The great combined Austro-Hungarian Army of Emperor Franz Josef– as well as its two national reserve forces, the Royal Hungarian Honvéd and Imperial Austrian Landwehr–fielded the enbloc clip-fed Mannlicher M1895 rifle for the last few decades of its existence.
Chambered in 8x50mmR, some 3.5 million(ish) of these were made by FEG in Hungary and Steyr in Austria as well as by CZ/Brno (the latter just starting in 1918.)
The straight-pull bolt action typically used a 30-inch barrel to produce a very hefty 50-inch rifle.
However, one of the rarer variants, sniper rifles which used telescopic sights made by Reichert, Kahles, Suss, Fuess, and Oigee, saw much lower production numbers, with just 13,000 made. Luckily Austria was home to the lion-share of optics makers at the time!
An even rarer subset of these was the M95 sniper carbine. Yes, sniper carbine.
And, as the Italians took most of these for war reparations in 1919-20, which Rome subsequently scrapped, they are one of the rarest of all sniper breeds.
My homie Ian has details on such a rifle, below.
Two pictures, about a century apart, but in the same part of the world and with the same context.
Just waiting for ET to kick up a fight somewhere past Uranus sometime around 2090, then we can put a Space Force sniper team here for a third picture follow-up.
The Europe Best Sniper Team Competition being held this week is like the World Cup of military marksmanship, but with tougher competitors. Held at the U.S. 7th Army’s Grafenwoehr Training Area in Bavaria for the past week, according to the Army the event tests “marksmanship skills, physical prowess, and mental agility while engaging in team-building competition.”
In all some 36 teams from 17 NATO countries joined by heavily armed and Russia-adjacent neutrals Finland and Sweden, faced off in a set of professional skill tests– and there is a ton of really nice hardware on display.
Much more in my column at Guns.com.
From the Hungarian site Kapszli comes a great piece on the Swiss Army’s innovative Model 1851 Federal Rifle, otherwise known as the Feldstutzer or Eidigenössischer Stutzer.
“The Model 1851 rifle at the time of the acceptance was truly the best military rifle of its age. First of all, it fired a much smaller diameter and lighter bullet than any other military rifle. While the French military rifle fired a 17 mm bullet, the American and British a 14.7 mm bullet, the Swiss rifle fired a 10.4 mm bullet weighing only 16.5-17 g. The bullet was pushed from the bore with a relatively high 60-grain charge of fine grade black powder resulting in a 440 m/s muzzle velocity and a flat trajectory.
The flat trajectory was a key feature in Switzerland the soldier had to master shooting downhill and uphill. The Swiss army consisted of free people for many centuries. These civilians were more important to the state than to let them be killed in melee combat so sniping the enemy from a safe distance was always an important element of the Swiss tactics since the introduction of firearms. It is also a reason why the shooting sports have been always so popular in this beautiful little country.”
Much more here
The Army has announced that Sig Sauer’s 1-6x24mm Tango6 optic has been selected to equip the service’s new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle.
The Tango6 series scope, as selected for a 6,069-unit SDMR requirement, will include a flat dark earth aluminum main tube, 762 extended range bullet drop compensation illuminated front reticle and a red horseshoe dot for daylight target acquisition.
More in my column at Guns.com
“A Sniper is Near, and the Man Pointing has Located Him, Directing the Sharpshooter to his Whereabouts,” by Marine combat artist Harry Reeks (1921-1982). Via Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.
Description: A Marine sharpshooter stands in profile with a rifle in hand, as another Marine points in front of them. The background of the image is left blank.
Here we see a Degtyaryov PTRD-41 team practice anti-air gunnery with a single-shot 14.5×114mm antitank gun.
Don’t laugh, it actually worked a couple of times, reportedly.
According to Soviet sources, one Red Army sniper of 82nd Guards Rifle division, Mihail Lysov, shot down a Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber in October 1941, using such a rifle while another Hero sniper of 796th Rifle Division, Vasily Antonov, downed a much larger Ju88 with four rifle shots of a semi-auto Simonov PTRS-41 in July 1942.
The single shot PTRD and 5-round PTRS were popular in the days of thin-walled tanks such as the PzKpfw I which had just 13mm of armor at its thickest point (the 14.5mm round could zip through 40mm of steel at 100 meters), but as tanks got meaner the guns were basically used to snipe trucks and thin-skinned vehicles at ranges out past 1 km.
However, the Soviets used them in their whaling fleet as late as the 1970s
And they still pop up in the Donbass today…