Original Austro-Hungarian Model 1867/77 Werndl–Holub 11.15mm Rotary Breech Cavalry Carbine - Dated 1868

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The M1867 Werndl-Holub was a single-shot breech-loading rifle that the Austro-Hungarian army adopted in 1867. It replaced the Wanzl breech-loader conversion of the muzzle-loading Lorenz rifle. Josef Werndl (1831-1889) and Karel Holub (1830-1903) designed and patented their design; Werndl later bought out all the rights.

This wonderful example is fully functional, and in really great condition, with a lovely bright finish on the metalwork. It even still has regimental markings on the steel butt plate. It is nicely dated 1870 (868) on the lock below maker name FLORIANSCHÜTZ, seen on many other examples. The top of the chamber is marked FERD. FRUWIRTH, a known contractor and designer to Austria.

ŒWG (Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft) originally designed and produced the Werndl, and chambered it for the 11mm scharfe Patrone M.67 (11.15×42R) cartridge. In 1877 the military rechambered the Werndl for the bottleneck 11mm scharfe Patrone M.77 (11.15×58mmR) cartridge. As this example was contractor made, it does not have the usual markings on top of the barrel, however there is a proof mark over C.a.. The hammer, receiver, and barrel are all marked on the left side with 20, and there are some other number stamped onto the breech block thumb lever.

The carbine also has regimental markings on the butt plate tang, which appear to read 15 T. D. / 160., which is unfortunately not a regimental marking that we are familiar with. There is unfortunately not much information on Austrian regimental markings.

The bright steel metalwork has faded a bit to a nice gray patina over most of the carbine. It looks like the original sling swivels were replaced at some point, with one added to the butt stock, and the trigger guard swivel removed. The action moves well, and dry fires correctly, with the hammer holding at half cock. The ejector presents correctly, but we have not been able to test it on original brass.

The stock is in very good shape, with a lovely color, with some minor dents and dings. There are however some cracks around the receiver era on both sides, not uncommon due to the amount of wood that is removed for the receiver. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, with a mostly bright finish. There is some oxidation in areas, but overall this is a very nice bore, especially considering the use of black powder and the age.

Overall, this is a great example of a very peculiar breech loading system carbine, ready to own and display.


Year of Manufacture: 1868
Caliber: 11.15mm, most likely 11.15×58mmR
Ammunition Type: Center-Fire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 22 Inches
Overall Length: 39Inches
Action: Rotating drum bolt with Side Action Lock
Feed System: Single Shot

In spite of the Werndl being long obsolete by World War I, the Austro-Hungarian forces issued Werndl rifles to rear-echelon units to free up more modern rifles for use by front-line troops.

It was adopted by the Imperial Austrian Army in 1869 to replace the WANZL breech loading conversion of the muzzle loading Lorenz Rifle. The Wendl saw extensive service even after it was declared obsolete in the 1880s as it was issued to reserve regiments during the First World War and only finally becoming fully retired in 1918.

The principal feature of the M1867 was the drum-breech, which, while sturdy and secure, compromised extraction. The rifle had a one piece stock with a straight wrist, a back-action lock and an external hammer. There were two screwed barrel bands and a nose cap; swivels lay under the middle band and butt. A cleaning rod was carried beneath the muzzle. A bayonet lug appeared on the right side of the muzzle. Standard infantry-pattern trigger guards were plain ovals, but a finger spur was substituted for Jager units.

Made by Österreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft, Steyr, 1867-74

Quantity: 600,000

Rotary-block breech, with an external hammer

Caliber: 11x42mm rimmed

1278mm [50.3"] overall, 4.43kg 9.7 lbs

855mm [33.7"] barrel, 6-groove rifling, RH, concentric

Ramp-and-leaf sight graduated from 200 to 1400 paces

Muzzle velocity 436m/sec with M1867 rifle cartridge

This is the rifle that got Steyrwerks off the ground! As a result of the obvious superiority of the Dreyse Needle guns shown at the battle of Sadowa, Austria decided to adopt a small calibre metallic cartridge breech loader. The Austrians knew that the Wanzl conversion of the M1854 Lorenz was a stopgap at best and they engaged in extensive trials to adopt a successor. The Werndl was principally the invention of Karel Holub who associated with Josef Werndl, director of Styerwerks, to manufacture the rifle. At trials at the Vienna Arsenal, the Remington Rolling Block system was the clear front-runner until submission of the Holub and, when a decision could not be made, both rifles were submitted to the King who, (surprise!) chose the Holub.

This is a rotating drum-action breech loader that can't easily be missed for anything else. When the hammer is drawn back the longitudinal drum breechblock is rotated on a central pin by means of a flat lever protruding from and integral with the drum. The drum has a section cut out to allow loading of a fresh round and, when loaded, the drum/ block is rotated back, the cut-out being replaced by the solid face of the block. The firing pin is located offset within the block in a manner reminiscent of the Snider and Trapdoor blocks and recessed within the block allowing the block to pivot within the receiver.

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