An Impossibly Rare Look at the Winchester .50 cal Antitank Rifle

It’s not every day that you see a gun that knocks your socks off in terms of history, engineering, rarity, and insanity – but today is that day. At the Institute of Military Technology these are the qualities we look for in firearms – we revel in them – and we’re as excited as anybody for Forgotten Weapons’ recent visited to the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming. As hosts of much of the original Winchester factory collection, there’s a goldmine of information there regarding strange prototype firearms.

Enter the Winchester WWI .50 Cal Antitank rifle, or the “Model of 1918 .50 caliber high power bolt action swivel gun” for short. This gun has it all:

  • A 45-degree magazine that sort-of looks like a M1929 Hotchkiss,
  • An M1911-style pistol grip,
  • A buttstock that looks part Winchester lever-action crescent butt and part M1919A6,
    • Attached with a method that resembles a Brazilian URU submachine gun,
  • An M1917 Enfield (Winchester) rear sight,
  • A pintle for a tripod “soft-mount” with a recoil spring that looks like an early Unertl long-tube scope,
  • And a grip-activated bolt similar (but opposite) to a Czech/German SS41 sniper rifle!

And all this goes without saying – the rifle featured significantly predates all of the above.

Here’s a link to Forgotten Weapons’ full post.

 

For reference, here’s a picture IMT’s Czech/German SS41 sniper rifle:

SS41 Sniper Rifle, Action Closed – Institute of Military Technology collection

SS41 Sniper Rifle, Action Open – Institute of Military Technology collection

Feel free to check out Ian’s SS41 video from his trip to IMT for more on this firearm specifically.

 

Many thanks to our friends at Forgotten Weapons and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Cody Firearms Museum for bringing this rare gem to light.



Corey R. Wardrop

Corey R. Wardrop is the Museum Curator for the Institute of Military Technology in Titusville, Florida where he manages one of the finest, if not the finest, firearms collections in the country. Corey is a former OIF infantry Marine and has worked professionally in the firearms industry for over 20 years. In 2014 he obtained an unrelated Bachelor of Science degree from one of the nation’s leading diploma mills. Through his work at IMT he is currently studying CAD design with an emphasis in reverse engineering rare firearms.
Corey asks forgiveness for his novice-level photographs and insists they are improving dramatically thanks to certified rockstar http://nathan-wyatt.com/. Corey can be reached at coreyrwardrop@gmail.com and always appreciates suggestions for future articles.
For the record, Corey felt incredibly strange writing this bio in the third person.


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  • TVOrZ6dw

    Pretty sure Buck Rodgers and Space Ranger Cody each have one of these stashed in their space ships.

    • B-Sabre

      Firing radium bullets.

  • Major Tom

    If it was made in 1918 it does not predate the M1911 pistol for the pistol grip. Other than that, the list is correct.

    • ozzallos .

      Are you *sure* the 1911 predates 1918? I mean, how do you know?

      • Major Tom

        Anti-tank rifles didn’t exist before 1918 (the first being the 13.2mm Mauser T-Gewehr). The 1911 was named such because it was adopted and first manufactured in 1911. The 1911 pistol predates tanks outright.

        Also .50 BMG was developed as a response to the 13.2mm TuF cartridge.

        • pun&gun

          I think you might have missed his sarcasm, there.

    • Corey R. Wardrop

      Ya got me.

  • Dave

    That SS41 ain’t a sniper rifle, its a dedicated anti-tank/material rifle.

    • Corey R. Wardrop

      I’ll try to find a citation that backs this up, but I’ve been told that since it wasn’t terribly effective as an anti-tank rifle (see PZB-39/GRB-39) it was then used as a sniper rifle by the SS. You’re right, of course – I’m just explaining why I used the term.

  • ozzallos .

    “A look at the impossibly rare Winchester .50 cal Antitank Rifle…”
    Order of words/emphasis. How is it “an impossibly rare look” when the rifle itself is the impossibly rare piece of hardware? You’re never going to get to look upon it again? Is this the last time it’ll ever be seen? Yes, grammar Nazism at its best.

  • Jeremy

    Can this 1) be suppressed to the point it makes pew-pew-pew sounds or 2) punch through the new Russian super-space age power-armor?

    • ozzallos .

      You mean the super space age power armor that taught more than I wanted to know about chip manufacturing, architecture and russian fabrication abilities just in the TFB comments alone?

  • Wiggles4u

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    • Phil Elliott

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      • 22winmag

        It doesn’t work well (or at all) with a lot of mobile browsers.

  • Michael_Walters

    Went out West last month and we stopped in for the day to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Cody Firearms Museum. Definitely worth the money and time.