Military Review

Automatic Fedorov. Weapons that could shake the world


Outstanding Russian gunsmith, gun expert and historian weapons V. G. Fedorov rightly entered into history domestic small arms as the “father of automatic weapons”. He was the author of the first theoretical work “Automatic weapons” (1907 year) with the application “Atlas of drawings with automatic weapons”, which for a long time remained the only research in this area. He owns the first Russian automatic rifle and the first-ever assault rifle adopted by the Russian army. He owns the classification of automatic infantry weapons on:
Self-loading rifles, shooting single shots and having a magazine with a capacity of 5-10 cartridges.

Self-rifle rifles, structurally similar to self-loading, but allowing to fire in a queue before emptying the store.

Automatic. Weapons are similar to self-rifle rifles, but having an add-on magazine with an 25 capacity of ammunition ... a shortened barrel with a handle that makes the weapon suitable for a wide range of combat missions.

Russia very early began work on the creation of automatic rifles, not yielding to the leading military-industrial powers of the time. Researches were conducted by Ya. U. Roschepey, P. N. Frolov, F. V. Tokarev, V. A. Degtyarev and other enthusiasts - inventors. All work was carried out on the authors' bare enthusiasm, without financial, theoretical and organizational support from the state. Ya. U. Roshchepey was forced to sign a declaration stating that, with his success, he “will be satisfied with a one-time bonus and will no longer claim anything.” So it is not surprising that not one of these nuggets (Tokarev and Degtyarev, famous gunsmiths of the future) could bring their samples to at least military trials. Only V. G. Fedorov managed this. Russian gunsmith VG Fedorov began work on the remaking of the magazine rifle sample 1891g. in automatic with 1905 of the year. To help Fedorov, the head of the shooting range of the officer rifle school N. M. Filatov appointed a mechanic V. A. Degtyarev. The conversion of the magazine rifle into an automatic one was recognized as inexpedient and in 1906 a fundamentally new project was ready, which was notable for simplicity and expediency (54 details instead of 74 in Browning). The rifle of the original design for a regular cartridge successfully passed all military tests in 1909-1912. The tests were cruel: they left the weapons for a day in the rain, put them into disassembled form in a pond, drove them on a cart on a dusty road, and then checked them by shooting. For this rifle, Fedorov was awarded a large Mikhailov Prize (Gold Medal), issued once in 5 years (S. I. Mosin was also awarded this prize). The Sestroretsk plant was ordered 150 pieces of new rifles.

The Russo-Japanese War intensified interest in light automatic infantry weapons: the Madsen light machine gun, adopted by the Russian cavalry, turned out to be a formidable type of weapon. A designer seriously interested in the technology used in small arms of the Japanese army. Recall that Japan, and a considerable number of other countries - Greece, Norway, Italy, Sweden, Romania were armed with a reduced rifle - 6.5 mm caliber. The tradition of reducing caliber, which began in the last quarter of the 19 of the 20th century, was obvious: the remake (converted from a rifled muzzle-loading rifle) Krnka rifle (or Krynka in the common folk) had a caliber of 6 lines (15.24mm); the rifle of Berdan №2 (actually Gorlov and Gunius, Berdan had nothing to do with it :)) already 4 lines, and the creation of Mosin had three caliber already — that is 7,62 mm. Each caliber reduction reflected a growing level of barrel processing technology and the mass production of precision ammunition. Some designers decided to go further. And it seemed fashionable: the ammunition wearable by the shooter increased, the recoil decreased when fired, the metal consumption decreased in the production of ammunition.


Fedorov automatic rifle

The officers' responses stated that “there was no difference between the fire of the Russian and Japanese rifles with the exception of close combat”. Since they preferred to rely on hand grenades, bayonets and revolvers in close combat, the problem of the smaller stopping effect of a small-caliber bullet did not worry anyone yet. It should be noted that the decrease in metal intensity was to a certain extent offset by increased costs due to defects and tighter tolerances in manufacturing.
In 1913, Fedorov proposed his own 6.5 cartridge, mm of improved ballistics, which does not have a welt (cap for extracting from the chamber of an extractor) and a new light automatic rifle for it. This automatic rifle was very close to its predecessor –7.62, differing in a five-round staggy magazine that does not protrude beyond the weapons. The rifle was tested successfully, and an order for 20 automatic rifles 6.5mm was issued to the Sestroretsky plant, but the First World War began, forcing the work to be interrupted, and Fedorov himself sent “In Search of Weapons” abroad ...
Radically changed tactics of infantry combat. The long-barreled rifle, with its sniper accuracy, has lost its meaning very much. The salvo firing at the platoon in invisible to the naked eye targets was completely gone, giving way to the field of field artillery and heavy machine guns. Lost value bayonet. The “chest on chest” contractions degenerated into slaughter in trenches, where it was thicker and more likely to fire, sharper and sharper. Moreover, the infantry assembled for a bayonet attack into a dense formation was simply doomed to be killed by the enemy’s arrows and artillery. There were teeth in new types of weapons: at medium distances, various bomb-bombs (mortars) and machine guns, manual and mounted, were more successful. With the enemy burst into the trenches, they fired from revolvers and slashed with deminers; well established themselves fragmentation grenades. The popularity of the short-barreled brat of a rifle - a carbine (it is shorter and more maneuverable). The war interrupted or delayed the work on automatic weapons in all countries.


Automatic Fedorov

Germany: at the end of the first world, the Mauser automatic rifle was not used, it was not suitable for full armament of infantry (sensitivity to dirt and abundant lubrication of cartridges for the stable operation of automation).
England: there was no precedent.

France: Riberol-Shoch-Stattar automatic rifle was tested in the army from 1916, and in 1917 it was accepted for partial armament of infantry.

USA: The mass of the Browning rifle was recognized as over-dimensional and an automatic rifle with a magazine of increased capacity was positioned as a light machine gun.

In 1916, Fedorov made his brilliant discovery: he invented the automaton. Shortening the barrel on his 1913 model rifle and supplying it with a removable 25 magazine box magazine and a firing handle “from hand”, he received the first weapon model that has now become the basis of infantry weapons of any army. It remains only to marvel at the accuracy of the conclusions made by the Russian gunsmith: not an automatic rifle with its weight, long barrel, crushing dedication and sluggishness when meeting face to face; not a pistol - a machine gun with its helplessness when firing at medium and long distances - namely, an automatic - a short-barreled weapon with a direct shot range of about 300 meters, a mass of about 5 kg and a rate of about 100 shots per minute - that is, what is called in Russian precisely automatic. The First World War is over; Civil; and only in 1943, Hugo Schmeisser will reveal to the world (of course, already as the fruit of the technical thought of enlightened Europe) his assault rifle under a shortened rifle cartridge with close tactical and technical characteristics ... And experts will argue whether M. Kalashnikov’s work was with him kinship - or did not consist? (Interesting, but for some reason nobody intrigues the question of the M16 and STG-44 affinity!) And the veterans of the 11 Army who passed the assault on Koenigsberg will note that the weapon was convenient, very lethal, and this trophy was used willingly. Nevertheless, the birthplace of the automaton is Russia.


Automatic Fedorov. Weapons that could shake the world

Russian scooter armed with an automatic machine Fedorov

Fedorov machine in battle

The career of this wonderful weapon has developed poorly. In the summer of 1916, Fedorov's submachine guns and automatic rifles were armed with the command of the 189th Izmail Regiment, which was sent to the Romanian front on December 1 of the same year, consisting of 158 soldiers and 4 officers. They became the first Russian machine gunners. Fedorov's assault rifles were sent to the 10th Air Division. They were 400 grams lighter than Fedorov's 7.62 mm rifles and allowed intense burst fire. Since there was nothing to dream about the production of an author's cartridge in wartime, the weapon was converted to firing a cartridge of the Japanese rifle Arisaka arr. 1895 6.5mm. Russia, finding itself in a state of industrial collapse, was buying up arms around the world. Among other samples, Japanese weapons occupied a considerable place (782 thousand). The Japanese cartridge was shorter and weaker than the author's, which made it even closer to the intermediate one, but the rim left by the designers (the cartridge has both an annular groove and a rim - but of a smaller diameter than usual) still made it less successful for automatic operation. The assault rifle received excellent reviews: high reliability, strength of the bolt-locking parts, good accuracy of fire - and at the same time they saw in it only a light, but still a machine gun. Soon after the October Revolution (or government coup) Fedorov was sent to Kovrov to continue work on the production of machine guns. It was 1918. At the plant he was elected director (then this position was elective!). Degtyarev was appointed head of the experimental workshop. The next year the machines were put into mass production. In 1924, the collective began to create a number of machine guns unified with a machine gun - manual, aviation, anti-aircraft, tank. Historians and sources are silent about the participation of the Fedorov assault rifle in the civil war. The only mention of units where this weapon was used, I found (a paradox!) In M. Bulgakov. In the novel “Fatal Eggs,” the OGPU operative Polaitis had an “ordinary 25-round machine gun” - the term “machine gun” never came out of academia. The type of use of the ammunition remains a mystery - either the cartridge of the Arisaka rifle, or the author's ammunition. However, until the beginning of the 30s, the Red Army was armed with light machine guns from many countries. Two tank Fedorov machine guns were installed in the tower of the MS-1 tank, and it was in this form that he took part in the conflict at the Chinese Eastern Railway. - This was the last battle of this wonderful weapon. People's Commissar of Armaments L. Vannikov noted in the "notes of the People's Commissar" that Fedorov's assault rifle often lay on Stalin's desk; but it had no consequences for the machine. In the early 30s, he will not like the "responsible comrades" from the Kremlin and will be removed from service. The reasons? There are no compelling reasons: from the use of an imported cartridge (was it imported; what prevented the establishment of its production?) To the presentation of fantastic requirements for the ability to hit armored targets (however, we will: after the Finnish, they adopted a completely grotesque mortar shovel) ...


Figure - Automatic Fedorov

Caliber - 6.5mm, special or Japanese cartridge. Automatics with a short stroke of the rolling barrel. The bolt is locked by two larvae, the trigger hammer mechanism provides for firing bursts and single shots. The shop is very rationally made - 25 of cartridges with a chess arrangement of them. In the early versions, the rifle sight, in the later versions - sector, similar to the AKM sight. The range of the direct shot is estimated as 300-400 meters.


The figure shows an early version of the MC-1 tank with Fedorov machine guns. Later they will be replaced by a single machine gun DT DT 7.62mm. Machine-driven Ammunition will decrease by 25%. The density of machine-gun fire will also decrease: in the ball installation, instead of two trunks, it was now standing alone.


System name and country Caliber, mm Length, mm Barrel length, mm Operating principle Curb weight, kg Capacity of the store, pieces Rate of fire, shots / min. Sighting range, m
Fedorov, 1916. Russia, USSR 6.5 1045 520 Trunk recoil 4.4 + 0.8 (automatic and store) 25 ---- 2100
AK-47,1947. the USSR 7.62 870 414 Removal of gases from the barrel 3.8 30 600 800
STG-44, Germany, 1944. 7.92 940 419 Removal of gases from the barrel 5.2 30 ---- 800


1Note: There is a discrepancy. B.N. Spavrochnik The Beetle describes the Arisaki cartridge as having a welt and an annular groove. The book of the Mavrodins and the journal “Science and Life” indicate that the welt cartridge did not have, moreover, was special.

Used Books:
Vlad V. Mavrodin, Val. Vlad Mavrodin “From the history of domestic weapons. Russian rifle.
B. N. Zhuk “Automatic rifles and guns”.
“Science and Life” №5 1984, article “Small arms” A. Volgin.
“Technique and Science” №2 1984, to be “One of the First” A. Beskurnikov.


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  1. Sanches
    Sanches 8 December 2012 10: 28
    Russian scooter armed with an automatic machine Fedorov

    Russia, being in a state of industrial collapse, bought up arms around the world.
    The First World War was a war of technology, and it was sometimes cheaper to buy technology than to invent it (it only lasted 3-4 years). This, neither now nor then, did not mean "a state of industrial collapse" (cf. the modern US purchase of European weapons and equipment). For example, a German scooter with a folding bicycle designed by the French captain Gerard (also produced by the German company Brennabor). Those. instead of reinventing the wheel, you need to buy a license for this technology

    In the early 30s, the “responsible comrades” from the Kremlin did not like him and would be removed from service. Causes? There are no good reasons: from the use of an imported cartridge (was it imported; what prevented its production from being set up?) To the presentation of fantastic requirements for the ability to hit armored targets (however, it will become ours: after the Finnish we adopted a completely grotesque mortar shovel) .
    This is most likely due to promising new developments, in particular, in 1927, the small-scale assault rifle went to Tokarev submachine gun. Imported cartridges were not a problem, because, for example, a completely imported Belgian revolver of the Nagant system without any problems was produced at the Imperial Tula Arms Plant. By the way, you should be proud of the fact that the Nagant rifle lost to the Mosin rifle at the competition.

    Glory to the genius of Russian gunsmiths and thank you for the article.
    1. Brother Sarych
      Brother Sarych 8 December 2012 13: 07
      The author implied that Russia had to buy up small arms with almost millions of trunks around the world - but you will not say that this is a sign of the success of domestic industry? So there was even statistics on which front the weapons of one or another manufacturer were used to simplify logistics ...
      1. Sanches
        Sanches 9 December 2012 04: 30
        1. argue that the Russian army bought weapons by almost millions around the world, therefore the Russian army should have been provided with foreign weapons even beyond its needs
        2. argue that the Russian army was sorely lacking trunks, there was nothing to fight
        3. claim that Russian weapons were already advanced then (see articles on Fedorov’s assault rifle and Mosin rifle)
        4. argue that Russian weapons were much inferior to Western European weapons, which led to the defeat in World War I
        The brain can be broken from these mutual exclusions. Why not just start telling the truth
        1. Antistaks
          Antistaks 12 December 2012 22: 56
          The truth is impossible - they will zamusunut. And if in short, then Fedorov is a genius. And we had artillery according to French - German projects, and especially it lacked shells.
    2. cth; fyn
      cth; fyn 9 December 2012 06: 40
      Well, actually, at the end of tests on the Mosin rifle, they stuck a Nagan store, so Friendship and the symbiosis of technology won.
    3. Sasha 19871987
      Sasha 19871987 27 March 2013 13: 23
      yes, with these weapons we could turn the tide of history
  2. omsbon
    omsbon 8 December 2012 10: 46
    I read the article with great interest! +
    Glorious Russian weapons school!
  3. Insurgent
    Insurgent 8 December 2012 12: 31
    There wasn’t only a good intermediate cartridge;
    1. cth; fyn
      cth; fyn 9 December 2012 06: 42
      So all machine gun cartridges are called intermediate. There are rifle, there are pistol, and between them cartridges which are still called intermediate.
  4. smprofi
    smprofi 8 December 2012 14: 37
    in conflict on the CER. - This was the last battle of this wonderful weapon - Sorry, but the article is a mistake.

    During the Finnish war, units of the Engineering Special Forces were equipped with a Fedorov machine gun. Fedorov's assault rifles in forest fights showed undeniable advantages over the Suomi, easily breaking through a windbreak and having much greater accuracy.
    It is believed that the Fedorov assault rifle participated in the Second World War, in the hands of the Moscow and Leningrad militias.
    1. cth; fyn
      cth; fyn 9 December 2012 06: 44
      It is likely, because they even armed with rifles of the middle of the 19th century from the arsenals' storerooms.
  5. AK-47
    AK-47 8 December 2012 14: 54
    Fedorov rifle. Weapons that could shock the world

    The first automatic machine in the world made in the Russian Empire by V. G. Fedorov.
    Vladimir Grigorievich Fedorov (1874, St. Petersburg - 1966) - an outstanding Russian and Soviet weapon designer, lieutenant general of the engineering and technical service, Hero of Labor.
  6. PiP
    PiP 8 December 2012 15: 07
    and only in 1943, Hugo Schmeisser would reveal to the world (of course, already as the fruit of the technical thought of an enlightened Europe) his first shotgun under a shortened rifle cartridge with similar tactical and technical characteristics ... And they will to argue expertswhether the creation of M.T. Kalashnikov was related to him - or didn’t Well, experts will not argue. The designs are simply different, only the appearance is remotely similar, and if we take into account the removal of powder gases for the automation, so before the StG-44 they were used (though not in machines, for example: CBT) wink
  7. Mitzhel
    Mitzhel 8 December 2012 16: 44
    Back in the late 19th century, Mexican General Mondragon patented a self-loading rifle in which there was a gas vent and locking by turning the shutter. That is, all that is now the standard for assault and automatic rifles ...

    and it was produced long before Fedorov brought his machine gun (actually a light machine gun to the limit) to the series. Here's another example of the Danish self-loading rifle M1896 Shawbo - automation on the rollback of a barrel, patented, has also been made since the late 19th century.

    then, on its base, a Madsen machine gun was created which is not much heavier than a Fedorov assault rifle. This same Madsen is still in service, 100 years, which indicates the high quality of the design

    or here’s another French prototype for an experimental intermediate cartridge of the times of PMV 8x35SR

    there were also self-loading Mannlicher carbines under 7.65x32 model 1901, Winchester self-loading carbines of 1910 model, which, by the way, were bought by Russia for the "trench war" ...
    1. Simon
      Simon 8 December 2012 21: 40
      I believe that the machine with the top location of the store significantly affects the accuracy of shooting, since the center of gravity moves towards the store and there will be blockages when shooting. So Fedorov’s assault rifle is more successful. soldier
      1. smprofi
        smprofi 8 December 2012 22: 49
        Quote: Simon
        I believe that the machine with the top location of the store significantly affects the accuracy

        the fundamental difference from the "lower location of the store" do not explain by chance?
        okay there would be a nod to the fact that with the "top" magazine overlaps the line of sight. or, for example, with a lateral horizontal magazine when firing (ammunition consumption), the position of the weapon's center of gravity changes ...
        but what you wrote ... complete nonsense.
        and donned a helmet for a reason. still need a sword belt.
      2. aversun
        aversun 18 February 2013 05: 43
        This is unlikely, but the fact that the head does not need to be raised high when shooting while lying is much more significant, because a bullet can also get into the head. Many machines for this have a top or side location of the store, MG-15, FG-42, Bren, Sten, Owen, etc.
    2. SIT
      SIT 8 December 2012 22: 50
      Quote: Mitzhel
      Madsen light machine gun which is not much heavier than the Fedorov assault rifle.

      Madsen, in fact, is 2 times heavier than the Fedorov assault rifle precisely because it is a light machine gun, and the Fedorov assault rifle is an assault rifle.
    3. cth; fyn
      cth; fyn 9 December 2012 06: 49
      Wow! Well, you dig a master, but the author did not remember about these samples.
  8. Alex
    Alex 8 December 2012 17: 17
    "In the early 30s, he will not like the 'responsible comrades' from the Kremlin and will be removed from service. Reasons? No compelling reasons are called ..."
    In 1925, Fedorov's assault rifles were removed from the troops and transferred to warehouses. The reason is the introduction of a single caliber of 7,62 mm.
    1. Akim
      Akim 9 December 2012 13: 21
      It is very difficult to make an automatic rifle chambered for 7,62x54 because of the rim. Look at the ABC-36. The troops did not like her, and Fedorov’s assault rifles even defended Moscow together with the Lewis.
  9. bart74
    bart74 9 December 2012 02: 50
    Many thanks to Andrey Mikhailovich for the article! Good luck and success! We look forward to other articles!
  10. iwanniegrozny
    iwanniegrozny 9 December 2012 17: 20
    The figure is not a scooter, but a pilot
  11. Antistaks
    Antistaks 12 December 2012 23: 16
    I saw Fedorov’s cartridge in the photo. Very beautiful than modern GRANDEL reminds. But the weight of the bullet and the amount of gunpowder has never been intermediate. And the automation system with the rollback of the barrel is annoying, but this is not her caliber.
  12. aversun
    aversun 18 February 2013 05: 49
    The 6.5 mm cartridge developed by Fedorov was a full-fledged rifle cartridge, but it wasn’t manufactured. For this reason, it was decided to use the Arisak 6.5 cartridge for the machine (it had a groove and a half-closure that did not interfere with the supply from the store). He was weaker than Fedorov’s cartridge, in addition, there were machine gun cartridges of the same caliber, but with a 10% weakened powder charge, so that the shaky Japanese machine gunners would not suffer much from recoil.
  13. bunta
    bunta 4 May 2013 08: 40
    I recommend to the author and everyone who is interested - VG Fedorov "In Search of Weapons".
  14. Basarev
    Basarev 22 October 2013 23: 57
    Really worthy machine. It would be modernized - and again in operation!
  15. Alex
    Alex 30 November 2013 19: 01
    The author forgot that it was not "responsible comrades from the Kremlin" who buried Fyodorov's rifle first, but the tsar-father: "Your rifle does not have enough cartridges. I am against its use in the army."
  16. free
    free 6 October 2017 18: 31
    Thanks for the article, did not know!