by Terry Wieland
This is not, admittedly, a puzzle that has me lying awake nights, but for many years I’ve wondered at the origins of the Mannlicher stock—a style in which the walnut stock of a short-barreled rifle reaches right to the muzzle.
This part of the puzzle originated in 1903, with the introduction of the famous and fabled Model 1903 Mannlicher carbine, chambered for the 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schönauer. Both rifle and cartridge established enviable reputations, even reaching into literature. Ernest Hemingway owned such a rifle, kept it on his boat, the Pilar, and mentioned it in Islands in the Stream in the famous scene with the hammerhead shark. And it was with exactly this rifle that Margot Macomber killed her husband, Francis, in Hemingway’s short story.
I think you’ll agree that, given its illustrious credentials, the Mannlicher is worth studying.
A couple of years ago, at Rock Island, I bought a mysterious little Austrian rifle built on one of the sub-sized Werndl single-shot actions. It took some digging, but eventually I learned it was built by the Vienna gunmaker Ferdinand Früwirth, purveyor to the imperial court during the latter half of the 19th century. The name on the barrel is Jos. Heinige, a well-known retailer in Vienna.
It was chambered for an equally mysterious cartridge that turned out to be one of the Werndl creations, and is now known by two dozen different aliases, including 11.3 Montenegrin. I prefer to call it by its original military designation, the 11.2×36 Österreichisch-Ungarische Kavallerie-Revolver Model 1870.
Knowing all this, I could pin the year of construction down to about 1880.
The Früwirth has a full-length stock, as you can see from the photo, and looks to be the ancestor of the Mannlicher 1903.