Oh look, it's July 10, 2017 (but depending on where you live, the date may be different). What does this mean? If it doesn't mean anything to you yet (and it probably won't), it's the second year anniversary of me posting a certain blog post about things that came before a very famous assault rifle: the StG 44. You can view the original blog post here.
The only reason why I am building this second blog on this day is mainly because there were one or two users who decided to "nitpick" (not really) on not having certain weapons added inside to that original blog post. So this blog post will address all that stuff, because I ain't gonna add any more firearms to that older post.
- The Experimental Superlight Machine Gun - the conversion
This "assault rifle" of sorts (it'll be more accurate to call it an automatic rifle since the term hadn't been invented just yet) was touted as the lightest weapon in its class for the time at 5.6 kilograms (12 pounds), a good deal lighter than the Type 96 and Type 99 light machine guns. However, the fear of parts breaking, the potential amount of stress the action would receive and ergonomic issues would be the death knell of this rifle.
- The Woodgate rifle - the second attempt
I do not have a picture of the Woodgate rifle, and I believe none exist, so here's a picture of a Griffiths-Woodgate rifle, the rifle that was developed into the Woodgate rifle. This rifle was developed by Herbert Woodgate, who thought that it would be a great idea (cough) to expand and refine this recently-rejected design on his own, without the assistance of William Griffiths, whom he worked with to develop the Griffiths-Woodgate rifle. Unfortunately, this rifle had pretty apparent accuracy issues and it was no longer developed. Only one or two were made, and it's highly likely that both of them were cannibalized for parts. While technically this isn't a true assault rifle/automatic rifle because it can only fire in semi-auto, it still retains the slam fire mechanism of the Griffiths-Woodgate, so it's going in here.
- The Rexer rifle - the promising
The Rexer was not designed by a guy named Rexer. This 1903 or 1904 creation was created by a company named Rexer (how surprising), and used a recoil-operated action that was locked by rotating the large bolt on the side. Rexer was well known (if anyone actually knows about the company, that is) for making Madsen light machine guns under license. The rifle they created was trialed in various competitions in 1903 and 1904, and surprisingly, performed rather well. Unfortunately, the development for the rifle was cut short mainly because Rexer found themselves in the middle of a lawsuit with Dansk Rekylriffel Syndikat, or DRS, the makers of the Madsen machine gun. According to DRS, while they were allowed to manufacture the Madsen under license, Rexer's experimental rifle apparently also drew design inspirations from the Madsen, to which DRS didn't take too kindly to and state that it was a breach of patents. Unfortunately for Rexer, the court case ended in DRS' favor and Rexer was effectively put out of business.
- The Breda 1935 PG - the unique
The Breda M1935 PG came from a company which was more famous for making the rather interesting Breda 30. This prototype assault rifle/automatic rifle was capable of select fire, something that was probably somewhat unheard of at the time for a weapon of that size, and used an odd rising bolt system. Fed from a 20-round magazine fed with 7×57mm Mauser rounds (although the Italian trials weapons used 6.5×52mm Carcano rounds), the M1935 PG could fire in four-round bursts, something practically also unheard of for the time. About 400 were made for the Costa Rican Army, and there are surviving examples out there, so if you manage to find one on a gun auction site, bid on it immediately.
- The Lewis assault phase rifle - the close one
This rifle was designed around 1917 or so by Isaac Newton Lewis of Lewis gun fame. The rifle was meant to compete with designs such as the Browning Automatic Rifle and the like. After designing his assault phase rifle, he immediately patented it, and contacted Colonel J. P. Jackson to show him the plans for his new automatic rifle. The rifle, despite being of a prototype design, actually did very well, but the US War Department didn't think so; an old friend of Colonel Jackson, General Leonard Wood, wrote privately to Lewis saying that the Army was getting more Browning Automatic Rifles and that they had just received a contract to produce more Brownings, and that there was practically no chance of his rifle getting accepted, although he did admit that Lewis' design was probably superior to Browning's. Lewis took that as a challenge and made his third iteration of the rifle, which was a rather closely kept secret between him and his closest assistants. After finishing his rifle, he asked the military to test it again; the rifle, as usual, performed extremely well, with Lewis asking the committee to consider his "new age, new military automatic rifle". Unfortunately, this was a case of wrong timing; a little bit after he tested his rifle, World War I had ended, peace was breaking out and there was no pressure for new weapons to be manufactured or even the replacement of old weapons. Once all that was said and done, Lewis went into semi-retirement and only tinkered with firearms designs from then on.
So there you go. Some other weapons that didn't make the cut into the original post. Now, with those 12 or 13 weapons in the original post, let's see which one came first.