The History of Steyr Mannlicher

Steyr Arms, a subsidiary of Steyr Mannlicher, is the U.S. importer, distributor and retailer for Steyr hunting, tactical and sporting rifles and pistols. Since its inception in 1864, Steyr Mannlicher has focused on the distinct principles of reliability and prestige. Through decades of challenges, Steyr has continued to prove itself to be the most reliable firearms producer.


Steyr Mannlicher has a rich history that began in Steyr, Austria in 1864, when a blacksmith named Josef Werndl founded "Josef & Franz Werndl & Company, Weapon Factory and Sawmill in Oberletten.”

Josef, along with a specialty technician Karl Holub, developed the breech loading rifle in 1867. This rifle was locked by a cylinder drum breech that could be turned for loading and back for shooting. The Austro-Hungarian military adopted it, quickly resulting in high order demands. With the new demand, “Josef & Franz Werndl & Company, Weapon Factory and Sawmill in Oberletten,” was soon changed to a stock corporation and renamed “Österreichische Bodencreditanstalt,” (ŒWG, Austrian Arms-Manufacturing Company) a stock corporation, with the help of the Austrian bank.

The Austro-Hungarian Army was also using the company's “repeating rifle” (M .85), patented by an engineer named Ferdinand Mannlicher in 1885. This new rifle utilized a cartridge clip loading system that enabled the shooter to load five or more cartridges at a time with one action. In 1886, the first straight-pull hunting rifle (M. 86) was introduced. Josef Werndl began working with Mannlicher, and ŒWG expanded to become one of the largest firearm manufacturers in Europe, exporting to more than 20 countries. By 1891, the factory had grown to be the largest firearms producer in the world.

Following the Austria-Hungary defeat in WWI along with the Allied Powers implementation of a ban on firearms production, ŒWG began producing automobiles to stay afloat amidst the difficult time.  ŒWG was rebranded as “Steyer Werke AG” in 1926, until firearms production was able to begin again and “Steyer Werke AG” merged with “Austro-Daimler-Puchwerke A.G.” to become the “Steyr-Daimler-Puch A.G.” in 1934.


After another hiatus during WWII, “Steyr-Daimler-Puch A.G.” was able to begin producing the Mannlicher-Schönauer rifles in 1950, which were created in 1903 by Ferdinand Mannlicher and Otto Schönauer.

Fast forward to 1969 and Steyr Mannlicher’s launch of the sniper rifle SSG 69. This new innovative rifle was the first Steyr hunting rifle to feature a compound stock, a compound magazine, hammered barrel, and the new locking system, which became a worldwide bestseller. But it wasn’t until 1977 that Steyr produced its groundbreaking contribution to firearm manufacturing with the release of the Steyr STG 77 (AUG A1). The Austrian Federal Army established it as its new standard semi-automatic rifle.

Today, as it was in 1864, Steyr Mannlicher is still known for manufacturing top-of-the-line firearms that distinguish themselves as accurate, proven and engineered for precision. In the twenty-first century, Steyr continues to build on its legendary reputation.