Mannlicher Model 1886
Bolt-Action Service Rifle
The Mannlicher Model 1886 was, in effect, doomed by the arrival of the smokeless powder cartridge adopted by the French and their Lebel series.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Mannlicher Model 1886 became the first service rifle of the Austro-Hungarian Army to feature a magazine. Design of the weapon was attributed to Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher and went on to replace the outgoing single-shot Styer Werndl service rifle of 1867. The Model 1886 was chambered for the 11mm Mannlicher cartridge that fed from an integral box magazine (via five-round "clips") which allowed for repeating fire without reloading. It was eventually itself superseded by the Mannlicher Model 1888 following the wide-scale adoption of smokeless powder cartridges (led by the French Lebel series).
The Model 1886 began as the Model 1885 and entered trials with the Austro-Hungarian government under the guidance of an established committee. A few subtle changes to its design eventually led to the Model 1886 designation which was formally adopted on June 20th, 1886. As European powers appreciated the large-caliber approach for time, an 11mm cartridge was selected for the Model 1886 stocks. Serial production soon followed and the Model 1886 was recognized as the standard service rifle of the Austrian Army.
The Model 1886 featured a single-piece wooden stock which integrated the forward handguard, receiver, grip and shoulder stock. The curved trigger unit was protected by an oblong trigger ring. The integral magazine protruded ahead of the trigger ring with a noticeable gap in between. The major internal working components were concentrated at the upper portions of the receiver and included the bolt lever, firing pin and firing chamber. A rear sighting device was set at the mid-portion of the receiver ahead of the ejection port. The barrel ran the distance of the wooden body to the muzzle to which a slight portion of the barrel assembly overhung the wood. There were two bands along the handguard area as well as a nose cap aft and under the muzzle. As in several Mauser designs of the period, the Mannlicher Model 1886 also made use of a stacking rod at the nose cap (not to be confused with a bayonet mounting). As a bolt-action rifle, the Model 1886 required the operator to actuate the bolt lever handle in a straight-pull fashion. This allowed for semi-repeating fire for as fast as the operator could manage the bolt and there stood an ammunition supply. Bayonet mountings were present - a required fixture of service rifles of the period.
Unfortunately for the Austro-Hungarians and their new Model 1886, the French adoption of the 8mm Lebel bolt-action service rifle and smokeless powder ammunition all but made rifles such as the Model 1886 obsolete in a short manner of time. The Austrian government was then forced to re-chamber nearly all of their existing Model 1886 into an 8mm caliber and this, thusly, produced the Mannlicher Model 1888. New-built Model 1888s were also added to the mix while production of Model 1886s ended quickly.
Many Model 1886s were shipped overseas to parties in South America - Chile being a well-known recipient of the type and marked as such - due to the close relationship between some European powers and this region of the world. Perhaps as many as 93,000 Model 1886s were eventually manufactured.