Shooting a .276 Pedersen

Thanks to Alex C. at TheFirearmBlog, I recently had an opportunity to do some shooting with a .276 caliber Vickers-Pedersen model PB rifle. This was one of the very first rifles Vickers built when they though the Pedersen would be adopted by the US military and couple be further marketed worldwide – after only about 16 PB rifles they made some changes and started making the improved PA model instead (the two main improvements being the use of a reversible clip and the addition of a mechanism to allow ejection of a partially-full clip).

Anyway, in addition to Alex and myself, we were joined by Nathaniel F (a TFB writer) and Patrick R (from the TFBTV video channel). Between us we put about 60 rounds of original 1920s wax-lubricated Frankfort Arsenal .276 Pedersen ammo through the rifle. We both put together videos on the gun – you can see the TFBTV piece here, and mine right here:

My overall impression of the gun was very positive. I was frankly pretty surprised that the gun, the clip, and the ammunition all not only worked independently, but worked almost flawlessly together. In the 60 rounds, we had only one malfunction (aside from the trigger reset peculiarity of the gun) and that was simply the clip not fully ejecting once when empty.

The inevitably question is, should the US have chosen the Pedersen over the Garand? Hard to say, frankly, without being able to have experienced a .276 caliber Garand (and if anyone has one they would be willing to shoot, let me know!) The .276 Pedersen is a nicer gun to shoot than the .30-06 Garand, but that’s really not a fair comparison. In addition, battlefield reliability and production complexity are just as important (if not moreso) than how nice a rifle is to shoot on the square range. The Pedersen definitely seems like it would be susceptible to dirt and dust, although the Garand is too, more than most people would like to acknowledge. My gut feeling is to give the Ordnance Board the benefit of the doubt at this point (they certainly made the right decision on automatic pistols with the Browning over the Savage).


  1. I have wondered how similar the .276 Pedersen cartridge is to the 6.8SPC. Is it a longer cartridge overall and how similar are the ballistics?

    • Hi Kelly,

      The two cartridges are not very similar. The 6.8 SPC has a 1.6864″-.020 long case and a 2.26-2.32″ long max overall length. This limits case capacity relative to the caliber, and also means the cartridge can only be loaded with stubby bullets of poor aerodynamic shape. It generally can fire a bullet of about 110-115 grains with a BC of about .160-.185 G7 between 2,550-2,660 ft/s from an 18″ barrel. Read my more thorough examination of 6.8 SPC’s ballistics here.

      In contrast, the .276 Pedersen has a larger cases that is 2.02″ long, with a 2.83″ long max overall length. It can use extremely fine form factor bullets of heavier weight, fired faster than the 6.8 SPC is capable of doing. The PD-42 loading we shot during the shoot was loaded with the excellent PC-50 bullet having a G7 BC of about .248, and produced muzzle velocities of about 2,740 ft/s (note that we did not chronograph the rifle during the shoot, this figure is based on instrument velocities from over 80 years ago!). As a result, the .276 Pedersen is ballistically much more elegant and capable than the 6.8 SPC, while also being much more potent, producing about 20% more energy.

      • How .276 Pedersen looks in comparison with .280 British? Both are firing .284 bullet. So far I know one of objection against Pedersen cartridge, was that .30-06 must be retained for machine gun, giving more complex logistic, on the other hand US Army adopted .30 Carbine so they ended with additional cartridge anyway.

        • If you think about it, they ended up supplying .30-06 in 8 round clips for the M1’s, 5 round clips for the Springfields, clips or boxes for loading the BAR’s mags and reloading MG belts, and in belts for the MG’s. Plus they had to supply .30 carbine and .45 ACP for pistols and SMG’s. They seem to have been able to manage it.

        • Hi, both the .280 British and .276 Pedersen underwent a variety of changes during their life with regards to performance, but in particular the .280 British is difficult to pin down because unlike the .276 it had a more tumultuous history and less certainty as to what, exactly, would be adopted by NATO.

          It was decided fairly early on what the .276 Pedersen would look like: It was loaded into the PD-42 (small Boxer primer), FB-9892/FB-10865 (almost identical cases with large Boxer primer), or A-11 (large Berdan primer) cases, with either the PC-50 (125grs) or T1-E19 bullet (126grs), both of which were identical in shape*. Standard loads produced just under 2,700 ft/s at the instrument, equating to about 2,740 ft/s at the muzzle. In general, when people talk about the .276 Pedersen, it is this configuration they are referring to. Interestingly, this is not the configuration that would have been adopted, but that is a separate topic. This performance represents the overwhelming quantity of .276 ammunition in existence.

          In contrast, there is no single version of .280 British that generally is being referred to. I will be doing a more thorough article on this, but basically the .280 British was loaded to performance levels ranging from approximately equal to 7.92mm Kurz to almost 7.62 NATO levels. What can be said is that in terms of case volume, the .280 British is just slightly lower than the .276 Pedersen, and was never loaded with bullets as aerodynamic as those used in the .276. To further confuse matters, the round the British abortively adopted, the 7mm Mk.1Z (augmented .280/30), was more powerful than the majority of .280 ammunition produced, giving a muzzle velocity of 2,595 ft/s with a lead-cored 140gr bullet – which, it should be noted, was reported in tests as being uncontrollable in fully automatic, negating the primary virtue of the .280 round. In terms of muzzle energy, that performance is very comparable to the .276 Pedersen, but the projectile was not as well-streamlined, and as a result it had about the same ballistic coefficient as the PC-50 and T1-E19 bullets of the .276, despite being 15 grains heavier. Combined with the lower velocity of the .280 British, the .276 thus outperforms the Mk.1Z.

          To further confuse the issue, at least two wildcatters of the era, Phil Sharpe and Lewis Potter, made their own versions of the .280/30 British and the performance their handloads developed are sometimes published as if they were the official figures.

          So at its low end, the .280 British was not so far off from the 6.8mm SPC, in fact, but at its high end it was much, much closer to .276 Pedersen or 7.62 NATO in performance. Unfortunately, conflation of these two ends of the spectrum, especially by 6.8mm SPC fans has led to some confusion regarding exactly what the 6.8mm is capable of and what its performance looks like.

          For visual reference, he’s a picture I took earlier today of a few samples from my collection:

          Bear in mind, the image is distorted towards the edges. I should probably refrain from taking pictures of so many cartridges in one shot with my camera phone, in the future. Oh well. From left to right, 7.92×33 Kurz (just PPU commercial stuff), 7.62×39 M67 Yugoslavian, 5.56×45 NATO Danish SS109, 6.8 SPC 115gr Sierra BTHP, 6.5 Grendel 123gr Lapua Scenar Alexander Arms, .30 Remington Western Cartridge Co 170gr Super-X, .280 British 140gr “Type C” steel-cored projectile, 7mm Second Compromise, the forerunner to 7mm Liviano, 140gr S12 FN bullet, 7.62×51 M198 Duplex for scale, .276 Pedersen FB-10865 loaded with T1-E19 bullet, fired .276 Pedersen PD-42 case, originally loaded with PC-50 bullet – this was from the lot of ammunition we fired in the video above, and an unfired pulled T1-E19 bullet from an FB-10865 case. Note the very fine shape of the T1-E19 bullet.

          The US Army did think the .30 caliber (in the very potent M1 Ball load, mind you, which had much longer range than either the later M2 Ball or M80 7.62mm Ball) was necessary to retain for machine guns, and neither they nor the British later with the .280/30 intended to replace their existing .30 caliber medium machine guns. The US in the 1930s in fact had no .276 caliber machine gun program of any kind – I’ve not even seen any evidence of a .276 BAR or comparable automatic rifle (some expected the advent of a semi-automatic rifle would negate the need for the automatic rifle, an assessment that sounds pretty weird to modern ears). However, the experience since then definitely suggests the .276 Pedersen could have replaced the .30-06 in the machine gun role, since it has superior ballistics to the later 7.62mm NATO. The only concern I would have about that hypothetical – and a major concern of the time – was that the .276 had difficulties meeting requirements with steel-cored armor penetrating projectiles, and while we don’t think of that being so important today, in WWII .30 M2 AP was a very useful round to have.

          *It should be noted that there were a huge number of designations of cases and projectiles that represent largely identical ammunition. I have only mentioned some examples, for a more thorough treatment please read History of Modern U.S. Military Small Arms Ammunition, by Hackley, Woodin, and Scranton.

  2. Probably for the best that the M1 Garand was adopted over the Pedersen rifle. As nice as it is, I can’t help but thinking that the toggle lock action would bind or jam up in the heat and grime of combat. The Pedersen also looks pretty damn expensive too.

  3. Ian….That is so cool!
    Yes, I want one.
    Got to ask, if there are any out-there for sale,
    maybe with RIA, what would one likely sell for?
    What does the lubricated ammunition sell for and who makes it?

    • They seem to sell for $12-$20 thousand, IIRC. The ammo was 1920s production by Frankfort Arsenal, which was originally made for the Pedersen rifles. It’s rare, but not actually all the difficult to fine, since there isn’t much opportunity for it to get shot up.

  4. Genuine question to ask might be what was thickness of wax coat and how it affected chamber-case relationship.

    The video is in full light and visibility is good, unlike some older videos and that is appreciated.

  5. As far as the type of action used, I’d call it potentially tricky for military application(not the same as weapon for pistol type shot.) On subject of function: I rally cannot see, how action would “wait” until pressure drops – there is no brain in cold inorganic material. There are too possibilities how this gets going.

    Most likely interpretation is that there is a slight initial movement hindered by high pressure in contact surfaces. That version seem to be supported by shooters testimony – as being pleasant shooting experience. Another might be temporary energy storage in linked parts (due to their elasticity) which is gradually released in relaxation stage.

    The cost issue is relative subject. First what comes into equation s quantity of series. In addition, there is absence of gas mechanism which is definitely a plus. So price might be eventually on par with Garand. The maintainability is field – that is major question to be answered and nobody knows that.

    • The delay is similar to that of a roller-delayed blowback. The contact angles between the toggle joints and the vector of force coming back from the chamber combine to reduce the effective force acting to open the toggle to a low enough level that it does not open until pressure is down to a safe level.

    • Don’t think of it as the action “waiting”. Delay in this case means slowing down the opening movement by directing most of the force (which acts on the base of the case) into the receiver. But as in an ordinary blowback action, the bolt of a Pedersen or a roller action (G3, Swiss Stgw 57) starts moving immediately.
      To make it possible for the case to move under high pressure, the latter weapons have fluted chambers. Pedersen used a special coating on the cases as far as I know.

    • The foremost togglejoint behind the breechblock has superimposed fore lugs that the lower of which gets contact with breechblock. ln closed position, middle joint remains always slightly over the line joining the front and rear joint axis, therefore ready to fold up by the backward force coming from breechblock side. When fired, breechblock recoils slightly as pushing the toogle joints through the lower contact of front joint as starting the folding up action and front arm of joint slightly rotates as forwarding the upper fore lug of front joint in contact with breechblock as carrying the toggle joint to the nearly starting position of joint axis as using a fraction of time in which, the highest pressure within the chamber begins to

    • To understand the action read the patent here:

      Starting on page 5, line 68, (page 14 of the pdf), a very detailed description of the function of the action is given. Through a careful reading of the text and study of the figures, you will discover that this is akin to a roller delayed blow-back action. The rolling delay is illustrated in figure 30 as the parts move from positions x, y, z to x-prime, y-prime, and z-prime. This so called “power stroke” concept, where the cartridge case needs to move back a bit, shows why the lubricant would be needed to give reliable function.

      One thing I did notice in the slow motion footage was that the toggle was rebounding after coming down to close. I wonder if it was bouncing off of the disconnector and causing the trigger reset problems. It’s essential that the parts of the bolt and toggle come into complete contact or you’d have a loose-breach situation that would lead to peening those critical contact surfaces.

      Thanks to all involved in this video BTW. I didn’t think I’d ever get to see one of these rifles in action.

      • Lever or Roller Delay Blowback Systems used in Famars and G3 rifles are so different concepts from the delay action used in Pedersen Rifle and they can not be described through drawings, they are purely mathematical. They are related to the momentum transmitted from expelling bullet by powder charge from barrel to the brechbolt which constucted partially. One part of breechbolt gets speeded up by lever or rollers mechanicaly to a level which shared momentum can not provide with existing mass, and gets mathematicaly lightened, and excess momentum shared by the other part gets this piece mathematicaly more weighted, therefore slowing its backward movement.

        Pedersen concept is mechanical. It bases on carrying the starting position of toggle
        jöint to the “Breechbolt slightly recoiled back” situation in a fraction of time in which the dangerous pressure within the case drops to a safe level, by means of the rise of the front joint level through a mechanical superimposed construction. Delay action is provided through ascending and then descending of the middle joint and true blowback begins nearly with same toggle joint stance with initial starting position. Since the backward travel of case begins with the very high pressure still presenting inside, the case walls need to move freely within the chamber to prevent case separation and Pedersen used lubrication for this purpose. Same also occurs in other kind of delaying blowback systems and some like Famars and G3 use chamber grooves to make the case floated within the chamber.

        • You are correct, it is wrong to characterize this Pedersen toggle-link action to be anything like the FAMAS or G3 roller delayed locking mechanism. Those actions are truly locked at the time of firing, where the Pedersen toggle-link is never in a locked condition. Thanks for the correction.

          • Sorry, FAMAS and G3 are not locked. As I wrote before, the action starts moving immediately just like an ordinary blowback.

            FAMAS, G3 and Pedersen designs have in common that they split up the force acting on the bolt head between the receiver and the bolt itself. Due to the smaller effective force driving the bolt, it opens slow enough to make the weapon work safely.

            I am not sure I understand what Strongarm says. But the Pedersen patent is is perfectly clear in describing how the action works.

          • JPeelen,

            OK, so I’m confused (obviously) … if you stuck a cleaning rod down the barrel of a FAMAS or G3 and pushed on the bolt face it would move back? I thought the idea of the roller or lever delay was that it needed the momentum transfer from the shell head, to the bolt face, through the rollers / lever, to the locking block, to allow the bolt to start moving back. And that this very short delay was what allowed the chamber pressure to drop to a safe level, and unlike the Pedersen, they do not require the bolt face to move initially to get the action to begin its cycle.

            Looking at the Pedersen patent it appears that if you stuck a cleaning rod down the barrel and pushed on the bolt face, the action would come open (no locking).

            How I understood Strongarm’s comment is that unlike the Pedersen toggle-link, which uses only mechanical disadvantage to keep the action mostly closed during high pressure, the roller / lever delay actions are locked closed until the momentum transfer through the parts, (almost but not quite immediately), unlock the action to start the cycle.

          • Yes Brian, that would happen. In the case of the G3 it would require a really massive rod and a lot of force, because it has what we call Sperrhebel in German. Its a spring loaded claw-like lever. Its function is to prevent rebounding when the bolt closes.

            But neither FAMAS nor G3 act on monumentum transfer as you describe it. They both create a mechanical disadvantage. One by using a lever, and the other by the angled surfaces along which the rollers move.

          • Neither G3 nor FAMAS are fully locked. They are caller as “Semi Locked”. Though looking solidly locked when the gun in battery on position, the contacts give way for motion by angled surfaces. They all contain two piece breech closing members that inside of which, the real breechbolt, needs its carrier to clear off its backward path to achieve its mission. This is carried on by the momentum coming from barrel. Momentum of course contains a motion and this is transmitted to the carrier portion by means of rollers or lever acting as an accelator. Accelareted carrier leaves an excess momentum to the other momentum sharing member, breechbolt ,as slowing its motion. Pedersen rifle does not have two piece breechbolt members and as Brian states, never happens in a “locked state”. It does not also has an accelerator. Or it has, but not stated so in any explaination. It gets used the lineing of toggle joints that the middle of which controls the direction of folding movement. On Pedersen lockwork, middle joint remains slightly at opening side of engagement and bevelled contact surfaces of joining arms in the Middleton, by the aid of loose fastening axis, provide a hesitation for initial upward folding. Following delay comes from mechanicaly rising the front joint as carrying the toggle system nearly to the starting possition by means of slightly rotated front toggle arm.

          • Realities do not change, but the comments and explanations of users of these facts happen in various forms. Simply; leverage brings accelaration, accelaration on loosely engaged parts brings momentum converting, momentum converting can be seen as accelaration and in linked parts having ability to move rather indepently from each other, acceleration causes deceleration on other momentum sharing linked parts. In fact, “Mechanical disadvantage” as explained by Pedersen in loosely linked toggle parts through the motions between bevelled contact surfaces,can also be commented as, “Acceleration coming from the leverage of toggle link parts which collect a considerable mass, causes deceleration on the rather little massed breechbblock, therefore a delay at opening at back of breech clossure”. From this point of view both delaying actions of Roller and lever used in G3 and FAMAS, and toggle delay at Pedersen Rifle base on the same principle.

  6. It’s great to see a Pedersen in action. I had the privilege of handling one of the Japanese examples some years ago and have always found them interesting. They are beautiful rifles, but I have to agree that the Garand would be a better combat arm. (I will admit to being a bit of a fan of the M1, so I may be a tad biased.)

    I was always under the impression that the waxed cartridges would seem to be the Achilles heel of the system, especially in the Pacific heat and humidity, but considering that the coating has held up for almost a century on the test samples, it may have been more of a logistical issue (waxed rounds for the rifle may not have been interchangeable with an unwaxed round for, say, a .276 M1919 MG or BAR…a lightweight .276 BAR would have been nice) than an operational/storage one. Now, the residual heat issue is one I never thought of, especially if your foxhole buddy is pelting you with scorching waxed brass.

    It’s a shame, however, that the Garand in .276 didn’t make the cut, especially w/o the cartridge wax. A .276 Garand is high up on my Grail Gun list! I got to shoot a Garand that had been re-barreled in .243 Win. and it was a real pleasure, with a noticeably lower recoil impulse. I have to think a .276 would perform in a similar fashion. The ultimate setup would have been a select-fire Garand in .276 with a detachable 20 round magazine, like an early BM-59. (Although if that were the case, my awesome .276 BAR would have been superfluous.)

    The one question I do have is how much did that big toggle affect your sight picture, if at all? It is one of those things that always bothered me about the design, but like the waxed cartridges, it may be just a theoretical bias. Thanks for a fun and informative video.

    • “on my Grail Gun list”
      If you are searching for low-recoil fire-arm check Shiryayev Avtomat AO-27 (автомат Ширяева АО-27)
      It fire discarding-sabot-flechette 3mm diameter using 7.62mm barrel.
      Fire-arm mass (with magazine but without cartridges): 3.2kg
      Fire-arm length: 893mm
      Barrel length: 415mm
      Magazine: 30 cartridges
      Rate-Of-Fire: 700rpm
      projectile diameter: 3mm
      barrel bore: 7.62mm
      Cartridge mass: 10.5g
      Projectile mass: 2.4g
      Overall length: 63mm
      Projectile length: 55mm
      Max. pressure: 2700kg/mm^2
      Muzzle velocity: 1060m/s

    • Doc, on TFB one of the shooters from this video answered the same question. He said the action was too fast for him to see the toggle; it didn’t interrupt his sight picture at all.

  7. I’m not sure my input was seen last time we had a Pedersen, but I’ll reiterate it.

    In an old Matsumoto war short-story manga, the Japanese protagonist is a sniper on Guadalcanal. After killing an American scout party, he meets up with two stragglers who had gone into hiding after a failed offensive. The older of the pair hands the sniper a scoped Pedersen, which proves to be the central weapon of the story. Sadly after the hand-off, the old veteran gets head-shot by an eye-patched American sniper and the hero puts his new weapon to use, driving his counterpart away. The next day, the younger straggler, armed with the hero’s old Type 97 rifle, goes out to refill the canteens and gets ambushed by the Americans. The straggler manages to get one shot off at the eye-patched Yankee before the latter fills him with lead from his scoped M1D. The pair of Marines checking the dead straggler for booby-traps get shot through by the Japanese sniper. The remaining Marines attempt to bum rush the hero and get ventilated. The story ends in a duel, where the snipers shoot each other through the head at the same time. The last panel shows the dead Japanese sniper gripping the Pedersen, finger still on the trigger, muzzle towards the enemy, forgotten and abandoned by history.

    Weapon of choice questionnaire!

    Given a choice of weapon, which would you grab up somewhere in the hot, steamy jungle, if you were hiding from a bunch of ruthless modern pirates coming from a hijacked cargo ship? I’m afraid other folks have grabbed up the better toys.

    1. Vickers Pedersen variant
    2. Japanese Pedersen with scope
    3. Steyr-Mannlicher 1888
    4. Chinese Hanyang Rifle
    5. Scotti Model X
    6. Breda PG
    7. Simonov PTRS-41
    8. RSC Fusil Automatique modele 1917
    9. Screw this! Sortie in the Mitsubishi F1M floatplane and sink the pirate boats!!
    10. Add your favorite toys to this list!!

    The pirates want your stuff! They can’t get it if they’re DEAD!!

    This questionnaire is a voluntary mission. You are not required to answer it. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you.


      • Oops, totally forgot about that “treasure chest.” Thanks for the contribution. Do you have a plan to take out that annoying “mother ship?” Here are some approaches:

        1. Floatplane with 60kg bombs
        2. torpedo bomber
        3. turret-mounted coastal guns
        4. midget sub
        5. Iowa class battleship

  8. It’s an interesting rifle, especially the British and Japanese variants.

    I’ve stuck enough cases in reloading dies using spray on wax lube to have serious doubts about the real world efficacy of the coating on the .276 ammunition.

    Still, could the Japanese have been much worse off with Pedersens? It might have been an asset to the SNLF in the street fighting in Shanghai, where they were badly outnumbered and outgunned.

  9. So, if it was the first intermediate cartridge, wouldn’t that imply it would be more interesting in a select fire gun?

    Also, what happens after say 10,000 rounds and the toggle starts to wear? (Does it?) Is the effect of the gun wearing out to have a very non-graceful failure? (What happens to an M1 that wears out?) Put another way, in the hands of a solider marching from Omaha Beach to Berlin, would the Pederson hold up as well as an M1?

    • My guess is that you’d have a stuck case long before that.

      Since nobody ever employed the Pedersen as a standard service weapon, we’ll never know how the waxed ammunition would have worked out in day to day use. I suspect that enough stuck cases, torn rims and separated case heads and troops in the field would start ditching them the way Reisings were ditched.

  10. I have handled a Vickers made Pedersen (Ex British Home Guard, Vickers Factory, Crayford) after an Auction (Britain) in Aussie 1983. Very nice Piece…hardly fired. Don’t know what happene3d to it in 1996 (Howard’s Black Death of SA rifles).

    Ammunition: I have some Kynock-made .276P cartridges (1931) and somewhere a copy of the 1932 “Mechanical Engineer” Journal (UK) article reporting on the design and the British Army tests. Found it in the UQ Engineering School Library…probably gone to Paper recycling by now.

    The Cartridge has much in similarity to the Experimental 7×52 Carcano of the early 1930s, which led to the 7,35×51 Carcano M38 cartridge. Same Body dimensions (.448″ head) similar Bullet diameter (Heavier) at around 125-130 grains), but different Ogive and base…The Pedersen Bullet (AFAIK) was two continuous Radii, from stem to stern (NO “cylindrical” portion of the Bullet.) The Pederson round could be named the 7×53 in Euro terminology. Just think if Italy had got its 7mm/7,35mm Program up and running well before WW II….

    I have tinkered with the idea of using up a stripped M14 receiver to build a .276 Garand (the M14’s shorter receiver is almost identical to Garand’s original Pederson calibre Garand)…in the 30/06 design, he re-engineered the Action to be longer, and thicker to handle the Longer, and more Powerful .30 cal cartridge.
    Good 7mm Barrels are available ( ex-Export Mauser but the rifling may not be correct)…anyway, one of those “gunnadoo” projects (in my next lifetime.

    Doc AV

  11. Hi Ian, the wax on the cartridge, when it melts in the chamber some residue would presumably be left behind. Do you think this wax buildup could have also hindered the rifle significantly

  12. That was a great item. Can you guys try and find a Thompson Autorifle to shoot. I want to see that eject, apparently it was so violent that it was hazardous to stand nearby when fired.

  13. Purely an academic question, but how would one go about handloading for this rifle? Is there an available substitute for the wax, or would you have to re-create the original wax and then figure out how to apply it?

    • I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but Collinite Liquid Insulator Wax would get the job done. Probably even superior to the original ceresin wax.

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