Who Invented the Automatic Rifle
The automatic rifle was designed by Mexican military officer Manuel Mondragon. Mondragon started his work on the rifle in the year 1882 and patented it in 1887.The rifle was a gas-operated device and featured a piston and cylinder arrangement which was very unusual at that time. The rifle was initially named ‘The Mondragon’ after its inventor and later became popular as M-1908.
Manuel Mondragon found it difficult to interest a manufacturer for his design in the western hemisphere. He then turned to the aid of Swiss firm, SIG to manufacture the rifle. The rifle was originally meant for the Mexican army; however the deliveries of the rifles had just started when the Mexican dictator was overthrown and the new government cancelled the order. When the First World War broke out the German Air Force purchased the entire balance inventory of 7000 rifles from SIG. These rifles were withdrawn from the Air Force in 1916 and sent to the German Navy where they were used till the end of the war.
The rifle was recognised for its stopping power, however there were a few shortcomings like its poor accuracy on a full-fledged automatic setting. The Mondragon was also very sensitive to dirt and fouling and therefore lasted a short while. However, it was a significant weapon and was well ahead of its time. It had many features which were later found in more successful weapons.