Steyr GB

The Steyr GB, is a double-action 9×19mm Parabellum caliber, large-framed semi-automatic pistol employing a gas-delayed blowback action. As such the GB abbreviation stand for Gasbremse (gas brake). It was designed in 1968, intended as a replacement for older handguns in Austrian military service.

Steyr GB
TypeSemi-automatic pistol
Place of originAustria
Service history
Used bySee Users
Production history
DesignerHannes Kepplinger and Hermann Schweighofer[1]
ManufacturerLES, Inc., Steyr Mannlicher
Produced1970s, 1981–1988
No. builtLES, Inc.: 2,300
Steyr: 15,000–20,000
VariantsRogak (stainless steel), Steyr commercial and military (matte blue)
Mass845 g (unloaded)
1285 g (loaded)
Length216 mm
Barrel length136 mm

Cartridge9×19mm Parabellum
ActionGas-delayed blowback
Feed system18-round detachable box magazine

The weapon went into general civilian production in 1982, and in 1988 production ceased.

In the late 1970s, an American company founded by Les Rogak, LES Incorporated of Morton Grove, Illinois marketed the Rogak P-18, a close derivative of the Austrian original, but without great commercial success, [2][3] due to significantly lower manufacturing standards which affected both the appearance and function of the pistol.[4]

Both weapons are now regarded as collector's items, the original (Steyr) model commanding higher prices in the American market.


The original design introduced numerous novel features never before combined in a handgun: double-action mechanism (without safety); a gas-bleed delayed-blowback system; fixed barrel (that theoretically yields greater accuracy); polygonal rifling; and a reduced number of working parts.

To this list the Rogak variant added newly-fashionable stainless steel construction.

Despite an impressive list of innovative features—or because of it—the Steyr design did not prosper in the United States any better than in its country of origin.


Steyr's expectations of an Austrian military contract were upset with the victory of the Glock 17, which won military trials despite the novelty of its extensive employment of large high-strength polymer components, while the 1983 US military pistol competition, in which the Steyr GB competed, was won by the Beretta M92F. Consequently, Steyr decided to re-focus on the police and civilian market.

While much appreciated by users trained and familiar with the weapon, and well received by customers who understood the mechanism what was intended to be a robust, accurate, reliable functional weapon when used with standard military (full metal jacket) ammunition, the anticipated civilian sales remained low while major official (police) sales never materialized: between the American military's selection of the Beretta 92F, coupled with European military and police forces' selection of the competing SIG-Sauer (P226 full-size and P228 compact high-capacity pistols—the latter adopted by the US Army as the M11) led to a cessation of manufacture of the Steyr GB in 1988 after a total production of between 15,000 and 20,000 pistols—most of them commercial models.

937 of the military models were exported to the United States.[2]

Operating mechanism

The Steyr GB is a semi-automatic, blowback-operated firearm. It features a unique gas-delayed blowback system based on the Barnitzke system, first used in the Volkssturmgewehr 1-5,[5] and subsequently in the Swiss Pistole 47 W+F (Waffenfabrik Bern) prototype pistol.[6] The Barnitzke system uses gas pressure from the ignited cartridge and feeds it through a small port in the barrel in front of the chamber to retard the rearward motion of the slide.

This is accomplished by using the fixed piston formed by the outside of the barrel, inside a moving cylinder formed by the inside of the slide, gas pressure in the space between them opposing the rearward motion of the slide until the gas pressure has declined (at which point the bullet has left the muzzle) thereby allowing the slide to continue its rearward motion.

Thereafter the Steyr GB follows the conventional semiautomatic cycle: opening the breech; ejecting the empty cartridge case; stripping a new round from the magazine; loading a new cartridge; returning to battery (unless the magazine is empty).[7][8]


See also


  2. Fjestad, S. P. (1992). Blue Book of Gun Values (13th ed.). Minneapolis, Minn.: Blue Book Publications. ISBN 0-9625943-4-2.
  3. Gangarosa, Gene Jr. "Steyr's GB; Too Good Too Soon?". Originally published in: Warner, Ken (1993). Gun Digest 1994 (48th ed.). Northbrook, Il.: DBI Books. ISBN 0-87349-141-6.
  4. Rogak P18: A Cautionary Tale of Manufacturing at Forgotten Weapons
  5. Popenker, Max R. (June 29, 2010). "Gustloff Volkssturmgewehr VG.1-5 rifle (Germany)". Modern Firearms. Archived from the original on August 8, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  6. Hogg, Ian V.; John Walter (2004). Pistols of the World (4th ed.). Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 45. ISBN 0-87349-460-1. OCLC 56714520.
  7. Popenker, Max R. "Steyr GB (Austria)". Modern Firearms. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  8. Hogg, Ian V.; John Walter (2004). Pistols of the World (4th ed.). Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 329. ISBN 0-87349-460-1. OCLC 56714520.
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