GENERALLY: The Wanzl conversion action was developed by a Viennese gunsmith in response to trials for a suitable breechloader to to replace Austria's M1854 Lorenz rifle-musket, (quantities of which were sold the the Confederate States during the American Civil War) the Austrians having been badly outgunned and crushed by the Prussians using their Dreyse needle guns during the "Seven Weeks" war of 1866. After extensive trials, the forward swinging block Wanzl conversion for muzzleloaders was adopted.
PHOTO: The rifle shown in the above photo is a M1866 infantry rifle. A second M1866 infantry rifle is featured in the remaining photos on this and the "MoreWanzl" page. The "Short Rifle" is considerably different, having a large, very heavy octogon barrel the front several inches of which is turned down to allow it to accept a socket bayonet. The short rifle is also fitted with an unusual "banana" rear sight. The rifle pictured here is more conventional, the barrel having been cut and threaded to accept the receiver as in the later (1868+) Allin conversions. Most all original parts from the M1854 Lorenz having been retained in the conversion .
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: An "Allin" type forward rotating breech block, a fat beavertail like lifting lever made as a solid piece with and located at the right rear of the block. Most interestingly, the breech block is locked at the moment of firing by a pin attached internally to the hammer which moves forward in the same line as the bore through the rear of the receiver and into the breech block in a manner very similar to the Albani-Braendlin, except that the firing pin is not lateral but runs diagonally through the block as does the Snider and Allin. The Wanzl has a distinctive, heavy nosecap. 14mm rimfire cartridge.
MISC NOTES: A tough one to reload for, ammo can be made by turning a piece of brass and drilling out a hole in one edge to accept a .22 rf from which the bullet and power have been removed, inserting, loading with black powder and bullet and carefully aligning with the firing pin!
Subj: Wanzl models
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Sheehan)
Inf. Gew M1854/67 length - 1335mm, two barrel
bands and nosecap.
Inf. Gew M1862/67 length - 1335mm, two barrel bands and nosecap.
Both have sling swivels on the underside of the butt below the cheek piece with the second barrel band between the barrel bands, mounted through the forearm.
Extra-Corps-Gew M 1854/67 length - 1052mm, one
barrel band and nosecap.
Extra-Corps-Gew M 1862/67 length - 1052mm, one barrel band and nosecap.
Swivels on both are under the butt and single barrel band.
Jagerstutzen M1854/67 length - 1100mm, NO barrel bands with a nosecap, spurred trigger guard with a barrel seating pin through the left side of the stock.
Jagerstutzen M1862/67 length - 1091mm, "same as above"
Wallgewehr 1872 length - 1420mm, NO barrel bands or sling swivels. Two barrel seating pins through the left side of the stock. This was a fortress model which was intended for use on the ramparts of forts. It does have a Wanzl (Albini/Braendlin type) action.
That pretty much encompasses the standard models.
This view shows the action open and the extractor drawing out a cartridge
case. The Wanzl has a hole in the back end of the block into which
a pin, which is attached to the hammer, fits as the hammer pivots forward
to strike the firing pin. The later Albani-Braendlin
locks the breech the same way but the two strike the firing pin differently;
the Wanzl, like most conversions, via an outside hammer, and the Albani
via a central, hidden firing pin.
Austrian Wanzls; a comparison of three different model Wanzl rifles, including
a M1854/67 Belgian (Liege) manufactured Wanzl made to chamber a CENTERFIRE
Page Revised: June 13, 1997
Revised April 16, 1999
Revised January 11, 2001