Rast & Gasser Model 1898
|Rast & Gasser Model 1898 (Click to Enlarge)|
|Rifling||4 grooves, RH or 5 grooves, LH|
|Cylinder Capacity||8 rounds|
|Country of Origin||
The 8mm Rast & Gasser Model 1898 revolver was the last revolver adopted by the Austro-Hungarian Armed forces. Early production models (prior to about 1914) were rifled with 4 grooves, right hand twist, whereas later models (probably 1914-1918 wartime production) can be found with 5 grooves left-hand twist rifling.
In 1870, Leopold Gasser of Vienna built the first centerfire cartridge revolver to be adopted by the Austro-Hungarian military. The Model 1870 (left, click to enlarge) Gasser was a gigantic double-action revolver with a two piece, open top frame, much like the old percussion Colt revolvers. It was chambered for the 11.25 x 36mm Werndl Model 1867 carbine cartridge. To handle this cartridge—the magnum of its day—the Model 1870 Gasser revolver was 14.75 inches in overall length and, at 53.6 ounces, weighed more than a modern day Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver.
Gasser also had the distinction of producing the Austro-Hungarian Armed Forces’ last revolver, the Model 1898. This revolver, designed by August Rast, was an eight-shot, double-action, solid-frame handgun, which was a great deal smaller than its predecessors. The Model 1898 fired an 8 x 27mm rimmed cartridge, which closely resembled the 8mm French Lebel revolver round, and was ballistically almost identical to the .32 Smith & Wesson Long. This followed the European trend of the times toward smaller-caliber, higher-velocity handgun cartridges.
Although never in contention for beauty prizes, the Rast & Gasser Model 1898 was a sturdy, well-made firearm. The gun’s loading gate functioned as a safety of sorts. Opening the gate prevented the hammer from being cocked. The Model 1898 featured a rebounding hammer and a separate spring-mounted firing pin.
When the Austro-Hungarian Army withdrew their Model 1870 Gassers from service they sold most of them to the tiny Balkan Kingdom of Montenegro. That monarchy’s leader, King Nicholas, had decreed that all Montenegrin males be armed with a large revolver of the Gasser type.