On a winter’s day in March 1902, an angry John Moses Browning stormed out of the offices of Winchester president T.G. Bennett. Bennett’s refusal to come to certain financial arrangements with Browning assured that Winchester would always be a secondary player in the soon to be lucrative, semi-auto sporting shotgun and rifle business.
In 1904, Browning approached Remington with his new designs for a semi-auto shotgun and rifle. The following year a deal was reached whereby Remington would produce his shotgun – known as the Model 11 – which dominated the U.S. market well into the late 1940s. The semi-auto rifle, while not as well known, would – as did the Model 11 shotgun – revolutionize American hunting.
Released on the market in 1906 as the Remington Autoloading Rifle, it had many things, mechanical and cosmetic, in common with the Model 11 shotgun: both operated on the long recoil principal and used distinctive, hump backed receivers. But the rifle differed in that the barrel was encased in a full length metal jacket which contained the recoil and buffer springs inside of an inner tube (known as the “recoil spring case”).
When the rifle was fired, the barrel and bolt, locked together, recoiled the length of the receiver, cocking the hammer and compressing the recoil spring as they go. When the spring is fully compressed in the case, a nut on the barrel strikes the front of the case driving it against a buffer spring, halting rearward movement. A system of levers and cams inside of the receiver hold the bolt to the rear as the recoil spring pulls the barrel forward, camming the bolt lugs out of mortises in the barrel extension. An extractor attached to the bolt carrier holds the spent cartridge case until the barrel is forward, whereupon the ejector throws it out of the receiver. Upon reaching its forward position, the rear of the barrels trips the bolt release and the “action spring” in a tube in the buttstock pushes the bolt forward, stripping the next round out of the magazine and chambering it. As the bolt goes into battery it is cammed into the locked position. While complicated, this system – as did ALL of Browning’s designs – proved reliable and rugged in the extreme.