The Vault

US Winchester .30 semiauto

This rifle was designed by Winchester and submitted for testing by the US Marine Corps in 1940. The Marines had not adopted a semiautomatic rifle, and ran an exhaustive competitive test between the bolt-action Springfield, the Johnson, the Garand, and this Winchester design. The Winchester was a sleek and lightweight rifle, operated by a gas piston which moved only a tenth of an inch upon firing. The piston was located only a few inches forward of the breech, allowing a short and light operating system.

Ultimately the Marine Corps chose the Garand rifle for its reliability and durability, but the Winchester would go on to be an important foundation of the company’s later M1 Carbine design.

(download the gallery here at full resolution)

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7 comments to US Winchester .30 semiauto

  • mark tercsak

    I have a book about winchester firearms
    has a yellow cover, anyways in the book was an expermential assault rifle from 1917 period that is light years ahead
    in terms of design than any thing you have posted, it had dual magazines and was chambered in .351 winchester, in fact
    this weapon looks like it could have been designed today

  • George

    can you give that book’s name, or some .PDF file for it?

  • Axel

    Wow, how does it lock the bolt? Is it a tilting design? How does it transfer force from the op rod to the bolt?

    Where can I find more info on this rifle?

  • Axel

    Could these pics eventually be availible in any higher resolution?

    Thanks

  • Jacob Morgan

    The gas system sort of looks like a scaled-up M1 carbine. But in other ways it looks like a semi-auto ’03 Springfield. The Marines put off adopting the M1 Garand and kept their Springfields for a while after the War Dept went for the M1. Wonder if some design elements were intended to be a semi-auto while being Springfield-like to appeal to the Marines? In particular: it looks like it uses 5 round stripper clips and the front sight and the rifle stock in front of the action all look like a Springfield rifle.

    Hatcher’s Notebook said that one of John Browning’s brothers designed a gun that Winchester had up against the Garand up until the start of the war. Was that this gun (i.e., did he develop it around Williams’s gas system), or was it another Winchester?

    • Jacob Morgan

      Read an article in the November issue of the American Rifleman, this rifle was originally designed by John Browning’s half-brother, who died part way through development. Browning’s gas system had problems and ‘Carbine’ Williams came in to convert it to his gas system.

      The article stated that Winchester looked at the Garand design, said it was going to be very difficult to manufacture (can’t argue with that, but they made them anyway), and with the Garand’s troubled history to that point, Winchester decided to develop a competitor to try to sell to the military. Their design was simplified, but was not as reliable. It was not a scaled up M1 Carbine, rather the M1 Carbine was a down-sized version of this rifle.

  • Nat

    It’s essentially an M14!

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