Roth Theodorovic Prototypes: From Very Awkward to Mostly Ungainly

Today we are going to take a looks at a series of six prototype Roth Theodorovic pistols. These were a design that competed in Austrian pistol trials around the turn of the century, and eventually lost out to the Roth Krnka (adopted as the Roth-Steyr M.7).

For details on the political background to these pistols, I recommend the C&Rsenal video on the M.7:


  1. Every time I see one of these pieces by Ian on the various early automatic pistols, I find myself wondering what the firearms world would look like today absent the Browning patents. In that alternative history, I wonder if anyone would have come up with the same tilting-barrel solution he did, or if that would have remained an unexplored pathway…

      • Perhaps… One does wonder what unexplored avenues of mechanical function are out there, though.

        I’ve played around with a couple of alternatives, in my head. One would be something like a Browning tilt-lock barrel, but turned 90 degrees to lock on the ejection port edge, using a fixed pin in a cam track under the barrel. You’d have the magazine feed in from a left-biased position, and then lock up with the barrel parallel to the axis of the gun.

        The other would be a fixed barrel with a sort of Charles Petter-esque slide track arrangement that had the slide itself camming in the tracks in and out of locking behind the barrel.

        I can just about visualize how they’d both work, but what the hell is the point? About all you’d accomplish would be the sheer novelty of it; I can’t see any particular advantage to either alternative. Especially given that the Browning patents are long since expired…

        • I’ve always suspected that minus the Browning lock, the overall winner would be the Savage or Steyr rotating barrel locking system. Simpler and easier to machine and considerably sturdier than the alternatives (Mauser Feederle lock, Stecke lock, etc).

          Of course, even if JMB weren’t around to conceive it, Charles Gabriel Petter at MAS, or Piotr Wilniewczyc and Jan Skrzypiński at FB Radom, might very well have come up with it independently.

          On a personal note, for the reason of that locking system alone, I’ve always sort of wanted an MAB PA-15.



          • D;

            Later versions like the Bergmann-Mars were chambered for 7.63 x 25mm, 9 x 23mm, and in the case of the prototypes built for the U.S. Army’s pistol trials in 1907, .45 Colt Automatic (it wasn’t the “ACP” yet at that point).

            So it’s apparently “strong enough” for all practical purposes.



    • Many of the first semiautos had exposed barrels because that’s how revolvers and rifles were made, but the advantages of having the recoil spring in front of the trigger were pretty evident, so the bolt would have evolved in a slide anyway, sooner or later.
      Maybe the tilting barrel would have been used anyway, without becoming so dominant, or used and then forgot, remaining as a curiosity. In the end, tilting blocks, rotating barrels and delayed blowbacks work the same.

    • “(…)wonder if anyone would have come up with the same tilting-barrel solution(…)”
      I do not know if it does meet same requirement, but in 1899 Louis HELLFRITZSCH, gunsmith, a subject of the King of Prussia, Emperor of Germany, residing at Tempelkofer-Ufer l0, Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire have filled for patent for tilting-barrel recoil-operated Automatic small-arm. which resulted in granting of patent US675999A
      Whilst it is later that publication of US580924A by J. M. BROWNING. which took place in 1897, I find it highly plausible that Louis HELLFRITZSCH, gunsmith, a subject of the King of Prussia, Emperor of Germany, residing at Tempelkofer-Ufer l0, Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire was not aware of it, considering information circulation in 19th century, though I am unable to positively prove negative.

  2. Never underestimate the gun designer’s ability to come up with the most ungainly pistol design and then later come up with something robust and good looking. The functional status all depends on developments in materials, ammo changes and the designer being willing to experiment until it is a good functioning and reliable pistol, without parts breakage or lack of interchangeability. Maintenance has to be simple or militaries will not buy the gun.

  3. I think they are very attractive… Which may explain a few things, he he. Anyway if you were on a horse, at a gallop; you could sort of aim at the horse (Easier at a gallop) and due the “ungainly” shape of these beautifull, extremly ergonomic most shapely pistols; the recoil impulse may well cock your wrist back and thus the shot may hit the rider. Think about it: Bud’da bud’da bud’da “Horse there” well; pull the trigger on the ‘da and the gun is like the horse going sort of down, then the guns barrel like the horse is sort of (bud) so going sort of up… So you may hit the Italian, with this extremely sexy shot. Indeed.

      • Mind you I hope nobody posting on this site would seriously consider carrying a Glock 19 over this. I mean really. In the U.S yes… Your Police should carry them, they could simply have smacked Mr Floyd in the head with it (Look at it, good grip around that barrel for a club” after he kicked off. And he would have woke up, and gone home. And reduced all this silly bother; such as his untimely demise by P.C Cartman or someone getting shot with an Ar through the heart for weilding a skateboard at a mass shooter.

      • Try it, neeeigh! Ney… “Horse” Bang. If you have a horse one of these guns, and probably live in the U.S. Might be right.

        Blunderbuss 1798 pattern, brass barrell Royal mail issue; folding bayonet. In answer to policing, especually in Mexico… Simply increase it’s use 9000% over Glocks, make up for it. Ways.

        • “(…) Simply increase it’s use 9000% over Glocks,(…)”
          This might be problematic considering that even finally adopted Repetierpistole M.7 required much precise machining, as puts its The upper part of the frame is machined with two superimposed cylindrical elements, the top one receives the bolt and the barrel and the bottom one the recoil spring. One can only marvel at the complexity of the parts and the precision of machining when computer controlled machining did not exist. so it would be probably problematic to procure such fire-arm at price which could compete with Glock.

      • Well it was either, the striker had not been invented; or they wanted it shaped like that due to… My theory, possibly.

        Do you have any documents supporting your case otherwise Sir? Such as it was 1890 odd and they had transistioned from those manual operated “auto’s” from revolvers so they had yet to lay down the “correct” layout for an auto; so they had no other examples at all, that were less of… Or more of an ergonomic shape, to moderm minds like a colt 1903… Or 8 was it, anyway that. Your probably right I am just surmising, anyway; giddy up Ian you live in the U.S have access to these guns. Simply aquire a horse. And feed it peanuts, and say go! Or whatever you do.

        Prove the ergonomics is not beneficial to late 19th c cavarly.

        • But I will say this! Which is factual, these guns; were horse pistols, as was the eventual Roth Steyr in intent. Sooo… Possibly, there was a reason for the “odd shape” in comparison to a chap without a horse design.

          • Top tech like at the time; horses, auto pistols… It may have been they tried… It may not have been; frommer stopp… Was it, anyway worth pondering; I mean unless it was a technological restriction, these folk were not thick; they knew the guns that might suit the age.

            Which is not our age.

        • “Do you have any documents supporting your case otherwise Sir?(…)”
          I did not stipulate that alternative hypothesis is true, you provided certain hypothesis so yours is burden of proof.

          • Premise; Austro Hungarian cav wanted an advantage, so they tried… Ergonomics.

            Ergonomics… Which would not have suited a infantry officer. See. So they tried a wonky shape, lacking lasers. I just watched partially that othello blokes and his hot gun wife video; post commenting. And Army tech see, at the time. Army tech. Horses. Sooo… Might have been knocked up thus on purpose. Not because nobody envisaged any other way of doing it.

          • Which prior to this thread was a new thought to me… I figured it was due evolving from revolvers to manual “auto” operated pistols then autos. And it might have been, to a greater or lesser extent… But what it has brought home to me so to speak, is at the time that would be like a leopard 2 a6 (Pointless without air support; 500lb dumb bomb, bye!) but anyway, point is! To them it is not a black and white scratchy film, the sun is out it is reality like now; so they had certain ideas of tech… Better tech, and a gun you could fire in theory from a horse better “Accurate” than other guns; may have been amongst them. Now it may have proved a duff theory 9 out of ten troopers shot the horse in the arse as per… But it does not mean they did not try in the full colour movie of their lives.

          • Long barrels short sight radius “Did not need to be frame mounted” suggests some sort of; upwards aiming. Maybe Theodor was a cav officer from the balkans with the ich of his name; and he noticed they missed alot. Seems plausible.

          • Marshall neyyy! Horses. Meh. I know the barrel moves back, but it you wanted a longer sight radius; you could mount the sight on the barrel still; room. To me that suggests they wanted to shoot high, unless that is wrong? Is it?? If correct well the ergonomics also suggest shooting high. Sooo… Like maybe it was on purpose. Burp, might not have been, out.

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