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 Corey can be reached at [email protected] and always appreciates suggestions for future articles.
    For the record, Corey felt incredibly strange writing this bio in the third person.