Gevarm A6: An Open Bolt Semiauto .22 Sporting Rifle

Gevarm, a gunmaking offshoot of the Gevelot cartridge company, produced a line of open-bolt semiautomatic rimfire sporting rifles from the early 1960s until 1995. This is an A6 model, the base type. It is chambered for .22LR, with an 8 round magazine and basic open sights. What makes these rifles unusual is the open bolt mechanism, which allows them to be extremely simple.

The bolt is a single part, with the firing “pin” in the form of a rib running all the way down the center of the bolt face. No extractor is built in, as chamber pressure alone is sufficient to extract cases in a simple blowback system like this one. Because it is an open-bolt firing design, one need not ever extract an unfired cartridge from the chamber.

Open bolt semiautomatic designs were prohibited in the US by ATF in the early 1980s, although existing guns in the country (like these) were grandfathered. They had never been popular sellers, though, because of their high price. The series produced included some with more sophisticated sights, one that simulated the look of an M1 carbine, some in .22 Short, and a takedown model.

39 Comments

  1. Am I to assume that the chamber face has been machined so that the striking bar does not peen the chamber opening and thus potentially leading to stuck cases and FTF’s?

    • The “firing pin” does not protrude past the end of the bolt face. When the bolt is in battery the fp would make little or no contact with the barrel. Many people think it’s unsafe to dry fire .22’s. Some are, (mostly older and/or inexpensive guns) because their firing pins have no positive stop to prevent it from overtravelling & contacting the barrel. On most modern .22’s, however, the fp bottoms out .001″ or so before contacting the barrel. Thus occasional dry-firing won’t damage the gun.

  2. Ian, how accurate was that rifle? In the gun building community I’ve heard of folks getting away w/ making single-shot open-bolts, ie, it can’t be converted to a machinegun b/c there’s no magazine.

  3. Nice rifle Ian, I am assuming it is yours? I have been looking for one, but they are pretty rare to find for sale.

  4. And here I was worried that some idiot would purposely modify this into a machine gun and then accidentally shoot Alfred in the knee…

  5. Elegant little gun. If it had been conventional operation, i.e., closed bolt, it might still be around. Did I see scope mount slots in the top of the receiver?

  6. In Germany, open bolt 22lr rifles (and even single shot pistols) were not that uncommon. They were produced by Voere, a company that itself could provide you with a lifetime collecting and researching about their rifles. I once shot an exemplar, and it was astonishing how well it worked without any ejector or extractor.

    • There are two “Voere” companies, a German and an Austrian.

      The German one making fancy looking and very innovative 3 lug bolt actions and the Austrian one making sporters on Spanish made Mauser 98 actions.

      I can’t actually remember which one made the open bolt .22s

      I did compare a Gevarm and a Voere side by side once. Although superficially very similar. The dimensions were different. A Voere mag would not fit into the magazine well of the Gevarm.

      There were also some that were sold under the “mauser” brand in the 19 80s and 90s.

      I spoke to an employee at the former UK importer of the “mauser” branded ones, back about 1990. He said that they had a lot of work getting some of them to run correctly. He had a very low opinion of them. I think that they had lost money.

      • The story is a lot more complicated than that. My hunting rifle is a Rössler Titan that was a Mauser 99 before and a Voere Titan before that, and inspired the modern Sauer bolt actions 🙂
        Voere was, as I understand, mainly a conglomerate of many individual gunsmiths and gun factories in Kufstein.

  7. Yes, Voere offered a electronic caseless hunting rifle, and nowadays they offer a sniper rifles that ignites the primer with a laser. They were also the first to use a laser aiming device, on a 22lr submachine gun.

  8. I have two of the take down version of these great little rifles. they are actually very accurate and great for pest control here in New Zealand, especially good for using subsonic ammo. I read somewhere that converted to full auto these things apparently had an insane rate of fire.

    • I knew an older guy who used to ask me repeatedly, if he can change his semiauto smallbore to full auto. I kept telling him: do not do it! Frankly, I do not understand obsession with full auto fire on civilian rifles (it is mostly useless on military ones); it I beyond me. Any weapon is not a toy; it has to be taken extremely responsibly, even if it is smallbore.

      Sorry if it sounds like moralizing, it is not intended so. It is merely my long held reaction to the described phenomenon 🙂

      • “obsession with full auto fire on civilian rifles”
        Because it is “banned” in view of some U.S. citizens then it is desirable, however if it was in 1980s I would say reason is: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089880/

        “change his semiauto smallbore to full auto.”
        It is also bad idea from technical point of view, converting might ends in magazine becoming “too lazy” (unable to index new cartridge fast enough) not to mention that such “upgrade” might end in… lets call it “overupgrading” beyond “machine” to state where it fire until magazine is depleted, even if trigger is released.

        As he had excess of .22 rim-fire at his disposal and aim was to utilize it, then hand operated rapid fire gun, would be the solution.

        • The guy was in my estimation just a plinkster; maybe he lived out in countryside and could practise on his property. He was an ex-immigrant (not my nationality) with quite radical views – not exactly my kind of guy.

          My feel is that people who are attracted to automatic fire out of rifles are those who never served in military. I did serve and know what it takes to clean carboned-up gun.

      • Sorry Denny, I’ve only just seen your comments now.

        I fully agree
        Full auto out of most guns is (at best) a way to make more misses in a given amount of time

        And, how to turn hard earned into noise, faster than your finger could do it alone.

        At its worst. It is how to climb above the backstop before you realise what you have done

        Or in a handgun, how to get the third round up your own nose (I know of several gunsmiths who’ve had an unexpected burst of full auto out of a clients handgun that was in for something else, and lived to tell the tale).

        I’ve had a good long look at Gevarm triggers and sears.

        I don’t think that selective fire would be very easy to achieve.

        I think that it would be one way trip to full auto only, and a ruined gun.

        • I had one of these about 25 years ago, before they were made illegal in Australia. It wasn’t converted to full auto, but the sear was worn and if not kept very clean I discovered it could “run away” and fire irregular bursts. Gave me one hell of a fright! when semi-autos were banned, this was the only one I was glad to be rid of. I bought it very cheaply at a gunshow, out of curiosity. I thought it a piece of junk because even when working properly it wasnt very accurate. Also had a Unique x51 and x51 bis. Loved those. Beautiful little guns. Very accurate and reliable. Encouraged me to spend significant bucks on a TSM. Which was REELY nice. Curiously never quite as reliably accurate as it should have been. It threw occasional “wild ones” . Never understood why: I suspect a headspace problem or something like that because mostly it was beautiful.

      • “it is mostly useless on military ones”
        I would say that it feasibility depends on many things, in first place cartridge and mass of weapon, in following places rate-of-fire, efficiency of muzzle brake. .22 rim-fire momentum is relatively low, but generally, it is living fossil, with it rim-fire ignition and outside lubricated bullet, reliability of feeding is hindered in comparison to say 6,35 mm Browning [.25 Auto]

  9. Thank you!

    There was a blogspot blog that covered open bolt semi autos, unfortunately it has been taken down now. It was available back in 2011, if anyone wants to go looking on the way back machine

    It provided a lot of background including atf reports and patents, as well as pictures and sales brochures.

    The first commercialisation of the open bolt semi auto. 22 that I’m aware of was by Marlin, pre wwii

    The Marlin iteration had a reduced diameter bolt nose

    There was also an option of a manual extractor, more important back in the days of copper cased. 22 rf with the far less stable primer compositions before non corrosive styphnate-tetracene compositions, thanks it is now.

    The extractor was a simple thin blade mounted on the breech face of the barrel, that could be manually operated if a cartridge failed to fire.

    As Ian points out in the vid, ignition is very positive with the big crease across the case head.

    The Gevarm models seem to have been the inspiration for several copies.

    In Europe, one of the two Voere companies produced a look alike with a German hogs back style stock. Although visually similar to the Gevarm, the Voere was dimensionally different, and it’s mag wouldn’t fit into a Gevarm (I’ve tried it).

    There was also a Mauser branded copy. Perhaps a badge engineered Voere? I’m not sure.

    Outside Europe, at least one copy of the Gevarm appeared in Argentina.

    I think that Winchester also had a very crappy single shot open bolt gun as a budget. 22.

    I first got interested in the Gevarm as a farm gun.

    As Ian points out, take the mag out and it’s safe.

    There’s no messing around to eject a round from the chamber, or chasing that ejected round around the gritty floor of a vehicle

    And visually, there’s no doubt that the gun has been made safe.

    I never managed to find one of the high capacity mags 🙁

  10. One open bolt semi auto. 22 that I would like to get my hands on is a BSA Ralock

    It feeds from a tube mag in stock.

    The bolt rotates on a pivot pin like a large hammer

    And the gunew retains empty cases in the receiver, rather than dumping them everywhere

    The nicest versions are take down.

  11. Reminds me of my little Marlin .22, with similar 8 round magazines. With it’s carbine sling, it looks like an M1 someone left in the dryer too long. And when Ian mentioned the takedown model, I immediately thought of the Marlin Papoose, which has the same action and uses the same magazines as my other Marlin. It’s a slick little backpacking gun with a small red carrying case. I even have an old Ram Line 25 rounder to use with either one.

  12. In the early 1960’s my uncle ran a small sporting goods store in South Dakota. One of those Gevarm .22s somehow found its way there and a buddy bought it. It doubled and tripled every time we fired it. My buddy was not much of a rifleman and he had no problem with that. I did as the second and third shots were no where near the point of aim. Even with the puny recoil of a .22 the stock had enough drop that it rose up enough to miss the kind of targets we were shooting at. Gophers, bottles, cans, and so forth. The other interesting thing was that the impact of that bolt whacked that .22 case so that it ended up looking like it had been struck by a small axe

    • Assuming that neither Bubba nor severe wear and tear had got to that gun

      I’d suspect that the bolt was not travelling far enough back to be reliably caught by the sear.

      Can you remember whether the additional weight was at the front end or the rear end of the recoil spring?

  13. “In Germany, open bolt 22lr rifles (and even single shot pistols) were not that uncommon.”

    By the way, I hope an SM Rhöner single-shot auto-eject .22 pistol will appear in Ian’s hands.

  14. In about 1981 a gunshop in London Ontario asked me to contact Gevelot about importing the these guns into Canada.He decided not to do it as they were all threaded for silencers interesting as the open bolt aspect didn’t seem to bother him.
    I asked Gevelot at the time if they had/were producing full auto versions of this gun as had been reported in a french gun mag
    They replied by letter saying that a full/semi auto version had been produced as a training weapon for a unnamed foreign country.
    The letter is in the attic somewhere but I can,t find it.

  15. Has it ever made a premature ignition of the cartridge as it the bolt strips it by the heel? I am curious. Also, because it has no bullet seat or recess, how come the cartridge does not over strips or say goes out of alignment upward? Is it the because of the distance between between the tip of the bullet nose to the feed ramp and chamber mouth?

    • From the Voere open bolt .22 I know, I can tell that the magazine feeds right into the chamber, with minimal distance. The cartridges can’t go anywhere except the barrel.

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