In Which I Talk Early Selfloaders At Gun Guy Radio!

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F

About a month and a half ago, Ryan Michad of the Firearms Radio Network reached out to ask me to do a segment for the Gun Guy Radio show. He wanted to tackle the subject of the selfloading rifle trials that led to the US adoption of the first standard-issue selfloading rifle in the world, the M1 Garand. I was happy to accept, and a few weeks later we recorded the segment, which was released just this past Sunday. In it, we cover ground from the earliest semi-automatic rifle experiments undertaken by the French in the late 19th Century, to the “rockstar” gun designer John D. Pedersen, up to the adoption of the Garand rifle as the U. S. rifle, caliber .30, M1, in 1933. We even tackle some “what ifs?” including “what if Pedersen’s rifle had been adopted instead of Garand’s?” and “how would a standardized .276 caliber have changed US firearms history?”

I was very pleased with the segment and sincerely hope it helps bring the story (as accurately as I can tell it) of how the “deadliest rifle in the world” to a new audience. Special thanks to Ryan Michad for inviting me on, and the Firearms Radio Network for hosting such a great show!

Nathaniel F
Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at

More by Nathaniel F

Join the conversation
  • Wolfgar Wolfgar on Aug 18, 2015

    That was excellent, this is why I enjoy The firearm blog, The story behind the story.

  • Roguetechie Roguetechie on Aug 18, 2015

    my favorite what if involves what if Melvin Johnson finished his prototype earlier. Say early enough to make waves pre official adoption of the garand?
    depending on who you listen to, that could have made things quite a bit different. However, had it happened that way we'd be looking at a very different Johnson rifle and lmg, because the techniques used to make the design production ready wouldn't have been nearly as good as the ones used when he did pay to have it done.
    honestly we got so lucky in the runup to ww2. Technically we had three designs, all of which were workable and viable as combat rifles by the mid 30's. We picked one, I don't think it was the best long term choice but we made it work.

    • See 3 previous
    • Roguetechie Roguetechie on Aug 19, 2015

      @ostiariusalpha that was actually my point. If someone is honest, the Johnson system couldn't have turned out the way it did if you try to push it back even 8 years...
      honestly I'm of the belief that it was a loss not having the USMC at least adopt it. Theoretically the Marines early in the pacific campaign could have had a semiautomatic rifle and BAR replacement using a fairly streamlined parts stream, and letting them use up the stocks on 1903 strippers more ably. Plus the USMC of that era would've probably been able to shake out the issues that never got fixed with the design because of it being an orphan.