Original Austro-Hungarian Model 1867 Werndl–Holub 11.15mm Rotary Breech Infantry Rifle - 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 is a very nice "attic fresh" example, stored for years and just recently come to light. It has a lovely brown aged patina on the exposed metalwork, while opening the breech shows the original bright finish. We have given it a light cleaning and wipe down to preserve the patina, while maximizing the display potential. The rifle still has regimental markings on the steel butt plate. It is nicely dated 1868 (868) on the lock below the Austrian Imperial Eagle.

ŒWG (Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft) 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. Some were marked with the ŒWG logo on the receiver, while others such as this are marked WERNDL. It is also marked St.69 on the barrel, indicating acceptance in 1869, the year after it was produced. The rifle also has regimental markings on the butt plate tang, which appear to read 39. D.A.R. 2. 84., for the 39th Divisions-Artillerie-Regiment, 2nd battalion, 84th weapon.

The metal finish is a lovely brown on this rifle, with just a bit of peppering on the end of the barrel. The stock is in very good condition, showing the usual scrapes, gouges, and dents from use in service. It still has a lovely aged wood finish, with some darker areas near the fittings, and a bit of cracking near the butt plate. There is also a crack hear the receiver tang on the left side.

The bore is in excellent condition, with crisp lands and grooves and a mostly bright finish. There is just a small bit of oxidation in the grooves close to the muzzle, and otherwise there is little to no sign of use. The rotating breech functions correctly, with the ejector presenting, though we have not tested it on actual brass. The lock functions correctly, holding at half cock and firing at full. The original cleaning rod is still present, as are both sling swivels.

Overall, this is a very nice "attic find" example of a very peculiar breech loading system, ready to own and display!


Year of Manufacture: 1868
Caliber: 11.15×42mmR
Ammunition Type: Center-Fire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 33 Inches
Overall Length: 50.4 Inches
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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