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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2010 - Page 75
The Steyr-Hahn loads from the top using hard-to-find stripper clips. While it looks like a standard 9x19mm, the Steyr-Hahn is actually a 9x23 — but NOT the hot, competition version of the round! Shooting thE old Stuff t he S teyr- h ahn The 9mm Steyr-Hahn. This is the Romanian contract version and while they look dated by today’s standards, J.B. found his test gun shot astoundingly well. E arly in the last century, Elbert Searle (in America) and Karel Krnka (in Austria) came up with the same idea — a turning barrel locking system for pistols. Krnka used it first in the Roth-Steyr of 1907, which you may remember as the one looking like a Buck Rogers ray gun. In 1911, another Krnka turning barrel arrived, the Steyr-Hahn, a much better design. Notably, it had an external hammer and it was then possible to cock the pistol (“hahn” means “cock” in German). The pistol was adopted as military standard by Austria in 1911 and in the next year by Romania and Chile. Collectors will note the Romanian and Chilean contract versions are scarce, especially the ones with the national crest intact. During WWII, the Germans altered a number of SteyrHahn pistols to chamber the 9mm Luger round, and marked those “P.08” on the slide. The proper original cartridge is the longer 9mm Steyr, which is 9x23mm. Writing those figures reminds Model 1911 me there is a high-performance competition load by Winchester called the 9x23 which would chamber in the Steyr-Hahn. But don’t even think about it! This hot number would likely cause a fine old pistol to self-destruct with possible corresponding injuries. The only other cartridge I have fired in a Steyr-Hahn is the 9mm Bergmann-Bayard (9mm Largo). I will quickly note in some loadings, the case length is a tiny bit more, about .01" or so. Over-all, it’s always best to stay with original 9mm Steyr rounds. Fortunately, ammo is still available. For a long time at gun shows, the yellow “Marca Avion” ammunition box was a familiar sight and modestly priced. I still have a few boxes of this load with the RWS headstamp. They are dated 1935 and still work fine! I also have some more recent loads by Hirtenberger, also excellent. In current manufacture, there is a superb 9mm Steyr load made by Hornady and marketed by Graf & J.B. Wood Sons. And of course, you can always depend on Fiocchi for these and other obsolete loads. Not as readily available as the cartridges are the 8-round stripper clips for the top-loading Steyr-Hahn. They’re in the Numrich catalogue, but it’s a “starred” item meaning they are not always available. So, watch for them at the next gun show. For a military pistol, the Steyr-Hahn is amazingly accurate. With a two-hand hold 3" and 4" groups at 25 yards are not unusual, and the felt-recoil is mild. If you carry it with a loaded chamber (but why?) remember some versions have an inertia firing pin, while others have a full-reach, non-inertia firing pin, so use the manual safety to block the hammer. For more info: Graf & Sons, (800) 531-2666, www.grafs.com; Fiocchi, www.fiocchiusa.com, (702) 293-6174; Numrich Arms, www.gunpartscorp.com, (845) 679-2417 * WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM 75