FEG 35M (Mannlicher M1935)
Bolt-Action Service Rifle
The FEG 35M bolt-action service rifle saw use in World War 2 and in the failed 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Following the end of World War 1, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no more, giving rise to the "Kingdom of Hungary" in 1920 and forcing a new military arm to be born from remnants (likewise for Austria). At this time, the national army was stocked with Austrian 8mm Mannlicher M1895 "straight-pull" bolt-action service rifles dating back to 1895. As such, design work on a new standard-issue service rifle began in 1928 with chief changes being a switch to the upcoming Austrian 8x56R cartridge as well as reworked iron sights to be read in metric measurements. However, these converted rifles were simply not designed to fire the more powerful 8x56R rimmed cartridge and this led to issues with the extraction system.
A new initiative was formed to find a new rifle that could fire the new cartridge. A Romanian Mannlicher - the M1893 - design was used as the basis though the "straight-pull" bolt-action system was also dropped in favor of a traditional rotating bolt-action assembly. Additionally, the forward portion of the rifle was shortened for a more manageable length. A new bayonet was also designed and this could be conventionally affixed to the muzzle end of the weapon for close-quarters work. A projection clip-fed magazine fitted ahead of the trigger group held five 8mm cartridges. The weapon could be loaded either through individually-inserted 8mm cartridges or fed with prepared 5-round "clips". The wooden body was now a two-piece system. The endeavor produced the 35M (or "35.M") series of 1935.
The 35M was essentially a very conventional bolt-action rifle in the traditional sense. The operator managed the firing action through manual actuation of the presented bolt handle set to the right side of the gun body, ahead of the trigger group. This action introduced a fresh cartridge into the firing chamber while ejecting any spent casings therein. The bolt locked along lugs found on the bolt head, rotating into "seats" on the receiver. The body was a long-running piece of wood consistent with rifle designs of the time to which the metal components were inlaid into the wood. The trigger was a curved assembly underneath the receiver and protected by a slim, oblong trigger ring. The wooden body also made up a contoured hand grip joining the shoulder stock and main body together. The internal magazine was held just ahead of the trigger group. Overall length (without bayonet affixed) was 43.7 inches with a 23.6 inch barrel assembly. Overall weight was 8.9lbs without the ammunition in place. By all accounts, the 35M proved a serviceable weapon - though a glut of Mauser-based rifles were still in circulation at the time, casting a long shadow over the Hungarian design. As such, she led a rather short service life with one notable fault being its two-piece stock, sometimes coming loose from the receiver. The 35M was produced from 1935 to 1942 with official Hungarian use ending in 1945.
By the end of the 1930s, World War had come once again to Europe and Hungary found itself allied with the Axis powers in 1941. As the German war machine was stretched to the limit, the army found itself in need of more weapons, forcing it to look outside its borders for solutions. One such source was Hungary and the weapon of choice became its 35M series. However, before delivery, the weapon underwent several notable changes to produce a rifle suitable for the German Army need. The action was reworked to accept the German 7.9x57mm IS rimless cartridge firing from a Mauser-style, charger-loading internal magazine. The bayonet mounting was reengineered to accept the standard German infantry bayonet. The new rifle form took on the designation of "G98/40" ("Gewehr 98/40") and these were produced at Hungarian factories in Budapest. Following in line with their German overseers, the Hungarian Army itself adopted a similar form of the same rifle as the "43M" (or "43.M"). These differed slightly in a cosmetic sense, with Hungarian military-style furniture. Germany eventually occupied Hungary in 1944 until it came under communist rule after the war.
Some 35M rifles were used in the inspired Hungarian Revolution of 1956 which was forcibly crushed by the Red Army.