The Steyr M1912 was an Austro-Hungarian service pistol. It was the standard service pistol of the Austrian forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I.


Designed by Karel Krnka of Roth-Steyr M1907 fame, the M.12 was designed to meet requirements for an auto-loading service pistol for general issue to the Austrian regiments of the Austro-Hungarian military. It was originally issued to the Austrian Landwehr where their service pistols were Roth-Steyrs and Rast-Gassers.

During World War I, Austria-Hungary faced a shortage of pistols and as such, production of the M.12 was sped up. In addition to being used by Austria-Hungary during World War I, the M.12 was ordered by Chile, Romania, and even Germany, who ordered 10,000 of them. The M.12 was originally introduced as the Steyr M1911, and was actually fairly popular with officers and the like.

However, Steyr had to rely on exportation of the M.12 in order to sustain production. After the end of World War I, the new Austrian Army inherited large stocks of Steyr M.12s, which it continued to issue until absorption into the German military after the anschluss of 1938. After Austria was annexed by Germany, the latter's Wehrmacht placed an order for 60,000 of these pistols, albeit chambered in 9×19mm Parabellum; these pistols were designated the 9mm P12(Ö) (Österreichische, Austrian in English). This second order is completely unrelated to the World War I order for 10,000 pistols, as the original 10,000 pistols ordered by the Germans were still chambered for 9×23mm Steyr.

The M.12 is known to be a dependable and consistent performer, with a very reliable operating system and the ability to withstand the harsh conditions of trench warfare during World War I. Due to its popularity, many M.12s were made; at most 300,000 pistols were manufactured over a thirty-three year period from 1912 to 1945.

Design DetailsEdit

The M.12 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 M.12, 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.



Machine pistol variant with an extended 16-round internal magazine.

Doppelpistole M.12

Double-barreled machine pistol with a dual-mount stock.

9mm P12(Ö)

German variant chambered for 9×19mm Parabellum. Differentiated from regular M.12s by a Wehrmachtadler eagle proof above the trigger guard and 08 stamped on the slide.


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