Sniper Johnson Rifle?


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Swing
October 26, 2012, 12:01 AM
Hey Pallies. I was watching a documentary on the Bay of Pigs invasion. One thing caught my eye during some of the training footage was a scoped Johnson rifle.

http://www.alwaysprepared.info/misc/ScopedJohnson.jpg

Was there a sniper variant of this rifle or is this just an oddball? Thanx for any info. :)

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rcmodel
October 26, 2012, 01:34 PM
If there was, it didn't have a scope like that on it I betcha.
There were hardly any scopes made at that time that looked like that.

The only one even close would have been the Redfield 3-9x40 variable used 10 years later in Vietnam by Army and Marine snipers.
I'm not so sure it was even available yet in 1959.
And even it didn't have that long an objective lens bell on it.

I think I'd call Shenanigans on that documentary film.

Course, I could be wrong too.
Pretty sure the CIA had some things I or anyone else ever saw back then.

rc

desidog
October 26, 2012, 04:48 PM
http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/M1941_Johnson_rifle

Seems like it appears with a scope in some movies; and in Capt. America the M1941 was also a bolt action.....yup, riiiight.

Now that Chinese movie looks interesting...

Edarnold
October 26, 2012, 07:00 PM
http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/M1941_Johnson_rifle

Seems like it appears with a scope in some movies; and in Capt. America the M1941 was also a bolt action.....yup, riiiight.

Now that Chinese movie looks interesting...
If memory served, Winfield Arms of California was selling sporterized Johnsons in the 1950's. They had new barrels in .30-06 or .270 Winchester, and sporter buttstocks with Monte Carlo cheek pieces. They may have supplied scope mounts as well, don't rembrandt about that. Since according to news photos Castro's guerilla's were using Johnson's during their rebellion, this could have been a natural for "deniability" by the CIA organizers of the Bay of Pigs operation. As far as the scope seen in silhouette in the photo, German sporting scopes had large objectives back in the 50's.
IMHO

barnetmill
October 26, 2012, 09:30 PM
I would question the accuracy of Johnson rifle seeing that that are short recoil operated arms for a sniper rifle.
But to be fair I have never seen seen any grouping data for the Johnson rifle. Does anyone have any information on Johnson rifle accuracy?

4v50 Gary
October 27, 2012, 01:30 AM
One thing to remember is that the clip is a training film. You can't really use that rifle for hand to hand combat. Damage that magazine and you may be stuck with a single shot rifle.

Edarnold
October 27, 2012, 01:37 AM
I would question the accuracy of Johnson rifle seeing that that are short recoil operated arms for a sniper rifle.
But to be fair I have never seen seen any grouping data for the Johnson rifle. Does anyone have any information on Johnson rifle accuracy?
Again if I remember correctly, Winfield chrome-plated the barrel bushings to tighten up the fit. Maybe if someone has an old review of these guns in the Rifleman or other magazine of the era they might have some accuracy data. The sniper arms of that period weren't delivering today's 0.5 MOA, I suspect if you could hit a man at 300 yds. You had the hot setup.
IMHO

Edarnold
October 27, 2012, 04:58 PM
Didn't find any reviews of the Johnson M1941, but there are pages of the Winfield ads at:

www.johnsonautomatics.com/winfield.htm

The main site has a good history of the rifle, including the comment that the rifle showed excellent accuracy at long range. Also, the recoil is claimed to be about 1/3 less than the Garand.

col.lemat
October 27, 2012, 06:14 PM
I have a military and have shot several matches with it over the years. It shoots about the same as an isssue M1 for accuracy. My scores were nearly identical. There is a noticeable torque in the rapid fire string due to the bolt and rotery magazine. Muzzle blast seems to be a little more than the M1, I noticed it and shooters on left and right complain. I was requested to move to the end of the fireing line in one event. By the end of the day (50 rds.) my trigger finger was sore from the original checkered trigger with a 41/2 lb. pull.
I have owned two other M41 rifles in the past and they shot the same as this one.
As a side note they hate reloads and are very hard on the brass due to the ejector smacking the base of the brass. Slams it real hard throwing it about 12 feet to the right

Jim K
October 27, 2012, 10:48 PM
The use of Johnson rifles is possible, but AFAIK, the 2506 Brigade was issued M1917 rifles for training, then issued M1 rifles just before the operation, allowing little time for training with the M1. There may have been some connection between CIA operations and the sudden availability of M1 rifles from England, after State had held up the import for several years, but the time lines don't quite work. In any case, the actual rifles used by the invaders came from Letterkenny Ordnance Depot (as it iwas then).

Jim

rcmodel
October 27, 2012, 11:06 PM
+1

I seem to recall surplus Johnson rifles were available mail order at the time too.
But not with scope mounts.

And certainly not with scopes shaped like that either.

I still call Shenanigans, and a newer then late 1950's scope on a Hollywood prop rifle of some sort.

rc

Kleanbore
October 28, 2012, 12:26 PM
The summer before the invasion, a friend and I stumbled into a USG-run training range near Weldon Spring, MO when walking along the old MKT Railroad and hearing gunfire. The trainees were dressed in dark green uniforms and spoke Spanish. They were firing Johnson rifles from the prone position.

A three-stripe NCO who spoke English spoke to us, and when I commented on the Johnson rifles, he got one and let us each fire one shot, and one shot each from his S&W Victory Model. Their ammo bore the headstamp "B N 40." He fired my Model 1903 rifle.

The rifles were not scoped.

Nor were the ones I saw later in the news magazines being carried ashore by men in the same uniforms.

I later spoke to one of the trainers in a gun store.

Jim K
October 28, 2012, 10:31 PM
I know the U.S. got up to some odd stuff in those days, but the training was done in Nicaragua. That whole operation was pretty black (though Time did an article with lots of hints) and I wouldn't think they would bring Cubans to the Midwest to train in a totally unsecured area with rifles they weren't going to use in the invasion, then allow the trainers to wander around the area chatting with everybody and his brother.

But, then again, who knows?

Jim

AJumbo
October 29, 2012, 02:07 AM
I've been led to understand that Johnsons tend to string their groups vertically in rapid fire. That might not be a problem in a rifle used in a sniper/countersniper role, but it seems to me that there were plenty of rifles in that era that would have been a better choice.

Kleanbore
October 29, 2012, 01:20 PM
the training was done in Nicaragua.

The training I saw in St. Charles County, MO was rudimentary marksmanship training, only. I don't remember the usual purpose of the secured USG range into which we stumbled through the woods bordering the Missouri River, but at least one FBI instructor was brought in to help on this occasion.

They spoke to no one a the time; In 1996, I spoke to one who had participated.

The man to whom we spoke was an NCO in the brigade.

Obviously there was no amphibious or other tactical training done there. It was a shooting range--a big one.

The Johnson rifles were used in the invasion--they were shown in several news magazines at the time of the invasion.

I kept the B N 40 case. According to an answer in the American Rifleman, it was non-corrosive ammo manufactured by Frankford Arsenal in the lated 1950s for classified customers. I later bought about 1500 rounds of it.

Jim K
October 29, 2012, 06:38 PM
That AN/BN/CN ammo was not made specifically for the Bay of Pigs invaders. It was made around 1953 for general clandestine use. The ammo was issued to the invaders, though, and large quantities were released on the commercial market, primarly through Interarmco, so there would be a "source" that could not be traced to the U.S. government. In the same way, the M1 rifles provided by Letterkenny were screened by maker and serial number so that they could not be proven to have been in U.S. service after 1945.

The "cover" was pretty transparent and the Cubans knew darned well who was back of the invaders; JFK, of course, never supported the idea and, feeling the cause was lost, chose not to support the invaders. (Not the first or last time the U.S. betrayed its surrogates; Afghans who helped the coalition troops were promised visas to come to the U.S. Now the administration has decided to pull out and leave them to the tender mercies of the Taliban.)

Here are the actual factories that made that ammo. The "dates" are, of course, fake, and may have been lot numbers.

AN - Twin Cities Arsenal, 1/40 - 9/40
BN - St. Louis Ordnance Plant 1/40 - 5/40
CN - Lake City Ordnance Plant 1/40 - 9/40

Jim

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