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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Prez1981
Posted - 12/30/2003 : 5:32:30 PM
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I recently aquired a Steyr M95 long rifle from an auction and have some questions on it. I belive the rifle to have been issued to the Italians at some point in time.

It is still in 8X50R and is all matching (WWI method of matching). The stock is stamped in two or three places with a 1/2" circled CE, as is the barrel lip that abutts the receiver (1/4"). There is also a circled CE marking (idential to the circle/letter marks on other Italian rifle) on the chamber just below the Wn (eagle) 16. There are no AOI marks to indicate post WWI or colonial usage.

Any thoughts on it? The rifle is very nice and is a bringback. Would it have been captured/used by the Italians in World War One? I have heard Italian rifles with AOI markings, but never with any other markings.



Russianblood
Posted - 12/30/2003 : 8:10:36 PM
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I heard a lot of the M95 were given to Italy for war reparations after WWI. So many in fact that if you go to Amazon.com you can order a Steyr M95 manual for the Italian army.



DocAV
Posted - 01/01/2004 : 08:23:41 AM
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Of the thousands of M95 Rifles and carbines captured or delivered as reparations in 1919 to Italy, only a relatively small number were actually marked "AOI" or "CAS", or "RE" on the stocks, for use in the Italian colonies in Northern and Eastern Africa.
On the other hand, almost all of the acquired M95 were "inspected" by RE Armourers or Inspectors, and a small relief acceptance stamp applied either on the receiver ring or the barrel shank. This stamp consists either of the royal crown in relief within a small oval , or various inspector's initials (last name first) within an oval.

These small marks are often overlooked, unless one is aware of their existence as a possible marking of an original calibre M95.(other wood markings notwithstanding).

regards, Doc AV

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Story
Posted - 03/02/2005 : 4:43:55 PM
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I don't know about the rebuilding in Italy after they were surrendered as war reparations by the Austro-Hungarians, but when the Italians surrendered A.O.I. the Commonwealth gathered up all the ordnance they could find for reissue to Allied units (one of the first U.S. unit, an ordnance company, helped run the Asmara facility).
The Indian Army received thousands of ex-Italian weapons for the units that were training up in 1941. You might want to check with the guys on the British board, see if any of the unit marks are Indian.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Ex-AOI Mannlichers in the Far East

DocAV
Posted - 03/07/2005 : 7:51:55 PM
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The Demilled [Mannlicjher M 1888] Rifle probably came out of India...the cross hole demilling at the receiver-barrel junction is typical of the demilling done to Ross Rifles, P14s and other rifles of "nonstandard" designs in the Indian Army, so that they could be used for drill purposes only.
I have about 6 Ross Rifles (1915 acceptance from Butt dates), all in near new condition internally, with a 5/16th inch hole drilled through the barrel shank, cutting through the chamber, from side to side; the rifles are "DP" stamped, and have an added "Indian" serial Number of later application (Ross Mk III Rifles were not serialled.. they had a "store" number on the butt only. Similar details on P14s, in DP condition, with a "TD" roundel in place of the Butt disc (which is filled in) The P14s and Rosses are also painted with alternate cream and red (barber) stripes on foprestock and Butt.

I have already "re-activated" one of these Indian Rosses, by removing the barrel, boring out the .303 chamber, fitting a pressed in sleeve of barrel steel, and re-chambering it. The sleeve is locked in by both solder and two grubscrews fitted to the 5/16th hole ( I use 3/8x24 screws, sitting in dimples in the sleeve to "lock" the sleeve in, then sweat the solder in place, and finally fine grind the screws flush with the barrel surface. A reblue of the repair finishes the job ( and of course proper headspacing of the chamber, to suit "Good" (as in true to spec) .303 ammo. With the almost NEW Bore ( I doubt some of these were even fired in WW I...no signs of Cartridge wear inside the mechanism, only "drill wear" on the bolt and external surfaces.)

Getting back to the Mannlichers, I would say that they were used initially by African or Indian troops in Garrison/Guard duties in Abyssinia in the 1941-42 period, and then ended up (along with all the rest of the captured Equipment) in India, the more modern rifles (M95s and Carcanos) and MGs, going to front line training ( Burma Front) and the rest to straight training units and guard duty in the boonies of India.

The KNIL (Dutch East Indies Army ) recieved some 10,000 Carcarno Rifles and Carbines, through Australia, in mid-1941; some Breda M30s were also delivered; Details of this shipment are to be found in collected Aussie Foreign Affairs documentation relating to contacts between KNIL and Civilian East Indies administration with Australia, on the supply of Rifles, Ammunition, conversion of M95 Dutch rifles to .303, and the supply of an entire .303 ammunition factory in 1941.

The Carcanos were delivered (I have a Terni M91 Long, in an Indonesian-made M95 Dutch-type stock, with a Blacksmith-made magazine...real Native Bubba Job). The .303 ammo was also delivered, but by the time things were in train to organise the .303 ammo factory, Pearl Harbour had intervened. This was also the cause of the loss of a Shipment of M95 Long rifles which had been rebored to .303 in Sydney and Lithgow in mid-1941, and were shipped in late November 1941...the ship NEVER arrived at Batavia, (Jakarta) its destination. (Victim of the Japanese 5th Column in Australia???).
Details of this conversion were found in the Lithgow and Army records, and the tooling found some 50 years later (chambering reamers and trial M95 barrels specially made for the project.)

So...maybe some of the last sources of Mannlichers (and maybe Carcanos) is India???? It is well known that the Austrian 247 grain Round Nose 8mm projectile lives on in the .315 Indian cartridge ( an 8mm/303 cartridge)...descendant of the original 8x50R ammo made by India to feed its (AOI) M95s during the bad days of 1942-43, when it looked like that Japanese would roll up India through Burma...

We can but hope...
Regards, Doc AV
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The Kenyan Part of the Indian Connection

John Wall
Posted - 03/08/2005 : 05:02:47 AM
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Friends,
Many thanks for your continued interest and responses to this very fascinating subject. Since acquiring by AOI M.1888, I have been speaking to a friend who was active in the business for many years, including the early 1960's. From him, I learned that there was a large importation of rifles from Kenya to the USA prior to the passage of the Gun Control Action of 1968 and at least several years after Jumo Kenyatta came to power in Kenya. This group, known at the time as the "Gil Gil collection", is said to have been named after their storage location in Kenya.

This large accumulation (not really a "colllection") of weapons was acquired by the Kenyan Government shortly after independence, some perhaps from the previous colonial British authorities, but most of them from after the Kenyatta Government began restricting private ownership of firearms. I have been told that this group of rifles, numbering in the thousands, included many fine European and Mauser sporting rifles, as well as many older military arms including the FN and Mauser Werke A.G. Ethiopian short rifles that we see occasionally in North American collections today.

From what I can tell so far, these AOI rifles, along with many FN and Mauser-made military rifles, all likely came out of the same cauldron in East Africa. However, I have not yet discovered a collector or dealer of that time who can tell me for sure that their "AOI" stamped rifle was imported with the Gil Gil lot. Sometimes, the chase is much more fun than the find!

If any of you have knowledge of the Gil Gil saga and can correct or expand upon my information, please feel free to jump in and contribute. I am sure that I do not have the whole story! If you are close to a dealer or collector that was active in the trade in the mid-1960's, please speak to them about these rifles and see what they remember.

At the moment, I have no documentation on any of this. I am told that this shipment was sold off directly to dealers around the USA in large and small lots and was not retailed by a single dealer or company in the gun media of the day. So far this is the only potential source of these rifles that I have been able to run down. I'm still searching.

I have a feeling that, if this source pans out, a good oral history may be all we can find at this late date. I might add that I do have the name of the Gil Gil importer and his New York state location, but the information that he ended up in court over this shipment (a related customs tax issue) and the fact that he still may be around today makes me hestitate in going further with more information until I can locate it in public sources.
Best Regards,
John

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Edited by - John Wall on 03/08/2005 05:28:48 AM
 
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