The Fedorov Avtomat battle rifle

The Fedorov Avtomat is possibly the first (see comments) an early firearm used in action that would classify as a true self-loading battle rifle.

Photo by Semen Fedoseev

It weights in at about 4.4kg compared to the 7.7-8.8kg of the BAR: much closer in weight to that of a battle rifle (rather than a light machine gun).

3200 were produced and it saw action during the Russian civil war and WWII.

More about it at Wikipedia and

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • R.A.W.

    I think that the Mondragon and Cei-Rigotti both predate it significantly, and both meet the weight requirements, but neither really worked that well.

  • Caposkaw

    nice! very nice!
    it’s the first shot of this rifle that i have seen…
    an russian weapon with japanese ammunitions…

  • @ R.A.W.:

    Thanks for that info, I have updated the entry.

  • The Federov was capable of full auto fire and fired an intermediate cartridge.

    I’d always heard it referred to as the first assault rifle.

    Its listed as such on both Max Popnekers site (linked above) and Anthony Williams page.

    Cool gun though…way ahead of its time.

  • R.A.W.

    Indeed! Not only can it be considered one of the first of the breed of semi-auto battle rifles, but it can reasonably be claimed as the first assault rifle! In that sense it was exactly twenty six years ahead of its time, since it would not be until 1942 that the MKb42(h) (immediate forerunner of the MP-43) would replicate that performance, and might I add with the much less powerful 7.92x33mm and while being heavier.

    I suppose hecklers might charge that the 6.5×50 Arisaka is perhaps too powerful to be considered a “true” intermediate cartridge, but many people have reported that short-recoil actions have a substantial recoil mitigating effect, so in all likelyhood the Federov was sufficiently controllable in full auto. Not only that, it would have been in the 6.5 caliber, which is widely considered to be optimal for assault rifles.

    One wonders what might have been if the Federov had been allowed to mature more completely. Indeed, one wonders in general what the state of Russia might have been without the destructive revolution.

  • James R

    This is the first assault rifle to see combat as the original claimant stated. The earlier Italian models which predate this by maybe 20 years were tested by militaries and possibly used by individuals in firefights but never issued to troops. The Fedorov, albeit in small numbers was issued in I believe 4 different wars to Russian troops. I find it amazing that the commanders used to be so critical of weapons like this though. Sure, WW1 Russia didn’t have the industrial capacity to churn out good rifles, let alone these but they gained the capacity after their civil war and yet insisted on over powered bolt action mosin nagants.

  • What I find interesting is that despite having a 25 round detachable magazine-fed automatic rifle the SKS only had a 10 round internal magazine. Sure, the SKS was not automatic but I would have thought the benefits of high capacity detachable magazines would still have been evident.

  • Garry

    The 6.5mm Arisaka round is a very under powered round and very much an intermediate cartridge.
    The Figures I have for its performance is a 120 grain bullet at 650m/s from the muzzle of an Avtomat. That compares to a 122 grain bullet from an AK-47 at about 710m/s.

    [quote]Sure, the SKS was not automatic but I would have thought the benefits of high capacity detachable magazines would still have been evident.[/quote]

    A large capacity magazine only makes sense if you have quite a few already loaded. The SKS was normally reloaded with ammo clips of 5 rounds each, much like the 10 shot mags of the Lee Enfield rifles the British used.
    The size of the mags merely determined how many clips it took to load the rifle.

  • mjr lorenco _(republic of kosovo)


  • markus

    need i remind the man that america, didn’t have much of a air force and it’s industerial capicity sucked then(WW1)too come off your american high horse and admit russia avto- matic tech for it’s time was good …aspecially during a civil was ……..american’s was credit poor@ it’s cival, the europeon community{some rich jew’s from germany} wanted to charge 21% interest..for your cival war :lincoln was having a heart attack!!!………..oh you been schooled by a slavic american…..oh i for-got that {wasp’s} still run this cuntry ;and the black guy is cleaning up the shrub’s……………………………………..{bush}mess (to beloved comrad james r)

  • As for the Fedorov, battle rifle/ assault rifle, the name tage doesn’t matter or for that matter the cartridge. Mid powered cartridges are used for full auto so as the shooter can stay on target out to around 300 meters, nothing else. This the 6.5 x 50 did as did the later Kurtz rounds up to today’s assault rifle rounds. Incidently the Arisaka 6.5 fired a 139 gr bullet @ 2500 fps &1929 ft/lbs. Compare that to today’s 6.5 Grendel :120 gr bullet @ 2600 fps & 1800 ft/lbs. Remarkable! Differance in case size due to mordern powders likely.

  • As a former draftsman this rifle intrests me greatly. Does anyone out there know where, or how, a set of scale drawings might be found for it? I would really like to see exactly how this weapon worked.

  • Andres

    While I do not claim to be an expert on firearms, I am compelled to remark that the Fedorov Avtomat is definitely not an assault rifle. While it clearly meets 3/4 of the requirements to be categorized as an assault rifle, its cartridge disqualifies it outright. While it is a good point that the 6.5x50mm Arisaka rifle cartridge was weak and underpowered (it absolutely was), facilitating assault-rifle like automatic fire, the definition of an intermediate cartridge excludes pistol cartridges and those from standard rifles or battle rifles. Obviously the 6.5x50mm Arisaka round was from a standard service rifle. This prevents the Fedorov from being an assault rifle. However, as originally designed by Vladimir Grigoryevich Fedorov in 1915, the prototypes were chambered in a new, truly intermediate cartridge; the 6.5mm Fedorov round. Production Fedorovs beyond the prototypes and those not converted to 6.5mm Arisaka are not assault rifles but the prototypes as intended by Fedorov’s design most certainly were.
    TL;DR: The first prototype Fedorov Avtomats were the first assault rifles, but they were converted and produced in 6.5x50mm Arisaka and instead turned into battle rifles.
    P.S. The Mondragon was a battle rifle and the Ribeyrolle 1918 is an assault rifle.