Slow Motion: Remington Model 11 Shotgun

Sporting shotguns are not normally something to catch my eye, but the Remington Model 11 is a bit different. It’s the first mass-produced semiauto shotgun in the world, it’s a John Browning design, and it’s a long-recoil action – all things that make it much more interesting than your average 870. So, let’s take a look at one firing at 2000 frames per second, shall we?


  1. Excellent video.

    The Remington Model 8 rifle used the same type of Browning-designed action, which is more often seen in automatic cannon.The FN-made Browning Automatic-5 shotgun also operated on long recoil, again using Browning’s system.

    The Chauchat LMG also used a variant of this action type, as did the Gabbett-Fairfax “Mars” self-loading pistol. On that one, however, the bolt did not return forward until you released the trigger, which tripped the bolt stop.

    The only other long-recoil pistols I’m aware of are the Frommer automatics that were covered here a while back.

    The exact place of long recoil in small arms design has always been a bit debatable. With conventional cartridges and loadings, there isn’t much it can do that short recoil can’t do as well, with a simpler mechanism.

    One possibility for the future would be using it to handle very high-pressure, high-intensity loads by increasing barrel/action “dwell time”, to allow pressure to drop to lower and safer levels before the extraction/ejection phase of the cycle begins. This was apparently what Hugh Gabbett-Fairfax had in mind with his pistol design of a century ago.

    For instance, imagine a self-loading rifle firing a hypervelocity “+P+” 7mm Magnum round. Or a self-loading pistol firing the equivalent of a 5.56 x 45mm NATO in terms of ballistics.

    Either one might make us rethink a lot of our conventions on tactical arms and hunting/target arms, both.



    • Could long recoil also be used to fire a less powerful cartridge (e.g. 9×19) using a barrel/chamber made from metal that is not as strong as conventional firearms today?

      • I don’t think so – regardless of the type of action, the chamber has to be able to contain the initial pressure spike from firing without rupturing. What long recoil does is really minimize the residual pressure that exists when the action opens, because it takes longer to do so than other actions. The only modern long recoil that I’m aware of is the GM6 Lynx, a semiauto .50BMG bullpup. That would be an ideal use for long recoil, since the cartridge has such a volume of gas to deal with.

        • “minimize the residual pressure that exists when the action opens, because it takes longer to do so than other actions.”
          Can’t it be done with gas-operated principle? For example St. Étienne Mle 1907 machine gun has adjustable rate of fire. The English wikipedia statesÉtienne_Mle_1907 that the slowest rate was 8 rpm but I don’t believe in it (8rpm = 1 round each 7.5 sec), do you have any reliable source stating available RoF of St. Étienne Mle 1907? Is it possible to create slow-firing gas-operated machine gun without the complication of St. Étienne design?

          • Yes, you need to have an open bolt system and a system that release your bolt when you want it. It can be mechanical by a simple moving mass system or mass and return spring system.

            PS : the smiling Ian is at the bottom of the page

        • I agree with this view; actually for .50 BMG it would be ideal concept.
          There are 2 items in the way though. One is that when barrel coast down it may run into magazine (due to required thickness in chamber area). Second is that you cannot apply means how to transfer part of moving mass momentum from primary to secondary mass as is done with short recoil (both, barrel and bolt are primary). This I foresee as a shortcoming, as also demonstrated by mentioned Hungarian rifle.

          With respect to before mentioned barrel and magazine interference solution; this can be solved by dropping and raising magazine. It gets little complicated, I realize that.

        • I just want to say that the model 11 is dangerous, the charging barrel of sorts has a connection to the firing pin, that will cause discharge if you slam it forward or just pull the barrel back and let go.

      • Not really..

        Increasing the dwell time spreads the recoil shock to the firer over a longer period and keeps the breech closed for longer to allow chamber pressures to fall, however the peak breech pressure is the same as a short recoil or even a single shot. You could probably make the frame a bit lighter as you have less inertia to overcome, but you could not weaken the breech or other gas parts as the stress is essentially the same..

    • “One possibility for the future would be using it to handle very high-pressure, high-intensity loads by increasing barrel/action “dwell time”, to allow pressure to drop to lower and safer levels before the extraction/ejection phase of the cycle begins.”
      Where is limit of short-recoil operation? For example KPVT machine gun working on short-recoil principle handle 14.5×114 round (52213 PSI), it is possible to use bigger-pressure cartridge in short-recoil fire-arm?

      • The .50 BMG rifles already do;

        14.5 x 114- max. pressure (piezo) 360 MPa ((52,000 PSI CIP) ME 29 kJ.

        12.7 x 99 (U.S..50 BMG)- max. pressure (piezo) 378 MPa (54,800 PSI CIP). ME 18 kJ.

        Given proper adjustments in design, just about any action that can handle 12.7 x 99 US should be able to handle 14.5 x 114 Russian from a standpoint of pressure alone. For what it does at the receiving end, the 14.5 is an extremely efficient cartridge in terms of breech pressure.

        Where a long-recoil action might be superior would be with ultra-high-intensity cartridges that generate much higher pressures in the process of launching projectiles at velocities considered impossible today.

        The .220 Swift can fire a 50-grain(3.24g) bullet at over 4,000 feet per second (1,210 m/s). Imagine a 7mm rifle firing a 140-grain (9.1g) at similar velocities that can still be safely accommodated in a self-loading action.

        Or for that matter, a handgun of reasonable size and mass (about that of a 1911) firing a 5mm pistol round with .220 Swift ballistics.

        In the 1970s, Sako experimented with gas-operated pistols in 9 x 19mm, and Jeff Cooper pointed out that the gas-operated, rotating-bolt system might allow “highly unconventional” ballistics in a sidearm.

        Cooper alluded to a hypervelocity small-bore pistol built with such a system, pointing out that a 5mm bullet at over 1200 m/s should be able to burn through just about any body armor a man can reasonably lift and carry, and still deliver decisive “stopping power” on the far side of same, from sheer KE, even with a small, hard, sharp-nosed AP bullet that absolutely will not expand no matter what it hits.

        It didn’t work out that way in real life, of course. Gas-operated pistols turned out to be a bit on the unwieldy side. (Desert Eagle, AutoMag III.) And they still fire conventional cartridges.

        Long recoil might offer an alternative in the quest for such a “quantum leap” in small-arms ballistics.



    • @eon – “handle very high-pressure, high-intensity loads by increasing barrel/action ‘dwell time'”

      I doubt it would make much difference. The bullet moves very fast and the barrel moves back very slowly. The bullet has left the barrel before the barrel itself has moved much, and the “puff” of high pressure gas follows very quickly after the bullet. We can see this in the previous slow motion videos of short recoil pistols.

      Long recoil may offer a softer recoil because the force is spread out over time via the compression of the return spring, rather than in a sharp kick. The added complexity is probably not worth it though.

      • I am not sure if recoil impulse spreads with time. In my view, the moving parts pick up speed and hit buffer rather violently. Spring has minimum effect to resist them and slow them down. As I recall, effect of springs in recoil systems is not even included in calculation, just masses.

      • To add to previous: U could reduce the impact of accelerated masses into buffer (or solid stop for that matter) if you implemented some kind of brake aka those used in artillery.

  2. The Army Air Corp used these (and a clone made by Savage) to train aircraft gunners in WWII.

    I think a problem with the design is that it was a little complex to machine (the inside of the receiver had a lot of complex cuts) and was therefore expensive. It is also a little tricky to assemble.

    But, it (and the Rem mod 8) does have a reputation for reliability. No gas system, no fouling. The Rem 11 can be set up, in the field, to handle different loads (a little instruction card is pasted to the inside of the handguard). So long as the two springs are in good shape and the forearm is not cracked, not much to go wrong.

    • “But, it (and the Rem mod 8) does have a reputation for reliability.”
      It was reliable enough to be used in actual combat in “trench gun” version.

  3. “all things that make it much more interesting than your average 870”
    This design is also interesting because it cause the end of collaboration between J.M.Browning and Winchester company, Browning want royalty-based payments, Winchester want pay for Browning’s design once.

  4. Paper shells should be the strongest cause using long recoil operation which is the safest auto loading system leaving minimum excess gas pressure in the empty shell when the extraction begins. On the other hand, the shortest barrel recoil distance for a firearm as compared to the bore lenght and power of the used round, should be Stoner’s AR17, a 12 Ga.shotgun with an aluminium alloy barrel and receiver short recoiling only a quarter of an inch.

    • Hi,Denny,

      Intended extraction and following ejection should be thorough mechanical at long recoil operation since it begins by force of compressed barrel return spring against to locked back breechbolt. But it might be still
      present some residual gas inside the empty shell according to the power of round used, provided with power adjustment rings or springs wrongly used. Even at in that case, long recoil operation still should be the safest for a weak paper cased shell.

      • Yes Strongarm,
        there is a way to do it. In absence of detailed study of subject gun extraction I can see a spring loaded ejector as possible solution. In addition, as the stroke is nearing end of travel, it could even increase its pre-load and following barrel separation and return it could eject more vigorously.

        Actually the way it looks in video, I am surprised if reliability is not jeopardised – which by word of Ian is not.

  5. The time factors in the firing of a hand-held firearm that use smokeless powder is unimaginably brief. In the instance of those using the 9mm Parabellum, for instance in a Walther MPK Submachine Gun, the time lapse between the firing pin striking the primer and the projectile exiting the 6.32 inch barrel is on the order of 0.62 ms at a residual pressure of approximately 400 psi, down from a peak of 31,000 psi. This is hardly enough time for the action to unlock or move enough to retain much residual pressure within the action or casing. In fact, due to the effects of accelerated evacuation, the now-empty case is probably under a significant vacuum. This supposition is supported by the firing sequence of a Pulse Detonation Rocket Engine.

    In the instance of a Walther P38 with a 4.35 inch barrel the pressures are 22,400 psi and 1,800 psi at the muzzle with residence time of approximately 0.25 ms.

    Note in the above that the transit time averages approximately 0.1ms per one inch of barrel length. This can then be applied broadly to other instances under relative conditions of pressure, etc.

    Also keep in mind that a significant portion of this residence time is spent between the striking of the firing pin and the ignition of the propellant charge … on the order of approximately one half of the time in a short barrel such as above.

    The above would lead one to assume that a high-intensity round could be used in a pistol. An past commercial example would be the .30 cal carbine variant of a shortened barrel and gas operating system that worked very well. An interesting test would be to convert one of these to a .17 X .30 Carbine barrel for the initial test and then, if all else is acceptable, progress to some alternative action variants. Since I have seen and extensively fired a “pistol” made from both a Japanese 6.5mm and a 7.7 mm rifle with no problems and have seen .22 cal. centerfire and .50+ cal. revolvers, the only remaining concern would be to “tweek” the auto-loader action of choice. In my estimation the main problem with the Desert Eagle was the rush to production without fully considering utility.

    Another interesting area of study would be the use of Nitrogen-filled gas springs as a replacement of the coiled steel springs. We have had promising success with these in some of the higher powered hunting airguns from .17 cal. up to .450 cal.

  6. Actually, there is a difference between chamber pressure build-up and time when bullet gets moving and eventually reaches its maximum velocity. Yes, in most cases the maximum pressure in chamber is reached in less that one millisecond. However, bullet is subject to resistance by crimp, engraving resistance into rifling and finally – friction.

    Actually, from my own experience, I had been present during more than one such event. Barrel was so hot it was translucent – well, I was able to see bullets taking off and eye does not have sensitivity of scientific instrument. In absence of a measurement, I’d call it several milliseconds. Of course, momentum equilibrium formula assumes final velocity and does not care about velocity change in due course.

  7. My post was based upon a report I recently found among my documents from my past. It is titled “Silencers: Principals and Evaluations” based upon research at the Frankford Arsenal (Report R-1896) published in August 1968. It was issued to me after I was involved in developing sub-sonic rounds having minimal muzzle flash to be used in suppressed weapons by the Army and Marines; primarily “tunnel rats.”

    The research protocol measured the “time vs sonic profile” for sear release, hammer strike if present (1911-A1 or P38 for instance) or sear release of the firing pin, primer strike, primer detonation, powder ignition, case blow-by, pressure peak, compression wave generation resulting from displacement of the air in front of the round in the barrel as the projectile traversed the length of the barrel (handgun, sub machine gun and rifle with and without barrel porting), projectile blow-by, projectile exit from the muzzle, propellant gas exhausting and development/generation of sonic waves, projectile exiting the silencer or modulator, propellant gas exiting the silencer, projectile transition of the sonic barrier (if applicable) and turbulence reverberations within the silencer body after the projectile and propellant gasses had exited. The ground-effect resonations were documented from various locations. Sound magnitudes were measured laterally from several locations as well as down-range. In the case of handguns, tests were run on various makes and models from a Hi-Standard .22 through the .45 1911-A1 and various calibers of the Welrod. The submachine guns varied from the ported-barrel 9mm Sten to the .45 M3 silenced “Greasegun.”

    Tests were run on both silenced and un-silenced weapons as a control. We needed this information because we used and had used these weapons, and comparable units, from time to time, in our work.

  8. My grandfather owned one of these guns and used it to hunt birds and rabbit for many years with me. It originally belonged to his father, and he treasured it greatly. My contact with this gun essentially taught me everything I know about firearms. In the field I carried my fathers first gun, a side by side 20 gauge, and reflecting as a teen I feel like I under appreciated morning walks in blaze orange. But I remember my grandfather toting the 11 around and taking lighting quick follow up shots if I missed. When he grew too old to hunt and eventually was confined to the nursing home I would talk about how I was cleaning his weapons quarterly for him just so they’d be ready for bird season. He smiled at that always and reminded me that I was not allowed to take the 11 out because it was too dangerous. I’m not sure if this is true with all 11s but grandpa always said that if you dropped the gun directly it its butt with enough force for long recoil action and mass of barrel to jam against the bolt and the gun would discharge. Is this true? The gun has passed into my hands now and I have kept it in loving shape despite the character one might expect after being a hundred year like gun. I would love to somehow give it to you guys to do an episode on it if you’d like, even though I’m not sure what loads to put in it or anything, grandpa loaded his own shot.

  9. According to the biography written by J.M. Browning’s son with Curt Gentry, JMB chose long recoil for the shotgun to make digestable a wide variety of ammunition, including black powder,smokeless, buckshot, birdshot, and slugs. He developed the clever (and cheap) adjustable braking device (impinges on the magazine tube, between the barrel ring and barrel recoil spring)so each shooter could mitigate recoil to his/her own taste. As he had already patented self-loading and automatic firearms operating from gas, short recoil, blowback, what have you, this seems to have been a considered choice. Most modern long guns being gas operated in semi-auto, not adjustable in the gas port, and unforgiving of insufficient cleaning. JMB actually wrote Winchester and told them his gun needed no oiling!
    This was the first-ever semi-auto shotgun; he had a hard time convincing Winchester that there was even a use for it (though it did take off in the skeet and trap-shooting circuits, and served as a jungle combat gun as late as 1957 in Malaysia); I think his most remarkable feat in designing and selling this weapon was to make it look somewhat like a normal gun considering its complexity. And it was a bit heavy.
    Been decades since I handled my Dad’s — he owned the original, a Belgian FN A5 Browning — and he sold it before I could inherit it. As I believe it had a floating firing pin and the safety only locked the hammer, it might go off if unluckily dropped (though my guess as to cause would be the pin bouncing off its spring, not the barrel bearing down on the bolt). Same for the 1911 and predecessors, same for the Colt and FN 1903s, and perhaps the Hi-Power. Not the same for the striker-fired FN 1900, 1910, or 1922 wherein the sear locked the firing pin and the safety locked the sear. I think Browning expected a bit of care and common sense from his customers.

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