Toggles ‘Till We Die: The Heinemann Side-Toggle Sporting Rifle

    Got enough of toggles yet? Of course you haven’t! Forgotten Weapons’ exhaustive coverage of the most interesting and significant auction pieces continues with a very interesting design from a German gun designer who should get more recognition, that being one Karl Heinemann, working for (at the time) Walther:

    Heinemann’s rifle works in a remarkably similar way to the Japanese Nippon Special Steel rifle, except instead of a gas port it uses a gas trap, and the toggle opens at an angle instead of at the top (the former being much better for a scoped sporting rifle). However, the thin, forward-moving piston, and gas-unlocked blowback action are remarkably similar.

    Heinemann was an accomplished designer, and also was responsible for an early German predecessor to the modern intermediate caliber, the 8×42.5mm Rheinmetall-Borsig, and a carbine that fired it.

    If you want to see more of Heinemann’s work, you can check out the ForgottenWeapons page on the Rheinmetall-Heinemann rifle, a WeaponsMan article that deals with Heinemann’s work (if you want more on toggles, you can read the post that precedes that one, as well), and the Milpas.cc page on the Heinemann (which excerpts Hatcher’s Notebook on the subject).

    One of the original Rheinmetall-Heinemann rifles trialed by the US Army is on display at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA, alongside a T3 .276 Garand. That museum is well worth the trip; you can take a look at part of the collection in two of TFB’s field trip posts here and here.

    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 [email protected]


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