Today we have something of an oddity on the blog, an Austrian made vest pistol that has little to no connection to the British Empire. It is however something rather interesting so I hope you will indulge me.
The Steyr Pieper vest pistol is a small .25 calibre automatic handgun that was introduced in 1908 and would see production either side of World War One until 1934. The pistol itself is a scaled down version of the same design originally produced in the popular .32 calibre and features some unusual design choices. From the outside it is a conventional, diminutive vest pistol:
The pistol works by blowback, and the ejection port is clearly visible above. The safety is at the rear of the gun and is on the opposite side:
The lever rotates and blocks the internal hammer from rising to hit the striker:
Rather more unusual is the lever above the trigger, for this is a break action automatic! Pulling down on the lever releases a latch and a spring causes the barrel and recoil spring (which is housed above the barrel) to pop up:
This allows the pistol to be used in a single shot mode (why the designers felt this was useful in a .25 personal defence gun is unclear) whilst keeping the magazine in reserve. This is certainly one of the more unusual choices in pistol design.
This pistol has a serial number that dates it to 1920, located on the front of the frame:
However it also has a few features of pre-war models such as the closely angled serations on the top of the slide to help your grip when cocking the weapon and the grip panels which are also more typical of pre-war production:
This suggests that although the pistol was manufactured after World War One, it used up parts that had been held in inventory since before the war.
The manufacturer’s name is stamped into the frame above the safety and reads ‘Oesterr. Waffenbariks-Ges. Steyr’, this being the mark for OEWG Steyr:
The .25 cartridge is very weedy, however it did allow an incredibly small pistol to be produced, the Steyr Pieper fits neatly into the palm of your hand. Modern firearms have left the idea of the vest pistol behind in history, however some Austro Hungarian officers in World War One were actually issued with this pistol as a service side arm, one can only imagine their opinions on that!