The Mannlicher M1894 was a blow-forward semi-automatic pistol of Austro-Hungarian origin. It was designed by Ferdinand Mannlicher and manufactured by Fabrique D'Armes de Neuhausen.
It was designed as a self-loading weapon firing a special rimmed 6.5mm caliber cartridge. The design represented a then-new utilization of mechanical principle of automatic action, "blow forward". In contrast to blowback-based weapons, the M1894 utilized a rigid standing breach with the barrel blowing forward to extract, eject, and prepare for reloading.
A special barrel housing that carries the sight covered the entire length of the barrel when the arm is closed. A heavy recoil spring is mounted concentrically around the barrel within this housing and is compressed between a shoulder at the forward end of the casing and a shoulder at the rear of the barrel.
One distinctive aspect in the M1894's design is a three-armed "barrel-holding lever", which is pivoted above the trigger. The bottom arm engages with the trigger while the forward arm holds the barrel forward for reloading. The rearward arm serves as a hammer catch.
The hammer is cocked. As the hammer rotated on its axis pin, it acts upon the trigger, and the sear snaps into the cocking notch, holding the hammer. The hammer axis pin also supports the center arm of the barrel holding lever, which arm emerges and is raised high enough by its spring to press into a slot under the barrel. The rising thumbpiece on top of the barrel over the breech is then pushed forward. The barrel moves forward until its muzzle emerges from the barrel housing, compressing the recoil spring. The barrel holding lever is snapped into the locking notch in the underside of the barrel, holding it in forward position for charging.
A five-round stripper clip is inserted in the clip guide of the receiver and cartridges are pressed into the magazine. The cartridges are stripped off the clip and pressed into the magazine well in the pistol body, compressing the spiral magazine spring. A lip on top prevents the cartridges from emerging.
During its production until 1897, the M1894 had several modifications applied to its design. In some of them, the barrel catch does not operate during firing, so that the pistol closes to become fully self-loading. In none of the models, does the automatic action extend to priming the self-loading pistol. In all variations, the hammer must be cocked by thumb to fire or must be cocked and dropped in double action mechanical fashion by pulling the trigger.
Experimental versions of the M1894 were also manufactured with a single action movement, in which it was necessary to cock the hammer by thumb for each shot. Other types also used experimental types of grip safeties. Later models were made to shoot a special 7.8mm caliber rimless cartridge with a straight-sided casing.
The pistols were tested by the U.S. Army at the Springfield Armory in 1900. They functioned poorly during the test, so it was not recommended. Cartridges frequently jammed or misfired, and the barrel burst after the 281st round fired.