Steyr’s World War II Rifle Production

Very early in the war all small arms production was removed from Steyr proper, no rifles or assembly took place there after 1942. They were also not “officially” assembled at Gusen either; though I think it is clear the SS had some arrangement with Steyr to assemble rifles for them outside of normal production. Probably rejected or sub-standard parts, clearly the totals Steyr reported made in 1947 include these sub-normal production rifles as my database figures do not support the figures given by the company otherwise (ranges of known rifles do not come close to matching 1947 totals- a lot of SR & NF rifles had to have been made to fill the gaps…).

The facts about Steyr’s World War II rifle production (condensed from my article soon to be published in the MRJ):

Prior to the war Steyr-Daimler-Puch A.G. operations in Steyr proper (“Hauptwerk Steyr”) consisted of three main operations, the manufacture of automobiles (and trucks), ball bearings, and rifles. By far the operations at Steyr revolved around automobiles, the ball bearings production was relatively small and the rifles were inconsequential prior to the Anschluss.

Once the nazis arrived things changed, the production at the automobile factory was intensified, but not radically expanded; the ball bearings works were massively expanded (500 workers prior to the war to more than 6000 during) by Luftwaffe funding starting in 1940. But most importantly, a massive & modern new factory was constructed, for the manufacture of aircraft engines. This engine factory also took over the facilities that existed for rifle manufacture, and by 1943 was making and repairing 300 engines a month. No rifle production was undertaken at Steyr after 1942.

By order (and funding) of the German Army, the rifle making machinery was moved to Gusen where parts for small arms were to be made. This was to make room for the expansion of the aircraft engine factory, which took over the rifle manufacturing facilities, and were greatly expanded during 1942. All small arms assembly (with capacity of 30,000 rifles and 20,000 pistols) was undertaken at Steyr’s factory in Molln, a small town southwest of Steyr.

Regarding Steyr’s operations prior to 1942, most of the actual manufacture was done on the eastern shore (later the soviet zone), automobiles, ball bearings, and rifles were made east of the Enns river, and all the expansions (aircraft engines and ball bearings) were undertaken there. Steyr did have offices and some repair operations on the west shore, which the US Army took over in 1945, but they were inconsequential.

As for the February 1944 bombing, it was primarily directed against the aircraft engine factory, it sustain severe damage which quickly led to a decision to disperse the factories on the eastern shore, rifle production was not effected as no rifles were made or assembled there. Much of the ball bearings works machinery was moved to Linz, and the engine factory to Znaim and underground around Vienna.

I too have read York’s book and the answer to where the pistols (and rifles) were assembled is Molln, the report I have specifically lists small arms assembly being moved there once removed from Steyr proper. The rifle and pistol parts delivered to Molln from Steyr’s operations at Radom and Warsaw, later Gusen, were assembled by 1100 workers using nearly 300 machines.

As Molln fell to the US Army in 1945, this is why so many bnz/45 came back to the US after the war.

Regarding bombings of rifle manufacturers, so far as I have been able to learn, no primary-intentional bombing was ever conducted against a rifle producer; they were not targets worthy of the resources. When they were attacked, it was usually accidental (too close to a real target, like marshalling yards – a few bombs hit Gustloff as a secondary target, and most of the bombs were intended for the marshalling yards bordering their property, they only got a few strays…) BLM and Mauser got a taste but hardly worthy of being a target. Brno was never hit, though the city marshalling yards were.

03/11/2013

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2 thoughts on “Steyr’s World War II Rifle Production

  1. Ethan

    I’m very interested in seeing the Steyr firearm production numbers. I didn’t see any posts about it on mrjpress.com, any chance you have that information available online?

    Reply
  2. loewe1869 Post author

    Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG rifle production during the war is more complex than simple numbers, they were burdened by a series of problems after its union with Germany, they had great difficulty making rifles that were acceptable to by the German authorities. Many rifles made prior to 1943 were rejected and subsequently passed later, this is the reason why the rifles they made often have variation to their acceptance and marking pattern. Below is the official totals made (accepted) from the official report on the company. 1945 is not included, but was probably about 35,000 rifles by known serial ranges.

    SDP (660-bnz)

    1939 – 28,801
    1940 – 118,452
    1941 – 232,425
    1942 – 202,400
    1943 – 286,807
    1944 – 279,562

    Reply

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