Top 5 Underappreciated Semi Auto Rifles

Within this modern firearms renaissance we are blissfully living through, a few older designs were bound to be overlooked. In this list, we look at five rifles that were extremely popular and/or historically significant in their heyday, but have been overlooked almost entirely by a generation of shooter despite often being priced quite low (as low as $500-600 in some cases)!

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Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Seconding that FN-49. Fantastic rifles, probably tied with the MAS-49 (also a great choice) for best ‘transitional rifle’ from the post-war years before the switch to the ‘big three’ battle rifles. Though, the MAS stuck around and served the French well in places that aren’t kind to rifles.

    Thanks for the video.

    • Tom

      I have always thought it a little weird that the French never updated the MAS-49 more, a pistol grip and bigger magazine could of easily been done and would of made the MAS-49 quite competitive well into the 70s.

      • Tahoe

        I always thought a nice update would be putting the mag catch on the rifle, instead of the magazine…

        But a very nice rifle anyway, and high on my list.

        • Riot

          Nah it’d be upside down then when trying to remove a mag.
          Also I’d hate needing to and replace one on the rifle.

  • Riot

    Between me and Nathaniel F the MAS 49/56 is not under appreciated here on tfb.
    I also love the M1941 rifle and kinda like the fn49 – am I a firearms hipster?

    • StickShift

      You just have a healthy love for battle rifles, which is a good thing in my book.

      I want a FN49 badly, but a MAS49/56 would be cool as well.

      • Riot

        I’d much rather have the MAS – but that’s because I love the look of it.

  • gunsandrockets

    Hah! I was right about that SAFN when I guessed it was a 7mm Venezuelan version.

    Very cool. And I very much regret selling the one I had when I was poor and starving. In my defense, I was poor and starving.

  • hikerguy

    I will have to admit…..That Mas is a handsome rifle and the Johnson just uber cool!

  • My 8mm FN-49 was fantastic, until I broke the rivets on the upper handguard. 🙁

    • Friend of mine had his Belgian .30-06 FN sort of blow up on him a while ago with decent ammo (Prvi.) A piece of the end of the piston spring snapped off while the weapon was cycling, which caused it to vibrate inside the handguard, shattering it.

      Always wear eye-protection!

  • Mr. FN

    I’d like to ask (the SAFN obviously the most, I’m a FAL junkie), what did you pay, or one could expect to pay for each of these? I’ve seen MAS 49/56s go for around 400 – 500, but don’t really know about the others. All of them are very interesting, love me some wood stock semis

    • Egyptian 8mm ones can be had for reasonable prices, 4-500 dollars, but lots of them have been messed with by Century so it’s buyer beware. All the other models (Venezuelan, Argentine, Luxembourg, Belgian) will be closer to $1000 if not over it. The .30-06 Belgian and Luxembourgian ones are very desirable in the United States in Canada because the quality is impeccable and they’re in a reasonably obtainable caliber, and they weren’t really used very hard at all. The 8mm Egyptian ones are hit and miss because Century messed with them, like I mentioned earlier, and the Venezuelan ones and Argentine ones (in 7mm Mauser and 7.65x53mm Argentine) are less desirable to many people because they’re expensive to shoot, though the quality is excellent.

      I’ve never fired an FN-49 that didn’t at least dent brass upon ejection even on the lowest gas settings, so people who are big into reloading tend to have less patience for ones in expensive calibers because your brass won’t last long.

      At any rate, they’re worth it if you’re considering one.

      • Mr. FN

        Thanks!

    • gunsandrockets

      The 7mm version is one of the most desirable ones. I picked up one in good condition for $300, but that was back around 1990! Just a few years later a 7mm in excellent condition was going for $700. I can’t even imagine what the price is now. So I’ll google it…

      Oh yeah. $1,500 in perfect condition. Ouch!

      • Mr. FN

        Thanks! Sounds like you really lucked out. Depending on how my funds are by my birthday, it’s one of these or a nice K31.

        • gunsandrockets

          Ah, hear my tale of woe. For that sweet sweet 7mm was only mine for a short short time. Sob!

  • DW

    When people trashtalk on DI just show them the MAS49. Accurate and reliable, also vietcong approved.

  • UCSPanther

    I really love my Hakim. It, along with my VZ 52/57 is one of the main crown jewels of my small milsurp rifle collection.

    It is a bit on the heavy side, but it is fairly accurate, and is nice and loud thanks to the big muzzle break…

  • DetroitMan

    Remington Model 8’s are cool, but most of their cartridges are out of production or in very limited production. I always see a few at gun shows, and nobody is looking at them. If ammunition were more available I think more people would be interested. They are roughly on par with the .30-30, which remains a very popular hunting cartridge.

    The M1941 Johnson is an interesting historical footnote, but it was behind the curve in its time. Long or short recoil mechanisms are undesirable for military rifles. Lots of contemporary selfloaders were better packages overall. The best thing about the Johnson was its bolt, but only after it appeared in Armalite rifles. Johnsons are also very expensive these days.

    The MAS-49 and AG-42 are hindered by Americans’ unfamiliarity with their cartridges, I think. 6.5x55mm was chambered in some excellent sporting rifles, so it is the more popular of the two. 7.5mm French never really caught on with anything here. I think both also suffer from the fact that they were not used by us, our allies, or our enemies in any major conflict.

    The FN-49 suffers mostly from the fact that it was eclipsed by the FAL, and that it was never used in a major conflict. They also tend to be pricey these days, compared to other surplus rifles.

    Of all of them, I would most like to own an AG-42 and an FN-49. I wouldn’t mind owning an M1941 Johnson, but I’m not willing to pay the price for one.

  • The_Champ

    Great list of old battle rifles. I think full power semi auto military rifles of that era have become my favorite to collect and shoot.
    I’ve got an FN-49 in 8mm. It is a Century rifle, but after replacing a couple springs and the firing pin, it hums along great. Also very accurate, as much so as my M1 Garand, if not more so.
    Also have an AG-42, and I agree they are very underrated. 6.5 Swedish is a pleasure to shoot, and rifle itself is built to a very high quality. And who can’t be fascinated with the manual of arms and the unique way you operate the bolt?
    That Johnson would also be neat to own, but they are basically unobtainable in Canada. Saw one for sale once, and it was well out of my price range at the time.
    I may have to keep my eyes open for a Model 8 at the local gun shows.

  • Denis

    I still hunt with the Mod. 8 in 30 Rem. My dad had one in 300 savage , my uncle hunts with his in 35 Rem. All are still in use. Most sport shops around here carry the 35&300 savage ammo. I was given mine as a Christmas gift in 1952 .I have saved all or most of the brass and had a friend reload 800 rounds. The reloads are more accurate then factory loads. One grandson will be given the Mod. 8 in 30 Rem. the other the mod. 141 Game Master in 30 rem. They are comparable to my 300 Black Out when I run it suppressed. The 300 Savage would be my choice. I may be wrong but I think that they were made in both 32 & 25 Rem. Get a hold of one and go shoot some big bucks.

  • jcitizen

    I consider it the 1st “assault” rifle, as high cap removable magazines were available tor the later series. At least the number of bullets was considered pretty high capacity back then. I knew a farmer friend who had one that was built with a permanent banana clip built into the frame, and he killed many a coyote with it on the desert plains. I believe it was chambered in .35 Remington.

  • jcitizen

    Excellent article! I was just learning to appreciate many of the rifles featured in the article. I guess I’m late to the game!

  • Eric Blatter

    An excellent video mentioning some very nice firearms. I do regret selling my Remington Model 8, MAS 49/56 (with all available accessories), and Hakim. All swell rifles. I wish I could afford a Johnson, it is a really nice rifle.

  • Secundius

    The Japanese Type 4 in 7.7x58mmR/Arisaka, would have given the M1 Garand a “Run-For-the Money”. If it were manufactured in Large Numbers, instead of just ~250…