M1916 Fedorov: Russia’s First Assault Rifle?

I have been trying to get my hands on Fedorov M1916 rifle for a while, and I finally had the opportunity at the NFC, part of the British Royal Armouries. The Fedorov was designed in the years just before World War One, and originally chambered for a proprietary 6.5mm cartridge (also designed by Fedorov) and using a fixed magazine. It was a development of the understanding of infantry firepower that came from the Russo-Japanese War, although Czar Nicholas II did not think it was a useful type of rifle. Once the Great War changed attitudes of many military figures, the Fedorov saw a comeback. Inspired by the tactical concept of the French Chauchat automatic rifle, Fedorov fitted the rifle with a 25-round detachable box magazine and rechambered it for the 6.5mm Arisaka cartridge (which Russia had supply of by way of the UK). In this new format, a small number were produced and issued before the Russian Revolution caused the nation to leave the war.

Fedorov and his team were established at the Kovrov Arsenal (originally built and equipped by the Danish Madsen firm to make light machine guns, but that plan never reached completion). There they perfected the production tooling for the guns, and produced them form 1921 until 1925, making about 3200 in total. They saw service during the Russian Civil War, and were apparently well liked despite a reputation for being a bit finicky and delicate. They were pulled out of service and warehoused in the late 1920s, although they would be reissued during the Winter War with Finland.

Overall, the Fedorov is a remarkably good rifle for its time period. Had further development been possible or encouraged, it could probably have been simplified substantially, although history has shown that there was no true future for recoil-operated military shoulder rifles. The tactical concept behind the design was excellent, and rather ahead of its time. The idea of equipping each man with effectively a portable machine gun would not see true successful implementation until the German Sturmgewehr, but Russia could have beaten them to the punch by some 25 years had the circumstances been a bit different.

Many thanks to the Royal Armouries for allowing me to film and disassemble this very rare rifle!

77 Comments

    • I’m surprised you haven’t suggested a specific tie into the SVT 38 and 40 I see many similarities
      I would also comment about the designation as a light machine gun issue qualifier wasn’t the BAR in 30-06
      Considered a light machine gun? Therefore why wouldn’t this rifle ?

      • I don’t really see the influence in Tokarev’s designs.. But Simonov, the top cover is very close to the AVS-36. Captive spring guide, shape, locking key style (sort of). Differences yes, but probably directly influenced.

        • Mechanically the guns have no common feature, however they share an identical architecture for lack of a better word. The parts are manufactured in a very similar fashion, they could potentially have been made in the same machinery. Problems in the design were approached the same way, with very crude sheet metal covers made with minimal stamping work. The safeties are simple swing types that lock the trigger in place, the mag releases are of an almost identical pattern. While there are no parts or designs in common, but they are both, decidedly Russian.

      • The original M1918 BAR was a “machine rifle”. No bipod, no quick change barrel, and intended for walking fire. The M1918A2 from the late 1930s was a US Army attempt to force the BAR to be an LMG.
        The BAR’s size and weight are results of the .30-06 cartridge, not the rifle’s role.

    • Staring into the clockwork abyss that is the G11 mechanism, would even Gun Jesus be driven mad? Sanity level zero. Like reading the freaking Necronomicon.

  1. Jonathan Ferguson and Ian M’Collum win the internet! Again!!

    Awesome, fantastic video. Very informative!

    As folks probably know–certainly better than I– ol’ Vladimir G’vitch Fëdorov had designed a 6.5mm cartridge that performance-wise, albeit not dimensionally, was a sort of proto-.260 Remington. No way no how Russia gearing up for WWI and Romanov dynastic disaster was going to change from the 7.62x54R, so the thing was tooled up for 6.5x50mmSR Arisaka, as Ian explains… Fascinating!

    So the first “Avtomat” aka. “Assault Rifle” (Hitler wasn’t around to name it then…) was used in the Russian Civil War by a handful of Bolsheviks and so no one noticed… Did any turn up in the Russo-Polish War, I wonder? Certainly some actually appeared during the Russo-Finnish/Talvisota/Winter War in December 1939 through March 1940…

    • “So the first “Avtomat” aka. “Assault Rifle” (Hitler wasn’t around to name it then…) was used in the Russian Civil War by a handful of Bolsheviks and so no one noticed… Did any turn up in the Russo-Polish War, I wonder? Certainly some actually appeared during the Russo-Finnish/Talvisota/Winter War in December 1939 through March 1940…”
      This is possible, but V.G.Fyodorov himself in his book (Эволюция стрелкового оружия from 1939) admits that his rifle was too unreliable and too complicated to have chance to become mass-used model of weapon additionally 6,5x50SR Arisaka cartridges produced hastily in wartime (and with bolt-action repeating rifles in mind) was not helping.

    • “no one noticed”
      I think that even if that someone would spot it, he would most probably think of it as of poor light machine gun

      • You are absolutely right

        Now one would notice, or at least the vast majority would never notice.

        They were all too hide bound by the paradigm that they inhabited, to be able to see the thing.

        Just look at the original villar perosa!

        Double mounted on a swivel for use from an aircraft or an emplacement, rather than used individually and fitted with a stock as the submachine guns we know today are.

        The idea of fast moving assaults with individual troops acting on their own initiative

        Rather than standing in lines and firing volleys on the instruction of an orificer or NCO…

        Would have seemed both alien and alarming to many of the entrenched military hierarchies of the time.

        For example both the British and united state armies had rifles fitted with magazine cut offs, to prevent such dangerous indiscipline.

        And what was the trench warfare of the western front, if not a way to continue the tradition of troops standing in lines, firing volleys at the command of a chinless Rupert?

  2. One reason Federov used the 6.5 x 53 Arisaka round was that it was often used by Russian arms designers at the time as an “optimum” cartridge for self-loading weapon prototypes, simply because being a rimless round it could be run through such systems more easily that the rimmed 7.62 x 53R Mosin-Nagant.

    Another factor was that when initially designed for the Arisaka Type 38 “Hook Safety” rifle, the 6.5 was found to be too powerful for the actions of the early Hotchkiss-pattern machine guns the Japanese Army and Navy were developing. Accordingly, the powder charge, and thus the operating pressure, was reduced to allow its safe use in the MGs. This really makes the 6.5 mm the world’s first purpose-designed “intermediate” cartridge, if just by coincidence.

    Interestingly, Federov and other Russian designers such as Simonov considered that the nearly-ideal military rifle/MG cartridge already existed. Namely the American .25 Remington intended for the Model 8 self-loading rifle.

    I’ve often thought that the resemblance of the AK receiver and safety to that of the Model 8 was probably more than just a coincidence.

    cheers

    eon

  3. “although Czar Nicholas II did not think it was a useful type of rifle”
    If he would be wrong only in cases like this, history would be much different.
    Among the worst decision was to take command of military in early part of Great War, which lead to him being blamed for spectacular losses and unable to keep order in Petersburg, which he was supposed to do.

    “further development been possible or encouraged, it could probably have been simplified substantially, although history has shown that there was no true future for recoil-operated military shoulder rifles.”
    Fyodorov Avtomat spawned few machine guns, they were created with help of V.A.Degtyaryov see photos here (near end): http://airwar.ru/weapon/guns/65fedorov.html
    From top to bottom:
    – 6,5-mm single aviation MG, 50-rnd disk
    – 6,5-mm twin aviation MG
    – 6,5-mm triple aviation MG
    – 6,5-mm water-cooled MG, 25-rnd stick
    – 6,5-mm MG, 50-rnd disk
    – 7,62x54R machine gun
    – hand-held MG, water-cooled, 25-rnd stick
    – 6,5-mm hand-held MG, 50-rnd disk
    – hand-held MG, air-cooled, 25-rnd stick
    – 6,5-mm twin tank MG with 2×25-rnd sticks (sticking upwards)

    • To be exact Nicholas II about that weapon:
      Патронов у нас не хватит для автомата, из винтовок стрелять надо.
      i.e. [we] have not enough cartridges for avtomat, [we] need to shoot rifles
      This was NOT first or last history case of we need to save ammo thinking.

      • Sure, but eventually you get to the issue of how you are supposed to use a large, poorly-educated population to win wars. It was silly for Britain to be stingy about the cost of ammo when it had so few soldiers and so many machinists and tax-paying bankers. For Russia to fully exploit an expensive gun with expensive ammo consumption, its leaders would have had to look at the population as a large productive workforce generating advanced weapons for a small professional army. And yes, if they had actually built such an army by 1914 the Germans’ 2nd-rank forces wouldn’t have utterly wrecked it at Tannenberg. But ANY army of any size with any kind of rifle attempting to cross open country against defenders armed with Maxim guns was going to fail. Lack of foresight was so vast on all sides that no one figured out in advance that they could win WWI by just lining their borders with trenches and real machine guns and always letting the other guy take the offensive.

        • Didn’t work for the Germans, ‘fraid to say… Sigfried Stellung/ Hindenburg Line was broken during the last “100 days.”

          Europeans had been machine gunning erstwhile colonial subjects, yet the French tossed out sensible tactical advice and doubled-down on the Zulu impis at Isandlwana. Only the “je ne sais quoi” and irrepressible human spirit–elan/ cran / sheer pluck–was capable of offering victory in highly technified mass slaughter… So pull up the red MCHammer pants and fix bayonets! “On les aura!”

        • The uneducation was deliberate on all sides.

          Whether it was the British emulation of the Bombay schooling system of the Brahmin caste – where the offspring lower castes were taught dependency on the Brahmins and we’re carefully prevented them from ever learning get to think or to reason by an endless stream of meaningless busy work.

          Or the Prussian compulsion schooling system outlined by Johan Fichte after the prussian defeat at Jena, in his “Adress to the German nation” under which the conscripted classes were to have their ability to imagine and their free wills carefully destroyed.

          The Prussian system was eagerly adopted as the basis for compulsion schooling in America.

          Prussia seems to have been alone in preserving a true and liberal education for the half a percent of the population from families expected to take on senior officer roles.
          A choice that has been reflected in the Prussian and later unified German ability to consistently extract 30% greater casualties from their opponents than they suffered.

          The uneducation is really, and as many of the high level books on education from the mid nineteenth century to the 19 30s show, it was a deliberate and carefully created uneducation.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! After this, along with the Hotchkiss Automatic Rifle ( 1922?) and the Mle 1878 Kropatschek French Navy rifle, is tied for my most wanted to see video. This was so much better than your very old original Fedorov video that was not really a presentation and just someone videoing you as you took it apart without comment. Was that your first video? I forget.

  5. I would guess the vertical foregrip is there to prevent the end user from ever gripping the front of the magazine with the suport hand. It will also prevent brush or shooting over a wall from hitting the forward facing magazine release.

    • It also keeps the Mosin-Nagant conditioned soldier from gripping the forearm in the usual manner, which with a selective-fire rifle could result in at least a lightly grilled thumb.

      cheers

      eon

      • I’m really not surprised, since the Browning M1918’s role is not well defined. It’s too light and has insufficient magazine capacity to act as a machine gun, but it’s too heavy and awkward to use as a shoulder-fired rifle. I think that US Army Ordnance clearly decided NOT to allow Colt and company to upgrade the M1918 to light machine gun configurations already available on the commercial market (namely that by 1942, the M1918 was already outclassed by the R75A, the R80 Monitor, both of which were already available for purchase and could be requisitioned for the US Army), on the grounds that all upgrades were to be made EXCLUSIVELY BY GOVERNMENT AFFILIATED SOURCES. How did Army Ordnance upgrade the M1918? They didn’t. They said “If you criticize our decisions, we’ll force you to march to battle NAKED and without weapons.”

    • No, he used that appellation for the bulk of the self-loading rifles tested by the US Army in the 1920s. The BAR had already been adopted. You might listen again. You might not have to retract your label of “blasphemer” as Mr. M has already voiced a low opinion of the later BARs.

    • Well my grandfather said when he went through U.S.M.C. basic when they went to qualify with different weapons he made sure he shot lousy with the BAR so he wouldn’t have to carry that clunky weapon. He also told me that the first thing to loose in combat was the bipod and the carry handle to reduce the weight. I’ve seen a few pics of Marine BAR gunners on Iwo and Okinawa that have seem to have done just that and using it for a automatic rifle instead of a light machine gun.

  6. I know that these are utterly different designs of course, but I think that Fëderov’s apprentice (acolyte? disciple?) Vasily Alekseyevitch Degtyarëv’s brilliant flap-locking design becomes a logical outgrowth of his mentor’s bolt locking or delaying mechanism in the form of those quasi-rotating plates, yes?

    Minor quibble: In the realm of “angels dancing on pins” type pedantries, I take issue with Ian’s appraisal that this here Avtomat was not a “true” assault rifle before the concept truly took off… The reason? Well, it would seem to me that the dissatisfaction with the 7.62 rimmed Russian cartridge was a) shape (Here, the French just toughed it out with the 8mm Lebel in the Chauchat during the war), and b) power–namely the unsuitability of the cartridge for firepower made man portable. (I’m looking at you Fëdor Vasiliyevitch Tokarev! Your SVT was too lightly built for the cartridge!). To my mind (not an engineer), that represents a search for an “ideal” or “intermediate” cartridge, which however unrealized in the form of the 6.5x50mm SR Arisaka is nonetheless just an ad-hoc improvisation due to the impossibility of building the proposed/designed “Swedish Mauser light” cartridge. So there.

    Incidentally, not too how when the pistol-caliber SMG first came out, there was similar bewilderment or controversy or “outside the box thinking” regarding its possible employment? So, for example, we see the Villar Perosa as not a “true” SMG because it was an unholy confused hot mess of LMG and SMG until it was tweaked into the Revelli misnomer OVP and Beretta… And oddities like the Czech ZK-383 smg what with its optional bipod, or, for that matter, having “loaders” attached to Suomi smg armed units…

    • “Fëderov’s apprentice (acolyte? disciple?) Vasily Alekseyevitch Degtyarëv’s brilliant flap-locking design becomes a logical outgrowth of his mentor’s bolt locking or delaying mechanism in the form of those quasi-rotating plates, yes? ”
      Wait, aren’t locking flaps derived from Kjellman machine gun?
      Anyway, maybe more importantly V.A.Degtyaryov was attempt at realizing Fyodorov’s idea: commonality between machine guns so he created closely related DP (infantry), DA (aviation), DT (tank) and bit more distant (due to need of implementing belt-fed) DK (big-bore), DShK (together with Shpagin), RPD. So armorer which known how DShK will most probably figure how RPD faster than totally another design.
      DA was relatively quickly phased out in favor of ShKAS, V.A.Degtyaryov also created similar 12,7-mm aviation machine gun and autocannons but they never went past prototype stage. They are described in English there: http://www.quarryhs.co.uk/Degtyarev.pdf

  7. A San Antonio, Texas gun-smith named Hyman Lebman invented the first assault rifle. He took a blowback operated Winchester Model 1907 .351 self-loader, created a higher capacity magazine for it, tinkered with shortening the barrel to barely 16-in. and adding a Thompson Cutt’s compensator to it, and, perhaps in a nod to Fëderov, or merely “just ’cause” added the vertical fore grip of the Chicago typewriter to it. Voila! Only he sold it to some gangsters and bank robbers and only law enforcement noticed…

    No…! Vollmer invented it! He conjured up a 7.75x40mm cartridge and the weird over-engineered Kar98k look-alike select fire carbine for it… And again, no one noticed.

    These sorts of debates overlook that a lot–maybe most?–of such technological change comes gradually and incrementally rather than in some singular bold “Eureka!” moment? Of course there are those geniuses out there that really are making innovations that astonish, but frequently it appears to me to be a steady plod…

      • Right! Prototypes! Hyman Lebman’s contraption fired shots in anger! So there. ha!

        Let’s not forget the first “weapon system” of Rossignol! Rifle? Mais oui! fusil mitrailleur? Ça aussi!All that and direct gas impingement too! Mais,
        jamais utilisé… So bring on the C.S.R.G. Mle. 1915 Chauchat…And then start over.

  8. This is a capper! Congratulations!

    In my understanding, this is close in purpose to Chauchat, light machine rifle in fact, in line with what Ian says. Having seen previously the locking bits I was surprised by their relative robustness in reality.
    As far as functional concept I would call it “recoil delayed blowback”. Reason for it that there is not a specific part which would impart momentum into bolt, thus to get moving it requires residual pressure push from cartridge.

    • Right. Good point. A sort of retarded blowback mechanism? Or does the recoiling barrel as well as the cartridge case head impart momentum to the bolt?

      • “A sort of retarded blowback mechanism”
        Ok. Incredible. You use Fyodorov classification for other fire-arms, but when assessing his weapon, you discard it, for reasons totally beyond my understand.
        Anyway, BEFORE we proceed further, please clear WHICH CLASSIFICATION WE ARE ACTUALLY USING? Obviously not Fyodorov, also do not looks to be Kaisertreu, so…?

    • ““recoil delayed blowback””
      Wait. So while you are admitting Fyodorov Avtomat you consider Fyodorov work in area of fire-arms history to be heretical? Why? Please give me reason for that, as according to Fyodorov classification his avtomat belongs to
      …/short-recoil/with-straight-bolt-movement/locking-elements-movement-in-vertical-axis

      • “Delay” feature needs as if different velocities both barrel and bolt during together backward travel like Glisenti 1911, FN FiveSeven or even VZ52 by cause of its roller lock release. ln this rifle velocities of bolt and barrel during recoil lock release look same and construction seems some other recoil operated samples like Scwarzlose 1898 using a separate return spring for barrel. lMHO.

        • Yes. IMHO a blowback gun begins to open right away, a locked breech stays together for some brief time so pressure begins to drop. After unlocking it behaves like a blowback gun. A delayed gun slows the separation of bolt and barrel but does not prevent it from starting at firing. After the delay mechanism is overcome it acts like a pure blwback. A retarded blowback such as the Pedersen rifle never really acts like a pure blowback. The force from the springs on the bolt varies as the angle of the toggles changes. You can never treat it as a simple mass and spring rate problem. A locked breech gun like the P-08 Luger is treated as a retarded blowback gun after it unlocks.

          • Your interpretation is correct, however one detail to mention is that during operation the return spring(s) have little effect and typically are not considered as means of resistance. They do have importance only after they are fully compressed. They certainly do affect cyclic rate. Designs which use excessively high spring rates usually do not work very well.

    • I was thinking more along the lines of the locking block of a Walther P38, or one of those nasty Beretta pistols.

      A Borchardt, a Luger, the maximum and vickers machine guns and the Furrer range of designs,from SMGs to aircraft cannon, all have an accelerator implicit in the system for unlocking the toggle.

      It usefully transfers some of the energy of the recoiling barrel and barrel extension to assist the opening of the bolt.

      Depending on the relationship between weight of bullet × barrel length : weight of recoiling parts × travel of recoiling parts before unlocking occurs

      An automatic system can be tuned to use at least some of the residual chamber pressure to assist the operating cycle.

      This is used in some gas operated systems as well as the obvious uses in blowback, delayed blowback and short recoil systems.

      Examples where residual chamber pressure was specifically used to assist gas operation were the FG42 paratroop rifle and the Czech Vz58 rifle

      The locking yoke Of the Vz58 is hard chrome plated to reduce friction and to reduce wear during unlocking under residual chamber pressure.

      Although the Vz 58 has a gas system and a bolt and bolt carrier assembly, I’m tempted to draw an analogy between the Vz58 locking yoke and the two sides of the Fyoderov locking system.

  9. I think Federov’s Avtomat represents a key marker on the path forward from breech-loading turn-bolt magazine rifles through to the present state-of-the-art assault rifles. I am somewhat less certain that this was intentional, or really even recognized. After all, it took until the 1950s for the Soviets to refine and issue a real Avtomat to general troops, and during the period in between those dates, you don’t find much in the way of coherent, planned work on the concept. Had they really wanted it, a refinement or extended development of Federov’s work could have been available during the late twenties or thirties, well before WWII. Thing was, the vision was lacking in the ranks of the leadership, and little attention was paid.

    It is an interesting feature of Russian culture that so much effort and emphasis goes into their weaponry, and so little into civic development. You ask anyone what iconic product line they associate with a given nation, and what they can identify as being uniquely identifiable as the product of that nation…? The vast majority are going to tell you Sony and Toyota for Japan, Fiat for Italy, Peugeot or Citroen for France, Coca-Cola and McDonalds for the US, and… Kalishnikov for Russia. This speaks to a lot of things, some historical, some stereotypical–But, all significant and fraught with meaning. I don’t think there is another modern industrial nation so closely identified with a weapon, and that is a telling thing about Russia and the way the world views it. I’ll grant that the Russians have good historical reasons for emphasizing weapons and defence, but when your most identifiable product to people dwelling in mud huts on the other side of the world is an assault rifle, you might want to rethink your priorities in life…

    • I can offer you my interpretation.

      Russians had throughout history to cope with punishing assaults of enemies, mostly from East. This created special status for those who were protectors of the tribe/ nation. They were called boyars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyar

      They garnered special privileges and status, not matched by anyone except emperor/ tsar himself. There was no such a scope of various levels of gentry in Russia as elsewhere in Europe. It was them, moozhyks (peasants) and pops (clergy) and mentioned tsar.
      To maintain their rule/ position in society they had to maintain a armament manufacturing structure in place to keep system going. Typical Russian noble was therefor a military officer. It is deeply ingrained in their society.

    • I saw that movie!
      “Of all the weapons in the vast Soviet arsenal nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947, more commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It’s the world’s most popular assault rifle, a weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple nine pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood, it doesn’t break, jam, or overheat. It will shoot whether it’s covered in mud or filled with sand. It’s so easy even a child can use it, and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin, Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, *the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people’s greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists.* One thing is for sure; no one was lining up to buy their *cars.* ”

      Of course, I rather like the old Volga automobile… And the Ural motorcycle. And whatever one says about the Latvian/Soviet Lada, lemme just state that there’d not be as many still on the road in Cuba if they were total rubbish…

      • Volga (now in history annals) was a premium car used by police and officials. It was based on Opel. No other car in Eastern block offered such plush ride like Volga.

        • ” *the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people’s greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists.* One thing is for sure; no one was lining up to buy their *cars.*”
          That isn’t surprising if you consider that for long time Russian producers were acting inside so-called planned economy, so they might learn how to satisfy requirements given by government, but have little chance to learn art of adverts as there was much less competition for consumer than in more capitalist oriented countries.

          • I’d suggest to you that even current Russian economy (I am following developments daily) is primarily “planned” or at least government stimulated. Yes, private initiative plays role, but at the end they (companies) are connected to state/ system – are integral part of it.

            In comparison with previous era, when speaking about current level of Russian auto-motive citizen transportation industry, results are encouraging. For instance Volga automotive plant (VAZ) produces vehicles in reasonable quality and they are favored by majority of citizenry. So yes, it is not just state planning which is ingredient to success.

      • The Lada was a license-built Fiat. Fiat got into the Soviet market by partnering in a factory named after the leader of the Italian Communist Party, Togliatti.

        So I hope the Russians don’t salt their roads in winter.

      • A Lithuanian friend bought a VW in about 1993. It fell to pieces on the abysmal roads. She went back to a Lada, it was built with heavier gauge steel than its Fiat predecessor, and had suspension set up for Soviet era potholes

        Add to that, it would start reliably in the coldest winter weather.

    • I’d go more for Lamborghini for Italy and wine for France but the idea that McDonald’s is lined up against Kalashnikov is hilarious.
      What legacies….

    • Hmmm… So the U.S. being associated with diabetes, heart disease, obesity & tooth decay is okay? And what’s wrong with being associated with the AK47???

    • “you don’t find much in the way of coherent, planned work on the concept”
      Back in 1920s for short time they declared 6,5 mm Japanese in now default cartridge, but then 7,62×54 R was declared as default cartridge and so development was directed toward getting weapon for that cartridge. This decision is understandable if you consider that they chose one cartridge for rifles and machine guns alternative rather than one cartridge for rifles and other for machine gun which was ultimate fate of other “6,5 mm nations” like Sweden for example (c.f. 8x63mm patron m/32). Also it must be noted that during almost whole inter-war period there were many self-loading rifles developed, although it proved to be big challenge to create weapon which would be light enough AND easy enough in terms of maintenance AND easy to mass produce.

  10. Amazing. What a treat.

    I definitely see Fedorov heritage in the manufacture and mechanisms of the later Tokarev rifle and Simonov carbine. And it’s thanks to actually seeing the Fedorov in motion and in detail which makes that heritage pop into attention.

    Clearly the popular opinion about the Fedorov is not matched by the reality. It’s a much better design than most people realize and I agree that it’s not a true proto-Sturmgewehr as most people conclude.

    The mechanical complexity required for a safe, selective fire, closed bolt, high powered, firearm really pops out too. I know it’s an unfair comparison, but contrast the complexity of the Fedorov to the simplicity of the open-bolt full-auto-only TRW 5.56mm LMR.

  11. My deepest thanks to Mr. M for this video. I remember a time before the Internet when you barely saw mention of this weapon in books, and you were lucky to see a photograph of one, let alone read how it worked beyond “short recoil operation.” And with the coming of the Internet the most paltry additional information and images. Appearance, history, and mechanism all portrayed in one half hour! Thank you! On to the Vickers K!

    A nuts and bolts question that perhaps our Russian friends could answer: Did Federov convert Arisaka barrels? What was the rifling compared to the Arisaka and the later Nambu 99?

  12. I think this is more of what we’d call a “Battle Rifle”, something more akin to a FAL, G3, M14, etc. It’s definitely not an assault rifle, and appears more rifle-like than a Chauchat, Bren or BAR.
    Also, most recoil operated firearms could be considered “delayed blow-back”. Unless a separate recoiling piece impinges on the bolt/bolt carrier that cycles it from that impulse, the short recoil operated system only serves to hold the bolt & barrel together long enough for pressure to drop and let the bolt assembly continue its rearward travel from the initial recoil impulse.

    • 6.5mm Arisaka from a Fedorov barrel is about same MV as a 6.5mm Grendel out of 20″ barrel with a pretty similar bullet weight.
      Why is that not “intermediate”?

      “Battle rifle” was just a marketing term for an “assault rifle” with a bad (7.62×51) ammo choice.

      • I agree. The issue here is that “battle rifle” is not an actual army phrase but a casual label for (usually) select-fire rifles chambered for “full power” cartridges.

      • As far as I can tell, the term “Battle Rifle” first occurred around 1975 in American Gun Magazines. Mel Tappan who wrote a survivalist column invented that term to distinguish rifles sold in America which had a military origin intended for combat from the more common sporting rifles intended for hunting, and did not differentiate between .223 and .308 rifles with that term. He advised Survivalists to buy “battle rifles” instead of sporting rifles, and preferred the Colt AR-15, the Ruger Mini-14, the Springfield M1A and the HK Model 91.

        But it seems a very short while later that other American gun writers (of a more traditionalist philosophy) seized on the term “battle rifle” as a means to praise .308 military rifles (and semi-automatic fire) vs .223 “assault rifles”. And that later meaning of “battle rifle” seems to have stuck.

        • It is definitely a term taken up from civilian usage, and entirely non-doctrinal. Also, nonsensical–What military rifle isn’t a “battle rifle”? Do we have on general issue anything that isn’t intended to take part in battle? Are there “peace rifles”?

          One of the things that just annoys the living hell out of me is imprecision in language, and this is an excellent example of that. “Battle rifle”? It should be called the “Neither Fish nor Fowl Rifle”, because the damn things are emphatically not “Assault Rifles”, nor do they really work for how we were fighting by either doctrine or theoretical framework. The US learned this early on in Vietnam, and promptly overwrote the whole “Great Big Rifle” concept of the M14 with the M16, and hoped that everyone would just ignore the whole 7.62 NATO fiasco. Unfortunately, the NATO allies were not so wealthy that they could just change horses in midstream, and very fortunately, did not face combat during the lifespan of the supposed “battle rifle”. Granted, the UK did, but if you look at their experience with the L1A1, it wasn’t exactly what they’d wanted, nor did it fit with what they were doctrinally thinking about infantry combat. They only had it due to wanting logistics compatibility with the US, and, well… We screwed them over. Being a US ally is not an easy row to hoe.

          In short, there ain’t no such thing as a “battle rifle” in doctrinal terms. It is purely a civilian marketing term, thought up by delusional gun magazine writers in the 1970s. I mean, for the love of God, what military individual weapon is not a “battle rifle”? Do we issue any for peaceful purposes? Riot suppression, perhaps?

          • “What military rifle isn’t a “battle rifle”? Do we have on general issue anything that isn’t intended to take part in battle? Are there “peace rifles”?”
            Technically rifles used by guard of honour (ceremonial guard) and drill purpose rifle would fit.

          • “everyone would just ignore the whole 7.62 NATO fiasco”
            This lead to crucial question if switch from .30-06 to 7,62×51 ended with positive balance? Were gains worth resources spent?

    • You are correct with characterisation of “short recoil principle”. Many, if not all, of recoil operated rifles we have seen on FW were of this kind. They are basically “recoil delayed – blow back operated” weapons. They work, but do not take full advantage of available recoil impulse.

      There are exceptions; one such example is Barrett M82/107 which employs an accelerator to transfer momentum of barrel into bolt carrier. Part of this weapon the “short recoil” operating concept was not yet fully exploited. There is a possibility in mitigating felt recoil force based on it.

  13. Hi,
    my questions:
    is it possible to assemble the rifle without the locking plates (or with only one plate), resulting it unlocked (or half-locked)? Is there a mechanism to avoid doing this?

    • The locking plates contain a fair amount of preloading of the barrel return spring. Look at the barrel jump forward when they are removed. It may be possible to assemble it without any plates, but it might be a three handed deal and the out of battery safety may prevent firing. Tough to say.

      If put together right the bolt can’t move forward unless the plates are down, which requires the barrel to be held to the rear. Would the tilting feed ramp serve as a latch holding the barrel back and the locking plates down?

  14. Agree that the Fedorov was not an Assault Rifle.

    Personal interpretation of “intermediate cartridge”:
    less than 1850 ftlb at the muzzle
    more than 400 ftlb at 300 yards
    no more than 60 mm overall length
    no more than 18.5 gm in weight

    This includes 300 Blackout Subsonic and 6.5 Grendel,
    and excludes variants of 30-30 Winchester, for examples.

    The CIP specification is congruent, but too fussy.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermediate_cartridge#Characteristics

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