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  1. #1
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    Dec 1969
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    Default Seeking info...Italian Marked Steyr M95's 1/06

    Author Topic
    Prez1981

    USA
    871 Posts
    Posted - 01/20/2006 : 01:08:12 AM
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    I'm looking for information on Italian marked Steyr M95's. I have observed quite a few. Most have been AOI marked and I understand DovAV has seen a CAS (Corpo Arabo Somalo) marked example.

    Were most of these reworked by the Italians in the 1920's and 1930's? I'm sure most of these weapons were war reparation and/or capture, correct?

    I have also observed some Italian marked M95's with simple CE or AO (in circle) marks on the barrel and in some cases on the wood. I have only seen 4 of these. One I can't recall the specifics about, two are recent imports, and one is an all matching long rifle. The three that I have information on are all 1916 dated. Anyone know roughly how many of these there are? Anyone know why there were marked as such? No AOI marks on the stock of the matching example, appears untouched. Any speculations as to WWI or post-WWI use/issue? I have attached a picture of one example below. I am very interested in finding out the barrel dates and serial number ranges of these pieces that have been observed.

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    Atlpete
    Gunboards Premium Member

    USA
    165 Posts
    Posted - 01/21/2006 : 2:19:43 PM
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    I believe you're correct as to being acquired as both war-reparations and capture, and they certainly had to have at least a minimal inspection, mix and match parts, AOI stamping etc. prior to re-issue though I will defer to the Doc or DM on the quantities and details.
    According to the Osprey series books, the AOI issued M95's (and other older arms like Vetterlis) primarily to their colonial infantry such as the irregular "Dubati" - Somalian Border guards or units like the "Bulucbasci" 5th Colonial Infantry recruited from Eritria. The books also indicate the M95 issued as such in both rifle and "stutzen" version. BTW,thanks for jpg of the receiver marks, I am looking for an example for my collection as well.

    junkbug
    Gunboards Member

    USA
    22 Posts
    Posted - 01/24/2006 : 07:20:43 AM
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    I do not have any sources I can remember, but I recall hearing that the U.S. Army encountered enough of these in North Africa captured from the Italian Army as to make note of them in their official manual(s) of enemy weapons.

    Sean

    DMala
    Gunboards.Com Silver Star Member

    USA
    570 Posts
    Posted - 01/24/2006 : 09:38:02 AM
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    Prez1981, I am not 100% sure because I do not have references available, but the CE stamp you have in the picture seems to me an inspector stamp, maybe not even Italian, rather than a unit/corps stamp. I never saw a CAS stamp, but definitely the AOI stock stamps are totally different. Maybe you can contact a M95 expert like Paul Scarlata (who contributes to this forum, but that maybe can be more easily found on the Austrian forum) and ask him if he is familiar with this stamp.

    Although available to all Colonial Troops, M95s and other captured/war booty weapons saw extensive use only in East Africa, and I believe that definitely they were not used during the fighting against the Americans in Tunisia, since colonial troops saw limited use only in the early stages of the war in North Africa.

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    DMala

    "Spero che la mia brigata viva per sempre nei nostri cuori, e che vaga in mona chi l'ha sciolta" (from the brigatacadore.it website).

    DocAV
    Gunboards.Com Gold Star Member

    Australia
    3278 Posts
    Posted - 01/24/2006 : 11:47:40 PM
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    M95 Rifles and carbines in Italian Colonial use were mostly restricted to AOI (East Africa) Theatre.

    The 8x50R cartridge, however, was used through out the Italian Colonies, in the M07/12 Schwarzlose MG, which was on general Issue throughout the Colonies, and several were captured by the Australians at Bardia (Libya) (photos, AWM). Libyan Native troops (from photos both pre-war and 1940-42, were generally armed with M1891 pattern rifles and Breda M30 LMGs, probably because the Italians had been there from before WW I, and it was closer to Metropolitan Italy. The AOI Colonies were further away, less investment in Equipment and troops, at least until the Abyssinian war (Dec. 35-March 36).

    Italian "Acceptance" markings on M95 etc. Austrian capture and War Booty weapons: I have about 5 examples of Italian issue M95s, and NOT ALL have Italian Inspection/acceptance marks. Those that do have the typical relief Oval small stamp with either "RE", "CE" or "AO" or the Savoia Shield ( St George's Cross) stamped on the receiver ring or the barrel shank. Sometimes it is hardly visible.
    The AOI stamp is more common, on the right side of the Buttstock, usually "branded" into the wood. Designs vary, as these "Brands" were locally made in AOI.
    The "CAS" Mark typical of Somalia issued M95s, is stamped on the undersurface of the Wrist of the stock, in letters about 8mm high (5/16th inch).
    The Rifles (either Wartime capture, or Post-Armistice Reparations,) were given a summary check, and repair, but there seems to have been no formal "Refurbishment" or "rebuilding" program. Mix and match did apply (bolts, magazines, barrels, stocks, etc.) but this was likely to have occurred in Africa. Some may have even happened pre-Italian Ownership...I have a M90 Carbine with some M95 parts(Cocking piece, one band,) and it also came from AOI (unmarked), although it is known from previous posts (JPS esp.) that the Austrians did rebuild/repair a lot of M90 carbines with M95 Parts up to WW I).

    Any Italian WW I issue of Captured M95 in the Alpine Front battles was limited to Sniping tasks, whether with Scopes( the units assembled with German assistance for the Austrian snipers) or just Iron Sights...the heavy ball 8mm round (244 grain) was much more effective that the similar( but lighter) Italian 6,5 at 162 grains.

    Wartime capture of Austrian equipment by the Italians was actually quite limited, given the roughness and difficulty of the Combat theatre...only when there was fighting in relatively flat areas, of the River Plains, did large quantities of Small Arms physically change hands(Both ways).

    During the 1930s, with the foreseen exhaustion of the original Austrian Booty ammunition, several contractors in Italy supplied quantities of 8x50R, mostly in the 1936-39 period. They are usually stamped "M8" and a two digit date ("Mannlicher 8mm").

    Regards,
    Doc AV
    AV Ballistics.

    Prez1981
    Gunboards.Com Silver Star Member

    USA
    871 Posts
    Posted - 01/25/2006 : 12:35:26 PM
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    Thank you for your response. DocAV, please check your e-mail. I'm very interested to learn more about your CE, AO, RE, and shield marked M95's.
    Thank you,
    John
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    http://old.gunboards.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=144514
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2006120184_100_0340.JPG  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Old Europe
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    Default AOI Marked Steyr M 95 Rifle

    Michael Jon Littman
    Posted - 10/21/2003 : 08:50:18 AM
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    I recently pulled a rifle out of my collection to drag around to shows for possible sale. I wanted to know your opinions about possible values on this piece. The rifle is branded into the butt with the mark AOI, which I understand is the initials of the Italian Army of the East. Is this correct?

    The stocks do show some signs of prior war damage that is consistent with damage I have observed on other rifles in my collection from the same era. The damage takes the appearance of small chunks blow off and inclusions on the wood that seem to indicate damage caused by shell fragments. This damage is finished over and seems to indicate a reused butt/handguard. Both butt and handguard serial numbers do not match. The wood is on good shape with the exception of the small chunks and inclusions with a lined out serial number (no replacement number) and the AOI circular brand in the butt. The barrel and receiver serial numbers do not match. The barrel is numbered 4021k and the receiver is marked 3912x...that is a x suffix and not a replaced number. The barrel is marked with Wn15 but only has one proof marking on the right chamber side. The receiver and barrel finish is starting to plum but is still much intact. The magazine is mostly totally blued.

    My conclusions: This M95 is a total rebuild after WWI using older previously used parts and a new/old stock barrel. Question: How did this end up in the hands of the Italian Army? Capture or reparations? The rebuild job does not appear to be consistent with one that has been observed on other M95 rifles, carbines or stutzen in the following manners:

    1. No attempt to make the serial numbers match or electropencil the bolt
    2. The stocks were not bleached/stripped of finish but appear to have had a new layer of finish applied over the old finish
    3. Rifle is still in rifle form and has not been converted to stutzen form
    4. Chamber is not S marked; which MAY indicate it has not been converted to the newer chambering..I have not checked yet
    5. The metallic surfaces on this rifle have not been dipped blued or prepared for refinish by buffing. Indeed the surfaces appear to indicate original, as made, finish.
    6. The overall appearance of the rifle does not look like rifles that I have seen that came out of post-WWI Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary or Austria nor does it bear any indicator markings it may have resided on these countries at any time
    7. No import markings

    My questions:

    1. Is there any way to determine if this rifle was captured by the WWI Italians, given to Italy as war reparations, or captured later by the Italians in Africa, Greece, etc?
    2. What would be a ball park value on this rifle?



    Mc
    Posted - 10/21/2003 : 10:41:50 AM
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    Doc AV is the expert on these, but I believe the AOI is
    the only evidence you will find that this is Italian Eastern Army.
    They were issued to the native troops (I believe)and I think it is
    very common to find them mismatched.
    Value, 200-300 dollars? If you decide to sell let me know,
    I would be interested.
    Mc



    Michael Jon Littman
    Posted - 10/21/2003 : 11:39:03 AM
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    Originally posted by Mc
    Doc AV is the expert on these, but I believe the AOI is
    the only evidence you will find that this is Italian Eastern Army.
    They were issued to the native troops (I believe)and I think it is
    very common to find them mismatched.
    Value, 200-300 dollars? If you decide to sell let me know,
    I would be interested.
    Mc
    Mc

    Thanks for the response. I am secure in the fact that this rifle was in the service of the AOI. What I am unsure of is how the Italians obtained it. Capture in WWI and later rebuild in Italy, from scrounged parts, would account for the battle damage and the abnormal rebuild. On the other hand reparations Post-WWI might also be a possible explanation. I expect that the Italians might have been handed rifles that were not in the best condition by the Austrians. The explanation that this was a WWII capture from Greece or other places does not jive with the time-line. So I am back to my question if this rifle was obtained via WWI capture or reparations?



    Devo
    Posted - 10/21/2003 : 11:57:09 AM
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    AOI is the Italian acronym for "Italian East Africa." Italy received a large number of M95s as war reparations after WWI. I don't know if there is any way to differentiate between a captured vs. reparations M95. M95s in Italian service were not converted to 8x56r, so your rifle is most likely in the original 8x50r.

    A very interesting find... If only it could talk!

    -Devo



    Michael Jon Littman
    Posted - 10/21/2003 : 1:55:48 PM
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    Originally posted by Devo
    Hello,

    AOI is the Italian acronym for "Italian East Africa." Italy received a large number of M95s as war reparations after WWI. I don't know if there is any way to differentiate between a captured vs. reparations M95. M95s in Italian service were not converted to 8x56r, so your rifle is most likely in the original 8x50r.

    A very interesting find... If only it could talk!
    -Devo
    Italian East Africa...humm, I knew that! What in the heck did I write above? OK where was Italian East Africa? Is that present day Somalia/Ethiopia?



    Devo
    Posted - 10/21/2003 : 3:38:32 PM
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    Michael,

    Italian East Africa (1913-1942)consisted of Eritrea and Italian Somaliland (roughly the northern half of present-day Somalia). Ethiopia was added in 1935. Italy's East African colonies collapsed during WWII from a combination of British invaision and Ethiopian rebellion. Ethiopia regained its idependence and was awarded Eritrea (which much later and after a long civil war became independent). Italian Somaliland remained under British control until 1950, when it became a U.N. Trust Territory under Italian administration. In 1960 it was united with British Somaliland to form present-day Somalia.

    Here endeth the lesson...

    -Devo



    DocAV
    Posted - 10/21/2003 : 6:48:37 PM
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    dear MJL, re Your AOI M95: Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian East Africa) calibre 8x50R; Captured and or Booty(reparations) during & end of WW I; Mismatched barrel to receiver could be either an Italian Post-war refurbishment or wartime (quite common in AOI rifles);

    AOI was already a referral to Eritrea (italian colony since 1885) and Somalia Italiana (Southern part,(1905-07)Mogadishu;--Northern part was British--1907...the "Mad Mullah revolt"). In 1936 Ethiopia became part of the African "Empire"; Brit. Somaliland was absorbed in July 1940, but Djibouti (France) remained "Vichy" and was not occupied.
    All reverted to British/Ethiopian control by end of 1941, and in 1945, Ethiopia gained partial control of Eritrea; it gained total control (absorbed into the Ethiopian State) in 1960-61.
    Eritrea gained its independance in the early 1990s, after a gruelling revolt lasting 30 years. Somalia was under British-UN administration till about 1950, then Italian-UN Admin. till 1960, whereupon the two colonies gained Independance as the Republic of Somalia.

    M95 rifles and carbines were the standard issue for native troops raised in both Eritrea and Somalia ( also Schwarzlose MGs) M91 carcanos etc in 6,5mm were only issued to Italian metropolitan troops based in AOI. The rifles for the Somalia units were also marked "C.A.S." (Corpo Arabo-Somalo) on the underside of the wrist of the stock...this signified the issue to the Muslim Somali Corps ("Somali-Arabic Corps") Most Somalis are Muslim (as distinct from the Erireans, who are 50/50 Muslims and Coptic Christians). The Italian Military culture in AOI gave full recognition to tribal religions, observances, and customs, and white officers in charge of "Bande Indigene" (native irregulars, or "Dubats") were expected to inform themselves of all the cultural necessities of living amongst their
    troops, who were ably led by long serving native NCOs (Buluk-bashi, or "sgt.major").

    Most of these AOI rifles have come from all over, having been sent after 1941 to India (most of them), to Palestine, and dispersed throughout the East African area, as far down as Rhodesia by internal trading and black market. I have several of various parts combinations, including a M90 carbine, several M95 rifles and Stutzen, all with AOI/CAS or Italian Acceptance mark on barrel stub (relief oval with crown and two letters, very small). All were Aussie "bringbacks" from Africa after WW II.(some from new immigrants from Africa since "independance" in many former British Colonies...The "King's African Rifles" which took Ethiopia, was mainly a Native manned Unit.

    Regards, Doc AV



    Michael Jon Littman
    Posted - 10/22/2003 : 7:35:12 PM
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    I have to say I am always amazed at the amount of information on these forums. Thank you to all whom replied to these questions. I am still dragging this rifle to shows here in Florida, more as a conversation starter than for sale.

    I have a few more M95 rifles in my collection that I am going to have to pull out and ask questions about. I know at least one has some unit markings on it. For what it is worth the AOI marked M95 is the crappiest condition one in my collection....even then it is not that bad off. When I place it on the table at shows it does not get much attention. I wonder if that it is because these are just not too many people collecting these in Florida or if the SVT 38, Serbian carbine, etc that it is sitting next to (on LenS's table) make it blush in comparison..?

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