Roth Haenel Model 1899 – The First Semiauto Sporting Rifle?

This rifle is being sold at Rock Island on December 2, 2018.

While Karel Krnka and Georg Roth were in the process of developing the M1907 pistol, they diverted slightly to apply their patents to a fancy sporting semiauto rifle – the Model 1899. Produced and marketed by Haenel, the 1899 was a long recoil, rotating bolt design chambered for the German 8x45mm cartridge (approximately a 150 grain bullet at 1800 fps). The rifle was very expensive, selling for $150 around 1900-1905, ad this was probably the largest single reason why it failed to be commercial successful. At the same time, a very nice bolt action sporting rifle could be bought for $40-$50, and a brand new Winchester 1897 shotgun for $27. There is a question of whether the 1899 was the first commercial sporting semiauto rifle available, and unfortunately I don’t have the data to conclusively say. The patent dates are 1899, but that does not mean it was actually in production in 1899. It was certainly contemporary to the earliest Remington and Winchester offerings, but was not necessarily the first among them.