1908 Steyr Pieper (Austrian)

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This is a Steyr "Pieper" 6.35mm version with the tip-up barrel and a six round magazine. The 1908 Steyr Pieper is an extractor less blow back design with a drop barrel.  The recoil spring is mounted over the barrel, in the fashion of the FN Browning of 1900, and the guide rod for the spring has a hook on its rear which engages the reciprocating breech bolt when the barrel is latched down.  There is a release lever for the barrel on the left side of the gun.  A separate breech bolt receiver is mounted atop the rear of the frame and is secured by a single screw on the 6.35mm version.  (1722)

NOTE: Photographs taken today with the high mega-pixel camera show more than we sometimes can see with the human eye. Magnified close-ups show us tool marks and natural surface conditions that one normally doesn't see in the ordinary handling of the weapon. Photographs are copyrighted, all rights reserved, any extraction, reproduction or display of gun pictures without the express consent of the Phoenix Investment Arms is strictly prohibited. Thank you for your cooperation. Please visit Legal (tabbed) for Conditions of Sale.


Steyr is a town in Upper Austria, founded about 980 C.E., which has been an important center of iron work, manufacturing, and arms production since the Middle Ages.  Josef Werndl, who came from a long line of gunsmiths in Steyr, worked in the Colt and Remington factories in Hartford, Connecticut in 1852-1853, where he learned the cutting-edge manufacturing techniques of his era.  He returned to Steyr late in 1853 and rejoined the family manufacturing business, which was well established and employed as many as 500 workers, making rifle parts. By 1869 the company employed 6000 workers, and when Werndl took it public to raise money for expansion, it became the Oesterreichische Waffenfabrik Gesellschaft, Steyr, Austria, sometimes referred to by the initials OWG.  


The 1908 Steyr Pieper pistol was based on a design by Nicholas Pieper and Jean Warnant.  Pieper was granted various patents on the design from 1905 onward in Belgium, Britain, and Switzerland, and may have been assigned the rights to various patents by Warnant.  Pieper licensed Steyr to manufacture the pistol. This Steyr model 1908 is a self-loading, blow back operated, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered in 6.35mm (.25 ACP) caliber which is the smallest center fire pistol round in production.

The Steyr version differed in external details from the gun Pieper manufactured in Belgium (particularly in the more pronounced angle of the grip) but was mechanically identical, though Pieper also manufactured a version with a fixed barrel. 

This pistol utilizes a 6 round detachable box magazine and weighs in at 11.5 ounces unloaded. The overall length is 4.92 inches and the total barrel length is 2.24 inches. The pistol incorporates a blade type front sight and a V notch rear sight, both of which are not adjustable. The magazine for the Pieper is a bit unusual in that the  finger tab for extraction is located in the back instead of the front as most.


Josef Werndl died in 1889, but the company he founded lived on. Steyr produced the Schonberger semi-automatic pistol as early as 1892.  The Schonberger was a locked breech gun with a reciprocating bolt in a solid frame and a clip-loaded magazine in front of the trigger guard.  It is said to be “the first practical automatic pistol to be offered commercially,” though only a few hundred were made. The company also produced various Mannlicher designs, beginning with an 1894 blow-forward pistol; followed by an 1896 blow back pistol with a recoiling bolt, which was later refined into the widely imitated classic Model 1900 (sometimes referred to as M-1901) with a retarded blow back mechanism and an open-topped slide.


The breech bolt moves freely in the receiver, but cannot be blown out of it to the rear. As the breech bolt moves rearward, it cocks the hammer. Accordingly, the extreme light weight of the reciprocating bolt gave the 1908 Steyr a relatively heavy recoil. The .25 ACP can propel a bullet with a weight of 35-50 grains between 750 to 1200 fee per second, which yields a muzzle energy of between 65 & 103 foot pounds. Although the .22 long rifle cartridge is slightly more powerful when fired from an equal length barrel, the .25 APC is often viewed as better choice for personal defense due to its more reliable semi-rimmed center file case design..

Both the 7.65mm and 6.35mm versions were marked “OESTERR. WAFFENFABRIKS- GES. / STEYR.” on the left side of the receiver.  Both versions were marked “PAT. № 9379-05 u № 25025-06” on the left side of the barrel. Also on the left side of the barrel will be found the last  digits of the date of manufacture.

The right side of the receiver was marked “N . PIEPER PATENT”. The right side of the barrel was marked with a Swiss patent (indicated by a cross) “PAT. + № 40335.”

1903 locked breech pistol with the magazine forward of the trigger guard.  None of these guns was produced in a very large quantity, but they do indicate that the Steyr company was at the forefront of European automatic weapons design and production.


On the bottom of the back trap is found a European style heel magazine release lever. An empty magazine will not eject from the pistol under its own weight. This firearm does not incorporate any type of slide hold open mechanism to inform the operator that the last round has been fired. The frame is made from steel and has a beautiful and deep blued finish. The checkered hard rubber grips have the OEWG logo on top and then STEYR underneath. The pistol incorporates a  thumb safety lever that is located at the top right hand corner of the left grip.  Field Strip video: Field Strip Video on Youtube

This was an unusual blowback pistol with a tip-down barrel for single shot loading. The barrel was retained with a pivoting bolt and it was held by a thumb-latch barrel-locking mechanism. The recoil-spring rod ended in a hook engaging a lug on the slide, disengaging automatically when the breech was raised. This almost mint example can be dated by the number 22 stamped on the left side , i.e. 1922

The top of the 1908 Steyr Pieper shows the connect latch (center) for the tip up barrel and at the rear the "v" cut rear sight and front sight blade.  Hardly more than an intimate defense gun but if aiming is an option you would need practice to make it work.


An extraordinary find: A model 1908 Steyr Pieper 1922 manufactured in 6.35mm (.25 ACP) caliber. This pocket pistol is offered for $650.00 over the counter. These older pocket guns qualify under the C&R license but still make good use of themselves for a pocket gun in the self-defense role.

We reserve the right to sell any internet offering to a direct sale and do not warrant the availability of any firearm that does not have a physical deposit. This gun may be withdrawn without notice for in-store sale. Call for availability Any questions or request for additional pictures email to josef@phoenixinvestmentarms.com.



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