POTD: First of the Worst? Roth Experimental Semi-Automatic Rifle


POTD: First of the Worst? Roth Experimental Semi-Automatic Rifle

Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have an early and experimental Roth rifle made by the Haenel company. These were made around 1899 and were initially designed by a gentleman named Karel Krnka. So, obviously there are three different names being thrown around and to break it down you have to start with Karel Krnka, the inventor and designer. Roth was the wealthy man that fronted the money to fund these ideas and the Haenel company was the company that was paid to manufacture these rifles. Both Roth and Krnka are responsible for the Roth-Steyr pistol. This rifle is a long recoil-operated rifle much like the Browning Auto 5. The charging handle is located on the left-hand side of the rifle and it utilizes a 5-round hidden magazine.

“This is a unique example of an early pre-WWI experimental semi-automatic sporting rifle that was manufactured by the Roth/Steyr company. The rifle is completely void of any factory markings or proofs and is beautifully machined with a half-round/half-octagon barrel. The barrel has a threaded muzzle with a fluted muzzle nut that extends down inside the outer section of the barrel, which may indicate it has a gas-operated or blowback type action. It is fitted with a semi-square bolt carrier with a rotating bold head with two opposing bolt lugs that lock into the end of the barrel. The cocking handle is on the left side of the receiver, and the ejection port is on the right side. The bolt head has a “double crown/N” proofmark and is stamped “83”, and it has a large recoil spring located inside the rear of the receiver that drives the bolt forward back into battery. The spring is held in place by the round end cap on the rear of the receiver. The top of the receiver is fitted with a two position rear sight. It also has a fixed nickel silver blade front sight. It has a non-detachable box magazine that hold 3-4 rounds which extends below the stock line. The box magazine has a small push-button release in front of the trigger guard. It is fitted with an early pre-war European style walnut stock with the small oval cheekpiece and narrow pistol grip with a black horn forend tip, buttplate and grip cap. The rifle has rust blued metal finish with the bolt carrier and bolt head all in the white.”


Pre-World War I Roth Experimental Semi-Automatic Rifle. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/69/1761/preworld-war-i-roth-experimental-semiautomatic-rifle.

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Writer | TheFirearmBlog Writer | AllOutdoor.com Instagram | sfsgunsmith Old soul, certified gunsmith, published author, avid firearm history learner, and appreciator of old and unique guns.

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