Dot Net Presents
The Serbian & Montenegrin
1891 Three Line Rifles
From: John P. Sheehan & Kevin
Prior to WWI, only two countries
outside of Imperial Russia officially adopted the
Model 1891 Three-Line-Rifle (more commonly known
as the Mosin-Nagant), Serbia and Montenegro (Albania
may be a third, however, were still researching
this issue!). Both countries shared a common past
as a part of Ancient Serbia. Both suffered through
three Centuries of domination at the hands of the
Ottoman Turks. While detailed accounts of their individual
histories are not within the scope of this article,
they both managed to slip rather slowly from underneath
the grip of an ever-weakening regime in Istanbul.
As a result, when complete independence was achieved,
the same problems faced both of these small Slavic
countries. Both needed to arm and equip their own
armies. Both were to receive weapons from Russia
as part of this effort.
Following a long struggle, complete
with various alliances, assassinations and periods
of quasi autonomy, Serbia officially gained its independence
from the Turks with the Treaty of Berlin in 1882.
Immediately upon achieving self-rule, the Serbs sought
to form a standing army. For weapons, their first
effort was directed towards the procurement of Mauser
rifles from Germany, then the preeminent arms supplier
in Europe (and within a few years, the world!). The
first weapon they adopted was the Model 1880 Mauser-Milovonovic
single shot black powder infantry rifle. Development
of this model was underway as the Treaty of Berlin
was still under negotiation. The fact that their
first rifle was procured from Germany, at a time
when a treaty was being negotiated in Berlin, was
no accident. Germany sought to gain favor with the
new Government in Serbia as a counterbalance against
her European rivals, Austro-Hungary and Russia.
Arms for War
The Model 1880 Mauser-Milavonovic,
as it is known, was a black powder single shot which,
had evolved from the German Model 1871 Mauser. Shortly
after the rifle contract was completed, the Serbian
Army acquired their first repeating shoulder arm
when they purchased small numbers of cavalry and
artillery carbines. The Model 1884 Mauser Koka pattern
carbines were based on the German Model 71/84 Kropatchek
system. They were tubular fed, with each round loaded
into the tubular magazine individually. The total
production of carbines consisted of 4000 each, of
the cavalry and artillery variations. Serbias
reliance on Germany for weapons, was to a great degree,
influenced by their former masters, the Ottoman Turks.
This was an interesting time in the development of
small arms. Small caliber smokeless powder weapons
were replacing large bore black powder cartridge
rifles throughout the world. It was an arms race
to rival any seen in this century. The Turkish Army
had placed a huge order in Germany with Mauser, for
600,000 rifles. Production began with the Model 1887
Infantry Rifle, which was yet another blackpowder
variation of the German 1871/84 Kropatchek system.
A clause in this contract allowed the Turks to request
a change in model should either Mauser, or the German
Army, adopt a more advanced system than the model
currently in production under the original contract.
The Turks had insisted that this be a condition of
the contract. Word had spread throughout Europe regarding
the French introduction of the first smokeless powder
small bore military rifle, the Model 1886 Lebel.
Smokeless powder had been under development in several
countries during this period, including Germany,
and had finally become feasible for military use.
As a result of the contractual clause, the Model
1887 was discontinued and production resumed with
the first smokeless powder rifle the Turkish Army
adopted, the Model 1890 Infantry Rifle.
The Model 1890 Mauser was an improved
charger loading bolt action rifle, which was based
on the very successful Model 1889 Belgian Mauser.
Of the original contract for 600,000 rifles, approximately
400,000 had yet to be delivered. The result was a
series of upgraded models, which shadowed the rapidly
developing evolution from black to smokeless powder.
The Model 1893 and 1903 Mausers followed the Model
1890 as upgraded models under the same terms of the
original contract. The Serbs, taking full advantage
of Germanys desire to maintain a close alliance,
followed the developments in Turkish arms procurement
with more than casual interest. The Serbs fully expected
that were they to fight a war, it would be against
their former rulers, the Turks. To keep pace with
the Turkish weapons program, they continued to look
to Germany for improved models of small arms. They
didnt want to be behind the technology curve,
with the country they felt most likely to face in
the event of war.
This resulted in the ordering of
a series of rifles of Mauser design, which began
with the Model 1880 and 84 black powder weapons and
went on to include the Infantry Models 1899, 1899/07,
1899/08, 1910 and the Model 1908 Cavalry Carbine.
All of these weapons were 7x57mm in caliber, utilized
smokeless powder and paralleled the designs successively
ordered by Turkey. These export patterns were so
close in form that both Serbian and Turkish issue
bayonets were interchangeable! Serbian fears would
develop into reality during the First and Second
Balkans Wars and WWI in the early years of the 20th
Map Courtesy BBC
The First Balkan War was fought
between an alliance of Balkan States, the Balkan
League, against the Ottoman Empire. Serbia, Bulgaria,
Montenegro and Greece went to war against the Turks
in October of 1912. Turkey had been at war in North
Africa with Italy since September of 1911. Taking
advantage of the reduced state of readiness of the
preoccupied Turkish forces, the Balkan League invaded
the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire in Thrace
and Macedonia. In a series of campaigns fought primarily
in and across Macedonia, the Alliance of Balkan States
defeated the Turks and lay siege to Constantinople.
An armistice was signed and Macedonia was ceded to
the victorious Alliance.
True to the divisiveness that still
plagues the region to this day, the victory against
the Turks lead to squabbling amongst the victors.
In less than a month, the Greeks, Serbs and Montenegrins
had squared off against Bulgaria. The planned division
of Macedonia between the victors was at fault. Both
sides still had their armies in the field in recently
captured Turkish territory. This lead to the Second
Balkan War, which saw the alliance of Serbia and
Greece, pitted against their former ally, Bulgaria.
Fighting raged for two months after which, Romania
intervened on behalf on the Greco-Serbian Alliance
and invaded Bulgaria from the North. With nothing
between the Romanian Army and the major city of Sofia,
the Bulgarians had no option other than to sue for
peace. The Second Balkan War ended with the Treaty
of Bucharest in August of 1913. While Bulgaria lost
all it had hoped to gain, both Serbia and Greece
expanded their territory with the division of Macedonia.
This expansion of Serbias borders attracted
the attention of Austro-Hungary and gave them the
pretext they were looking for to intervene in the
In the late 1890s, it became evident
that the Austro-Hungarian Empire had designs on all
of the Balkans. To detail the various aspects of
the political situation in the region at this time
would require a separate twenty-volume work! In a
nutshell, the later decades of the 19th Century and
the early years of the 20th Century were the heyday
of Empire building by the European Powers, primarily
through colonization. The Habsburg Monarchy of Austro-Hungary
had little prospects for expansion. They were being
squeezed out of the race for colonies on every continent.
Due to problems at home with their polyglot nation,
they were too late in the race to grab a suitable
portion of Africa, the Middle East or the Far East.
The only direction in which they could expand their
territories was to the South. A collision with the
disorganized and smaller countries in the Balkans
The Balkan Peninsula was at this
time populated with Serbs, Croats, Slovenians, Albanians,
Macedonians, Montenegrins and Turks, all of whom
were, with the exception of the Turks, Slavic peoples.
They had changed somewhat during their three centuries
under Ottoman rule, mostly due to Turkish immigration
to the region as well as the religious influences
brought in by their Islamic masters. The rapid growth
of Empire, which threatened the balance of power
in Europe during this period, was fueled by an arms
race that was inevitably driven by the Industrial
Revolution. Alliance after alliance was sought to
counter the temporary dynastic gains of one power
versus another. In order to check the expansion of
Her Southwestern rival, the Austro-Hungarian Empire
and to curb German influence in the region, Russia,
on the pretext of Her role as the ultimate protector
of all Slavic peoples, had decided to poke Her nose
into the situation in the Balkans. It was due to
this intervention that first the Montenegrins and
then the Serbs were to become armed with the Model
1891 Three-Line-Rifle by their Russian protectors.
The first Russian Arms, which were
supplied to both Serbia and Montenegro, were obsolete
Berdan II rifles. This was a blackpowder single shot,
which had been adopted by the Russians following
its acceptance in the field trials of 1870. Col.
Hiram Berdan, the famous American who had organized
and commanded the 1st and 2nd Sharpshooter Regiments
in the Union Army, during the American Civil War,
had designed the Berdan I rifle in the late 1860s.
The Russian Government accepted and adopted the Berdan
I. The Berdan I was based on a lifting, pivoting
breech mechanism, similar to the other muzzle loading
conversion systems such as the Albini-Braendlin,
Snider, Wanzl, Allen, etc. etc. Production was terminated
after only 30,000 rifles had been produced. Col.
Berdan had perfected a single shot bolt action rifle,
which was of superior design. It was adopted by Russia
in 1870. It was later adopted by Bulgaria as well
as several other countries who were supplied surplus
arms from Russia. Production ran into the millions.
Shipments of Berdan IIs were first made to Serbia
by Russia in the mid 1890s. Montenegro received 30,000
Berdan IIs from Russia in 1895. The Berdan II was
to serve with the reserves of both the Serbian and
Montenegrin Armies, as well as with Russian front
line troops, throughout WWI. With the precedent already
established, the next round of weapons to be supplied
to Serbia by the Russians would be the Model 1891
Three- Line Rifle.
The details of the first shipment
of rifles to Serbia are somewhat sketchy. The exact
date and quantity are not known for certain, so far
as my research has been able to ascertain. There
is some reference to rifles being supplied in the
late 1890s or at the turn of the Century. To date,
I have not been able to confirm this. There is evidence
that supports the possibility that a French businessman
by the name of Adrien Treuille contacted Serbia on
behalf of Chatellerault. The Russians had requested
the destruction of all tooling and gauges, which
were used for production of the Three-Line-Rifle
at the French arsenal at Chatellerault, when the
French contract with Russia was completed in 1895.
In spite of the Russian request, this was not done.
The French intended to sell Three-Line-Rifles on
the international arms market. At the time, Serbia
could not afford the program and the contract was
never begun. Whether or not some of these rifles
were delivered for trials is unclear. This may be
the origin of the reported early acquisitions. The
evidence is somewhat contradictory. Another possibility
exists as well. It was in 1895 that Russia first
supplied 20,000 Three-Line-Rifles to Montenegro.
An additional shipment of 20,000 rifles was made
in 1905. Perhaps one or more of these shipments were
supplied through Serbia.
Were this to be confirmed, it might explain the origin
of the reported early unconfirmed shipments of Three-Line-Rifles
to Serbia. More research needs to be done in this
The first confirmed shipment was
made shortly after the end of the second Balkan War
in late 1913. As many of the earlier procured Mauser
rifles were unserviceable following heavy use and
battlefield loss in two wars fought in such rapid
succession, Serbia was in desperate need of additional
weapons. More rifles were supplied by Russia in early
1914 and shipments continued into the early months
of W.W.I. The 1915 British Intelligence report on
military readiness of the Balkans States lists approximately
150,000 Russian Three-Line-Rifles in Serbian service
by early 1915. Most of the existing identified Serbian
marked Three-Line-Rifles date from this period. By
1915, Serbian arsenals were producing approximately
120,000 small arms cartridges per day. This included
both 7.52x54mmR and 7x57mm Mauser as well as 10.6x57.5mmR
Berdan cartridges. In addition, Serbia was being
supplied with large amounts of small arms ammunition
from many of the Allied countries.
The Model 1891 Three-Line-Rifle
The first confirmed shipments of
Russian Three-Line-Rifles to Serbia, occurred sometime
in late 1913, following the Second Balkan War. These
rifles were of the older, original first pattern
Three-Line-Rifle. Many of them lacked handguards
and their sling swivels were mounted on the underside
of the top barrel band and the forward section of
the magazine well. The rifles chambered the original
obr. 7.62x54mmR 1891g cartridge, which fired a 200
gr. roundnose bullet at an average velocity of 2050
fps. The rear sight was graduated in Arshins, an
archaic form of measure still in use in Russia at
that time. One Arshin equaled approximately 0.71
meters. The rear sight calibration consisted of a
combat setting of 200 Arshins. This is approximately
142 meters. Additional settings range from 400 through
1200 Arshins (284 - 852 meters) on the left side
of the sight base, while the sight leaf begins at
1300 Arshins, up to a maximum elevation of 2700 Arshins
(923 - 1917 meters), on the top of the sight ladder.
The long-range settings were intended primarily for
volley fire which, was used to engage large enemy
formations with plunging fire, to provide area fire
to restrict enemy movement or suppress enemy fire.
This was a standard tactical doctrine of most European
armies of the day. Its function was eventually replaced
by the machine gun during W.W.I.
The Model 1891 Three-Line-Rifle
derives its name from an archaic form of measurement,
which was in use in Russia until shortly after the
Revolution. The line, lini, was equal to 2.54mm.
Hence, the caliber of the rifle was 7.62mm or treh
lineynaya, three line. The official Russian name
of the new weapon was Treh Lineynaya Vintovka Obraska
1891 goda, or in English, Model 1891 Three-Line-Rifle.
These days, it is more commonly referred to as the
Mosin-Nagant. This name, while never officially adopted,
is a direct reference to the three gentlemen who
contributed features to the final design of the Model
1891 Three-Line-Rifle. The three contributors to
the final design were Leon & Emile Nagant, representing
a firearms maker in Liege, Belgium, and Sergei Ivanovich
Mosin, a Colonel in the Russian Imperial Army who
was at that time, the Director of the tooling shop
at the Tula Arsenal. Trials were held to replace
the Model 1870 Berdan II, the aging blackpowder single
shot rifle still in use. The Nagant brothers had
submitted an 8mm rifle to the Russian Government
for trials, while Colonel Mosin, entered a 7.62mm,
8 round repeating rifle based on a conversion of
the Berdan II. The final pattern was an amalgamation
incorporating the best features of each rifle.
By 1913, Russia had
made several changes to the configuration of the
Three- Line-Rifle. A top handguard had been added
to the late production at Chatellerault in 1894.
Sling slots, such as were found on the earlier Berdan
II and the first pattern Three-Line-Dragoon, Cossack
and Cavalry models, had been substituted for the
original sling swivels. By 1908, the new obr. 7.62x54mmR
1908L cartridge had been adopted. This cartridge
utilized a 149 grain spitzer bullet, which generated
a velocity of approximately 2690 fps. The improved
ballistics of new cartridge required the replacement
of the original sight leaf with a new curved pattern.
The calibration markings on the rear sight base remained
the same, however, the sight leaf was marked from
1300 Arshins to 3200 Arshins (923-2272 meters).
Serbs with M91
Mosin Nagant ( WW1 Era )
While it is almost
certain that the peacetime shipment, made in 1913,
consisted mostly of the early pattern Three-Line-Rifle
(early cartridge chambering, sight leaf and sling
swivel arrangement), the configuration of the rifles,
which were supplied in the early stages of the W.W.I,
most likely consisted of both patterns. Despite the
alterations made to the Three-Line-Rifle between
1900 and 1908, Russia still held huge stores of unaltered
rifles of the early pattern chambered for the obr.
1891g cartridge. This was due in part, to an inability
to rapidly alter all the early pattern rifles that
were spread out in stores all across the Empire.
The second reason was the fact that millions of rounds
of the obr. 7.62x54mmR 1891g first pattern cartridges
were still sitting in inventory throughout Russia.
Whether the second shipment of rifles to Serbia consisted
entirely of one type of rifle, or a mixture of both,
is not certain. However, based on existing Serbian
marked rifles and photographic evidence from WWI,
it must be assumed that rifles of both the early
and post 1908 configurations were included in the
second series of shipments. I have in my collection
examples of both types, which bear Serbian markings.
To confuse matters further, many of the early pattern
rifles used during WWI continued in service with
different countries and had their rear sight leafs
replaced with the 1908 type after WWI.
To date, only standard
full-length infantry rifles have been identified
with Serbian markings. Wartime photographic evidence
supports this finding. It is not known if any of
the other patterns of the 1891 Three-Line system,
i.e. the Dragoon, Cossack or Cavalry Carbine, were
included in the weapons supplied to Serbia.
While all of the contracted
weapons appear to have been full length infantry
rifles, it also appears based on surviving examples
that the contracts were supplied entirely by Tula
and Ishevsk. In our research, there have been no
Serbian marked rifles, which have been identified
that were produced at either Chattelerault or Sestroretsk.
However, please keep in mind that the small numbers
of identified rifles do not conclusively prove either
of these points. The lack of photographic evidence
showing Dragoon, Cossack or carbine patterns, does
support the belief that only rifles were supplied.
In regards to the arsenals, which manufactured the
contract rifles, the photographic evidence is meaningless.
Identification of Serbian
Issued Three Line Rifles
The information, which is available,
regarding Serbian markings is very limited. This
is to a large extent, due to the low survivability
of pre W.W.I. Serbian military weapons. The Serbs
fought two wars right after the turn of the Century,
the 1st and 2nd Balkans Wars and then were very heavily
engaged in W.W.I. The turbulent years in the region
between the World Wars further reduced the numbers
of surviving weapons. Add to this the numbers of
Serbian Mausers, of every type, that were converted
to short rifle configuration between the wars, and
you will very quickly realize that there are very
few original pre WWI specimens available for study.
One of the primary reasons that Serbia needed rifles
at the outbreak of WWI was the fact that many of
the original supply of Mausers were already close
to worn out before WWI even began! They had already
seen 15 years of service and two wars! Many of the
rifles that survived WWI and Yugoslavian conversion,
went on to serve in WWII.
The Serbs in the
shallow trench awaiting attack, something to note
is that the third soldier from the foreground has
a Model 1899 Serbian bayonet mounted on his rifle.
The sixth Serb from the forground has a captured
Model 1903 Turkish quillback bayonet. A nice example
of the use of captured equipment.
The rifles that have survived are
generally very beaten up, with little to no finish
remaining. Despite this, they tend to bring top dollar
when they appear on the market, as they are extremely
rare in any condition. The importance of Serbian
Mausers to a Mosin-Nagant collector is in cross-referencing
the known Serbian markings, which appear on the various
patterns of Mausers, with many of the unknown marking,
which appear on the occasional Mosin Nagant. It was
a mark such as this on one of the rifles in my collection,
that lead me to embark on a three year research project,
working in conjunction with my good friend, Kevin
Carney. Kevin deserves credit for a very high percentage
of this information. He is an absolute Gentleman,
a very knowledgeable collector and an absolute pleasure
to work with!
The fate of Modern Yugoslavia,
following W.W.II, compounded the problem of researching
Serbian weapons and markings. Fifty years of communist
rule, did not permit Western arms historians and
collectors the opportunity to do original research
in what little remains of the Serbian pre W.W.I records.
To this day, opportunities to work in the Balkans
are very restricted.
Kevin and I have, over the past
several years, amassed the following verified list
of Serbian markings. They have all been confirmed
via known Serbian models found in my collection,
Kevins collection, those of several other collectors,
and on specimen that have been inspected at various
museums in Europe. All the markings listed below
as confirmed, have been found on more than one original
Serbian rifle. Those, which are listed as unconfirmed,
have been observed on a single specimen only. Please
keep in mind as you read this list, that our letter
C is the letter S in the Cyrillic alphabet. Hence
the use of a capitol C for Serbia, as a proof on
many Serbian weapons.
In addition, please keep in mind
the fact that while some of these markings may in
fact be proofs (in the strictest sense of the word),
for the time being, I will refer to all of them as
markings. This is necessary due to the fact that
with no solid written sources available to confirm
which markings might actually be proofs, rather than
property marks etc., proper identification is currently
impossible. Should our continued research bring to
light additional information along these lines, we
will be more than happy to share them with you!
- Crown - Imperial, two types
- Crown/Cyrillic P
- The Cyrillic letter D in a circle
(here after referred to as circle/CD)
*Before moving on
to the confirmed markings, there is one of the unconfirmed
marks, which deserves further mention. On a Steyr
manufactured Model 1899/07 Mauser rifle, the Crown
H/C mark appears in several places. The description
(Crown H/C) is not exactly accurate and cannot be
reproduced here accurately, as it is more of a monogram
than a capitol H/C under a crown. (A photo of this
proof will be found in the illustrations which accompany
this article.) Under the crown, is found the left
half and crossbar of an H. The crossbar of the H
attaches to the mid point of a C. This produces a
monogram, which at first glance, appears to be a
K. I believe that this was an intentional effort
on the part of a creative member of the Steyr Company,
to combine two commonly used Serbian proofs, the
H and C, to fashion a stylized K. The K is the Steyr
arsenal mark for small metallic production parts.
The Steyr K is found on one or more metal parts of
all weapons produced by Steyr during the Habsburg
Monarchy during the later half of the 19th Century.
The K is also found as an inspection mark on Steyr
inspected, or reworked, captured weapons which were
reissued to the Austro-Hungarian Army. I have never
seen this mark on any Serbian weapons which, were
produced by any other arsenal. I have yet to confirm
this with any sources in Austria, but I find the
coincidence very interesting.
The various marks listed below
are all confirmed as having been used during or prior
to W.W.I, on Serbian shoulder arms. On many weapons
of the period, more than marking from the above list
will be found. On others, a single mark may appear.
C - The capitol C is found on a
very large number of the Model 1899 Serbian bayonets.
The late Jerry Jantzen, in his great work, Bayonets
from Jantzens Notebook, suggests that the
Crown/C is the most commonly found mark on the Model
99 bayonets. Despite this, I have yet to encounter
the crown/C on any Serbian 99 bayonets. That is not
to say that it does not occur. The seven examples
in my own collection, all of various manufacture
(including those made by Plumb in the United States),
are all marked on the crossguard with a capitol C
only. The capitol C will also appear both with, and
without an imperial crown, on Serbian issued Mosin-Nagants.
An early rifle in my collection is marked with a
capitol C on both the barrel as well as the bolt
guide rib. One should be careful, however, in the
identification of Three Line Rifles produced by Chatellerault.
These rifles are marked with a variety of devices
which include the letter C, which represent the name
of the French Arsenal. The various marks used by
Chatellerault can be found in Karl-Heinz Wrobels
excellent book, Drei Linien, Die Gewehre Mosin-Nagant.
This book is a must for any serious collectors of
any of the various models of the Mosin-Nagant. I
am happy to say that Karl-Heinz is an excellent friend
and as most of you know, a constant contributor to
Tucos Forum. He is the most knowledgeable person
I have ever met when it comes to the Mosin-Nagant.
Crown - There are two styles of
Imperial crown markings, which appear on Serbian
weapons. It is possible that one was in use at the
time of the first delivery of rifles in 1913, while
the other dates from the period during the early
stages of W.W.I. The evidence to date is not conclusive.
The Three Line Rifles, which have been unquestionably
identified as Serbian issue, point to this being
a possibility. However, the number of identified
specimens is too low to draw any definite conclusions.
The style of crowns which appear in both markings
are arched on top, divided into segments, lacks any
points and are surmounted by an Orthodox cross (the
Serbs were universally Orthodox Christians). If the
assumption should turn out to be correct regarding
the markings being of different style based on the
period in which they were marked, then the early
group of rifles would be found with a crown in two-dimensional
silhouette. The later style, would in turn, appear
in three-dimensional form. The view represented,
shows the crown from a point of view, slightly underneath
the crown. This portrays the lower rim of the crown
as an oval and gives you the perspective of looking
up into the inside of the lower portion of the crown.
On all the examples identified to date which bear
an Imperial crown of either style, all of them are
marked in conjunction with one of the other known
Crown/C - This Serbian mark is
found, according to Jantzen, on some Model 1899 bayonets
as well as many of the Serbian Mausers. While its
use has yet to be documented on any Three Line Rifles,
certainly any rifle found marked in this fashion
will have seen service with the Serbian Army. On
the early black powder Model 1884 Mauser Koka Cavalry
Carbine, the Crown/C appears on almost every metal
part of the carbine. It is also found on the receiver
as one of the marks, which line the right side of
the receiver. This row of markings is typically found
on German produced weapons of this period. It is
also present on the Models 1899/07 and the Model
Crown T - The Crown/T is an established
Serbian marking, which survived into the post WWI
era. It has been found as a prominent mark on the
Serbian Model 1899/07 as well as a wide variety of
other weapons, which were used by the Serbs during
and after WWI. I know of three Model 95 Mannlicher
Stutzens or Stutzenkarabiniers, which are marked
with a Crown/T and in one instance, a Crown/H as
well. It is impossible to confirm whether these rifles
were marked as captured reissued weapons during WWI
or as war reparations after 1918. In addition, the
Turkish Model 1890 rifles that were converted into
short rifle configuration following WWI by the Kingdom
of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later day Yugoslavia),
were universally marked with a Crown/T. Either way,
there is no question that this mark was used by the
Serbs before, during and after, WWI.
Crown/H - As with the Crown/C,
the Crown/H is found on many of the Serbian Mausers,
particularly as a cartouche on the stock. It is also
found on metal surfaces as well. One of the prize
weapons in my collection is a Serbian captured and
reissued Austrian Model 1895 Mannlicher Stutzen.
The Crown/H mark appears on one side of the barrel
while the Crown/T mark may be found on the other
side. Three other carbines have been located with
these markings. All three are still chambered for
the original 8x50mmR Austrian service cartridge.
Like the Crown/C, it has yet to be documented on
any Three Line Rifle. Its appearance would unmistakably
indicate Serbian use.
Crown/M - The Crown/M mark falls
pretty much into the same category as the Crown/H,
however, it has been documented on a single Three
Line Rifle. The rifle in question is marked with
an early style crown and a C on the other side of
the receiver. Like the others markings, it appears
on various model Serbian issue Mausers of the period.
Crown/Cyrillic P - The Crown/Cyrillic
P marking is somewhat problematic. The Cyrillic P,
which look like two capitol Is, connected at
the top, or an upside down U, has been used by Russia
on nearly all of its weapons from this period.
In Serbian use, an Imperial Crown always surmounts
the Cyrillic P. To date, I have not been able to
discover the use of any style crown used by Russia
as an official mark, other than the one that is found
above the Imperial Eagle, which appears on all Russian
Czarist weapons. Therefore, it must be assumed that
any Crown/Cyrillic P proof is of Serbian origin.
I intend to do more research on this in Russia as
I have several Berdan IIs which are marked with a
Crown/Cyrillic P and A? Crown/A is a known Bulgarian
proof, but I have seen no reference to the use of
the A along side the Cyrillic P on any known Bulgarian
weapons. More study needs to be done to better document
Cyrillic letter D in a Circle (circle/CD)
- This marking is one of only two Serbian marks found
on the Model 1910 contract Mausers made for Serbia
by Mauser. The Serbian Model 1910 was produced with
two different sets of markings. Mauser produced them
at their Oberndorf facility. Some of these rifles
have the Serbian crest on the receiver along with
the model designation. Interestingly, for some reason,
other rifles from this contract have no Serbian crests
on the receiver. Why this is the case, is not known,
other than the possibility that they were contract
weapons for which the actions were made blank for
potential use for a variety of different contracts.
The rifles, which lack Serbian crests, have WAFFENFABRIK/
MAUSER A.-G./ OBERNDORF a/n marked on top of the
receiver. On the left siderail, it is simply marked
Mauser Model 1910. The Serbian issued contract rifles
are marked with the circle/CD on the trigger guard
and floorplate and with Crown/Cs on the receiver
and many of the small metal parts. The same circle/CD
proof, has been found on many of the Serbian identified
Three- Line-Rifles. It appears alone on many of the
rifles and has also been found with the second style
of crown on several rifles as well. On all of the
rifles identified to date, this mark has been found
on the top of the barrel below the original Russian
This brings up an hypothesis that
Kevin and I are trying to substantiate. The earliest
confirmed shipment of rifles to Serbia was made in
1913. Additional shipments were then made just before,
and during, the early stages of W.W.I. Occasional
reference to an earlier shipment has surfaced during
our research. There is thought to have been a shipment
made at the turn of the Century or in the late 1890s.
Whether this reference is to the Chatellerault connection
or the possibility that Russia was supplying weapons
at this early date cannot be proved at this time.
When cross-referencing the various markings found
on the weapons examined during our research, the
following pattern appears to emerge.
The early models of Serbian Mausers
are not marked with the circle/CD. That mark first
appears on the Model 1910 Mauser. It appears on many
of the Three-Line-Rifles that Kevin and I have identified,
but only on rifles which are dated 1914, 1915 and
1916. The earliest identified Serbian Three-Line-Rifle
in our study, is a Tula made weapon in my collection.
It was made in 1894. It is marked with a stand-alone
capitol C, a separate 1st style Crown and a crown/M.
The Crown and C are not a single Crown/C mark, but
two independently struck marks. Another rifle in
my collection was produced at the Tula Arsenal in
1914. It also bears two separate proofs. It is marked
with the circle/CD and the second type Crown. Taking
into account the date of manufacture of the two groups
of rifles, combined with the markings which coincide
with certain dates only, it is very tempting to conclude
that the rifles shipped to Serbia by Russia can be
differentiated as being from the first or second
group of rifles shipped. If this can be proved, or
the early shipments confirmed, the rifles from the
first unconfirmed contract (from the late 1890s)
might be identifiable. If so, the 1st style crown
and a capitol C may represent this early unconfirmed
shipment. The rifles from the second group (emergency
shipments from 1913 to 1916) were marked with the
circle/CD. When a crown proof has been found accompanying
a circle/CD proof in the second group of rifles,
it has always been the 2nd style crown (the three
dimensional style viewed from slightly below).
The only problem with this hypothesis
is that neither of the groups studied is large enough
in number to be conclusive. The possibility exists
that the difference in marks may be due to different
inspectors, different munitions dumps, replacement
stamps (they do wear out rather quickly!) etc. etc.
We may never know, as I doubt that the population
of weapons available for study will ever be large
enough to support an accurate conclusion, either
way. Serbian weapons, of any type from this period,
are very rare.
Serbian Double Headed
While researching this subject
in conjunction with Kevin, I came across two collectors
who believed that rifles used by Serbia were marked
with a different style of eagle on either the flat
of the octagonal action, or above the arsenal name
on the barrel. While this may be possible, in comparing
the eagles on all the known Serbian issued rifles,
there is no conclusive evidence that the eagles are
any different than those found on Russian issued
rifles from the same period. From the time of its
acceptance by the Russian Imperial Army, until the
Revolution of 1917, the number of different stamps
that must have been required to mark the millions
of different rifles produced, must have been enormous!
In going through the Three-Line-Rifles in my collection
alone, there is tremendous variation in the eagle
markings from one arsenal to another and from one
period to another. If anyone out there can shed some
more light on this or any other issue regarding this
subject, please contact me or Kev. Any and all additional
information would be greatly appreciated! Also, I
want to thank Kevin Carney for his contribution to
this research! He should be writing this rather than
me, but as I understand it, he is working on a different
article for Tuco! I guess I got this one by default!
Serbian marked weapons among their collection please
forward a full description of the weapon and its
markings to Kevin or to me. We would appreciate this,
as it would greatly aid our research. Please
email any information to: Kevin
Carney or JPS
Montenegro adopted the Model 1891
Three-Line-Rifle in 1898. The tiny mountainous Kingdom
on the coast of the Adriatic was in earlier times
a part of Serbia, and like Serbia, populated with
Slavic people who were closely tied to Russia. Two
of the Daughters of the ruling Montenegrin Prince,
Nicholas I were married to Russian Dukes, while a
third Daughter was the Queen of Italy. The Montenegrins
were a very bellicose tribal people. Blood feuds
were very common among them and by edict of the King,
every adult male carried a pistol and dagger with
him in public at all times! The connection with Russia
predated the Three-Line-Rifle, as the Montenegrins
had adopted the Berdan II in the 1895. The Berdan
II was issued alongside the Model 1873 Werndl, 20,000
of which had been procured from Steyr during the
late 1880s. In the early 1890s, Montenegro received
additional rifles from Greece in the form of the
Steyr produced Model 1874 Greek Gras rifles.
from Montenegro armed with M91's - World War
In an effort to modernize their
outdated black powder single shot rifles, the decision
was made to acquire 35,000 Model 1891 Three-Line-Rifles.
Russia delivered 20,000 of these beginning in 1898
with the initial shipment being completed in 1899.
Along with the rifles, Russia supplied 25,000,000
rounds of 7.62x54mmR cartridges. At this time, the
30,000 Berdan II Rifles, which were still in service,
were issued to the reserves. An additional 40,000
rifles of various types were still inventoried
in the Montenegrin arsenals. These would have been
the surviving Werndls, Greek Gras, Wanzls and
an assortment of other older models. An interesting
sidelight to the contract was that at the time the
rifles were procured, they were not ordered with
bayonets! To provide the soldiers with sidearms,
the Montenegrins procured 44,000 surplus Model 1866
Gras saber bayonets from the French. They were never
adapted to fit the rifles, but rather they were issued
as short swords for close combat. In 1905 an additional
20,000 rifles were supplied by Russia, which exceeded
the original order by 5000 rifles. By 1910, the Model
1891 Three-Line-Rifle was considered as the official
first line weapon of the Montenegrin Army.
Identification of Montenegrin
To date, only two examples of Model
1891 Three-Line-Rifles from the Montenegrin contract
have been identified. The two rifles are unmistakably
Montenegrin. The Royal crest of the small Mountain
State, was a double headed eagle surmounted by a
crown, standing on the back of a lion. Prominently
displayed on the eagles chest is a shield,
which bears the capitol letters HI. The letters,
HI appeared on the Royal Cipher of Prince Nicholas
I, the ruler of Montenegro at the time of the acquisition
of these rifles. It is also found on the Montenegrin
flag. Additional rifles of unknown quantity were
provided to Montenegro at the outbreak of WWI. These
were most likely supplied at the same time as the
shipments were made to Serbia.
Two rifles have been found with
all of the original Russian markings intact. On the
right side of the barrel of both rifles, at the wood
line of the stock, is stamped a very crude, small
double headed eagle, much smaller than any of the
eagle markings used by Russia. Next to the eagle,
on the left side of the receiver, is stamped a very
small HI. The HI is slightly obscured by the woodline
of the stock. There is no doubt what so ever, that
these rifles saw service in Montenegro.
marked weapons among their collection please forward
a full description of the weapon and its markings
to Kevin, Tuco or myself! We would appreciate this,
as it would greatly aid our research. Please
email any information to: Kevin
Carney or JPS
For you Finnish
collectors out there, during the 1920s, Yugoslavia
(at that time, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes)
decided in favor of the Mauser rifle and the 8x57mm
German service cartridge. The remaining 7x57mm Serbian
Mausers were shot out. They could be made serviceable
again by reboring to 8mm. Other Mausers, captured
from both Germany and Turkey, along with rifles supplied
as war reparations, were altered to short rifle configuration
along with the caliber change. Thus the number of
surviving original 7x57mm Serbian Mausers is very
small indeed. One sidelight to this decision, was
the abandoning of the Model 1891 Three-Line-Rifle
as a standard weapon. Some of the remaining stocks
of Model 91s were shipped to Finland in the 1920s.
As a result, Finnish issued Mosin Nagants may be
found with Serbian markings. Several of the Serbian
marked rifles identified during our research are
also Finnish marked. So get out your rifles and start
looking! Theres no telling what you might find!
A Word from
As a footnote,
I would like all of you to know that this research
has never been published before now. Bits and pieces
of it have appeared on the Forum during discussion,
but the meat of what Kevin and I uncovered while
working together, is being shared for the first time.
This data along with allot of other material, will
appear in my book, if I ever get it finished! Kevin
is also writing a number of articles for several
of the collectors journals. However, as it may be
quite awhile before either one of us publishes this
information in hardback form. I would simply like
to say, that if any of you out there, who are working
on a publication of your own, decide to publish this,
please give Kevin and me at least a mention and some
credit! Its been a labor of love and has taken
quite a bit of time, as all original research does.
We wanted to share this with all of you, as what
fun is knowledge if its not shared? Since I
actually wrote this article, I will take the blame
for any mistakes made! Kev wouldnt have made
any, just to make me look bad! My apologies in advance!
I would also like
to thank Karl-Heinz Wrobel for both the supporting
in formation he supplied, as well as his help in
proof reading and critiquing the finished article.
John Wall deserves
a special note of thanks as well. His proofreading
and advise was most helpful.
In addition, we
would like to thank Tuco for the wonderful work he
has done in bringing us all together! We have all
made lasting friendships through the Forum and are
very fortunate to have Tuco support our hobby in
such grand style!
range of different markings that may appear on
weapons from this region.
is by no means complete and is always a work
1894: marked with early style Serb crown and
bearing a separately stamped Cyrillic S (capitol
C) and a Crown/M.
1894: different view showing both the Crown
and the Cyrillic S (capitol C) for Serbia
1894: different view showing the Crown over
1894: the bolt guide rib is marked with a capitol
C even though the bolt serial number does not match
the receiver. It was most likely an arsenal replacement
that dates to WWI or earlier.
1906: marked with a Capitol S (capitol C) for
1914: Peter the Great marked rifle marked with
the second type of crown alongside the Cyrillic
D in a circle.
1913: marked with Cyrillic D in a circle
1897: marked with Cyrillic S (capitol C) for
1916: marked with a Cyrillic S (capitol C)
1913: trigger guard flange, marked with a Cyrillic
S (capitol C) alongside the bow and arrow mark
1914: trigger guard flange, marked with a Cyrillic
D in a circle alongside the hammer mark of Tula.
1914: matching rifle, marked with Cyrillic
D in circle
1914: same matching rifle as above, note
the bolt is also marked with a Cyrillic D, but
not within a circle.
1916: marked with Cyrillic S (capitol C) amongst
original Russian proofs.
with a Cyrillic S (capitol C). This rifle is interesting
as the C is stamped over a defaced eagle. In addition,
the rifle is Austrian marked (AZF). Was it captured
from the Serbs by the Austrians, or was it captured
by the Austrians from the Russians and then in turn,
liberated by the Serbs? An interesting rifle.
Model 1884 Mauser Carbine - Proof marks found
on the forward portion of the chamber of the carbine.
Model 1884 Mauser Carbine - Cartouche found
on the stock of the carbine.
Model 1899/07 Mauser Rifle - Crown/T proof
found on the receiver.
Model 1899/07 Mauser Rifle - Unusual HC proof
in the shape of a K (for Steyr?) on the trigger
guard and floorplate.
Model 1899/07 Mauser Rifle -Crown over Cyrillic
P cartouche on the stock.
Model 1910 Mauser Rifle -Cyrillic D in a circle
found on the trigger guard assembly and floorplate.
Model 1899 bayonets - Cyrillic S (Capitol C)
mark of two slightly different sizes on the crossguard
of two bayonets for the Mauser rifle.
1915 - Montenegrin marked rifle. Two small
crude eagles have been added to the left side of
the barrel and receiver and partially hidden by
the woodline, is an HI mark. Two rifles with these
marks have been located to date.
1915 - Second view of the same markings from
a slightly different angle.
WW1 period postcard of Montenegrin troops with