Dan Fritter took this photo of the Canadian Historical Arms Museum’s EM-2 rifle.

The EM-2, also known as Rifle No.9 Mk1 or Janson rifle, was an experimental Britishassault rifle. It was briefly adopted by British forces in 1951, but the decision was overturned very shortly thereafter by Winston Churchill‘s incoming government in an effort to secure NATO standardisation of small arms and ammunition. An innovative weapon with the compact bullpup layout and an optical sight, it used one of the early intermediate cartridges (a concept introduced by the Germans with the 7.92×33mm Kurz) as a result of combat experience and German advances in weapons design during World War II.

It used the experimental, intermediate powered, but highly efficient .280 British round, which was designed to replace the venerable .303 round and Lee–Enfield rifle variants which had served since before the turn of the 20th century. The United States claimed the .280 British round was too weak for use in rifles and machine guns, and instead favored the much more powerful 7.62×51mm NATO round. As the EM-2 could not be easily adapted to the longer and more powerful round, it faded from use. However, the bullpup layout for a British service rifle was finally adopted some years later in form of the SA80 assault rifle, the EM-2’s spiritual successor, which remains in service today.


  • Matt O

    I wonder what could have been if the US command hadn’t been so stubborn about “full power .30 cal cartridge”

    • Joe

      We might have had the 6.5 Unicorn 75 years sooner, which would eventually have been discarded in favor of a smaller cartridge for automatic rifles, and a larger cartridge for GPMG/DMR.

      • Matt O

        We won’t know until something like that gets tried on a large enough scale.

        • No one

          There’s a reason no one has tried it on a large scale, and that’s because It’s an inherently bad idea.

    • No one

      We still wouldn’t have the Military reformist demagogue’s pet GPC and we wouldn’t have the EM-2 because it was actually a massively flawed design?

    • Kaban

      For all its qualities, that .280 round was still tad too powerful for automatic rifle, I think. Too much of recoil impulse.

      The numbers say weaker loadings were only slightly less powerful than 7.62×39 (M43). Hotter, much more ballistically potent Mk1Z threw 140gr bullet at ~2500 fps. And M43 is poor benchmark of controllability in burst-fire. 5.56 NATO and Soviet 5.45, with their light bullets, are there for reason.

      Obviously .308 is even worse in this regard.

      • SP mclaughlin

        I thought Ian’s shooting vid showed that the recoil impulse wasn’t so bad.

        • DW

          But it’s still no pussycat as with AK74 and AR15.

        • He was shooting Type C pink tip, which isn’t much more powerful than 7.62x39mm. Also, not much more ballistically efficient than 7.62x39mm, either.

          The ammunition everyone goes on about, and which would have been adopted was the much hotter and more powerful Mk. 1Z, which is about as powerful as .300 Savage. According to historical accounts, the later hot loads “ruined” the good characteristics of the EM-2.

          More info here.

        • Kaban

          Well, it was 3.5 kg rifle firing a cartridge roughly equivalent to M43. It ought to behave not worse, and quite possibly better than 7.62 AK-pattern (thanks to recoil directed straight into shoulder). That is, tame enough at semi-auto. No broken bones.

          However, I have failed to find any documents on EM-2’s accuracy in burst fire, sans infamous 1950 Aberdeen protocol (and they fired it prone and slinged, IIRC). I’d expect offhand accuracy to beat that of 7.62 AK (not like it would be hard), but still border on disaster. Ian’s video, while illustrative, cannot tell the story, and, obviously, he could not properly test the rifle.

    • Major Tom

      The .280 British wouldn’t have survived first contact with anything. It’s like a ballistically inferior, more expensive version of 7.62 Soviet, only without an AK-reliable AK working with it.

      As soon as 5.56mm or something else appeared, it would’ve been dumped like a cheap date. (Despite 5.56mm’s problems with manstopping, it is a reasonably accurate and controllable cartridge otherwise.)

      • Shape

        .280 FMJ would yaw significantly later than 5.56×45 FMJ – making its performance less reliable and might not have fragmented so the man stop bs makes no sense. And now 5.56×45 M855A1 EPR don’t have any of those problems anyways. .280 is not even nearly the solution, also verry clearly shown in nathaniels romulan vs Vulcan article. A 5.56 with a more aerodynamic shape would had been much more successful over the last decades, a lot better at keeping its energy at range, verry flat trajectory and low wind drift. Or for those who want a bit larger an aerodynamic .23622 / 6mm bullet. Its not the diameter that does the magic its the shape that brings the efficiency.

      • CommonSense23

        What issues does 5.56 have with manstopping?

        • Shape

          M855 with the small change of fleet yaw might have. Not M855A1 EPR tough…

          • Shape

            meant chance not change

  • FredXDerf

    If it’s in a museum is it really “in the wild”….?

    • BattleshipGrey

      Hopefully there’s more to it than just taking it to the nice mossy back yard of the museum and snapping a pic. Hopefully they let him shoot it for a review or some comparison to modern rifles to add more substance to the placard hanging next to the rifle when it’s on display.

  • Looks like being in the wild has not been kind to it, something seems to have eaten its sights.

    • Graham2

      Those guns were so accurate they shot themselves- no need for sights!

  • Kaban

    Caliber: extinct.
    Furniture: handcrafted, wooden.
    Fondlability: infinite.

  • Note: This is one of 10 rifles produced by Canadian Arsenals, Ltd. These rifles were chambered for the 7x51mm High Velocity (extremely similar to today’s 7mm-08 round) round, not .280/30 British or .30 T65 (7.62mm NATO predecessor). This is actually the first of those rifles produced, Serial No. 1.

  • NukeItFromOrbit

    Personally I think the .270 British had a bit more potential.

  • idahoguy101

    Another lost opportunity for an intermediate cartridge. Along with the 276 Pederson and more recently the 6.8 SPC cartridge. Too bad the U.S. Army didn’t adopt the 7x57mm Mauser back in 1900.