Designing my 1930 semi auto rifle

Discussion in 'Between the wars 1918-1939' started by The Basket, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    A few thoughts.
    As I am British I would be selling or designing to my own country.
    Problem is they would certainly specify 303 and don't want that! Would go 7mm or 6.5 Like Arisaka. Would have to be 10 rounds like the SMLE.

    Is there an example of a semi auto using a detachable magazine? In the 1930 timescale? I know the Farquhar did but trying to find a box mag like the BAR. Just seeing if using a mag like an assault rifle would be reasonable in this timeframe.

    Would settle on a gas piston like the later Garand.
    I don't want to use long recoil like the Chauchat. Or short recoil like Johnson. No toggle or waxed cartridge like the Pedersen

    Roller delayed blowback isn't around!
    The Bang or gas capture method not happening either.
     
  2. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog New Member

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    #2 Mad Dog, Oct 15, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
    Why not? The .303 was a less powerful, lighter round than the Garand's .30, yet had a much better bullet design. And the Bren gun proved that rimmed rounds were not a serious issue for reliable magazine feeding in automatic weapons.

    The Farquar-Hill rifle went through a protracted development, mainly because the British authorities were so dead set against an automatic rifle, but at least one '20s prototype used a conventional box magazine rather than the drum magazine of the 1918 version adopted for limited service.

    Alternatively, a version of the Colt Monitor in .303 would have been an interesting option - automatic and semi-auto, using a box magazine, and with the parent Browning BAR having been produced in .303. A bit heavy for a true assault rifle, maybe, but it would definitely have improved the platoon's ability to put down mid- and short-range automatic fire.
     
  3. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii New Member

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  4. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I want to move away from the 303 to a 7mm like the P13.

    It's interesting to me that the Sturmgewehr was not around much sooner. It's such an obvious design that as soon as it appeared it made all other rifles obsolete.
     
  5. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    I'd stick with the SMLE and improve training
     
  6. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    A bit of a cop out. I don't think if there is a major war 10 years later that the SMLE is going to be obsolete.
    So need to get that semi auto working now in case the French get any ideas.
    Fortunately we disarmed the Germans so no issue there
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    So in other words, in the middle of the great depression you're expecting Britain to not only develope a new rifle for the rifleman but one that uses a different round than all the other infantry weapons in their inventory?
     
  8. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Yep.
    Britain was a superpower with a vast empire.
    And were simply talking about developing a weapon which would take years to get in production.
    Britain fell behind in a modern rifle and that was a poor show
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    When you've got to deploy a new weapon, and it's new ammo, having a vast empire isn't a advantage.
     
  10. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    We were about to do it with the P13
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Britain couldn't afford to put the No. 4 MK I into production in 1930 or immediately there after, except in trial quantities and it was designed to be easier to manufacture than the No 1 MK III.

    As far as designing an "ideal" semi-auto goes, pick your action type and pick your magazine. There was absolutely nothing that prohibited most action types from using whatever magazine type was desired, at least at the prototype/tooling up stage. Johnson automatic rifle prototypes used detachable box magazines. Different magazine types were to accommodate either the rifle designers ideas/prejudices or the ideas/prejudices of the intended buyers (soldiers would loose detachable magazines, soldiers needed to be able to top off part empty magazines, soldiers should be able to fill magazine with the bolt closed and ready to fire and other ideas/requirements) .

    Difference between the 30-06 and the .303 wasn't enough to make much difference. the .303 MK7 loading was about 90% as powerful as the 30-06 M2 ball loading. The 6.5m Arisaka and Carcano were about 74% as powerful as the 30-06 M2.

    The Sturmgewehr round was about 56% as powerful as the 30-06 and had a few problems with ballistics. It's short, fat bullet would loose velocity quicker and make long range fire (anything beyond 300-400) yds increasingly difficult. It almost mandated the use of two different cartridges in the squad ( British riflemen could refill Bren Magazines, American riflemen could refill BAR magazines, German riflemen could, with a bit more difficulty, refill MG 34/42 belts).

    going from 7.9mm diameter to 6.5mm/7mm diameter bullets while keeping the same 125/120 grin bullet weight makes for longer/skinnier bullets with better ballistic shape for more retained velocity at longer ranges.

    Changing bullet diameter on a full sized round (like the British .280 pre-WW I round) gains nothing in the size of the rifle needed, doesn't change the size of the ammo carriers or save much in the way of raw materials, and unless different powders are used, may just burn out barrels quicker.

    The Pederson .276 used a lighter bullet, a shorter/smaller diameter case and less powder than the P13-.280 round.
     
  12. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #12 tyrodtom, Oct 16, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
    Almost every country that fought in WW2, started the war with just improved WW1 bolt actions, except the USA. Others spent their time between the wars developing better light and medium MGs, while the USA did basically nothing in that area of arms.

    Even though the Garand had been approved as the standard weapon for the US Army in 1932,even though it used the same round as the rifle it replaced it still wasn't fully deployed by the start of WW2 for the USA, and that was almost 2 years after the war started for everyone else.

    My Dad landed at Guadalcanal in August of 42 armed with a Springfield. Ten years after the Garand was approved as the standard rifle.

    The only major nations that changed, or attempted to change, the caliber of their MBR was Japan and Italy. That didn't work out well for Italy at all, and for Japan it just added more complication to their already complicated supply problems.

    This is just all pie in the sky speculation, ignoring a lot of lessons from what happened in the real world.
    It's hard enough to develope a new main battle rifle, adding a new round to the equation just makes it even more likely to be refused.
     
  13. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    ZH-29 would be a very good starting point.
    The uk got the zb -26 so I assume would have been aware of the ZH.
    I do think that any rifle or light machine gun of this era would have the 303 as standard.
    Talking about moving calibres the Germans went to the 8mm Kurz in wartime. The Japanese went 6.5 to 7.7....kinda. so moving to a different calibre is a matter of will. If the big cheeses want 7mm then it will happen. Stupid decisions are the privilege of rank.

    Of course this speculation but I am interested in firearms and I find the period of early semi auto absolutely fascinating as it's an engineering question with no real correct answers only less bad ones.
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Small arms development was mostly a question of money, and until 1938(ish) there just want enough money to spend on fripperies like changing the personal side arm of the British army (or anybody else for that matter). Changing the calibre of the ammunition was an even more remote possibility. It is not an exaggeration to say that a change away from the 0.303 round after WWI may well have bankrupted the British govt.


    Weapons like the Stg 44 were never intended to replace entirely the main infantry sidearm. Perhaps 300000 StG 44s were made, and given that the heer could provide even enough Mauser 98Ks for their forces, it makes sense for the british not to go down the same path. Assault weapons like the German gun were miles away from british doctrine and far too expensive in terms of design, manufacture (there was no idea of mass production techniques used and ammunition


    In the case of the americans, of all the great powers they possessed by far the smallest army and also could rely on the longest lead times before they would be called upon to fight a serious war. All their neighbours were either weak or friendly, their overseas colonies small and unimportant. They had the manufacturing base to make good their production so could afford to dabble and fritter around with expensive side issues such as the garand. Nations in Europe could at short notice find themselves in the thick of fighting
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The Germans didn't go to the 8mm kurz, they just added it on.
    With only 425,000 MP44s produced during the war verses over 14 million Kar98s produced 1935-45 there was no hope that it could ever replace the bolt action Mauser.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Something like 10 Divisions of the German Army were almost totally equipped with Czechoslovakian weapons, from rifles (Czeck built Mauser 98s) to 15cm howitzers at the beginning of the war. Germany was in no position to do a wholesale change over during the war no matter how much they may have wanted to.
    The Germans did show the way forward with the 7.9X33 round and the guns to use it though and showed that a realistic expectation of likely fighting ranges for shoulder fired weapons. The 7.9 X 33 was also something of an expedient in that it it may not have been what was really wanted but it could be made using a lot of the same tooling as the 7.9x57 cartridge, rim diameter and rear of case dimensions being identical for example.
    The British army was small during the 1930s and woefully ill-equipped in many ways, despite having a number of good designs sitting in drawers or on shelves waiting for money for production. If you don't have the money for a cheaper bolt action than the one you are using, even if it is better, then money for a semi-auto is non-existent.
    British realized that the .303 was far from ideal for automatic weapons although it could be made to work. Part of that depends on the way a gun feeds. Some belt feed guns (in fact most) pull the cartridge out of the belt to the rear, sometimes for the full length of the cartridge so rim type isn't that big a deal. The rounds don't actually touch each other in the feed system (or at least touch like in a magazine). It is not just the rim but the taper of the cartridge case. Magazines with a large amount of curvature are not good.
    British were one of the most pragmatic countries when it came to weapons development/adoption during the 30s and early 40s.
    The Bren was better than the Vickers-Berthier machine gun, but the Vickers-Berthier was adopted by the Indian army and used for pretty much the duration of the war by Indian troops in several theaters. It doesn't seem to have acquired a bad reputation.
    The British adopted the Czech ZB-53 for armored vehicles and they adopted the Belgian (Browning) hi-power pistol.
    They also adopted both the Browning maching gun for aircraft use and the Hispano 20mm cannon for aircraft and the Oerlikon gun and Bofors gun for Navy and Army AA instead of British designs.

    Weapons have to fit into the doctrine of the using army (or Airforce/Navy) and while an army may change it's doctrine to suit a weapon it was often the case that the change in doctrine and the adoption of a weapon went hand in hand. Adopting supplemental weapons or weapons for special purposes doesn't require fundamental changes in doctrine (tactics/training).

    The MP-44 was sort of the small arms equivalent of the V-2 rocket. Unlikely to made in large enough numbers to have any real influence on the outcome of the war but important enough to show the way forward in the years after the war.
     
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  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Box magazines were not a great trick.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    French used the Winchester in the lower picture in limited numbers in both WW I and WW II.
    Both were popular for Law enforcement and prison guards.
     
  18. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    A good rifle can make money as you export it to the world markets.
    I will go with a box magazine.
    Stupid question but couldn't the Bren be lightened and used as a semi auto rifle?
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The world markets have to be able to afford it. The Chinese seem to be buying up a bit of most anything in the 1930s but since some of the buying was being done by semi-independent war lords rather than by a central government purchase by batches seemed to be the rule. And the "cool" factor seemed to prevail at times (Chinese loved full auto Mauser C96 pistols as sub-machine guns even though they weren't very effective).
    Africa is out as a Market due to it being mainly colonies at the time. Same with most of SE Asia and the Mid-East. Most of South America was lucky they could afford replacement/supplemental Mausers.

    Trying to "Lighten" a LMG is not a good way to go. You have to get rid of roughly 1/2 the weight. Dropping the bipod and using a smaller magazine is nowhere near enough.
    Metallurgy (alloys and heat treatment) was getting better during the 20s and 30s and that helped get the 1930s rifles (and post WW II) down to the weight wanted with enough durability/reliability.
    Colt Monitor
    [​IMG]
    Went 13.2-16lbs (depending on source) with 18in barrel and compensator.

    A semi-auto rifle doesn't need the beef of a LMG receiver for durability. Most LMGs fire open bolt (bolt is held to rear between shots/bursts for cooling and prevent cook-offs) while most semi auto rifles fire closed bolt for accuracy.
     
  20. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Britain had massive empire in them there days.
    Closed market for our guns.
    I have spoken to the ministry and my proposal has been turned down due to general lack of funds. So I will stick to writing on forums instead.
     
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