Semi-Auto

4

The FN Model 1949 semi auto rifle,

Developed during that period of time when most militaries were phasing out bolt action rifles and adopting semi auto rifles, the FN Model 1949 was one of the best semi automatic designs of the era.  Invented by Fabrique Nationale’s chief firearm designer Diudonne Saive, the FN-49 was a gas operated semi automatic design which used a ten round fixed magazine (Argentinian models had a 20 round detachable magazine).  So in many ways it was your average semi automatic battle rifle that was common during the era.  However, the FN-49 was specially noted for its excellent quality, reliability, and accuracy.  Originally they were produced in 8x57 Mauser, which was a common WWII and postwar European caliber.  However, as FN exported the rifle to other countries, they were produced in other calibers such as 7.62 NATO, .30-06, 7x57 Mauser, and 7mm Argentine.  

While the FN-49 was among the best of the semi auto battle rifles, it was produced at the end of an age.  It would only be a handful of years before select fire designs would be adopted making semi auto designs obsolete.  Most importantly, after WWII NATO countries had a glut of leftover military surplus.  Most NATO aligned nations would rather receive discount or free arms from NATO than purchase a new design altogether.  Thus, the FN-49 was marketed to non-aligned nations not under the NATO or Warsaw Pact.  They were especially popular in Latin America, where they were adopted by Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela.  Belgium itself adopted the FN-49, using them to great extent during the Korean War.  In addition Belgium’s neighbor Luxembourg adopted it as well.  Finally the FN-49 was purchased by Egypt, Indonesia, and Turkey.  As well as Korea, the FN-49 was also used during the Congo Crises as Congo had acquired several after independence from Belgium.  Limited numbers were used by the Argentinians during the Falklands War.

Production of the FN-49 lasted from 1948 to 1956, then resumed for one year in 1960.  Around 176,000 were produced.

2

The Roth Steyr Model 1907,

An invention of the Czech firearms designer Karl Krnka, the Roth Steyr Model 1907 is famous for being the 2nd semi automatic pistol to be officially issued to any military, and the 1st semi automatic pistol to be issued en masse to the common soldier.  Unlike many pistols, which make use of a recoiling slide, the Model 1907 utilized a retractable bolt.  When the pistol was fired, recoil energy would be transferred from the barrel to the bolt, causing it to retract backward.  The extractor on the bolt would eject an empty casing, then a spring would drive the bolt forward, which would cock the firing pin while stripping a new cartridge from the magazine.  Thus, the Model 1907 was also one of the first striker fired semi automatic pistols developed.  To prevent accidental discharge while a round was chambered the Model 1907 featured a very heavy trigger pull, which tended to effect its accuracy.  Regardless the Model 1907 was not drop safe.  The Model 1907 also lacked a detachable magazine, a common feature of future semi automatic pistols.  To load the pistol the user inserted a ten round stripper clip into the magazine, through the open breech.  It was chambered for a unique cartridge called the 8mm Roth Steyer (8x18mm).

The Model 1907 became standard issue to all cavalry units of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early 20th century up to the end of World War I.  Between 1908 and 1914, 99,000 were produced for the Austro-Hungarian Army.  Several hundred were also sold on the civilian market.  After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the supply of Roth Steyer pistols was divided up among the successor nations of the empire.  Others were exported to Italy and Poland after the war.  As a result, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy, and Poland fielded the M1907 throughout the interwar period and during World War II.