Winchester Experimental Mag-Fed Garands (Video)

Even during World War Two, it was clear that the United States was interested in improving on the M1 Garand rifle. A company that could develop and update to the Garand to make it selective-fire and feed from a box magazine would be in a great position to sell the government a ton of rifles, and everyone knew it. These two rifles illustrate some of the Winchester company’s efforts in that realm.

Thanks to the Cody Firearms Museum for allowing me access to film these!


  1. Two very interesting rifles there. That second one you showed would be a prim candidate for a modern reproduction except it would probably be $5K+ at minimum.

  2. I’m thinking that the spring-loaded feed lips may have primarily been intended to improve feed reliability. Fixed feed lips create more friction even when they are shortened. The spring-loaded lips may have been intended to flex upward just a bit a the bolt caught the top round, thus reducing drag on the cartridge and allowing the fast-moving bolt to pick it up more easily.

    This of course does nothing to reduce cyclic RoF. In fact it might actually increase it.



    • I have to wonder if the spring-loaded feed lips were there to allow a standard Garand en bloc clip to be inserted into the magazine, if need be, perhaps while the magazine is in the rifle. The follower would have to be modified to work with the en bloc clip, but this is still the best explanation I can come up with.

      • senseless,

        If you take a look at the patent here:

        You’ll see that it was meant to work with a unique stripper clip. The spring loaded folding lips on the magazine are there to provide for quick filling via stripper clip and cartridge retention. Traditional feed lips are built into the receiver of the firearm. The inventor perceived an advantage in this system over a traditional detachable magazine. Those reasons are explained in the patent.

  3. Ian, why was Beretta with their BM 59 – a magazine fed select fire M1 – obviously successfull when everybody else failed to make such a conversion work?

    • Perhaps because it uses .308 instead of .3006. A shorter cartridge in the same receiver does improve reliable feeding, doesn’t it? Add to that a little tinkering with magazines, a rate reducer and some other minimal addons, and ECCO!

    • Interestingly, there is a fellow in Michigan who modifies M1 Garands to something like a BM59 (except for the full-auto part). The outfit is named Shuff’s Parkerizing.

      Perhaps Italy had a surplus of skilled craftsmen after the war so remaking M1’s into BM59’s was both feasible and economical?

      • It appears that Italian skills in gun-making and aeronautics are usually brushed off as non-existent in Hollywood. Despite the obvious disadvantages in equipment, Italian soldiers were clearly not sniveling cowards as depicted in popular myths, and they were not waving white flags on broomsticks at the sight of Americans. The Fiat G.55 Centauro, the Macchi MC.205, and the Reggiane Re.2005 Sagittario were among the finest fighter planes ever built, clearly matching or outperforming their German contemporaries. They were also freakishly expensive and time-consuming to build, which is why few, if any of them, still exist.

        As for forgotten artillery, the Cannone da 90/53 was probably the nastiest flak gun you could encounter in North Africa, as it could probably smash through a Sherman’s frontal plate (and kill the whole crew) from half a kilometer away.

        And overall, I don’t recall any Allied bomber wings specifically trying to exterminate Italian gun makers between 1940 and 1943.

        Did I mess up?

    • Apart from the fact that Domenico Salza, the designer of the Beretta modification, was obviously a very skilled guy, sometimes to be less involved with the original project, allow you to figure out more easily what doesn’t work with it.
      Add to this that the Italians didn’t have the temptation to made the BAR mags to work with the rifle, cause they were already working with the 7.62 round, and they had no BAR mags to use.

  4. My father was in the infantry in 1944-45 (38th Armoured Infantry Bn., 7th Armored Division), and he once told me that some guys in his unit “converted” their M1s to full auto by filing the sear so that it didn’t engage the disconnector. With the cyclic rate being so fast, I guess it would have fired 8-round bursts only!

    • The M1 Garand does not have a disconnector. Filing down the secondary sear on an M1 might make it go full-auto, but by causing it to fire out-of-battery. Firing out-of-battery is a very bad thing–the rifle can be permanently disabled from the resulting damage.

      I’m not familiar with the M1 carbine fire control group, maybe he was talking about it?

      • Sounds like the same bunch of morons who fired live 6.5×50 SR Arisaka through a Type 38 training rifle. The training rifle is 7/8 scale and is intended to accept weak gallery ammunition (with wooden or paper-pulp balls for projectiles), and it turns out the guns were meant for school kids (I could be wrong). It would still be quite annoying to get beaned with training ammunition…

      • Battery off firing of M1 is nearly impossible. The frame section at breechbolt’s rear called “Bridge” and “L” shaped inertial firing pin, completely provide only to reach the firing pin tip to the case cap when the action is fully locked. Besides, simply filing off the secondary sear causes only hammer follow with no sufficient blow to fire the round in the chamber. It needs filing off untill remaining very little step on the secondary sear to hold the hammer untill getting the impact of closing breechbolt causing to release the hammer from the slight remaning step.

    • While there may be a way to make a Garand (or about almost anything else) full-auto by that old chestnut “filing the sear down” 99 out of s hundred yokels attempting such wouldn’t know a ‘sear’ if it bit them on the butt. The other guy pretty quickly comes to understand that just doesn’t seem to work.
      It don’t work that way.
      I make no pretense of being an expert on the subject, despite being an actual military armorer but I’ve repaired a number of…modified…items by replacing ruined parts and it doesen’t take an IQ much beyond single digits to understand why just exactly that’s a really bad idea.
      Among other practical points, does the phrase “Federal Felony” make an impression?

      • Possibly silly question from a gun newbie still trying to wrap my head around how these things work: How does the modification made to these guns (locking the secondary sear somehow so that it doesn’t stop the hammer from dropping again, according to the video) differ from filing down the sear, such that the former (apparently) works fairly reliably and the latter doesn’t?

        • Bethany,

          If you take a look at the patent for the select-fire system here:

          Folks don’t seem to understand how the full-auto mechanism works on this firearm. Unfortunately, in the video it was described as “trivial” and many people assumed that it simply disabled the secondary sear, (sometimes referred to as the “interrupter” on many semi-automatic firearms), and nothing else. Allowing the hammer to simply “follow down” as the bolt closes on a new cartridge. In a locked breech, hammer fired system, this makes for a very, (and often totally), unreliable full auto mechanism.

          This firearm uses a third sear to achieve reliable full auto operation. The full auto cycle can be see illustrated in Figures 3 and 4 in the patent. The reference numbers to look for to understand the function of the auto-sear and connector are identified by reference numbers 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, and 61, along with others for the related parts of the hammer, bolt, and bolt carrier. Don’t get too hung up on terminology, patents use various words to describe the parts, watch the video and look for the shapes in the drawing.

          How the parts work and the two modes of fire are described in the patent.

          • In all autoloading systems, there are two mechanism for reliable single repeating shots; disconnectors or separators and battery off safeties. Firearms using rather short rounds like handguns, in case of using disconnectors working in cooperation with slides, will have sufficient protection for both firing only one shot with each puĺl of trigger and battery off firing, but in rifle sized firearms, along with rather long rounds and their suiting feeding distances, there may get some weakness in speed of repeating single shots and the impact element should be released before the breechbolt being fully reaching home. In that case it should be needed another mechanism preventing discharge before breechbolt to go foremost position on the receiver. In M1 Garands, this is achieved by “L” shaped inertial firing pin and by rotating breechbolt cooperating with a cut on the a joint between the frame walls walls called “Bridge” supporting the back of the breechbolt. Simply filing off the blocking element preventing the impact element to wait and released untill the breechbolt to go to the computed distance to the breech, will provide only “Hammer follow” that is simultaneous movement of both lmpact element and breechbolt with no strike on the cap and there it needs a delaying mechanism for starting the impact element to move after the breecbolt reached to on battery position. This may be simply obtained by filing off the blocking tooth to a level which enabling to hold the impact element to wait until getting the impact of homing breechbolt to release the hammer through inertia. In real life, the accumulating dirt and foul on the second sear may provide the same effect but this only occasional. In real automatic fire systems, it needs another releaser working with the breechbolt to free the impact element after the breechbolt to reach to fully locked position.

    • Sort of. But the actual work that led to the M14 was done by Springfield Armory and Remington, starting in early 1944. Their original specification called for;

      Weight; 9 lbs. less magazine
      Magazine; 20-round
      Semi-automatic fire on closed bolt
      Full-automatic fire on open bolt
      Suitable for launching grenades
      Use standard M5 grenade launching sight
      Folding stock

      The Springfield development was designated the T20, the Remington was designated T22. The folding stock requirement and one for a short barrel were dropped right at the start. The results were as follows;

      T20- delivered to Aberdeen in late ’44. 20-rd BAR magazine, open bolt on full-auto, closed-bolt on semi-auto. It kept dropping its magazine.

      T20E1- Same but with improved mag catch. Heat-arresting grooves in barrel. Adjustable non-removable bipod, different flash hider allowing use of grenade launcher (M9 type). Early ’45.

      T20E2; Same as above but with improved magazine (could still use BAR mags). Project cancelled at this point due to end of war; Summer ’45.

      At Remington, it went;

      T22; Same as T20 except non-detachable bipod.

      T22E1; Slight modifications to trigger group, apparently to prevent “doubling” in semi-auto mode.

      T22E2; New magazine catch and further changes to trigger group.

      The later projects (T23 through T44) were spread out across Springfield, Remington, and Winchester, and the final T44 was basically the original production M14. The T25 from Winchester was the first to use the T65 cartridge derived from the .300 Savage which became the 7.62 x 51mm NATO/.308 Winchester.

      Source; Smith, W.H.B. & Joseph. Small Arms of the World, 10th Edition. NY; Galahad Books (Stackpole), 1973, pp.623-625.



  5. It really makes me wonder why the switch on this one wasn’t brought over into the M14 or even tested with it, it seems like that would’ve been easier to use rather than the one that was actually put on.
    Plus no large slot cut into the stock to make room.

    Were there concerns that it might bend and lock up half way through?

    • My understanding was that individual unit commanders determined if their troops got full-auto or not on their M14’s. We’re talking about commanders who grew up shooting ’03’s with magazine disconnect switches, some of whom thought the M1 Garand was going to waste ammo. The M14 selector is easy to add and remove, and it is immediately apparent if a rifle has the unit installed or not. The one in the video above appears to be more of a permanent feature.

      But yes, the M14 full auto-gizmo does seem like a clunky afterthought that is anything but ergonomic, and requires a big chunk to be missing from the stock. A great way to let dirt in if the selector is not issued.

      The word is that few people could control full-auto M14’s, shooting full auto 30-06 Garands must have taken an extraordinary person to control in any meaningful way.

  6. I’ve always heard, and seen pictures, of John Garand’s earlier iterations of the M1 having a box magazine. In fact, I thought the only reason he did not go with a box magazine is because his better known rival John Pedersen was using en-bloc clips and the Ordinance Dept. showed a bit(or a lot) of favoritism towards John Pedersen. Thus, how is it that the box magazine was so hard to figure out if John Garand had already done it?

    • It’s true that some early Garand prototypes had a 20-round detachable box magazine. But those were very early version with the “gas-trap” muzzle, in .276 Pedersen.

      At the time, Army Ground Forces Command (for which read “General Douglas MacArthur”)was opposed to both the .276 cartridge (due to the immense investment in .30-06 in terms of plant, etc.) and the high-capacity detachable magazine on anything but the squad automatic weapon (the BAR).

      Army doctrine was that the squad’s rifles were the section “base of fire”, by the numbers, with the SAW to act as cover fire while the section advanced. I.e., a series of “bounds” rather like crossing No Man’s Land in 1917. It’s ironic that while Pershing as commander of AEF considered trench warfare an aberration, a generation later Army Command considered it to be the way of war in the foreseeable future- except for the cavalry of course, who still believed in the horse and saber as dominant forces on the battlefield, machine guns to the contrary.

      There simply was no place in their Scheme of Things for a rapid-fire rifle, chambering an “intermediate” cartridge, with a high-capacity interchangeable magazine. Let alone a selective-fire one.

      In short, like the Russians with the Federov in 6.5mm Arisaka, the U.S. Army Command in the early 1930s missed adopting the first operational “assault rifle” by just that little.

      NB; If it had been adopted, a short-barreled “carbine” version would have made the M1 .30 Carbine, as well as the Thompson and M3 SMGs, more-or-less irrelevant.



  7. Rumors abound that the USMC is going to experimentally equip literally every soldier in a rifle platoon with the M27 IAR… So is that the fruition/resurrection of the idea that every man should have a “do it all” basic infantry weapon…?

    I wonder about the Swiss Stg. 57, which seemed like “every man a rifle grenadier, LMG gunner, rifleman” albeit in a Swiss context… Now we’re floating ideas that a full-auto M16 firing from an open bolt is the way to go… Can anyone recall Ian’s many contributions about understanding the TRW “Low maintenance rifle” concept, i.e. a weird-but-über-cheap-to-make-rifle with AR/M16 magazines loaded in from the left side a la Fallshirmjägergewehr 42, and with similar sights to boot, with the M60 pig’s fire-control group and a sort of quasi-sten gun receiver? The more things change…

    • “M27 IAR”
      Selective fire, 30-round magazine (default), intermediate cartridge,… it sounds like avtomat but they call it Infantry Automatic Rifle

    • The M27 is replacing the M249 (FN Minimi) in the Marine rifle squad. The U.S. Army has no plans to buy it.

      The M27 is basically an H&K 416 (gas-piston system AR-15 variant)with the usual Marine add-ons like “Picatinny” rails, flat-top receiver, optical sights, folding bipod, etc.

      In most respects, it’s a militarized civilian “pimped-out” heavy-barrel AR-15.

      The idea is to provide both the SAW and a DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) in one package. I assume that they will issue two per rifle squad so that if the SAW gunner is engaging a target, there will still be a DMR ready in case countersniping is required.

      In most respects, the M27 is a reversion to Colt’s CAR (Colt Automatic Rifle) design on 1970-71; a heavy-barrel AR-15 intended to replace the M60 as the SAW. Of course, the major differences are that the CAR was belt-fed and had a quick change barrel; the M27 has neither one, feeding from a STANAG box magazine interface and having an HBAR-type decidedly fixed barrel.

      I don’t expect it to succeed as a SAW. It looks to me like it will make a decent DMR. Chambered for 6.8 SPC, it could be a great DMR.

      The better course for a SAW would have been to develop a reasonable “assault ammo pack” for the M240. Even today, 240 gunners have to go around draped with ammo belts like Wehrmacht MG-34 and -42 gunners in 1945. And the Wehrmacht actually had “saddle drum” belted-round magazines for their SAWs.

      Probably the best choice of all would be to develop a new dedicated SAW in 6.8 SPC or an even more emphatic (and longer-ranged) chambering. .30 Remington AR, for instance, which duplicates .300 Savage/ 7.62 NATO performance but still “fits” in an AR-15 action. (Although IMPO the AR action is a fundamentally lousy choice for the kind of sustained fire a SAW is intended to provide.)

      Yes, the 240 is a good gun; it’s also a sixty-year-old design (MAG 58), based on a century-old design (BAR), and heavier than it needs to be.

      The M27 is a stopgap. Time for the designers to plug in the coffee urn, eat some cheap chicken (DS9 writer ref.), and get down to designing something.



  8. I’d say that most of us that live in the U.S.A., and are gun owners, probably own a firearm that incorporates one or more designs by Harry H. Sefried. ^__^

  9. Harry H. Sefried did have a long and successful career, at Winchester, High Standard and finally Ruger. Wherever he worked he made great contributions to product development. Towards the end of his life he acted as an expert witness in firearms cases. He died in old age of a slow acting cancer. He kept his great sense of humor to the end, once remarking that “They’ve cut enough stuff out of me to make a good size hound dog”.

  10. Regarding the 20 round magazine with folding lips. Did you check to see if possibly they were just retaining lips, designed to fold out of the way once inserted into the rifle? And the actual feed lips were built into the receiver?

      • I posted that link to US2464418 to show that the select-fire design shown in the video does not simply disable the secondary sear in an attempt to make a full-auto firearm. It does in fact have an “auto-sear” and a connector that keeps the hammer back in the cocked position until the bolt is forward and locked.

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