In 1864, industrial pioneer Josef Werndl founded a company in a sawmill that would eventually become Steyr Arms. Since that time, the company has undergone many changes as old-world craftsmanship eventually made way for precision computer-driven machines. Through the rich history of the company, Steyr’s key standards have always remained true. Today, like its renowned cold-hammer-forged barrels, Steyr’s four pillars of excellence—innovation, precision, reliability and safety—continue to be at the company’s heart.
Steyr Arms has a long history as a leader in innovation and engineering. To solve the increasingly complex requirements of being a rapidly growing firearms manufacturer, Werndl turned to the then-new field of electricity and would eventually unite the city of Steyr, Austria, with electricity in 1884, making it the first European city with electric street lights.
With the lights on and Steyr Arms making a name for itself, Werndl and engineer Ferdinand Mannlicher partnered to create the revolutionary straight-pull bolt-action M. 85 battle rifle as well as the M. 86 hunting rifle, with it’s similar repeating-action design. With production numbers of the M. 85, M. 86, M. 90 and M. 95 rifles exceeding 500,000 a year, Steyr became the world’s largest firearm manufacturer by 1891.
The Mannlicher 8mm model 1895 rifle (carbine and short rifle) was introduced, and would eventually become the final model of the Mannlicher straight-pull rifles.
The 6.5mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle started production.
The 6.35mm and 7.65mm pistol models of 1909 were produced.
Over the years, Steyr has continued to innovate with the introduction of many new firearms designed for military use as well as those intended for sporting use. Steyr broke new ground in 1969 with the introduction of the world’s first commercially available long-range tactical rifle, the legendary SSG 69, which remained virtually unchanged and in production for 46 years.
Steyr introduced another revolutionary rifle in 1977, the iconic AUG bullpup that would be adopted by the armed forces of more than 24 countries and continues to be produced at both the Austrian headquarters and its American subsidiary.
After a nearly decade-long collaboration with author, firearms expert and Gunsite Academy founder Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper (USMC), Steyr introduced the general-purpose Scout, a rifle that was packed with features previously unheard of on a production rifle. The Scout was based on Steyr’s new Safe Bolt System (SBS) action, which is currently in use on several firearms such as the Tactical Heavy Barrel (THB).
First introduced in 1999, the Steyr M9 was the world’s first modular-frame pistol with a multi-function chassis (U.S. Patent 6260301).
Continuing its introduction of state-of-the-art firearms, the three-time FCSA Hunter Class world champion HS .50 was introduced in 2004.
Steyr Arms relied on several companies to import its firearms into the U.S. for many decades before it created a wholly owned subsidiary in 2008 in order to better serve the needs of its American consumers. Steyr also introduced the SSG 08, an advanced long-range tactical rifle that was built on the SBS action and designed to fulfill the needs of the Austrian Jagdkommando unit.
Late in the year, the company made a significant investment with the acquisition of a 33,000 sq./ft. headquarters complex in Bessemer, Ala., thereby creating a permanent base of operations in the U.S. The Steyr Arms USA facility boasts an indoor testing range, 5,000 sq./ft of office space, a 3,000 sq./ft showroom and 25,000 sq./ft of warehouse and manufacturing space that the company has filled with state-of-the-art CNC machines, laser engravers and various manufacturing equipment to produce firearms in America as well as to augment Austrian production.
Steyr continues to anticipate and cater to the needs of hunters as well as it does those of military and law enforcement. The past decade has seen the introduction of the CL II and the SM12, both with their SX synthetic stocked versions. The company also reentered the rimfire market with the release of the immensely popular Zephyr II rifle, after discontinuing the original Zephyr nearly 50 years ago.
Steyr added the SSG M1 to the lineup. With its multi-function rifle chassis and interchangeable barrels, the SSG M1 is unmatched in its ability to be mission configured, and it is the pinnacle of evolution for Steyr long-range tactical rifles. Steyr retooled its original low-bore-axis M-series pistol design with the release of the A2 MF line in 2019. The A2 MF modernizes that design with an updated frame, interchangeable grip panels, aggressive texturing, a flared magwell and a M1919 rail.
Steyr innovation in rifle design and technology reached critical mass when it unveiled an exceptionally unique hunting rifle, the Monobloc, at the 2019 SHOT Show. The heart of the Monobloc is its barreled action, which is cold hammer forged from a single piece of steel and then milled to form the chamber and action. The result is an ultra-accurate rifle, built to military-grade standards with the innovation, reliability and safety that have become synonymous with the Steyr name.
With all of the changes since 1864, Steyr Arms has never lost focus on its basic tenets. Owners of Steyr firearms can be assured of four things: innovation, precision, reliability and safety.