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The Whatziss answered: the Roth-Steyr M7

Bragging rights to John(Not The Armorer) for getting there first! Og was tantalizingly close on the first day when he mentioned the Steyr-Hahn M1911, but just wasn't able to push it back far enough.

The progression in the whatziss was barrel, barrel-in-bolt, and then the hanging on of the unique bits at both ends which would make it readily identifiable as the Roth-Steyr Model of 1907.  

The great armaments concern of Steyr didn't have anything to do with the design of the pistol, they just built it and purists will tell you it should be called the Roth-Krnka M7.  Interestingly, even though the pistol was also built in the Hungarian half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Budapest firm of Fegyvergyar, you don't hear those pistols referred to as the Roth-Fegyvergyar M7...   Of course, the true purist would tell you the pistol should actually be called the Repetierpistole M7, but that's getting pretty cranky.

The pistol recently acquired from Dennis and Desiree Kroh of Empire Arms is one of the Fegyvergyar-built pistols - which are identical (aside from the early developmental models made at Steyr) but usually cost a good deal less.  I wonder if a collection didn't get recently broken-up, because there are suddenly a lot of these pistols (comparatively) available, at not staggeringly high values (compared to previous years) and none are import-marked, meaning they've been in the country for better than 40 years.  Regardless, the Castle collection now contains one and I never thought that would happen.

Georg Roth was an entrepreneurial man who owned an ammunition company.  Like many business owners, he was always looking for an advantage in the products he sold, and as is not uncommon in the breed, he thought it might be nice to develop a new cartridge incorporating all the recent advances, and, hey, since it was a proprietary round, better develop a pistol for it - and then sell it to the government in order to have a lock on ammo orders.  Civilian buyers could be finicky and not terribly loyal, but governments are behemoths and slow-moving, so if you get your pistol (and the cartridge you own the rights to) adopted... you're in heaven.  So, he had Karel Krnka, an engineer he'd worked with before, rework and improve a pistol for him, working from the basis of an earlier design Georg had marketed, the Roth-Theodorovic.

[This pic should embiggen]

Shooting a moderately powerful cartridge, the Roth-Steyr pistol fires from a locked breech of very complex design (and manufacture). The bolt runs the length of the pistol, enclosing most of the barrel, the rear end is solid, except for the firing pin channel. The best way to describe this for those of you familiar with M1911-style pistols is to imagine the slide of the M1911 enclosing the barrel as it does - and *then* fitting into a tunnel on the frame of the pistol, which completely encloses it.  And instead of the rib and toggle-link method of locking the breech, the slide has grooves in it that engage cams on the barrel, which rotate the barrel to lock and unlock the breech. When the pistol is fired, the barrel and bolt recoil together within the hollow receiver for about a half-inch or so. While doing this, the grooves in the bolt cause the barrel to turn 90 degrees, after which it is held while the bolt continues to the rear, cocking the action as it does so.

The pistol was originally designed for cavalry units, and therefore the thing has the trigger-pull from hell so the bubbas on horseback won't shoot themselves or worse, their horses.  The magazine is integral to the butt and the pistol is loaded via stripper clips, and has the obligatory (especially for mounted troops) lanyard ring.

This was the first automatic pistol to be adopted by any army. Other automatic pistols found themselves at war as private purchase arms, such as Churchill's Mauser he carried about as a young officer.  Needlessly complex, and it must have been expensive to make, none were made after WWI, though the pistol soldiered on in the Balkan nations and the ones given to Italy as war reparations can be seen in pictures of Italian soldiers as late as 1941.  They also found use as police pistols around Europe.

We like it.  We especially like the fact we paid less than half the going rate for Steyr-built pistols.


Too bad I was out of town for this one...I retired from Steyr 30 June, went on vacation 1 July...
So, Spiff, you're saying you were on the team that built these...?
Well, back in my youth...