Rifle: Dutch Mannlicher Model 1895

Netherlands Rifle Mannlicher M1895 Full tilt

Rifle Mannlicher M1895 Manufacturer Steyr, Hembrug
Cartridge 6.5×53mmR Overall Length 51″
Action Rotation Bolt Barrel Length 31.1″
Magazine 5-rnds en-bloc Weight 9.5 lb


The Netherlands joined the European smokeless powder revolution with this Mannlicher long rifle and the then-new 6.5mm cartridge.

As we’ve covered many times before, France started the smokeless powder race in small arms with their Modele 1886 Lebel.  Germany met it with the Gewehr 1888, which used a magazine borrowed from Ferdinand Mannlicher and an action evolved from the Mauser M1871 rifle.  Steyr-Mannlicher sued and won the right to produce the Gew.88.  It took the design and made various small upgrades and modifications, one variant of which was adopted by the Dutch.

With all of Europe rapidly advancing their small arms, the neutral Netherlands took a slow approach.  They finally decided to leave behind the single-shot rifle 1888 by modifying their own Beaumonts.  However, beginning in 1886 they had formed a committee to “consider the gun issue” and search out a modern small arm with which to arm their military.  The question posed to this group was simple “what gun should we use?” with no restrictions on ammunition type, weight, action, etc.  It was so broad that the committee essentially began testing every rifle they could find or that was submitted to them.  An impressive number of guns, including rifles like the Guedes and Jarmann, were screened while looking for a repeater, but the aforementioned French powder made all of those tests inconsequential.  The committee started over but still had few general guidelines.  This time Krag-Jorgensens, Mausers, Mannlichers, Piepers, Bergmanns, Beaumonts, and more were reviewed and with each failure or success a series of common concerns came to light.Netherlands Rifle Mannlicher M1895 Full leftOne major consideration for the Dutch was just what sort of magazine system to select from.  They had received Mannlicher-style rifles from their agent Schriever and unique designs from Leon Nagant of Belgium.  Documents from testing reveal that Nagant had provided a rifle that loads from a clip, while photographs show another trials gun of his, which loaded from the bottom of the magazine.  Perhaps both were tested but we know that the Dutch specifically rejected the “stripper clip” or charger system due to difficulty with loading.  At first this was a matter of concern over easy alignment and stripping rounds with big thumbs or gloved hands.  Later, after the decision to adopt a 6.5mm rimmed cartridge, this centered on repeated jams because of rim lock.  The Mannlicher was favored for its easy and simple en-bloc clip which could be handled without delicacy or much precision of movement.  It could also be pre-loaded to prevent rim lock and fed easily.  Despite these advantages it did leave an open ended magazine vulnerable to dirt, mud, and other fouling.  The Mannlicher was also looked over early on because of concerns that the rifle should have a magazine cut-off feature.  In 1890 the Chief of General Staff signed off that they would not be seeking this feature, so the en-bloc system was greenlit in 1891.

Netherlands Rifle Mannlicher M1895 ammoOnce the Mannlicher magazine seemed likely (and especially after it was a guarantee) the committee turned to ammunition.  Given the success of trials with Swiss and Italian 6.5mm, a series of test rifles were ordered through Schriever which mixed and matched 6.5mm and 7.65mm rimmed and rimless rounds along with variations of the Gew. 88 receiver.  6.5mm was found to be flatter shooting which provided a longer point-blank range and allowed for more natural aiming at distance.  It was lighter to carry, giving troops more ammunition on the go and making up for fears about repeating rifles.  This made it the natural choice for the committee.  In further testing between rimmed and rimless cartridges fewer faults were found with the former.  We’re unsure of the nature of these tests but it seems likely it had to do with extractions because a rimmed cartridge is a strange selection this late in the game.

Netherlands Rifle Mannlicher M1895 Bolt comparison

Comparison between Gew.88 and M.95 bolt face/ejector

Finally the action had to be resolved.  A Mannlicher design was still in the race but much of the testing had continued with the Gew.88-styled receivers in two flavors: original and Otto Schoenauer’s improved design.  The latter pattern won out, primarily due to distaste for the integrated bolt head on the Mannlicher design and Schoenauer’s better ejector.   So, as of 1892 Steyr-Mannlicher was producing a 6.5mm rimmed cartridge paired with a Mannlicher magazine and improved Gew.88 bolt.

Interestingly enough, during this same period, from 1890 to 1892, Romania had also been in talks with Steyr-Mannlicher to adopt a new bolt action rifle and their final gun, approved in 1892, was extremely similar to the final Dutch Model 1895, including using the same ammunition.  It would appear that Romanian and Dutch concerns were being compared, resolved, and remarketed throughout their concurrent test periods.  Many consider that the Dutch rifle is based on the Romanian, but it appears that it was developed in parallel, with the Romanian being adopted out of trials sooner.  One of the more noticeable differences is that the Dutch rifle uses a modified Mannlicher 1888-styled rear sight.

The Dutch then spent 1893-1895 toying with the details of the design.  Trials were conducted and the overall arm was satisfactory but a series of handguard length, barrel band adjustments, bayonet redesigns, sling swivel positions,  and an increased bolt knob size delayed finalization of the design until 1894.  In 1895 the Dutch military received approval for their budget and the rifle was officially adopted as the Geweer M.95.

Production began at Oesterreichische Gesellschaft Waffenfabriks in Steyr, Austria.  While exceptional in quality, one of the biggest thorns in the Dutch side was the high cost of these rifles.  Around 1900 the native Werkplaats voor Draagbare Wapenen in Hembrug started assembling rifles from parts shipped in from Austria, then began manufacturing parts, then in 1904 took over full production of the M.95.  This greatly reduced the cost of the rifles.  Ten years later this proved to be a wise investment, as increased mobilization in response to WWI greatly increased the demand for rifles.  Dutch officials attempted to reach out for foreign contracts but unreliable trade routes and wartime costs were high, so domestic production was dramatically increased.  Ultimately Hembrug kept up, although they did have to requisition walnut trees from private land to produce enough stocks!Netherlands Rifle Mannlicher M1895 actionNew production fell off after WWI.  With roughly 470,000 units produced (including carbines we’ll cover later) the neutral nation felt over equipped.  From here on the number of Dutch rifles slowly drops each year due to usage, breakage, and general loss.  By 1910 the 6.5mm cartridge was found to be a little weak and poor at physically stopping a threat, this was mostly through the opinion of the Dutch colonial forces.  Experiments were done with chambering an 8mm cartridge but despite wide praise this was never implemented, likely due to cost.  In the early 1920’s a growing number of accidents caused by soldiers discharging rifles after forgetting to reattach the bolt face drove research into modifying the actions.  The solution was found by Warrant Officer Drabbe, who suggested filing down the front of the bolt body so that a headless bolt would not pick up a cartridge from the magazine.  This solution was never broadly instituted.  Instead, doctrine was that the bolt should only be returned to the action without depressing the bolt release button.  A flat bolt body would not press the latch open whereas a present bolt head and ejector would.

Netherlands Rifle Mannlicher M1895 POVBeginning in the 1930’s the surplus of long rifles was tapped to provide police carbines through a simple shortening process.  In 1939 a similar process, although much more involved, was begun to create a “No.5” carbine from cut down rifles.  This was meant to help rearm the Dutch forces with handier, more mobile carbines that better fit the roles of a more artillery and anti-aircraft oriented army.  While these new carbines and the old rifles were wielded in the defense of the Netherlands from German invasion in 1940, they proved to be of little use against a combined air and armor campaign.  Carbines appear to have been adopted wholesale by German police forces in the occupied Netherlands but the rifles were apparently cumbersome because they took the time to cut holes in their stocks to fit their own leather sling.

Post war the Dutch rearmed with U.S. and British surplus arms, so the Mannlichers were retired to rear guard and, quickly after, dismissed entirely.  These guns had, however, lived the same extended service life as the Mosin-Nagant and Carcano rifles and proven to be a thrifty purchase after all.

Dutch rifles are somewhat unfamiliar in the U.S. and come in a dizzying number of patterns.  We’re currently working on a more comprehensive Q&D guide to help our site visitors with the various carbines.  On the long rifle front, there were three adopted in the 6.5mm cartridge: Army, Navy, and Colonial (KNIL).  The differences are minor and we’ll be happy to cover them as we encounter these guns.

Netherlands Rifle Mannlicher M1895 Full top


14 Responses to “Rifle: Dutch Mannlicher Model 1895”

  1. Maurice Krol says:

    Might be a strange question, is the 6.5x53mmR a widely available round? I’m looking to get an old Dutch M95, mostly because I’m Dutch myself, and would like to be able to shoot it more then once hahaha

    • Othais says:

      I’m sorry to say I know of no current manufacturers and have not seen any ammo dated after the 1950’s. I would consider any found to be collectable.

  2. Brad Chandler says:

    Dutch ammo is easily made with reloading tools from other milsurp calibers, as well as other caliber brass.

  3. Josh says:

    Great article! I’ve seen a few carbines with post 1918 dated receivers, were rifles produced past 1918 as well?

    • Othais says:

      Supposedly no rifles were produced after the WWI buildup. They simply over produced and some would even be converted to the No.5 pattern heading into WWII.

      I’m not sure if this includes KNIL M.1895 long rifles though. They were handled separately.

  4. I have wondered if the 6.5 Arisaka would work in these. The Japanese supposedly used the captured carbines they had seized in Dutch territories they conquered and their 6.5×50 ammo would work in them with limited modifications, since the major difference is that the rim is smaller on the Arisaka round, which is also slightly less powerful. If I get one, I’ll try it and report back.

    • Othais says:

      The Dutch cartridge is rimmed so it headspaces on that rim. 6.5×50 headspaces from the cartridge shoulder. So you would not have proper lockup/seal and risk catastrophic failire.

      I have heard resizing .303 is the only easy solution but some say that even it has too thick a rim and requires milling at the front to prevent extractor wear.

  5. Found a picture of what I mentioned in my previous comment!

  6. Dale Martin says:

    Matthew: The Japanese used the Dutch KNIL rifles and carbines. They DID NOT shoot their 6,5 mm in this weapon. They fitted their own type 30 Bayonets, but they did not have to use their cartridge, the captured plenty of Dutch and VOC Ammo…

  7. Dos Equis says:

    A very good article has been written which deserves more commentary, such as ammunition for this rifle.I provide my own method as a pleasant tale of a challenge, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
    I have formed the 6.5 x 53r in my experience from Winchester 303 brass. Start with new manufacture, not used. Trim to proper case length. A form and trim die, from RCBS(?) can be used, or, a lathe. Run the trimmed and formed case through a 6.5 x 54 full length die after trimming. Use a case lube when using the forming dies. Trim a second time aftercare forming. A fire forming afterward makes a smoother looking case before loading to a moderate level.
    Winchester cases fall within the possible parameters for the 303 British case better, in my opinion, than any other brass.I have used one foreign manufacture brass with boxer primer pockets, but have found overall case length to vary widely. They were also some of the most expensive components I have ever purchased.
    I understand this Mannlicher won the Bisley matches in Britain before WWI so thoroughly it was ruled out the next year.
    Enjoy your rifles and provide feedback.

  8. CJ says:

    Are you planning on doing a video on this rifle? If not I could loan you my Dutch Mannlicher full length rifle. I believe that it’s an old model and has a giant rear sling swivel.

  9. I have had very good success making 6.5x53r for my 1916 Hemburg Dutch M95 that has been sporterized and engraved .I too had been told one needed vurgin brass but that has not been the case for me . I started with new Horandy .303 Brit brass , ran it into a .308 win FL sizer die with out the stem ,then a .270 win fl sizer die ,that I shortened by 5/8″ .at this point I trim to length on a LEE Trimmer ,that started life as a .270 win case trimmer . Turned it to length and cut a new primer punch ,chucked in a drill with a file , primitive lathe . Then the cases are run thru the 6.5×54 MS FL sizer at this point I chamfer the case mouth ,polish the lub off in my Dillon case polisher and from there on out treat it like any other brass ,prime ,charge, seat bullet and shoot .If one sneaks up on the set back on the shoulder with the 308 and 270 sizer dies the finished product looks just like the fire foremed case. I have also had success forming once fired .303 Brit brass . Some 1941 surplus and PPU .

  10. My 1916 Hamburg adores Nosler 140 gr partitions ,also does well with Woodly 160 gr round nose

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