In the mid-1880s, the Austro-Hungarian Army sought to modernized their infantry regiments with a new service rifle. This created the 11mm Mannlicher Model 1885 which was finalized as the Model 1886 after trials. However, the French Lebel 8mm service rifle formally brought about use of a smokeless powder cartridge and this quickly made all smoke-based cartridge rifles obsolete. The Austro-Hungarians then took to revising the Model 1886 into the 8mm Model 1888 - though it took several years for Austrian engineers to perfect an indigenous smokeless powder cartridge. A semi-smokeless cartridge was introduced in 1890 and this was followed by the finalized smokeless cartridge of 1893. Model 1888 rifles produced for the newer cartridge types became the Model 1888/90 Cavalry Carbine. It was this cavalry carbine that originated the new Mannlicher Model 1895 service rifle for the Austro-Hungarian Army.
The Model 1895 continued the straight-pull bolt-action design of the original Model 1886 series. The Model 1895 utilized a thinner-neck 8x50R cartridge firing from an integral magazine fed from a 5-round clip. Key design differences greeted the Model 1895 over its predecessors including a single-piece trigger-guard and magazine case which were separated by a gap in earlier Mannlicher marks. The forend was shortened on the new design which exposed more of the barrel above the handguard. The body of the rifle remained a single-piece wooden element with all major internals set within the receiver in the usual way.
In practice, the Model 1895 was a more perfected form of previous Mannlicher straight-pull bolt designs. However, a weakness lay in the extraction process which was prone to collecting dirt and debris in the field, leading to jams. Nevertheless, the Model 1895 was available in numbers from the Steyr concern and many exported to Bulgarian and marked as such (adoption in 1897). The Model 1895 became the standard Austro-Hungarian service rifle, replacing all previous other marks which were relegated to second line use as a result.
Beyond the basic combat service rifle, the Mannlicher Model 1895 was produced in two other distinct forms. The first was intended for use by cavalry elements and became a shortened carbine form as a result and lacked the traditional bayonet mounting. The mark was known as "8mm Mannlicher Model 1895 Carbine". The second was intended for artillery infantry and rifle training and known as the Model 1895 "Extra-Corps-Gewehr" (or "8mm Mannlicher Model 1895 Short Rifle"). This version retained the required bayonet mounting surfaces as in the basic infantry form. An evolved form combining several aspects of the two designs emerged just before the start of World War 1.
The Model 1859 was produced in some 3,000,000 examples before the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War 1 (the war ending in November of 1918). Many surrounding European nations also made use of the type, particularly after the war. A new rifle intended to replace the Model 1895 was under development in 1914 (prior to the war) and known as the "Repetier-Gewehr Model 1914". However, the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on neighboring Serbia ended all further work on the type. Manufacture occurred at the Steyr factory and at the Hungarian Femaru Fegyver es Gepgyar (FEG) facility in Budapest.
Mannlicher Model 1895 rifles survived into the post-war world. Czechoslovakian types were reworked to accept the more powerful 7.9x57mm Mauser cartridge while the Italians received stocks as war reparations in the early1920s. Due to their wide-spread circulation, they could still be found in action on the battlefields of World War 2.