As soon as the self-contained cartridge was successfully developed, the door was opened to the possibility of a practical semi-automatic firearm. There were early successes with large mounted machine guns and with handguns, but the shoulder rifle was more difficult. Inventing a design that was durable enough to fire a full-power rifle round and yet also light enough to be a practical shoulder arm was a tricky proposition.
Many of the early automatic rifle designs show very innovative features, and are fascinating to study. We currently have information on: