This will be my 100th weapons related post here at Dieselpunks, enjoying every minute of it since starting way back in 2010. And judging by the ideas rattling around my head and the stack of reference in my home, there will be many, many more posts to come.
So, to mark my 100th post I wanted to introduce to you a classic but popularly overlooked weapon that celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
The Steyr-Hahn M1912.
Developed by the iconic Austrian arms manufacturer Steyr-Mannlicher the M1912 is a well-made and important early and successful semi-automatic pistol.
It was developed during the same period as the Colt 1911 yet it departs from his counterpart in caliber, magazine and method of operation. While the Colt propelled the always popular .45 ACP into gun culture, the Steyr M1912 was initially chambered for a proprietory Steyr 9mm round for the first two decades of service with the Austrian Army. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the M1912 was rechambered for 9mm Parabellum by Nazi Germany who also utilized the pistol.
Another difference with the Steyr M1912 was its fixed magazine. While the Colt 1911 had a replaceable box magazine, the M1912 had an eight-round fixed magazine inside the grip. The pistol was loaded by pulling the slide back into the locked position and a stripper clip (with 9mm Steyr ammunition captured in a slotted clip,) was placed on the top of the receiver. The operator then pressed the eight-rounds down into the grip, pulled the stripper clip away, released the slide and the gun was ready to fire.
The final difference between the two period guns was the method which the barrel unlocked from the slide and allowed the pistol to operate.
A link beneath the barrel of the 1911 secured it to the frame of the pistol. The actuated link allowed the barrel to unlock and tilt ever so slightly from the slide. This allowed the slide to cycle back, eject a spent round and return to battery with a fresh round.
Meanwhile the Steyr M1912 was designed with a short recoil helical system of operation. When a 9x23mm round left the barrel it and the slide recoiled slightly. This allowed a short helical style lug on the rear of the barrel to rotate 20 degrees, unlocking the slide from the barrel. With the barrel now in its full rear position, fractions of an inch, the pistol then cycled out the old casing and stripped a fresh round from the magazine.
If there was a problem with the feed or misfired ammunition, the magazine could be ejected through the top of the slide with a quick release.
A side note of the M1912 was a machine pistol variant developed. With a 16-round magazine and some trigger modifications, the M1912 was turned into the M1912/16 automatic weapon with a rate of fire of 800-rounds per minute.