Steyr M95 Semiauto Conversion (Video)

This rifle is a Steyr M95 straight-pull carbine that has been converted into a semiauto by adding a gas piston under the barrel connected to the bolt carrier, and an extension to the stock and receiver for the bolt to travel in. The pistol grip was added so that the trigger group could remain unchanged despite the longer receiver. It still feeds from the same 5-round Mannlicher clips as the standard M95, and appears to be in 8x50R (ie, not updated to the 8x56R cartridge).

This rifle is in the collection of the Beretta factory museum in Gardone val Trompia, but I have no information on whether they did the conversion themselves or acquired it elsewhere. Unfortunately, the bolt and piston mechanism is very sticky, and I was unable to disassemble it. However, it appears to be a quite simple conversion, as these sorts of things go. Just the project for the hobbyist gunsmith with a cheap extra M95 carbine and lots of spare time…

Thanks to Beretta for allowing me to have a look at this very neat rifle!

30 Comments

  1. Oh, fiddlesticks, I suppose the action is sticky from preservation grease or worse, oxidation! How does one avoid getting a bolt in the eye?

    • I do not think there is rust in such well preserved piece. It is clogged with stiff grease and stale with inaction. It just needs to clean, lube with thin oil and here we go.

    • Keeping the bolt out of your face is what the block at the end of the receiver is for (the part Ian points out at 4:40).

      This looks like a pretty slick conversion – certainly better than some other attempts I’ve seen.

      Definitely going on my list of things to make if I ever start that “semi-historical firearms” business I’ve been dreaming of.
      (Although mine would be chambered for that experimental rimless 8mm cartridge from 1929.)

        • I have very little information on it myself, all of it from Mötz’ Austrian Military Cartridges.
          It looks like it was an offshoot of the 8x56R development, very similar to the first prototypes (so somewhat higher volume than the final 8x56R, due to the different shoulder) but with the rim removed and an extractor groove cut in.

          He says that it was considered for service but rejected because conversion of existing rifles would have been to difficult (p293, first paragraph, last sentence) and gives the following dimensions:
          Caliber QuStat Photo RT GW HL SL NL CL TL BL
          8,3×56 S expl. 2ld P75k-2 1,10 1,10 3,20 44,00 8,20 55,75 75,85 x

          Caliber RDia GDia HDia SDia NDia MDia iMDia BDia PDia
          8,3×56 S expl. 12,40 11,00 12,45 12,00 9,15 9,10 x 8,30 5,05

          There’s a single photo on page 182.
          …And that’s litterally all I know about it ATM 🙁

          • I’m fairly sure the 8×68 is too long – its OAL is 87mm vs the 76mm of the Mannlicher cartridges.
            Of course, that only means the gun would have to be 100% new (using slightly bigger parts), and I’m not all that happy about the idea of butchering an original gun anyway…

          • “8×68”
            It is 8×68 S! (that S is needed as it indicate that 8 is bullet diameter)

            “the 76mm of the Mannlicher cartridges”
            That only mean that 76mm are guaranteed to fit. For example 8×68 S will fit into Mauser Standartsystem, despite it is longer that 7.9×57 (87mm vs 82mm). Question: what is maximal length for Mannlicher 1895?
            8×68 S might be anyway too long, but maybe 8×60 S would fit?
            http://weaponland.ru/board/patron_8x60_8x60_s_8x60_r_8x60_rs_mauser/44-1-0-408
            (overall length 77,84mm)

          • No, the S is redundant in this case.
            It’s obvious from context that I’m talking about the same cartridge as you, not some other 8×68…

            There’s about 2mm of space left in front of the topmost cartridge inside the M95 magazine, but that’s only because of the feed ramp.
            The second and third cartridge have about 1mm.
            I couldn’t get a feeler down to the last two.

            I should probably point out that I *want* to use this particular one-off experimental cartridge – chambering my replica of a one-off prototype rifle for a modern commercial cartridge would defeat the point.

          • Indeed, that is misunderstanding, you want exactly specified cartridge, when I think you wanted fast 8mm cartridge.

  2. I am quite sure this is not Austrian work; most likely created by Italians, possibly by Terni arms factory.

    One thing which immediately strikes me is length of addition into back of receiver. It appears to me of extra long construction and seemingly unnecessary to run the action. Unfortunately, as Ian stated, it was not possible to demonstrate.

    Another item which got my attention is the close proximity of gas tap to muzzle. With such short distance it does not provide lots of gas pressure duration. Overall this was probably ‘soft’ running system. They had a reason for it, I suppose. Very interesting and certainly logical step to build on Mannlicher (Manlicker?) action.

    • “Overall this was probably ‘soft’ running system.”
      Remember that Mannlicher 1895 was designed to be manual-operated so using ‘hard-kicking’ gas-operated might give unwanted effects.

      Anyway during early WW1 Russian forces captured Mannlicher 1895 rifles and prototype of self-loading conversion was done by Yasnikov:
      http://www.hungariae.com/Mann95Ru.htm
      in this case gas bleed is also near muzzle, because gas system was added on right side of rifle balance was poor. Also notice metal element added into to stock to avoid getting a bolt in the eye.

      Notice one thing from linked description: According to reports, an Italian Luigi Scotti Company worked on a similar alteration of a straight pull rifle to automatic.
      Can be rifle from video that weapon?

    • “logical step to build on Mannlicher (Manlicker?) action”
      In this place I want to mark that von Mannlicher himself also developed several self-loading rifles.
      This site: http://www.cruffler.com/trivia-August00.html
      seems to be good overview of von Mannlicher self-loading rifle. Notice that he designed light machine gun as early as 1885, but it was not technology-compliant and not doctrine-compliant with then-used-technology/doctrine. He designed later many various distinct self-loading rifle, using various principles of operation, but none enter wide production, so far I know.

      • Mannlicher has influence no only in rifle design, but also in automatic pistol field.
        Most notably so far I know, he introduce open-top-style slide, as can been see for example in Mannlicher Model 1901:
        http://www.hungariae.com/Mann01.htm
        which will be later utilized in various automatic pistols – for example: STAR M1914, Beretta modello 1934 (altered version, with forward “bridge”)

      • Von Mannlicher was a great inventor, he died a little too soon to have the degree of influence on semi-auto and automatic weapons that he had on rifles and pistols. ISTR reading somewhere that he designed over 150 unique firearm types.

  3. GunLab to the rescue! They could have made a 3 piece stock with just a new pistol grip part added. Looks like a smart design. Thanks for the great video.

  4. Straight-pull to semi-auto has always seemed like a logical development. The K-31 just needed a rod and a piston to be even cooler than the M1 Garand, if the Swiss had bothered. Speaking of 8x50R, if someone were to bother to get Federal or someone to load some modern ammo, I’d cheerfully buy one of the Indian Lee-Enfields they make for the domestic market. And don’t get me started on wanting one of those little .32 S&W top=break Indian Webleys if they would make it with a 6-inch barrel and ream the chamber out to .32 H&R semi-magnum.

  5. BTW, I took a closer look at the trigger mechanism,and there must have been at least one change we can’t see while the bolt is in place.
    Normally, the bolt cannot be moved while the trigger is pulled – the sear housing pivots up and interferes with bolt movement. That’s obviously not good for a semi-auto (or a full-auto, for that matter).

    Could be as simple as grinding off the nose (much like they removed the lugs from the disassembly catch), but I suspect it’s more complicated (to implement an interruptor – this is supposed to be a semi, after all).

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