Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024) Special Forces

Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

Mannlicher-Schonauer Model 1903

Bolt-Action Service Rifle [ 1903 ]

The Mannlicher-Schonauer Model 1903 rifle found few takers for its part in the early half of the 1900s.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/12/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The M1903 Mannlicher-Schonauer ("Model 1903") was a bolt-action rifle taken into service by the army of Greece and, to a lesser extent, the Austro-Hungarian Army in the early part of the 20th Century. Design work was had in 1900 and involved arms-maker Ferdinand Mannlicher and engineer Otto Schonauer and went on to utilize a turn-bolt action system influenced by the German Model 1888 (Gew 88) gun. For his part in the story, Schonauer developed the rotating "spool" magazine used in the Model 1903 with related patents attributed to him as far back as 1886.

On the surface, the rifle was conventional through-and-through with a full-length wooden body-stock-forend arrangement. The metal components were inlaid and encompassed the bolt-action system, firing chamber, and related mechanical systems. The trigger loop was slung under the frame in the usual way with the shoulder stock extending out from the pistol grip in traditional fashion. Finger grooves were cutout along the forend and the rifle was banded ahead of the action and capped aft of the barrel. Iron sights were positioned over the receiver and over the muzzle.

Internally, the rotary cartridge system was of high quality and deemed more reliable than traditional box magazine inserts. As each cartridge was inserted into the awaiting chambers, the spool was rotated to accept the next until all five chambers were filled. A simple ejection button found along the right side of the body could flush all five cartridges out of the gun in short notice. The locking system involved lugs found along the bolt head and rotating into "seats" set in the receiver.

The finalized rifle was debuted for public consumption in 1900 and offered in both military and sporting forms to suit whatever takers could be found across either market. It was a slight departure from earlier Mannlicher rifle offerings in the use of a down-turned bolt handle as opposed to earlier iterations and their "straight-pull" actions. The combined Mannlicher-Schonauer patent was also granted to the pair of designers in 1900.

The product had trouble securing military contracts where one potential customer became the nation of Portugal. The Portuguese Army moved to secure a stock of approximately 1,000 of the rifles for testing but eventually went in the direction of the Vergueiro-Mauser service rifle for their needs - primarily due to per-unit cost as the Steyr design was crafted to such an exceptional standard for a service rifle (to better promote reliability in-the-field) that it made it cost-prohibitive to most budget-conscious armies-of-the-day.©MilitaryFactory.com
However, the Greek Army showed interest in the promising design and requested two forms to be developed - a full-length service rifle and a shortened carbine model. The rifles were collectively bundled under the "Model 1903" designation and, in each version, the rifle's carried five ready-to-fire cartridges fed manually by single round introduction or through five-round "stripper" clips. Both guns were sighted through traditional means (iron front and rear) and the rotary action was consistent between the designs. All told, the full-length rifle weighed 8.3lb against the carbine's 7.9lb carry weight. The rifle was formally adopted into Greek service in 1903 and could accept a 9.84-inch-bladed bayonet at the muzzle section for close-in work. Like other service rifles of the period, the Mannlicher-Schonauer was of considerable length for the average infantryman and the action was of completely manual function, requiring the operator to manage the bolt to extract spent cartridges and introduce fresh ones. The cartridge in question was the unique 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer round with good accuracy out to medium range though, in time, additional cartridges were introduced to satisfy a greater customer base.

Muzzle velocity was 2,225 feet-per-second and effective range could be met out to 600 meters through a trained shooter - though sighting was possible between 200 and 2,000 meters. The full-length rifle was 48.3 inches long compared to the carbine's 40.4-inch length - the latter making for a more manageable firearm from horseback or in confined spaces.

The rifle went on to be utilized across a plethora of conflicts related to the period, ranging from the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and World War 1 (1914-1918), to the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) and even World War 2 (1939-1945). 1914 saw the rifles updated to the "M1903/14" standard which included full-length handguards, stacking rods, and cleaned up actions. These, and their counterpart "M03/14" carbines, were only available in limited numbers to the Greeks during The Great War. M1903/14 rifles also went on to bear the mark of Breda of Italy and were stamped into the 1920s after being refurbished for the Austro-Hungarian Army and, later, further revamped through spare parts.

Beyond its interest by Portugal and formal acceptance by Greece and Austria-Hungary (limited numbers), the rifle was also identified in use with Albania and through the warlord armies of the Republic of China.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Basics [+]
Steyr (Mannlicher) / Osterreichische Waffenfrabriks-Gesellschaft (OWG) - Austria-Hungary
Albania; Austria-Hungary; Greece; Republic of China (Taiwan) National flag of Albania National flag of Austria National flag of the Austro-Hungarian Empire National flag of China National flag of Greece National flag of Hungary National flag of Taiwan
Service Year
National Origin

Design is highly variable / low-cost based on battlefield requirement and available materials; general use is in urban settings against an organized foe for high casualty count.

Operating action requires operator management of a bolt-handle or similar, clearing the chamber of spent cartridges and introducing a fresh cartridge from the magazine.
Supports 'iron sights' allowing for inherent accuracy in ranged fire.
Ease-of-use coupled with relative simplicity of combined components makes this entry a cost-effective solution for unconventional elements / fighting forces.

Overall Length
1,225 mm / 48.23 in
Barrel Length
725 mm / 28.54 in
Weight (Empty)
8.27 lb / 3.75 kg
Manually-Actuated Bolt-Action System
Manually-actuated process of managing the bolt lever to eject spent cartridge case, clearing the breech, to introduce fresh catridge into the chamber.
6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer (Primary)
*May not represent an exhuastive list; Calibers may be model-specific dependent; Always consult official manufacturer sources.
5-Round Rotating Magazine.
Iron Front and Rear

Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information.

Max.Effective Range
2,000 ft / 609.6 m | 666.7 yds
12 rpm
Muzzle Velocity
2,225 ft/sec / 678 m/sec

Model 1903 - Base Series Designation; covers full-length rifle form and shortened carbine model of 1903.
Model 1903/14 - Modernized rifle model of 1914.
M03/14 - Modernized carbine model of 1914.

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon representing special forces
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)