The Winchester .50 cal. Semiautomatic Rifle
By James L. Ballou

During the latter days of World War II, Winchester produced a semiautomatic rifle in .50 cal. BMG based on David Marsh Williams' short stroke tappet piston design. In a testament to John C. Garand's strong design, they used his M1 action, beefed up for the potent round.

No one knows what prompted them to develop a .50 caliber semiautomatic rifle except possibly to prove the upper limits of this system as by this time no one except the British were using this caliber for single shot use.

The rifle weighed over 25 pounds, was 62 inches long with a barrel of 36.5 inches: a massive rifle. The worst of it was the short metal buttstock with a tang that hung over the top of the shoulder. It must have been horrendous to fire.

Only one was ever produced and it shows signs of extensive use. It had been sent to the Frankfort Arsenal where it was used for the testing of the .50 BMG caliber rounds produced there.

(The author would like to thank Donald G. Thomas for supplying the original information and the Winchester .50 comes from the publication ARMAX, The Journal of The Cody Firearms Museum, in an article published by the late Konrad F. Schreirer, Jr. titled Winchester Center Fire Automatic Rifles, of Volume III, Number 1, 1990.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V14N2 (November 2010)
and was posted online on February 24, 2012


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