This pistol first went into full production in 1907, when it was put into service by the Austro-Hungarian Army, primarily for use in the cavalry. This was the first time any major power adopted a self-loading pistol in place of a revolver.
The Roth-Steyr pistol fires from an unusual style of locked breech. The bolt is very long. Its rear end is solid, except for a sleeve for the striker, but its front part is hollow and fits tightly over the barrel. The interior of the bolt has cam grooves cut into it, and the barrel has studs which fit into the grooves. When the pistol was fired, the barrel and bolt recoiled together within the hollow receiver for about 0.5 inch. During this operation, the grooves in the bolt cause the barrel to turn 90 degrees, after which it is held while the bolt continues to the rear, cocking the action as it does so. On its forward journey, the bolt picks up a cartridge through a slot on its lower surface and chambers it, while the action of the studs in the grooves turn the barrel back to its locked position.
The magazine, which is in the butt, is an integral part of the weapon and is loaded through the open breech from a stripper clip.