Forward Thinking: Lewis “Assault Phase” Rifle

    Colonel Isaac Lewis was an early pioneer in 20th-century machine gun design. His developments butted heads with John Brownings on numerous occasions, to include this peculiar case. Stemming from his work on the light machine gun, Lewis like others in his peer group saw the problems with the stagnated trench warfare of the First World War and thought he could put forth a weapon system that would make war mobile. His answer to this was the Lewis “Assualt Phase” rifle. Chambered in .30-06, with a detachable magazine, angled grip, combat sights, left-hand charging lever, a simple safety system, piston operated, and weighing an entire pound less than the minimum stipulation for the weapon that became the Browning Automatic Rifle, the Lewis rifle was very far ahead of its time, in addition to being an extremely sleek and low-profile weapon. However, the rifle had the fate of being consigned to history due to its late entry upon the BAR adoption scene, of which the War Department already was very much involved in purchasing. However, the Lewis “Assualt Phase” rifle still lives on, as prototypes in numerous reference collections around the world, this one in the National Firearms Centre in Leeds.

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