Johnson Model 1941 Rifle

Johnson Model 1941 Rifle


Type Semi-Automatic Rifle
Weight 4309.2g
Length 1156mm
Barrel Length 558.8mm
Rifling 4 grooves, RH
Magazine Capacity 10 rounds +1 in magazine feedway
Caliber .30-06 Springfield
Muzzle Velocity 807 meters/second
In Service Dates 1940-1944
Country of Origin United States

The Johnson Model 1941 semi-automatic rifle was designed shortly before World War II. It was an excellent military weapon, but timing is all-important; the Johnson was submitted for testing shortly after the M1 Garand Rifle had already been approved and put into mass production.

In 1936, Marine Corps Reserve Captain Melvin Maynard Johnson—who was connected to the Cranston Arms Co. of Providence—Rhode Island, had an idea for a recoil-operated semi-automatic rifle that he had hoped to sell to the military. He was by no means alone in his hope; the U.S. Ordnance department had been looking at semi-automatic rifle designs since the end of World War I, and Johnson was but one of many contenders.

Johnson’s design had some noteworthy and very admirable features. The Johnson rifle was very accurate. It’s ten round rotary magazine could be replenished at any time even with the bolt closed, by inserting new cartridges through a hinged door on the side of the gun. The built-in magazine was less prone to damage than a removable one. An overheated or burned out barrel could be replaced in seconds by the rifleman. In addition, Johnson designed his rifle so that it could be manufactured in small machine shops, without the need for expensive tooling.

On the deficit side, the Johnson’s barrel was relatively unsupported and was unsuited for use with the bayonet. Because the Johnson rifle had not had the Garand’s advantage of long-time testing and modification, it had some definite reliability problems.

Even though the M1 Garand was the standard U.S. Army rifle, the Johnson was called into active duty in 1941. With military rifles of all sorts being in short supply, the United States Marine Corps bought several thousand Johnson rifles for their rangers and parachutists. The Dutch bought a quantity for their forces in Indonesia and the Dutch East Indies, but most of these were undelivered because the Indies had fallen by the time they were ready.

America’s first semi-automatic rifle was known, for reasons of wartime secrecy, as the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .30, Model of 1918—more commonly known as the Pederson device. It consisted of a semi-automatic pistol mechanism that fit into a specially machined M1903 Springfield Rifle or you can also learn how to install an upper receiver, and fired a special cartridge from a 40-round magazine.