Low Maintenance Rifle photos

I’ve found the TRW Low Maintenance Rifle to be pretty interesting ever since I found out about it – basically an American take on the Volksturm rifle concept. We’ve talked about the LMR before, and there is a bunch of information and a TRW manual available on the Low Maintenance Rifle page in the Vault, but I came across some photographs of an actual example recently. It’s a very simple rifle…and I think it would be fun to try to make a semiato, closed-bolt (the original used a stock M60 FCG and fired from an open bolt) reproduction. I picked up a stripped M60 grip at the gun show last weekend as a starting point, and the next step will probably be finding an HK33 bolt and carrier, which will give me the right boltface and rollers, although the locking system would need to be changed from delayed blowback to locked and gas-operated.

Anyway, the photos give an interesting perspective on the gun that you can’t always get just from a printed manual (click on any of them for a much larger version):

TRW Low Maintenance Rifle

TRW Low Maintenance Rifle

TRW Low Maintenance Rifle

TRW Low Maintenance Rifle bolt

TRW Low Maintenance Rifle


  1. I agree, Ian, the LMR is a fascinating take on how cheap and simple a battle rifle can be. Are there any other modern examples that you can think of offhand in the same spirit, grandchildren of the VG rifles, STEN, etc.? Cheers, Matthew

  2. The LMR is very interesting, though I do wonder how it was supposed to be more reliable/lower maintenance than the AR-15 series of rifles, considering that they use the same magazines.

  3. Thanks for these. I have been studying the LMR with great interest. I think it’s an excellent candidate to be a HEAP gun, and I’d like to work towards making that a reality.
    Anyone else interested in similar?

    • Definitely am interested as well Wolfrik. Just found this rifle on here recently, and am just now starting to wrap my head around it. Have you gotten anywhere? Manage to find much more info on it? Feel free to email me. Thanks!

  4. Great photos of an interesting concept. Thanks!
    The layout is very, very reminiscent of the Fallschirmjägergewehr, no?
    I’m curious about the gas tube being affixed to the right side.
    Was it not the case that Sergei Simonov produced an unsatisfactory early design for the Soviets with a side-mounted gas system?

    Could the AR-18 be included as a rifle that was intended to be cheaper to produce using simpler technology than the AR15? Certainly the gas system of the AR-18 seems to turn up in more recent rifle designs even if the manufacturing methods do not.

    If you could get some start up capital, you could probably produce those at a cheaper price point than an “economy” AR and sell ’em! Just a thought. I think I’d like the LMR more than an AR… If one could be made using AK74 magazines in 5.45×39, then costs could really be kept low!

  5. The M-1941 Johnson rifle was designed from the start (At the point Johnson took over) to be low cost and mass producible. That was his main argument in front of Congress the second time around. I would say that makes the M-1941 the first rifle/weapon system with production cost/build-ability incorporated from the get go.

    Where did you find the pictures of the LMR? I contacted the TRW Historical Society and they said they had no record of the LMR. One enginer said he rememberd hearing about the project but knew nothing about it.


  6. Is there sufficient length in an HK bolt to accommodate a parallel sided locking piece for true locked bolt operation?

    I can only go from photos of HK parts(semi auto rifles have been banned here since ’88)

  7. It occurred to me that this basic design might make for the use of a primer activated system. That would be even simpler to make(few part and less machining) than this gas one or the Clarke design. The Clarke tappet should fit in the bolt.

    As the Clarke design was to overcome the different pressure curves that various powders give, but was for having uncrimped primers. I don’t know if Clarke design would work with mixed crimped and uncrimped primers or it the tappet would have to be changed, etc. Guess I’ll have to put pencil to paper, more research, head scratching and then maybe a few parts.

    • While most of the LMR prototypes were chambered for 5.56mm M193, there was at least one in 5.6mm XM216. One suspects that DARPA was positioning it as a low cost alternative to the AAI XM19/XM70 Serial Flechette Rifle.

  8. Very interesting rifle. TRW was a fascinating company that kinda got screwed over. I’m sure they did their due diligence in choosing the method of operation, but I kinda scratch my head on a few things. They went with a roller delay system and that’s okay I guess. I like the simplified bolt, but why not go w/ a recoil rod spring behind the carrier like H&K? To me, it seems like it would reduce materials, time and weight. How do you charge the thing? Is it a M3A1 type deal? The exposed oprod, bolt carrier looks like a death trap. The bipods seem to add complexity and cost of the design and probably would be removed in the field. I know it’s a last ditch design type thing, but I cringe at the open bolt design.

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