April 15, 2024


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History of the Semi-Automatic Rifle

2 min read
American M1 Garand rifle

Have you ever considered the history of semi-automatic rifles? While a popular gun choice, many owners are unfamiliar with its history. The story of the semi-automatic rifle starts in 1885, in Austria, where Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher invented the first semi-automatic weapon: the model 85. Since then, semi-automatic rifles have altered beyond recognition.


The Evolution of the Semi-Automatic Rifle Since 1885

The Mannlicher 85 never reached mass production was soon replaced by later models 91, 93 and the 95. Although the first model wasn’t successful, Mannlicher’s design developed into a globally recognized weapon, which influenced American manufactures.

  • Winchester

The Winchester Repeating Arms Company developed their first model in 1903 and became a success in the civilian market. It remained in production until its replacement model 63 was introduced in 1932.

  • Remington

The Remington Auto-loading Repeating Rifle was introduced to the market in 1906. However, in 1911, Remington renamed the first model to the Model 8 – a sporting rifle. Eventually, the brand improved the Model 8 design and replaced it with the Model 81 in 1936; successful and popular in the civilian and law enforcement markets.

  • Springfield

In 1937, Springfield introduced the first gas-action semi-automatic weapon, which came after years of research on the kinetic power of the breech gases released during shooting. John Garand, a Springfield Employee, introduced the M1 Garand. Used by U.S. troops during WWII, the weapon gave them an advantage over their enemies who were still using bolt action rifles that were slower to operate and less effective.

Developments After World War II

As with all wars, the world saw a significant advancement in warfare technology during WWII, which included the introduction of gas-operated semi-automatic rifles from both the Soviets and the Germans – the AVS-36, SVT-38, and SVT-40 models respectively.

Semi Automatic Rifles

After WWII, gas operated semi-automatic rifles became increasingly more efficient, and both the Americans and Russians raced for more efficient weapons.

The Russian AK-47 (Kalashnikov) still in use today, is one of the best semi-automatic rifles developed; it was designed during 1946 and introduced in 1947 for testing. In 1949 the AK-47 became the official Soviet hand-held assault weapon.

Back in the United States, in 1956, ArmaLite developed their AR15 model but, facing insolvency, they sold the design to Colt, which marketed the gun under the same name: The Colt AR15.

Final thoughts

Semi-automatic rifles have a long history dating back to the 1800s in Europe. Since then, we’ve witnessed significant developments in the capabilities and effectiveness of the gun – and, we’ll continue to see modifications as semiautomatic rifles remain a popular choice for many.

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