While there is some anecdotal evidence that the semiautomatic rifle existed as early as 1664, the first documented evidence of a semiautomatic rifle was in the 1880s. Henry Maxim, and American, created a precursor to the semiautomatic rifles that was known as the…
After 1885, smokeless powder and a cupro-nickel jacketed bullet ushered the SR into a new era. Maxim received a patent in 1891 for a short-stroke gas piston, where the gas is taken off through a barrel port close to the chamber, which drives a short piston that operates the action. John Browning, in 1889, entered the SR field, producing a lever rifle that featured a concave muzzle cap that was hook up below the barrel, connecting with the triggerguard rifle lever. Griffiths and Woodgate were two Englishmen who introduced a SR that had simplicity as its value. In 1898, Mauser introduced a SR that incorporate a locking principle which was modified to form the Deglyarev LMG lock principle and the lock of the gas operated rifles with which Germany ended the war. Major Amerigo Cei-Rigotti introduced a gas system in 1900, which was a modification of the Italian 1891 rifle design, but had the action further forward to protect the shooter. The Cei-Rigotti, in firing tests in 1900, delivered 300 rounds in a minute of full automatic fire, after which the barrel was too hot to use. This was a mechanism that was used by the Russians in 1936 and 1940 and by Germany in 1943, with their mechanism being mounted on to of barrels, instead of below.
The main person who was driving the development of the SR was Mannlicher. In 1891, Mannlicher developed two SRs, which operated on the short recoil principle. His second experimentation was a rifle that featured a small hook bored in the barrels bottom and a gas-operated arm. Mannlicher came back in 1893 with two SRs with a revolving bolt locked rifle. The first was a modification of his standard turning bolt magazine rifle; the second was the Mannlicher Model 90 straight-pull design. In 1894, Mannlicher introduced two “blow forward” designs with hesitation locking cams. The first required cocking after every shot. The second featured a standing ...
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