MANUFACTURER(S): Steyr - Austria-Hungary / Austria
OPERATORS: Austria; Austria-Hungary; Chile; Kingdom of Italy; Nazi Germany; Romania
ACTION: Semi-Automatic; Recoil-Operated
CALIBER(S)*: 9x23mm Steyr; 9x19mm Parabellum (model dependent)
SIGHTS: Iron Front and Rear
Detailing the development and operational history of the Steyr Model 1912 (M1912) / (Steyr-Hahn) Semi-Automatic Service Pistol.
Entry last updated on 7/14/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Steyr Model 1912 (also "Steyr-Hahn") was an Austro-Hungarian handgun appearing prior to World War 1 (1914-1918). The storied concern of Steyr-Mannlicher handled its design and production. At its core, the Model 1912 was a sidearm of semi-automatic function chambered for the 9mm Steyr cartridge. It was also adopted by the German Empire (and later Nazi Germany) which eventually employed it through a 9mm Luger (Parabellum) chambering instead. As such, this pistol saw combat service in both World Wars.
The Model 1912 was developed for Austro-Hungarian Army service at a time when the revolver was still globally entrenched as the primary military sidearm. Designs from America and Italy would soon change the focus to semi-automatic types and many gun concerns followed. The Model 1912 saw its birth in 1911 but was not introduced until 1914 and this with special Austro-Hungarian units before wider adaptation was witnessed. At the outbreak of World War 1, the Model 1912 was already in quantitative circulation and several foreign buyers emerged including the German Empire. The gun acquitted itself quite well under the rigors of war time use.
Internally, the Model 1912 operated from a recoil action and was fed through an 8-round integral magazine (stripper / charger clips holding the 9x23mm Steyr M12 cartridges in line). Its semi-automatic function meant one cartridge was fired with each trigger pull and this action also cocked the weapon in succession. The barrel was rotated to lock the breech in the action and this was essentially a "cleaned-up" version of the function seen in the earlier Roth-Steyr Model 1907 pistol. Effective range was out to 160 feet with a muzzle velocity of 1,120 feet per second being reported. Iron sights were set fore and aft for some accuracy in ranged fire. The slide was smooth and rectangular with few major features breaking the fine lines - the muzzle protruding a short distance ahead of the forward section giving the gun a somewhat unique appearance. The grip handle used a near-vertical shape and the trigger was solid within the oblong trigger ring.
Germany returned to the Model 1912 in the period leading up to World War 2 (1938-1945) when it annexed Austria in 1938. Another batch-order followed and these examples were those chambered for the Luger pistol cartridge mentioned earlier. In official German Army service, the pistols were christened as "9mm P12(O)" and physically marked with "P-08" along the left side of the slide assembly for identification purposes. About 200,000 of the guns were given new barrels to fire the Parabellum cartridge and this allowed the Model 1912 to remain consistent with other German pistols of the period.
One of two major model variants of the Model 1912 pistol line became a "machine pistol" form. This design included an extended magazine for additional rounds and an automatic action was added. A solid stock was typically fitted to the rear of the gun to help offset the uncontrollable nature of such a small weapon firing at such a high rate.
The other major addition to the Model 1912 line was the "Doppelpistole" M.12 which was essentially a "double pistol" design combining two Model 1912s into a single product - a double-barreled approached being achieved. In this arrangement the M.12 functioned more as a submachine gun than machine pistol but its tactical value was questionable.
As many as 300,000 examples were produced during the run of this above-average semi-automatic service pistol. The series was the standard Austro-Hungarian sidearm until the demise of the Empire in 1918. Chile, Italy, and Romania were some of the notable foreign operators of the line (beyond Germany).
The Model 1911 was the commercial market form of the Model 1912.