Mystery Rifle

I received a batch of photos from a European reader asking if I could identify the gun in them, and I have found myself stumped. The reader thought this might be a G41, but it is not. My first thought, based on its bolt handle, was the Russian Federov, but it is also definitely not that. I suspect it is German based on things like the font of the rear sight markings and other subtle details, but I can’t even be sure of that. Note that the safety selector markings are “S” and “F”, which provides a clue to the language its designers or target market would have used.

Does anyone recognize this weapon?


  1. Any idea about what cartridge might have been used or at least, wich ones cannot be used? That might narrow it down somewhat.

  2. Following on from the idea that it is a german riffle the sighting system looks like a scaled up version of the sighting system on the mauser C96 pistol. The hinge on the front of the rifles sight looks exactly the same and the lay out of the numbers is similar as is the way that the notch is cut in to the sight. So the designed has defiantly could have had that influence which would also give a broad clue to its era, being in the earlier half of 20th century where fine machining like that was the only way to make things as none of the parts apear to be stamped, this could also mean its a prototype if its been manufactured in this labor intensive way.

  3. Mauser built a series of semi-automatic guns before WWI, none of which reached large production numbers as they needed oiled ammunition. He basically tried every known locking mechanism. Have to dig through some old DWJ articles to find a match.

  4. Not a clue.
    But I see “The Firearm Blog” put up your video of the Schwarzlose without attribution. Comments are closed, but they got called on it by everyone who did comment.
    A very tacky thing to do IMO.

  5. Hard to tell if it is a straight pull rifle or a semi-auto prototype. This is from the spring within the receiver. The 011 suggest that it is one of a series of test bed. I would ask for a picture or two of the rear of the action and one with the rear top cover removed.

  6. I can you get an over all pic. Seems like the finish is better than normally found on experimentals 1st run. I would like a rough even schematic of the gas system..

  7. The helical screw locking lugs suggest that it is a Thompson [Auto Ordnance] ‘Autorifle’ prototype action incorporating the Blish principal friction/hesitation locking system. A fair number of these rifles were made in the 1920’s for government trials both within the USA and Europe.

    • I thought of the Thompson, too, but the bolt handle is the wrong shape and in the wrong place.

      It’s also not a Bang, which was my first thought.Its bolt assembly resembles the Mauser 1902 prototype, but that was recoil operated, and from Ian’s mention of the Fyodorov I conclude this beast is (was?)probably intended for gas operation.

      It doesn’t closely resemble any of the Mannlicher prototypes, as the bolt handle and magazine are wrong. (I’m looking at three different W.H.B. Smith books as I type this, BTW.)

      The “S” and “F” markings indicate English- or French-language origin (German would be “G” and “S”).

      Other than that, I got nothin’.



      • “The “S” and “F” markings indicate English- or French-language origin (German would be “G” and “S”).”
        This can be also German with “S” for “Sicher” and “F” for “Feuer”

          • Seems to have two sears, well it might anyway.

            Whatever they are, the thing that releases the bolt.

            There’s a thing towards the front and back…

            Open bolt full, closed’ish semi.

    • Do you mean this John,


      First used on the Mannlicher retarded blowback rifle of 1893, the bolt in screw-delayed blowback was slowed by the need to rotate steeply pitched interrupted threads on the bolt and receiver. John T. Thompson designed a rifle that operated on a similar principle around 1920 and submitted it for trials with the US Army. This rifle, submitted multiple times, competed unsuccessfully against the Pedersen rifle and Garand primer-actuated rifle in early testing to replace the M1903 Springfield rifle.[24] Mikhail Kalashnikov later developed a prototype submachine gun in 1942 that operated by a screw-delayed blowback principle,[25] which is also found on the Fox Wasp carbine. A pair of telescoping screws delayed rearward movement of the operating parts during the firing cycle. This weapon was ultimately not selected for production.[26]


      • It never “screws” like a screw, all the way back does it.

        Round, and round like under gas pressure…

        Is that what they do?

        He he, never.

        • By the time it had screwed itself into say the bolt carrier, what would push it back… The bolt face is inline with about the 8 on the sight.

  8. The safety is also characteristic of the Thompson Autorifle. Only the rear sight is different from the Autorifles submitted to Springfield Armory in the early 1920’s. Possibly a Swiss submission or the Model 1929 in .276 Pederson cartridge submitted to Royal Ordnance?

  9. The Mauser Selbstlader, has a similar trigger guard and sight, and the trigger looks like a Mauser 98’s…

    It’s a similar layout, externally sort of.

  10. To me it looks like a short recoil rotating bolt receiver. There are no threads for a barrel as it would be in a gas operating system, the front of the receiver has a ring shape to set a large spring against, and the bolt has the threads to turn against the handle during recoil to unlock. The clip guide and thumb cut look Mauser style, only the safety position is odd, but it’s odd for any gun I can think off.

    • There’s two holes either side of the lower barrel mounting bit, for guide rods or something.

      The bolt face appears to have a lug, an extractor, a gap for a ejector… There’s a something sticking out of the left hand side of the receiver which looks like it goes through a cut through it, around the position were the bolt would be if it was open.

      Then there’s all that gear under the receiver which sort of resembles some sort of tilting, toggle, lark, with the half moon safety switch thing… Which sort of looks attached like a indicator rather than a moveable lever.

      • Can’t be a rotating and say a tilting mechanism though, said “gear” must be part of the trigger mechanism a sear, hold open etc, which seems bulky because it’s primitive but not suggesting it’s from an age of experimenting with automatic weapons.

    • I’m not sure a barrel would fit through that hole in the receiver, in relation to the size of the bolt which has a lug on it seemingly.

      • A barrel with locking breech lugs in front of the chamber, would never fit through that hole in the front of receiver, look at the size of the bolt face and lug.

  11. Whatever it is, it is definitely German or at least built with German parts. The rear sight is identical to a Mauser K98, except a K98 sight goes out to 2000 meters and this one only goes to 1000.

    • I noticed that, and 1000 is quite conservative… Compared to various other versions of weapon sights which seem optimistic 2000 etc.

      • Apart from, the bolts locking lug being in the receiver “if it is” that’s the only other thing which would make me thing “last ditch” they weren’t in the mood for exaggeration by then.

        Alternatively, WW1 was very unpleasant, some designers must only be concerned with winning…

  12. This indeed looks to me like mechanism is based on Blish type lock, so no gas nor recoil are necessary; further, the cartridge was not as powerful considering sighting to 1km(?).
    I presume the sender has just pictures, not real piece (say in museum, armory or so on) and the fact it das have common English mode abbreviation…. this all gives indication of American origin perhaps for a metric customer.

    I’d suggest to go back to sender and ask his source.

      • You described it in your July 30th, 12:41 memo – screw groove delay. However I step back little bit in consideration of what Mu says. He does not see indication of barrel thread and that may point to moving barrel, or combination of both.
        It is also conceivable, that this idea as much brilliants as it might have been, was not materialized and project was simply abandoned. It would not be first, neither last with that destiny.

        • Well you learn something everyday “screw delayed” ha! Who’d have thought it, I wouldn’t have 🙂

        • It’s not “screw” delayed, it’s what I alluded to, and I alluded to it, because unlike like you I had never heard of screw delay… Which enables me to think outside the box, being somewhat gun retarded he he.