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Swiss Model 1893: A Mannlicher Cavalry Carbine



The Swiss were the first country to adopt a bolt action repeating rifle with their Vetterli, and followed this by changing to a straight-pull design in the 1880s. The straight-pull Schmidt-Rubin system was quite good, but one potential flaw was that it was a quite long action. This became an issue when the Swiss began looking for a short cavalry carbine variant to use, and decided that the Schmidt-Rubin action sacrificed too much potential barrel length in a short rifle.

Instead, a series of trials were held to choose a different action for the Swiss cavalry carbine, and many different companies and factories submitted designs. The winner was the Mannlicher straight-pull system, best recognized in the US today by the Austrian Steyr M95. The Swiss adopted a carbine with that exact Mannlicher bolt design as the Model 1893 - it used the same basic motion as the Schmidt-Rubin rifles but was a much more compact action.

Unfortunately, the carbines did not prove a good match for the Swiss service. Swiss troops found them to be overly complex to disassemble and insufficiently accurate (presumably they had been spoiled by the excellent performance of domestic Swiss rifles). As a result, only 8000 of the Model 1893 were purchased, and the design was deemed obsolete in 1905 and replaced by a Schmidt-Rubin design after all (these 1905 carbines are virtually nonexistent today, as almost all were modified to the later 1911 pattern).

However, the 1893 stands out as probably the highest-quality Mannlicher straight pull rifles ever made.