Georg Roth was primarily an ammunition engineer, eventually operating two factories in Vienna and Pressburg (now Bratislava), but he was also interested in firearms. In 1898 he employed Karel Krnka to manage one of his factories. Since Krnka was already an experienced gun designer, the two men soon began to collaborate. Most of the work was apparently done by Krnka, Roth merely contributing ideas and most importantly suitable ammunition. Roth`s name attaches to several pistol designs by virtue of his status as Krnka`s employer. The designs were invariably due to Roth and Krnka (and possibly Rudolf Frommer), but they were licensed to gunmakers as Roth had no manufacturing capability.
Georg Roth`s association with the Steyr factory began in the early 1900s, and the prototype Roth-Steyr pistol appeared in 1904. Development continued until the finalised design was adopted for the Austro-Hungarian cavalry in 1907. Later it was also adopted by the Austro-Hungarian air force. The pistol chambered a unique 8mm rimless cartridge, its mechanism is also unique, as well as one of the few Roth-Krnka designs using something other than long recoil. The most remarkable feature is the bolt extending for the full length of the receiver. The hollow front of the bolt completely surrounds the barrel, the rear portion being solid except for the striker tunnel. This bolt fits inside the tubular receiver, forged and machined as part of the pistol frame. Two lugs on the barrel-breech engage with cam grooves in the inner surface of the hollowed bolt, while two lugs on the outer surface of the muzzle fit grooves in the muzzle bush. Bolt and barrel recoil for about 12mm on firing, locked together by the engagement of the rear barrel cams in the bolt grooves. Simultaneously the muzzle cams move backward in the helical grooves in the muzzle bush. The grooves in the bolt rotate the barrel lugs through 90 degrees during this early recoil phase. When the barrel has been rotated, the muzzle lugs reach the end of the grooves in the muzzle bush and stop the barrel. However, the lugs in the breech ailgn with a straight section of the grooves inside the bolt. This releases the bolt to run back alone, extracting and ejecting the spent case. The top round in the integral butt magazine then rises through a slot in the bolt, to be pushed forward into the chamber as the bolt returns. Counter-rotation of grooves and lugs then rotates the barrel back to its locked position as the return spring pushes the entire bolt/barrel mechanism forward again.
The Roth-Steyr also has an unusual striker mechanism. As the bolt goes forward, the striker is held by the sear with minimal compression of the striker spring. Pulling the trigger forces the striker back, compressing the striker spring, until it is released by the sear to fire the cartridge. This mechanism, very similar to the Roth-Sauer pattern, is said to have demanded by the cavalry; demanding a conscious effort to fire, it guards against a skittish horse jolting a conventional cocked hammer out of engagement with the sear. The Roth-Steyr was never marketed commercially. The place of manufacture is marked on top of the barrel. Most Roth-Steyrs (including those made in Hungary) carry a `W-n` military proof mark, applied by the Austrian government arsenal in Wiener-Neustadt, together with the Hapsburg eagle. A brass disc in the right grip may display unit identification marks. No Austro-Hungarian guns have been encountered dated later than 1914, though a few were assembled after the end of WW1. By 1939 the pistol was still in use with the Hungarian army. Some guns, obtained as war reparations in 1919, were still used by the Italian army as late as 1941. The design overall was complex and difficult to manufacture, but it was robust enough to survive until WW2.
Osterreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft Steyr, Femaru Fegyver es Gepgyar Budapest.
8 mm Roth-steyr
1030 g (36.3oz)
233 mm (9.17 in)
131 mm (5.16 in)
4 grooves, rh
In service dates:
332m/s (1090 fps)