Madsen M47 Lightweight Military Rifle

The M47 Madsen “Lightweight Military Rifle” was the last military bolt action rifle designed to be a primary infantry rifle, and it is a bit hard to see just who Madsen thought they could sell it to. The rifle was designed in the late 1940s and was available for sale in 1951, evidently marketed to countries in South America and Asia without the financial resources to afford any of the semiauto rifles that were clearly the new standard for effective military forces. The Madsen was obsolete when it first hit the drawing board, and there were loads of surplussed bolt action rifles available from the post-WWII drawdown to compete with it on price.

Not surprisingly, the gun was a commercial flop. The only country that decided to purchase them was Colombia, which bought a few thousand (in .30-06 caliber, with 5-round magazines) and ended up never even issuing them. They went into storage until being sold to the US civilian surplus market, although some may have been used for ceremonial purposes. As a result, they tend to be in very good condition when you can find them, and are quite good shooters.

Madsen was willing to make the rifles in any full-size cartridge (they specifically included 7.62mm NATO as an option), and in your choice of a couple barrel lengths, 5- or 10-round magazines, with or without optics, and would likely have accommodated any other special request from someone willing to place a substantial order. Mechanically, the rifle is a two-lug bolt action with the lugs on the rear half of the bolt, locking into the back half of the split-bridge receiver. The bolt handle acts as a third safety locking lug. The safety is a tab on the back of the bolt much like a Mauser, but the “safe” position is vertical, where the tab blocks view of the sights as a reminder that the gun cannot be fired. The rear sight is a leaf with a large aperture and is click-adjustable for windage, while the front sight is a typical hooded post.

Madsen M47 rifle components
Madsen M47 rifle component parts

The rifle is pretty comfortable to shoot standing despite its potent cartridge, thanks to an integral muzzle brake (in the form of three row of small holes on either side of the muzzle) and a rubber recoil pad installed at the factory. It’s a pretty easy rifle to hit with for a competent marksman, and is a very effective rifle for a bolt action. Unfortunately for Madsen, the good work by the Engineering Department was let down by Marketing, as there was very little demand for this type of rifle when Madsen decided to build it.




Madsen Lightweight Military Rifle manual (English)
Madsen Lightweight Military Rifle manual (English)



  1. Have a MadsenM 47 Columbian – curious to know what it’s worth now and willing to part with it.


  2. U have on of these rifles…no import marks and inm beautiful condition…the w*fe bought it for me back in ’09…but yer right…What were the Danes thinking??? I personally believe the ONLY way the sold the Colombians the rifles was with plenty of Akvavit and blonde Danish babes at the sales meetings…

  3. I have two of these: sequential serial numbers with matching s/n bayonets, everything in typical unissued condition. Impressive quality wood, metal, and workmanship. Have only fired one, a few rounds, leaving the other one unfired. Managed a 3-inch group at 100 yards with generic milsurp ammo. Very pleasant action and firing experience.

    Thank you, Madsen, for your marketing flop!

    • And… I almost forgot, too!
      Both mine (the sequential s/n’s) have the Columbian Armed Forces crest on the stock left side, too.

  4. I have one also. Traded for it 25+ years ago. Pleasant to shoot and accurate. The bolt position is a little different as it is a fair bit forward from the trigger compared to most other rifles (best and fastest being the Brits with the Lee-Enfield and P14/US M1917). The sight arrangement is, I think, unique with the aperture rear on a leaf over the front receiver ring. I LIKE this sight! I see a small bright spot over the front sight post as I am and the bullet goes into that spot every time.

  5. I almost forgot….
    Mine has a Columbian crest inlayed into the left side of the stock near the front receiver ring. My buddy’s does not have the stock inlay.

  6. Someone on one of the Facebook Firearms groups announced he had a “Masdsen Mauser” for sale or trade….I kept my yap shut…

  7. i saw one of these for the first time today didn’t know much about them.. it says madsen mg/a and .30cal on the opposite side of the bolt.. just wondering if I should get it or not. there is very little wear on it. anyways I had the store set it back for me they want $185 for it

  8. Good evening,Ian.
    You’ve made a small mistake that you classified this type of bolt action rifle into “Select Fire”.

  9. I am looking at purchasing one. The only problem with it is that it is missing the top wood piece of the stock. Is there anyplace I can find that sells them or does anyone have any specs on it so I can make one?


  10. I bought an unfired Madsen at the Cow Palace gun show in the mid-90s. It is still unfired. The seller told me he obtained it by mail order in 1967. Since that time I have made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain a bayonet.

  11. Yes, most likely, since the largest (only?) production contract was for Columbia in .30-06. I have two of them, both mint condition, one is unfired, they are sequential serial-numbered, and their bayonets match s/n, too. Nice pieces. The receiver is stamped: Cal.30. I used Lake City .30-06 ammo.

  12. I have a mint condition one also and unfired, mine is missing the top wood piece of stock. would like to buy one does anyone know or have one for sale. would also like a bayonetta. Please respond

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