The Steyr M1911, sometimes known as the Steyr Hahn ("Hammer") was an Austrian self-loading pistol that was produced by Steyr. It was the standard service pistol of the Austrian Army during World War I.
The M1911 was developed at the Steyr factory following the Roth-Steyr M1907; the patents were taken out under the Steyr company name rather than any individual inventor, although it is generally thought that Karel Krnka was responsible for the design. It was initially offered to the Austrian Army, who adopted it in 1912 as the M.12, but was also sold for commercial export, with buyers including Romania (where it was adopted as the M1913) and Chile. A brief run was produced for the civilian market from 1912 to 1914.
During World War I, Austria-Hungary faced a shortage of pistols and as such, the M1911 began to be produced in greater numbers. Germany placed an order of 10,000 models. By 1918, some 300,000 units had been manufactured, and production permanently ceased upon the end of the war. However, the gun remained in Austrian service throughout the interwar period.
When Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, the Germans appropriated Austria's arms stocks and thus took their remaining M.12 pistols into service; in order to make them more compatible with their existing ammunition, the Steyr factory was ordered to rechamber 60,000 models into 9×19mm. The converted M.12 was taken into German service as the P12(Ö) (Österreichische). After World War II, the M.12 was retired from Austrian service.
The M1911 uses a short recoil system and is based on the Roth-Steyr's action. A conventional full-slide contains the barrel, the components being locked together by two lugs on top of the barrel engaging recesses in the slide. The barrel is held in the frame by a helical lug beneath the breech, which engages a groove in the frame. Slide and barrel move back together for a short distance after the gun fires, drawing the helical lug through the groove in the frame to rotate the barrel through about 20°. This disengages the top lugs from the slide and, as they do so, a fourth lug under the barrel strikes a transom in the frame and brings the barrel to a stop. The slide continues moving back, extracting the empty case and cocking the external hammer, then returns to chamber a fresh cartridge from the magazine. Barrel and slide then move forward and the helical lug rotates the barrel back into engagement with the slide. The magazine, integral in the butt, is loaded by pulling back the slide to open the action, inserting a charger and forcing the cartridges downward. A quick-release catch allows the contents to be ejected through the open action. The M1911, just like the Roth-Steyr, uses an internal magazine which is loaded via stripper clips. A quick-release catch allows the contents to be ejected through the open action.
A selective-fire machine pistol variant of the M.12, sometimes referred to as the M.1912/P.16, was produced during World War I for Austrian stormtroopers fighting on the Italian Front. This variant featured an extended 16-round internal magazine and a detachable shoulder stock. The M.1912/P.16 featured a fire selector which was fitted to the upper section of the trigger; switching the fire selector to automatic would disengage the trigger sear and produce rapid fire. The fire rate was around 900rpm. A few hundred examples were produced from 1916 to 1917.
- Doppelpistole M.12
The "Doppelpistole" was a special configuration for the M.1912/P.16 machine pistol achieved by attaching two guns together by a single twin-linked stock. This appears to have been done to create a weapon that was conceptually equivalent to the Italian Villar Perosa submachine gun. Few Doppelpistole stocks were made and it is not known whether this configuration was ever fielded.
- 9mm P12(Ö)
The P12(Ö) was simply the standard Steyr M1911 rechambered in 9×19mm Parabellum for use by Nazi Germany. These guns were re-barreled, and stamped with identifying marks such as a Wehrmachtadler eagle proof above the trigger guard and P08 on the slide. About 10,000 pistols were converted for this purpose.
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