From the Vault: Bittner Manual Repeating Pistol
Despite its Steampunk looks, the Bittner Model 1893 Repeating Pistol is not a prop from the "Firefly" TV series or some other retro-futuristic production. Steve and Keith found this rarity on their latest visit to Rock Island Auction Co. When Gustav Bittner introduced his MANUAL pistol in 1893, the Mauser "Broomhandle" pistol hadn't hit the streets, Georg Luger hadn't turned the awkward Borchardt C93 into the iconic pistol named after him, and John Browning was just beginning work on his M1900. That's right, the M1893 is not a semi-automatic. You manually cycle the action by operating the triggerguard / lever to load a round into the chamber, close the rotary bolt, and release the STRIKER to fire the round. Then work the lever to eject the spent shell, and a fresh round is pulled from the internal magazine. The Model 1893 fires a rimmed 7.7mm (.30 caliber) black powder cartridge. Bittner's clever manual action delivers many of the benefits of a semi-auto pistol without the risk of black powder residue gumming up its operation. This ensures good reliability from the M1893 and enables the equivalent of single and double action operation. There's a pushbutton safety and sights optimistically graduated to 150 meters. With its Webley revolver style grip, the Bittner sits comfortably in the hand. The Bittner's internal 5-round magazine is similar to that of the Steyr M1894. You fill it via an en bloc clip, the top of which serves as the feed ramps. When the clip is empty, it drops out the bottom of the magazine. There is also a quick-release button that lets you remove the clip with rounds still in it. The wood "forend" panels conceal the magazine spring and follower. So with all the Bittner M1893's innovation, you have a manual pistol that holds one less round than a revolver. What's the benefit? The compactness of its design, with one chamber instead of a bulky and complex (to machine) cylinder is a plus, and it's an evolutionary step toward the semi-automatic pistol. Besides, it's such a darned cool-looking example of Germanic over-engineering! Several hundred, maybe as many as 500, Model 1893s were built in 1897 and 1898 at Bittner's factory in Weipert, Bohemia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in the Czech Republic).