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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Some while ago I challenged an assertion voiced on this forum that the M95 short rifles are conversions of long rifles or “true” carbines. This theory originated, I think, in speculation by author David Nielson, in which he sought to explain reference only to “rifles” or “carbines” (but not “short rifles”) in the records that he discovered in his research in the Chilean archives. Having found no records showing any procurement of “short rifles” from Loewe, he theorized that records after 1912 that referred to carbines with “extended barrels” suggested that the short rifles were conversions undertaken in Chile.

As so often happens on internet forums, less careful readers took it further and treated speculation as fact.

From experience I believe it is beguiling, but often misleading, to read too much into the surviving documents, or to extrapolate too much from their absence. My opinion is based mostly on examination of a wide sampling of exemplar guns, and relatively little on documents. I confess to general ignorance of the Chilean contracts except to the extent that they are ably presented in Mr. Nielson’s superb book. However, I have in my own files many other—more contemporary--documents from the Chilean Army, and must note that after many years of dealing with foreign militaries, I believe that if those documents that I have encountered are any guide, they should not be slavishly relied on, or taken literally. Where the written record is inconsistent with the physical evidence, I place more credence on the hardware that I can see.

In the 1980s I inspected at the Arsenales de la Guerra in Santiago, Chile a quantity of 6,000 Mauser rifles, of which 1,100 were Carabinas M1912 Steyr (original short rifles, almost all in 7x57mm, a very few rebored or rebarreled to .30-06 —not NATO!). All of the remainder —i.e., 4,900, were M95s, listed on the Army’s inventory as Carabinas. Without exception these were all short rifles with 555mm barrels. They consisted of 900 M95/12 and 4,000 M95/12/36, the latter having been fitted with tangent rear sights to conform more closely to the Steyr M12 pattern.

Practically all of both the M12 and M95 carbines had seen long and arduous service; they were bruised and heavily worn (though I saw no rusty bores), but were still generally serviceable when they were retired and put in storage. Very few—perhaps less than 50—of the M12s still had matching-numbered bolts, though most other numbers matched. The majority had not been rebuilt; most still had their original finish—though not much of it.

In contrast, about 80% of the M95s did have matching bolts, but had been put through a maintenance/rebuilding program (probably multiple times), and usually were re-blued. In some cases their receiver crests were blurred, faint, or worn off. Most commonly replaced was the wooden stock, which universally (in every army) is the part with the highest mortality rate. A buttstock cartouche showing “ME” or “MF” rather than the year is almost surely a replacement from spares originally provided by the manufacturer; the serial number of the gun would be stamped on after assembly. Later on, when these and OEWG replacement stocks ran out, the arsenals had to rely on cannibalizing stocks stripped from unserviceable rifles.

Compared to the long versions of both M12 and M95 types —which often can be found in almost-new condition— my personal impression was that these short rifles received the brunt of the Army’s hard use because they turned out to be the length that the troops (and ultimately their officers) preferred.

My short rifle, C-9873, is from this lot. It was chosen for its overall condition and sharp crest. It was re-barreled, probably when it was turned in for rear sight upgrade. Thereafter it was officially classified as a "Carabina M95/12". It has been suggested that it may earlier have been classified as a “Mosqueton”, but I have found nothing official to support this.

What is noteworthy about this gun is that its stock is the original, and that its cartouche is dated 1895, not ME or MF. The stock shows a lot of wear and bruising, but does not appear ever to have been altered. Traces of the stock's original s/n are still visible, the “C” and the middle “87”. The rebarrelled action might have been re-blued, but it’s hard to tell. However: the stock inletting shows no sign whatever of being modified. This stock was purpose-made by Loewe for the short rifle, not shortened from a long rifle or lengthened from a shorter carbine. Note in particular the locations of the band springs and internal lightening slots, which are unique to the short rifle.

Its turn-down bolt is original, and matches, though the cocking sleeve is an OEWG replacement. The barrel, and the rear sight leaf, have tiny OEWG stamps, confirming that they were replacement parts supplied by Steyr. The re-barreling is hardly surprising; by 1912 this rifle may already have been in service for 17 years, and in the days of corrosive primers, barrels often didn't last long. By itself, re-barreling is not evidence of "conversion", while the stock date and the absence of any alteration are convincing evidence of the contrary.

The attached photos reveal the sharp, clean execution of its inletting, with perfect bearing of the barreled action. I don’t believe there can be any doubt that this stock is its original length, and was made by Loewe. I have examined dozens of stocks that have been altered by the Chileans at FAMAE, and I have yet to see an example that even remotely approached the workmanship of Loewe, Steyr or Mauser. The quality of FAMAE woodworking ranges from mediocre to execrable, and would be instantly obvious.

Surprisingly my short rifle was never upgraded to M95/12/36 with the tangent sight and higher front sight blade. Most of the M95 short rifles were. Nielson wonders why the latter were not simply called M95/36. I don’t know the answer to that, but I also don’t see what difference it makes that they weren’t.

M
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Another Chilean M1895 Short Rifle with year date stock cartouche:

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Grey Font Bumper Wood Automotive exterior


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Chilean M1895 Carbine, Chilean M1895 Short Rifle, and M1893 ZAR/Chilean Long Rifle

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Chilean Navy M1895 Long Rifle
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If one assumes that each M95 model had its own serial number range, and that all ranges began with an "A" prefix (big assumptions that deserve more investigation) it would appear that Chile received at least 30,000 short rifles.

M
 

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Some while ago I challenged an assertion voiced on this forum that the M95 short rifles are conversions of long rifles or “true” carbines. This theory originated, I think, in speculation by author David Nielson, in which he sought to explain reference only to “rifles” or “carbines” (but not “short rifles”) in the records that he discovered in his research in the Chilean archives. Having found no records showing any procurement of “short rifles” from Loewe, he theorized that records after 1912 that referred to carbines with “extended barrels” suggested that the short rifles were conversions undertaken in Chile.

As so often happens on internet forums, less careful readers took it further and treated speculation as fact.

From experience I believe it is beguiling, but often misleading, to read too much into the surviving documents, or to extrapolate too much from their absence. My opinion is based mostly on examination of a wide sampling of exemplar guns, and relatively little on documents. I confess to general ignorance of the Chilean contracts except to the extent that they are ably presented in Mr. Nielson’s superb book. However, I have in my own files many other—more contemporary--documents from the Chilean Army, and must note that after many years of dealing with foreign militaries, I believe that if those documents that I have encountered are any guide, they should not be slavishly relied on, or taken literally. Where the written record is inconsistent with the physical evidence, I place more credence on the hardware that I can see.

In the 1980s I inspected at the Arsenales de la Guerra in Santiago, Chile a quantity of 6,000 Mauser rifles, of which 1,100 were Carabinas M1912 Steyr (original short rifles, almost all in 7x57mm, a very few rebored or rebarreled to .30-06 —not NATO!). All of the remainder —i.e., 4,900, were M95s, listed on the Army’s inventory as Carabinas. Without exception these were all short rifles with 555mm barrels. They consisted of 900 M95/12 and 4,000 M95/12/36, the latter having been fitted with tangent rear sights to conform more closely to the Steyr M12 pattern.

Practically all of both the M12 and M95 carbines had seen long and arduous service; they were bruised and heavily worn (though I saw no rusty bores), but were still generally serviceable when they were retired and put in storage. Very few—perhaps less than 50—of the M12s still had matching-numbered bolts, though most other numbers matched. The majority had not been rebuilt; most still had their original finish—though not much of it.

In contrast, about 80% of the M95s did have matching bolts, but had been put through a maintenance/rebuilding program (probably multiple times), and usually were re-blued. In some cases their receiver crests were blurred, faint, or worn off. Most commonly replaced was the wooden stock, which universally (in every army) is the part with the highest mortality rate. A buttstock cartouche showing “ME” or “MF” rather than the year is almost surely a replacement from spares originally provided by the manufacturer; the serial number of the gun would be stamped on after assembly. Later on, when these and OEWG replacement stocks ran out, the arsenals had to rely on cannibalizing stocks stripped from unserviceable rifles.

Compared to the long versions of both M12 and M95 types —which often can be found in almost-new condition— my personal impression was that these short rifles received the brunt of the Army’s hard use because they turned out to be the length that the troops (and ultimately their officers) preferred.

My short rifle, C-9873, is from this lot. It was chosen for its overall condition and sharp crest. It was re-barreled, probably when it was turned in for rear sight upgrade. Thereafter it was officially classified as a "Carabina M95/12". It has been suggested that it may earlier have been classified as a “Mosqueton”, but I have found nothing official to support this.

What is noteworthy about this gun is that its stock is the original, and that its cartouche is dated 1895, not ME or MF. The stock shows a lot of wear and bruising, but does not appear ever to have been altered. Traces of the stock's original s/n are still visible, the “C” and the middle “87”. The rebarrelled action might have been re-blued, but it’s hard to tell. However: the stock inletting shows no sign whatever of being modified. This stock was purpose-made by Loewe for the short rifle, not shortened from a long rifle or lengthened from a shorter carbine. Note in particular the locations of the band springs and internal lightening slots, which are unique to the short rifle.

Its turn-down bolt is original, and matches, though the cocking sleeve is an OEWG replacement. The barrel, and the rear sight leaf, have tiny OEWG stamps, confirming that they were replacement parts supplied by Steyr. The re-barreling is hardly surprising; by 1912 this rifle may already have been in service for 17 years, and in the days of corrosive primers, barrels often didn't last long. By itself, re-barreling is not evidence of "conversion", while the stock date and the absence of any alteration are convincing evidence of the contrary.

The attached photos reveal the sharp, clean execution of its inletting, with perfect bearing of the barreled action. I don’t believe there can be any doubt that this stock is its original length, and was made by Loewe. I have examined dozens of stocks that have been altered by the Chileans at FAMAE, and I have yet to see an example that even remotely approached the workmanship of Loewe, Steyr or Mauser. The quality of FAMAE woodworking ranges from mediocre to execrable, and would be instantly obvious.

Surprisingly my short rifle was never upgraded to M95/12/36 with the tangent sight and higher front sight blade. Most of the M95 short rifles were. Nielson wonders why the latter were not simply called M95/36. I don’t know the answer to that, but I also don’t see what difference it makes that they weren’t.

M
Thanks a lot for posting this details!!!
I confess: i was the one who asserted that issue; and i asked for pics of a Chile M95 Short rifle, complete with '1895' Chilean stock cartouche.

MGMike, you showed me the final proof: a Chilean M95 Short rifle, complete with the Loewe-made '1895' stock cartouche, which confirms an original Loewe-made rifle!
I didn't see that stock cartouche on any Chile M95 SR before! My own sample doesn't have any stock cartouche, and other samples in the net didn't show the cartouche as well. But now we have the final proof, by your rille, and geladen's rifle as well!
--> there were original Loewe-made Chile M95 Short rifles. Some 30 000, based on serial no. (A, B, C serial # block).

Thanks a lot to solve that riddle!!!
Chris

edit:
sorry for posting that late, i was on Business trip to India...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bagiman: You have nothing to confess; as I recall you called it what Nielson clearly stated that it was: "a theory". Others on the internet leapfrogged it to "fact" status.
Nielson's book is a splendid academic achievement. But it suffers from his location "down under". He simply did not have access to a broad universe of examples that he could examine first-hand.

M
 

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Bagiman: You have nothing to confess; as I recall you called it what Nielson clearly stated that it was: "a theory". Others on the internet leapfrogged it to "fact" status.
Nielson's book is a splendid academic achievement. But it suffers from his location "down under". He simply did not have access to a broad universe of examples that he could examine first-hand.
M
Thanks a lot for your kind words!
I'm very happy that this question is now definitely answered, by 2 sample pieces, that clearly state what was originally delivered to Chile.
Of course it's always difficult to re-construct the past: since the DWM archives burnt down some 75 years ago, we do not always have the necessary 'primary sources' which we would like.
Time to look at a statistics of samples as well. Like the fact, that no Chilean M95 Long rifles occured in the 'I' and 'J' series # range, which was published some time ago here in the forum
-> that might have been you input, as i remember???

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I remember seeing an assertion to that effect, but not from me, though I may have commented on it; I don't really recall.

Clearly there has been a common (but not invariable) practice among German manufacturers to skip "i" or "j" (or both) as prefixes or suffixes, owing to the similarity of the two letters written in German, and to the ease of confusing an upper-case "I" with number "1".

I have no idea how or whether Loewe or DWM followed that practice.

M
 

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All I can say is "WOW"! What an amazing logic train that MGMike has given us that leads from a plausible theory stated Nielsen's Chilean Mauser book, to "internet factoid" (that is, BS), and now the real truth regarding M95 short rifles. Thank you for taking the time to work through the historical background.

Question for you: I have a B-series M95 SR with all matching metal serials and an FAMAE replacement stock that was force matched to the metal serial number. The barrel on my SR has a Chilean crossed hammer stamp but is not serialized. Do you now if original Loewe barrels were serialized? If so, then I assume this is a replacement barrel. Neither my M95 infantry rifle or M95 carbine have serialized barrels but those two examples may have had their original barrels replaced, so that does not prove anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I don't know. I would think yes, but that would only be a guess. One would have to take apart a lot of guns to say with greater certainty. I'll leave that question to others.

M
 

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All I can say is "WOW"! What an amazing logic train that MGMike has given us that leads from a plausible theory stated Nielsen's Chilean Mauser book, to "internet factoid" (that is, BS), and now the real truth regarding M95 short rifles. Thank you for taking the time to work through the historical background.

Question for you: I have a B-series M95 SR with all matching metal serials and an FAMAE replacement stock that was force matched to the metal serial number. The barrel on my SR has a Chilean crossed hammer stamp but is not serialized. Do you now if original Loewe barrels were serialized? If so, then I assume this is a replacement barrel. Neither my M95 infantry rifle or M95 carbine have serialized barrels but those two examples may have had their original barrels replaced, so that does not prove anything.
the barrels look to be serialized:
lower one: like-new M1895 Long rifle, with original Loewe barrel. An arsenal queen...
upper one: worn Short rifle. Barrel might have been changed and re-serialized, due to the un-even barrel serial no. She is de-mil'd acc. to German law...
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Chris
 

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Hello all

I don’t visit this forum as much as I would like and am glad that I did as this thread is interesting.

Considering the above relies of the assertion that the stock on MGMike’s example appear to be an original Loewe made stock, and the argument made centres on:

“What is noteworthy about this gun is that its stock is the original, and that its cartouche is dated 1895, not ME or MF. The stock shows a lot of wear and bruising, but does not appear ever to have been altered. Traces of the stock's original s/n are still visible, the “C” and the middle “87”. …the stock inletting shows no sign whatever of being modified. This stock was purpose-made by Loewe for the short rifle, not shortened from a long rifle or lengthened from a shorter carbine. Note in particular the locations of the band springs and internal lightening slots, which are unique to the short rifle.

As a starting point to progress this discussion, it would be very helpful if somebody could kindly post a detailed, side-by-side image of the stocks from all three versions of the M1895, i.e., a rifle, carbine and short rifle, showing the barrel channels?

Regards
David Nielsen
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
David: I've put mine back together already, and at age 82 time is too precious to me to spend a day doing it again. That's a project for somebody else.

However, I will say with absolute confidence that one cannot produce a short rifle stock from a long rifle stock without holes and patches, or from a carbine stock without obvious splicing. You just can't get there from here.

By the way, I am now persuaded that all three M95 variations had their own alphabetical s/n series. True carbines in the D-prefix series have been observed, and short rifles with C-prefixes, which would mean that even if they started with "A" (not so sure about that now), the total number of carbines is underestimated.

M
 

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Hello all

Regards
David Nielsen
David,

As long as we have your attention. Would you care to give your opinion on what appears to be some sort of latter period small order from DWM possibly diverted from an other order or production similar to the ZAR/OVS diversion. The difference is that these are 1895 type with a round bolt face rather than the 1893 square bolt face ZAR/OVS rifles.


Glad to see that you are alive and kicking after the past two years of pandemic and lockdowns in Australia.

Joe
 
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