Ferdinand von Mannlicher

(1848 – 1904)

Erfinder und Konstrukteur von Repetiergewehren und Repetierpistolen

Ferdinand Karl Adolf Josef, Ritter von Mannlicher (* 30. Jänner 1848 in Brüx, (Böhmen oder in Mainz ; † 20. Jänner 1904 in Wien) war Erfinder und Konstrukteur eines Waffensystems (Repetierer mit Paketladung).

Leben

Ferdinand Mannlicher wurde als Sohn des k.u.k. Oberfeldkriegskommissärs Josef Mannlicher und seiner Ehefrau Albertine Haacke geboren. Die Stammreihe der Familie Mannlicher ist ununterbrochen bis zum Jahr 1525  zurückzuverfolgen, über viele Generationen lebten sie in Brüx/Böhmen, stellten dort über 5 Generationen den Bürgermeister sowie Postmeister, Zolleinnehmer, Militärverpflegsverwalter und Ratsherren der Stadt. Ein Zusammenhang mit der Augsburger Handelsfamilie Mannlich ist zwar überliefert, aber nicht nachweisbar.

Mannlicher besuchte nach der Übersiedlung der Familie nach Wien ein Gymnasium im VIII. Wiener Gemeindebezirk und studierte anschließend Technik an der Technischen Hochschule in Wien. Danach war er als Ingenieur bei den k.u.k. Eisenbahnen tätig. Schon früh interessierte er sich für Waffentechnik und begann nach der Niederlage der Österreicher gegen die Preußen bei Königgrätz, welche auch auf die unterlegene Waffentechnik der Österreicher zurückgeführt wurde, dieses Interesse in den Mittelpunkt seiner Tätigkeit zu stellen. Im Zuge der Ausschreibung der Armee zur Einführung eines neuen Gewehrsystems kam es zu einem Wettbewerb mehrerer Konstrukteure, aus dem Mannlicher letztendlich als Sieger hervorging – nach jahrelangen öffentlichen und politischen Diskussionen, die teilweise mit auch heute noch erstaunlich persönlichen Untergriffen geführt wurden.

Ab dem Jahr 1880 konstruierte Ferdinand Mannlicher verschiedene Mehrladegewehre mit Röhrenmagazin und später mit einem Patronenmagazin im Mittelschaft. Sein Streben hatte Erfolg. Die Produktion des von ihm 1886 patentierten Waffensystems (Repetierer mit Paketladung Mannlicher Modell 1895) übernahm die Österreichische Waffenfabriksaktiengesellschaft unter Josef Werndl, an der Mannlicher wesentliche Anteile hielt. Schon 1895 war das fortentwickelte Geradezug-Gewehr in der k.u.k. Armee eingeführt; in Folge statteten auch andere Länder der Welt ihre Armeen mit den späteren mannlicherschen Zylinderverschlussgewehren aus.

Mannlicher heiratete am 21. Mai 1892 Cäcilie Martin, am 17. Mai 1893 wurden die Zwillingstöchter Albertine und Cäcilie geboren.  Am 14. Dezember 1892 wurde Ferdinand Mannlicher in den österreichischen Ritterstand erhoben und Mitglied des Herrenhauses des österreichischen Reichsrates auf Lebenszeit. Mannlicher wurden viele weitere Ehrungen zuteil, er war Träger des österreichischen Ordens der Eisernen Krone, des königlich preußischen Kronenordens, des königlich italienischen Ordens der Eisernen Krone und Offizier der französischen Ehrenlegion. Heute erinnern noch die Mannlichergasse in Hinterbrühl/Wien und die Mannlicherstrasse in Steyr an ihn.

Nach kurzer Krankheit verstarb Mannlicher am 20. Jänner 1904 in Wien. Begraben liegt er am Friedhof in der Hinterbrühl. Seine Witwe beging nach dem Verlust eines Großteils des Familienvermögens am 12. April 1934 mit dem von Mannlicher entwickelten Prototypen einer Gasdruckselbstladepistole Selbstmord. Sie liegt ebenfalls im Familiengrab in der Hinterbrühl begraben.

Mannlichers Name lebt in dem später auf Steyr-Mannlicher umfirmierten Unternehmen weiter; heute werden deren Gewehre vornehmlich von Jägern, sowie in geringerer Anzahl von Scharfschützen und zum sportlichen Schießen benützt. Die Entwicklung zur Jagdwaffe erlebte er selbst nicht mehr; diese wurde vom Direktor Schönauer der Steyrwerke betrieben. Das Mannlicher-Schönauer ist auch heute noch eine weitverbreitete Jagdwaffe.

Quellen: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Mannlicher (Mai 2011)

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Ferdinand Mannlicher: Austria’s John M. Browning

By John Myers, Internet Photojournalist

A year ago I became the owner of a Steyr MA1 pistol in 357 Sig cal. and have since become interested in the history of this „other“ Austrian arms manufacturer, Steyr-Mannlicher. The first half of the modern arms company’s name comes from its location, Steyr, Austria.

Since the 14th century, the city of Steyr (Upper Austria) has been a center for the metal working, and is particularly known for forging weapons. In the middle of the 17th century thousands of muskets, pistols, and carbines were produced annually for the Imperial Army.

Josef Werndl came from a family firmly anchored in the weapons craft. After his father’s death, the 24-year-old Werndl took over the factory’s management, together with his mother. He modernized the enterprise by applying new step-by-step production techniques that he became acquainted with during his apprenticeship in the United States.

On April 16th, 1864, Josef Werndl founded the „Josef und Franz Werndl & Comp. Waffenfabrik und Sagemuhle in Oberletten“ (Josef and Franz Werndl & Partners Weapons Factory and Sawmill in Oberletten), from which later emerged the „Osterreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft“ (OEWG, Austrian Arms-Manufacturing Company), and subsequently the Steyr Werke AG and Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, from which Steyr-Mannlicher was a part.

Werndl later hired a young railroad engineer as his weapons designer, Ferdinand Mannlicher, whose genius well merits his later addition as the second name for the modern company.

Mannlicher is world famous for his bolt-action rifles, but little known for his pioneering automatic weapons designs.

In Guns Magazine, August 2004, writer Holt Bodinson said this about Mannlicher:

„What’s interesting today is how little we generally know about the man — Austria’s Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher — one of the world’s most prolific and successful gun designers.

„Born in 1848, Mannlicher was a mechanical genius. During his long career at the Steyr Works spanning that fertile period when black powder gave way to smokeless, he is credited with the design of over 150 models of repeating and automatic military firearms adopted by numerous European countries.

„Working as he did on advanced designs in the last quarter of the 19th century, Mannlicher was not influenced by previous models. There were none. Consequently, his designs are refreshingly original. From an engineering viewpoint, many of his mechanical solutions have been recognized as precursors to later designs as modern as the BAR, the Browning machine gun, M1 rifle and M1 carbine.

„Some have gone so far as to say most of the small arms designs of the 20th Century reflect, in some way, individual mechanical principles Mannlicher incorporated into his numerous models.

„Imagine fielding a light machine gun with a Bren-type feed system in 1885, or a semiautomatic, clip-fed rifle in 1893 utilizing a „hesitation lock“ that was to reappear as the „Blish lock“ in the Thompson submachine gun, or a gas-operated, semiautomatic rifle in 1895 incorporating many of the fundamental mechanical features of the Garand. Mannlicher did it…“

In 1885, Mannlicher developed the first semi-automatic rifle with the long-stroke gas piston design. The M1 Garand of WWII fame, which gave U.S. troops a crucial advantage on a battlefield with bolt-action rifles in the hands of the other powers, came directly from Mannlicher’s design, as did its later counterpart, the Russian AK-47, plus the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) of WWI and WWII fame, the M2 Browning .50 cal. machine gun and the M60 machine gun.

In 1900, Mannlicher also pioneered a rifle with the first short-stroke gas piston design, which was later followed by the Russian M1938 Tokarev rifle, M-1 Carbine, FN-FAL and M14.

Mannlicher also pioneered semi-automatic pistols long before the famed 1911 Colt .45 ACP was so much as a gleam in John Moses Browning’s eye.

So we owe a lot for the modern weapons of today to Ferdinand Mannlicher, perhaps even more than to John Browning?

Ferdinand Ritter von (translated „knight of“) Mannlicher is as famous in Austria and Europe as Browning is in America for the same reason, both were pioneering designers of many of our modern firearms.

Ferdinand Mannlicher was born on January 30, 1848 in Mainz, Germany. His father, a military official (K.K. Ober-Feldkriegskommissar) who originated from Brux (Bohemia) was garrisoned at the federal fortress there at this time.

In 1857, Mannlicher went to Vienna where he studied Maschinenbau (engineering) at the Technical University.

In 1869 he was employed at the K.K. Sudbahngesellschaft (Southern Railway Company) and after a short time with the state railway company he again moved to a private railway company, the K.K. Kaiser-Ferdinand-Nordbahngesellschaft, where he was employed in their construction department and finally attained the title of Oberingenieur or senior engineer.

However, for the talented technical constructor this job was rather boring and he started to think about early retirement.

But then he was approached by Josef Werndl in 1875, who encouraged him to develop a magazine fed rifle and offered him a job as a constructor at the Osterreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft (OEWG, Austrian Arms-Manufacturing Company) in 1878, the forerunner of the modern arms company of Steyr-Mannlicher.

Mannlicher hesitated until 1886 before finally he left his secure job to join Werndl.

During his visit to the Centennial exhibition in the USA in 1876, Mannlicher had the chance to study several plans and models for small arms at the Patent office of Philadelphia, Pa. for some days, possibly a valuable inspiration for his first rifle model which was offered to the K.K. Technical Administration Military Committee in 1879.

During the following years Mannlicher developed and improved numerous rifles, pistols and magazine designs for Werndl’s company.

Together with Otto Schonauer he also developed a successful rotary system for rifles which was patented in 1900 which became well known as Mannlicher/Schonauer System.

His first semi-automatic rifle design appeared in 1885 and his automatic pistol achieved great success yet he is most remembered for the bolt action rifles that bear his name.

His pistols became very popular, although not issued to the Austrian Army they were privately bought my many officers and adopted in many armies from Argentina to South Africa.

Mannlicher’s rifles, which uniquely allowed the loading a box magazine in one motion first produced first in 11mm and since 1888 in 8mm calibre, were adopted by the Austrian Army in 1886 to replace the Werndl rifles (last updated as M.1895), in the German Army as M/88 and in the armies of Italy, Romania, Portugal, Switzerland, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and France (as Karabiner Berthier) as well as in several states outside Europe.

For instance the first „practical“ test of his semi-automatic rifles was the civil war in Chile in 1890!

In 1887 Ferdinand Mannlicher was honored with the award of the 3rd class of the Order of the Iron Crown followed by his ennobling with the predicate of „Ritter von“ (translated „knight of“) on June 1, 1892 – diploma issued on December 14, 1892.

His interest in several political questions was crowned with his appointment as a lifelong member of the Osterreichisches Herrnhaus (Austrian Upper House) in 1899.

An assortment of his small arms were awarded the first prize at the World Fair in Paris in 1900.

On the 20th of January 1904 Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher, probably the most successful firearm constructor of all times, died suddenly at the early age of 55 in Vienna.

Between 1875 and 1904 he developed numerous rifles, pistols, and magazine designs for the firm, as well as the packet or clip loading system.

His first semi-automatic rifle design appeared in 1885 and his automatic pistol, the M-1905 achieved great success.

The Mannlicher pistol Model 1905, and the Steyr pistol M.1912, became milestones in auto-loading pistols technology, which was first applied in 1890.

According to W.H.B. Smith in „Mauser, Walther and Mannlicher Firearms,“ the Mannlicher 1885 with its long-stroke gas piston became the inspiration for the U.S. semi-automatic rifle M1 Garand 30’06 cal. introduced in WWII.

And the Mannlicher 1900 with its short-stroke gas piston became the inspiration for the U.S. semi-automatic M1 Carbine .30 cal., also introduced in WWII. Both arms followed Mannlicher’s designs, but half a century later.

Mannlicher’s M1890 design rifle led to the famous Steyr M1895 rifle, also known as Steyr-Mannlicher M95 straight pull rifle.

Mannlicher developed his first straight-pull bolt action rifle by 1884, and by 1885 he developed the Mannlicher en-bloc clip, which was inserted into the box magazine from the top, and automatically ejected through the opening at the bottom of the magazine as the last round was chambered.

This sped up the loading process compared to the earlier designs.

This design is noteworthy for the introduction of the first successful clip-fed rifle.

The Steyr M1895 rifle was manufactured by the Austro-Hungarian Empire at state arms factories in Steyr, Austria, and Budapest, Hungary.

More than 3 million M95 rifles were produced between 1895 and 1918. This rifle was issued to Austro-Hungarian army, and, after the fall of the Empire, to the Austrian and Hungarian armies. Numbers of these rifles also turned out in World War II, particularly in the hands of second line and reservist units.

Many were found in the hands of African guerrillas into the 1970s.

The M1895 is special in employing a straight-pull bolt action, as opposed to the more common rotating bolt of other rifles.

It is also renowned for a high degree of reliability and sturdiness, although this requires decent care and maintenance with an extractor that is notoriously prone to breakage.

Rate of fire is fairly high, for a manual action weapon, as there is no requirement to turn or twist the bolt when operating the weapon.

Mannlicher is most famous for patenting the Mannlicher-Schonauer rotary magazine rifle with Otto Schonauer.

Shortly before the turn of the century, Mannlicher designed, together with the OEWG-director Schonauer, another new bolt action rifle, which was destined to become one of the most successful hunting rifles in firearms history.

Its precision, durability, optimal handling, and reliability, plus a graceful outline, made the Mannlicher Schonauer Stutzen (full stock rifle) a worldwide sales triumph, which lasted for decades.

The Mannlicher-Schonauer is a type of rotary magazine bolt action rifle produced by Steyer-Mannlicher for the Greek Army in 1903 and later was also adopted by the Austro-Hungarian Armies.

This 1903 design is the forebear of the modern Mannlicher rifle, still produced by Steyr-Mannlicher today.

Compare the 1903 Mannlicher-Schonauer civilian-version hunting rifle to the current production „Classic Mannlicher“ manufactured by Steyr-Mannlicher and the „bloodlines“ are obvious.

In fact, this rifle is available in almost every modern caliber except the original 6.5 mm x 54mm cartridge.

A modern cartridge, the 6.5mm Grendel very closely duplicates the ballistics of the 6.5mm x 54mm.

Although the modern „Classic“ Steyr-Mannlicher rifles still incorporate some original features, like the butter-knife bolt handle, the distinctive actions and rotary (spool) magazines of the original Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifles are no longer used.

Ernest Hemingway frequently used the 1903 Mannlicher-Schonauer rifle, and mentions it in some of his writings, most notably „The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber.“

Gun writer Chuck Hawks wrote the following about the Mannlicher-Schonauer rifle:

Anyone who has handled a classic Mannlicher-Schonauer Carbine understands the appeal of this fine, compact firearm. Its bolt action was the simply the smoothest ever made. It is the only bolt action that I know of that will close and lock itself if the muzzle of an empty rifle with a fully open bolt is swung down to point at the ground. This is partly because of the outstanding machine work put into these rifles, and partly because the Schoenauer spool magazine does not drag against the bolt as does the follower in the box magazine of a Mauser style rifle.

The typical Mannlicher-Schonauer trigger mechanism, usually a double set type, was absolutely awesome. Just pulling the release trigger normally can fire the rifle, but the pull weight is a creepy 5+ pounds (about what you get today with a lot of factory made rifles). However, when the set trigger is first pulled to „set“ the release trigger, the release trigger then breaks with a perfect 8 ounce let-off (as adjusted by the factory). The set trigger can be adjusted for a pull so light that the weight of the trigger itself fires the rifle if the muzzle is elevated–which clearly should be avoided!

When a smooth, easy pointing rifle with a great trigger is chambered for a light recoiling and effective game cartridge, the average hunter and shooter is liable to suddenly become a good shot. Good shooting takes a lot of game, and 6.5×54 M-S rifles and carbines did just that, at first in Europe and then very soon in Africa, where the 6.5×54 cartridge was found to be excellent for plains game. Ultimately, the reliable and deadly Mannlicher-Schoenauer became known as the „Worlds Finest Rifle.“

The rifle continued to be manufactured in various forms (full, half-stock and take-down models) until 1972, and although production was interrupted during the Second World War, it eventually re-commenced in 1950.

The most significant modification to be made to the rifle, during its period of manufacture, was introduced in 1925 when the action was lengthened to accommodate such cartridges as the .30-06 Springfield and .270 Winchester. Although no longer in production, the rifle remains popular due to its aesthetic qualities, compactness, the smoothness of its action and its precision and quality of manufacture. The rifle is also known for its low recoil when chambered for the original 6.5×54 cartridge.

Source: http://www.johnwmyers.com/mannlicher.html  (März 2011)

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