

UTILIZATION BY OTHER COUNTRIES

  None other than Portugal, which did, however, employ the Kropatchek throughout its colonial possessions in Africa, India and the Far East.  The Kropatchek remained in colonial service until as late as 1961

PREDECESSOR & FOLLOW-ON RIFLES

Predecessor Rifle: M1885 Guedes

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Follow-On Rifle(s): Mauser 1898

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ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

Below Photos Courtesy of Mike Kerrigan

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CORRESPONDENCE

Dear Sir

Unlike is refered in (another) letter, the Portuguese Steyr Kropatschek rifles saw combat action a few times:
-In Angola and Mozambique, former Portuguese African territories, between 1916 and 1918 against Von Vorbeck`s German colonial army. The local regiments that fought beside the continental Portuguese troops were mainly Steyr equipped.


-In East Timor, against the Japanese invaders and their allied guerrilas in WW2
- In former Portuguese Indian territories of Goa, Damão and Diu, in 1961 when the indian army invaded them.

 

The main weapon was the Mauser-Vergueiros 6,5mm  Mod.1904 but the Kropatschek were often use by auxiliary  and local regiments who saw combat every time Portuguese main regiments fought.

 Yours sincerly
Ricardo Grilo

 Carcavelos
Portugal

REFERENCES

A special thanks to Mike Kerrigan for the pictures!

Die Kropatschek-Repetiersysteme in Österreich-Ungarn (FassungVIII, 2003) - Heino Hintermeier

Die Mannlicher-Repetiersysteme in Österreich-Ungarn 17 (2004) 143-151 - Heino Hintermeier

Manuskript für den PALLASCH Die Mannlicher-Repetierkurzwaffen M.1890 im k.u.k. Heer - Heino Hintermeier

Stuart C Mowbray & Joe Puleo, "Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World'

Page built February 6, 1999

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Updated Jan 28, 2024

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