Sunday, June 29, 2008

Range test: M95 Steyr Carbine

Picked one of these up from AIM Surplus a short time ago, and finally had a chance to shoot it the other day. You'll notice they have these for ninety bucks. They say 'overall very-good condition', and this one definitely is: good finish on the metal, no cracks or gouges in the wood and a very shiny bore with sharp rifling. Under all the european version of cosmoline, of course; this thing was liberally coated with it, including the bore being actually filled. Take note: rubber gloves are very handy at times like this.

It's a straight-pull bolt(similar to the Swiss K31) that fires the 8x56r cartridge, and loads similar to the Garand in that the five-round clip of ammo is inserted into the magazine, the clip acts as the feed lips, then falls out the bottom when the last round is chambered. Supposedly. AIM was out of the surplus ammo and I don't as yet have any clips, so it was single-load only. Sights are the basic tapered post in front, notch in rear. The rear flips up as a ladder sight for longer range, and is marked up to a HUGELY optimistic 2000 meters. I'm guessing they kept the same rear sight as the longer-barreled rifle. Trigger is two-stage and heavy, with a bit of creep in the second stage. Not much creep, biggest problem is the weight.

The ball ammo is a 200-grain bullet at about 2500 feet per second, which in a rifle this light must feel a bit punishing. I was using handloads, brass from Grafs and bullets cast from the Lee mold, nominally 205 grains with a gas check, lubed* with Lee Liquid Alox. I couldn't find any specific load data for the cast bullet; even the stuff that comes with Lee dies was only for jacketed bullets, so after checking gunboards I tried something that's worked with a lot of other cartridges:
This load works well for me: it might not for you. Check your own rifle/bullet/etc., and if you try this load be aware you're on your own: I'm not recommending it to you, just saying it worked for me.
Since the volume of the case seems about the same, I tried 16.0 grains of 2400 powder. And it worked nicely. As a guy at High Road put it, recoil was similar to the M1 Carbine, very comfortable to shoot. I was only able to fire at 30 yards(indoor range), firing three groups of five. Happily, the sights were just about dead on(longer range, might have to adjust the POI just a bit to the left) horizontally; groups were centered about 4" above point of aim, so it looks like they did the standard 300-meter zero on these. Groups were about 1.5-2"; with a solid rest and better light, I think it'll better that with no problem.

Ejection is forward and right. As I discovered when, after the first shot, I smartly racked the bolt back and watched my hard-to-replace case fly a surprising distance out into the next lane. Which was empty, allowing me to grab a broom and retrieve it. Further working of the bolt was done much more gently on the open. The bolt worked quite smoothly, popping the empties out nicely. I imagine with the clips this will be a very fast-firing piece. The one thing that bothered me is the rear sling swivel: it's on the left side of the grip, in just the right place to be a bit annoying.

Overall, I like it. It a unique rifle, short, light & handy, though light enough I doubt ball ammo is much fun to shoot, for that I think I'd get a good slip-on recoil pad. For $90 plus shipping(if you have a C&R) it's a good deal. Now I need to find some clips for it.

You know, be interesting to have one of the full-size rifles to go along with it...(NO, dammit! But they'd go so well together.)

*That Lee sizer is a very nice way to turn these bullets out. It mounts on any standard press, and the ram fits in like a shellholder. You lube the bullets with the Alox, let it dry, then put the gas check on the base, set it on the ram, and run it through. It sizes the bullet and seats the gas check, and the next bullet pushes the first one on through the die. Then another swipe of Alox, let dry, and you're ready to load it.

**I've used this basic load in four different cartridges, all with gas-checked cast bullets, with very good results. Five cartridges now. has detailed breakdown instructions on this rifle, all linked on this page.


Anonymous said...

If you ever feel the need to remove the bolt, you'll want a dime. Close the bolt, then pull the cocking piece back far enough to insert a dime flat in the notch. Now you can remove the bolt. You can do this without the dime, bit if yuor neighbor's kitten sneezes, the shock will cause the striker to fall. Then you will actually need all the naughty words you learned in the Service in order to get the bolt back into the action.

Gerry N.

Firehand said...

So far been lucky there, the head has stayed in the extended position with no problem.

MauserMedic said...

Should you want to experiment with some different powders/charge weights with cast bullets, check out the Lee handloading manual. There is a section with formulas for converting published jacketed bullet data to appropriate cast loads. I'd send it, but it's a bit out of reach for a while. I have used it many time for my surplus bolt guns, and have been happy with the both the load safety and flexibility in powders available.

Firehand said...

Mauser, I did not know that! And I think Dad's got a copy of their manual; next time I go down I'll check it out.

Anonymous said...

Old western scrounger has the clips for 2-3 bucks.

Anonymous said...

The battle sight setting is 5, as in 500 meters, so these shoot quite a bit high at 100 yards. I made an epoxy front sight and filed the epoxy down for a 100 yard zero. I shot a deer with it last weekend. The 205 grain Hornady ammo worked great. It would have been suitable for a much bigger animal.

Firehand said...

I've heard of using epoxy that way; I ought to get some and try it on this.

Yeah, I'd imagine that bullet/load would whack a deer with no problem. As you say, it would work on elk, too, I'd think.

Anonymous said...

To help with short range firing, take the slide sight and flip it vertical. Next, slide the long range sight to maximum range, ie. run it up the rail to the top. Now sight down at the bottom of the rail and you will see another smaller rear sight. Use this for aiming. It is lower than the normal or long range sight and forces you to lower the muzzle which brings your bullet strike down