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Steyr Mannlicher M95 (M1895) rifle
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ACTION FIGURES AT WAR

Upgrading a Formative (SOTW) Austrian Mannlicher rifle

mannlicher1.jpg

The Austrian Steyr-Mannlicher M95 rifle was the main battle rifle of the Austrian Army during World War One.  At the end of the war thousands of these were taken as war booty by the Italian Government and reissued to Colonial Troops in Africa.
 
This was a unique rifle in that it had a similar magazine design as the Carcano but the bolt was a straight pull bolt rather than the traditional turn bolt design.  Also of interest is the enlarged oversized trigger guard for use with gloved hands.  A lot of the fighting done by the Austrians against the Italians was done in the snow covered Alps.

All pictures below are thumbnails, click on them to see larger pictures

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Original Formative 1/6th scale rifle

The company Formative, Intl. created this line of action figures called Soldiers of the World and did an amazingly diverse line of World War One and World War Two figures as well as Revolutionary, Civil War and many other war eras.  This rifle came with the World War One Austrian Infantryman sometime in the late 1990's.  You can still find these uniforms and pieces in parts boxes and bins at various GI Joe shows and conventions across the country for a few cents up to a dollar in some cases. 
 
Not terribly accurate they do sometimes make a great base for customization and improvement.  I got mine from a fellow collector named Randy who lives in San Diego, California and sold it at his booth at the Weekend Of Heroes convention 2004 in a parts bin.

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Reworked Mannlicher ready for painting

Extensive work was done to create a more realistic weapon.  Formative did several design flaws when they created it.  The worse flaw was for some reason Formative made the weapon with a traditional turn bolt rather than a straight pull bolt.  I assume this was done to make mass production molding a simpler and less expensive job.  The second flaw was the entire receiver and rear sight had to eliminated and reworked to make it more accurate.  Last but not least, Formative put two grooved lines in either side of the magazine housing giving it a Mosin-Nagant look.  Why they did that is a mystery to me.
 
The changes I did in this picture are:
 
1. Cut off bolt handle and moved position of new (straight) bolt back to the rear of the bolt.
2.  Cut the rear of the bolt off just behind the bolt handle.
3.  Trim receiver chamber and add a tube to lenghten the receiver chamber. 
4.  Cut off the molded rear sight and add a more realistic sight ramp.
5.  Trim excessive detail from bolt surface.
6.  Fill gaps in sides of receiver with putty.
7.  Fill grooves in magazine sides with putty.
8.  Trim trigger guard down.
9.  Drill holes and add screws to magazine assembly.
10.  Make new bolt handle and add to bolt. 
11.  Drill out cleaning rod hole and add a wire cleaning rod.
12.  Cut off sling attachments, drill holes and make new sling swivels.
13.  Trim buttplate flat.
14.  Drill out gun barrel.
15.  Make a new sling and attach.
16.  Cut out circle and 'AOI' on the buttstock. 
 
There you have it.  This weapon is now ready for painting and will be given to Philip Garcia as I can't paint worth a plug nickle.  A picture of the final piece will be posted once it is returned to me.
 
As a side note, the 'AOI' I carved into the buttstock was a brand that was burned into the buttstocks of all the captured Austrian weapons given to the Italian Colonial Troops.  It stood for "Africa Orientale Italiana".

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Here is my completed rifle fresh from being painted by Philip Garcia.  I must say, this is the best rifle painting job I have seen in quite some time.  I will be doing a future custom weapon for Philip in repayment for his more than generous offer to paint my weapons for me.

Resources

Website:  The Rifle Sling Home Page
 
I can't tell you how valuable this website has been.  The only comprehensive rifle and weapons sling site I know of.  This website has helped me over and over again and I wish the owner of this website was currently taking emails as I would love to thank him for his unique and detailed work.  Whoever you are, THANK YOU.
 
Painting
 
I make no bones about the fact I can't paint a brick.  A huge THANKS goes out to PHILIP GARCIA (Legion entragere) for the outstanding paint job on this weapon.
 
Special Thanks
 
Go to Randy from San Diego who sold this rifle to me for .50 cents at the Weekend of Heroes.  I wanted to haggle, but in the end I forked over a buck for that and another rifle I picked up at his booth.  Ok.  I was kidding, but it was worth a laugh.  You should have seen his face when I told him, "But I want to haggle!".