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Harpoon rifle converted from a M1895 Steyr-Mannlicher bolt-action rifle

Date: 1918
Dimensions:
Overall: 65 x 923 x 147 mm, 2.75 kg
Medium: Wood, iron, brass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Eric Potts
Classification:Armament
Object Name: Harpoon rifle
Object No: 00002638

User Terms

    Description
    This Steyr-Mannlicher M1895 bolt-action rifle was produced by Dutch manufacturer Hembrug in 1918. Rifles such as this were used extensively prior to and during the First World War by Dutch Forces. Some time after its manufacture, it was converted into a harpoon rifle, and used for hunting porpoises and sharks.
    SignificanceThis is a rare surviving example of a harpoon rifle used for killing porpoise as bait for big game fishing.
    HistoryMarkings on this Steyr-Mannlicher M1895 bolt-action rifle indicate it was produced by Dutch manufacturer Hembrug in 1918. Rifles such as this were used extensively prior to and during the First World War by Dutch Forces. Some time after its manufacture, it was converted into a harpoon rifle to be used for big-game fishing. Game fishing was still in its infancy in Australia when American game fisherman Zane Grey visited in 1936. During his stay he caught a 1036 pound world record tiger shark off Sydney. His visit aroused intense media interest and his book 'An American Angler in Australia', published in 1937, put Australian waters on the world game fishing map.

    Commercial gunsmith and fishing tackle catalogues from the 1930s advertised harpoon rifles as being suitable for hunting sharks, porpoises, crocodiles, dugongs, seals, etc, or for throwing line for lifesaving work. The rifles sold for 17 pounds/10/-, the harpoons for 35/- each.

    The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 brought the sport to a temporary halt. It resumed post war and continued until the 1960s when changing attitudes saw the closure of whaling stations and a prohibition on the use of mammal meat such as seal and porpoise as bait or berley.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: HARPOON RIFLE CONVERTED FROM A BOLT ACTION RIFLE

    Web title: Harpoon rifle converted from a M1895 Steyr-Mannlicher bolt-action rifle

    Related People
    Maker: Hembrug

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