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Old April 17, 2012, 11:20 AM   #1
jason41987
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lack of recoil-operated semi rifles?... why?

ive been studying various designs of different firearms.. gaining a better understanding of them, how they function, the physics and engineering behind it all... and well, i seem to find an utter lack of recoil operated rifles... you have the 1941 johnson which wasnt much more than a prototype.. but after that one rifle... nothing

it should be clear that the FAMAS, and HK family rifles are delayed blowback (FAMAS being lever delayed, HK rifles being roller delayed)...

anyway.. blockback rifles have their problems, they usually run on the dirty side, though the simplest of designs, they can be the most dangerous too..

then you have the gas operated family of rifles... long-stroke, short stroke, rotating or tilting bolt, and each of these have their pros and cons as well... long stroke being more reliable, short stroke having less felt recoil.. and well, currently the short-stroke rotating bolt rifles dominate the autoloading market

and then theres the recoil operated design, of which the short-recoil action is in almost every single handgun out there now... long-recoil action was used in the old browning auto 5 shotguns i think..

so besides the johnson rifle which, to my understanding wasnt produced much due to reliability issues with a bayonet attached, and higher cost of production, slower reloading... why hasnt anyone ever went further into the developement of a recoil operated rifle?

advantages would be no gas loss, probably fewer moving parts, some say the '41 johnson had lesser felt recoil, the entire action could be in-line with the barrel and stock, reducing muzzle lift when firing, less weight, not needing a gas tube or piston... so what disadvantages would there be?
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:30 AM   #2
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I think it may be due to when the bullet is travelling down the barrel, the bolt is moving rearward, thus causing lower accuracy (Equal & Opposite reaction). The idea of gas operated rifles is that the bullet is already exiting the barrel before any parts move. It's not that it won't work, it's just unsuitable for accuracy. this is why recoil operated firearms are usually; pistols, submachineguns and shotguns, where distance/accuracy isn't a huge factor.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:31 AM   #3
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Remington model 8 and 81, for more modern ones there's Highpoint carbines, Kel-tec sub 2000, and the Beretta carbine.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:31 AM   #4
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The bolt does not move until after the bullet has left the barrel with any gun design.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:33 AM   #5
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Another recoil-op rifle was the Remington Model 8 (later 81).

Several basic issues come to mind. The first, and probably most important, is that when you disconnect the barrel from the action and make it part of the reciprocating mass, accuracy suffers. It HAS to. When you consider how precision rifles focus so heavily on making the barrel and receiver into on solid unit, and stabilizing them against any motion, having the barrel bang back and forth, and then to have locking assemblies with loose enough clearances to be able to disengage and re-engage, and keep working when fouled, there's just no good way around the issue.

(Yes, there were plenty (Auto 5/Rem Model 11, on up the 11-48) and are still a few recoil-operated shotguns (Benellis...sort of). They obviously don't have the precision accuracy concerns to live with.)

Another concern is reliability as you mentioned. Even the shotguns using the recoil action have been known to be temperamental. Gotta be clean. And dry. Or oiled, just right. Or ... who knows?

And another is that confusingly, recoil-op guns actually tend to produce a stronger recoil sensation than gas-op guns. Strange but true.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:37 AM   #6
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Recoil operated rifles suffer from the problem that if anything touches the barrel you get a stoppage. You can put a shroud over the barrel but that adds weight.

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Old April 17, 2012, 11:39 AM   #7
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The Barrett M82 is a recoil action with acceptable accuracy.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:42 AM   #8
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The first, and probably most important, is that when you disconnect the barrel from the action and make it part of the reciprocating mass, accuracy suffers. It HAS to.
.

While I agree with this principal I was shocked to learn my 1919 grouped better at 100 yards that more than a few bolt action rifles I have come across.
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason41987 View Post
advantages would be no gas loss, probably fewer moving parts, some say the '41 johnson had lesser felt recoil, the entire action could be in-line with the barrel and stock, reducing muzzle lift when firing, less weight, not needing a gas tube or piston... so what disadvantages would there be?
What does gas loss matter? There isn't enough to cause any effect to the bullet in a gas operated rifle.

Probably fewer moving parts? The old standard M2 .50 cal has many moving parts that have to work in unison together to function. It is more finicky than many believe.

Never shot a Johnson, don't know.

In line with barrel and stock, like a direct impingement AR-15?

Less weight? Part of a recoil operated system is based on the moving masses of its parts. Weight may be increased depending on design.

I am okay with a gas tube or piston, but deleting these parts would be a benefit if someone was opposed to them.

There are modern recoil operated guns though that do work well. Look at the success of Benelli's line of "intertia-driven" guns. However, one of their downsides was discovered when the .mil was looking for a new shotgun in semi-auto form. What happened? Benelli developed a gas piston gun and abandoned its ultra reliable claims of the ID system. This was primarily because of the modular necessities of the military and adding of weight (lights, side saddles, etc) to the gun that affected the recoil mechanism.

Can it be done? SURE. There may not be anything to gain though. Time will tell.
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:09 PM   #10
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Its been about thirty years since I shot a Johnson. I recall the perceived recoil was stronger then a M1/m1A.
Many would agree that a A5 Browning gives more of a kick then a Remington 1100 of the same era.
Accuracy of the recoil operated gun with a moving barrel would be harder to engineer into the design and wear would effect the zero.
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
and well, i seem to find an utter lack of recoil operated rifles...
I really don't understand the question or post. Are you saying that delayed blow back is not a recoil operated rifle??

From the Browning machine gun (M2) to the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun to the Uzi or Mac-10, the MP-5 and of course the Grease Gun of WWII all were and are recoil operated as are all pistols with the exception of the Desert Eagle which is gas operated.

How can you say there has been no development. I believe the M-1 carbine is a recoil design as well (I may be wrong). Just because they do not have a moving barrel does not make them not a recoil operated design (at least in my opinion).

Jim

Oh, yes, I forgot the Remington 74 and 7400
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:15 PM   #12
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Recoil operated rifles work, but the bottom line is gas operated works better and generally results in a much lighter weapon. The original AR-15 was barely 5 pounds, IIRC. It got heavier to soldier proof it, of course.
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:16 PM   #13
Carl N. Brown
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Shooting the Remington 81 in .300 Savage is supposed to be a kick.

You have the momentum of the bolt and barrel recoiling together, and when they stop and seperate, it is supposed to be jolting.
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:17 PM   #14
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Shooting the Remington 81 in .300 Savage is supposed to be a kick.

You have the momentum of the bolt and barrel recoiling together, and when they stop and seperate, it is supposed to be jolting.
Mine is a .35 rem and the recoil isn't jolting at all even with a steel buttplate.
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:21 PM   #15
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I believe the M-1 carbine is a recoil design as well (I may be wrong
Short stroke gas piston.

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Old April 17, 2012, 12:26 PM   #16
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Recoil operates by causing parts of the weapon to move in the opposite direction of the bullet. Small calibers simply don't offer enough operating mass for reliable actions.

As for those "dirty" blowbacks, consider that what you are really experiencing with any semi auto is "delayed" blowback. Timing has to be advanced enough to get the bolt unlocked as long as the case pressure is low enough to prevent blowing it out. That doesn't mean there isn't any. Gas still blows back past the case onto the action.

Got a piston rifle? Rub a dozen fired cases on your white t-shirt at the range bench and tell me what you get. Fire 40 rounds and then clean the bolt with your t-shirt tail.

Self loading actions all initiate unlocking early enough that the case can be forced against the bolt face. The Army showed in tests with the extractors removed that the M4 will still fire full auto. Under the dynamics of actual operation, extractors slipping off has a lot more to do with bouncing as the bolt is suddenly shocked into reverse - which is why Crane added more spring pressure and an o-ring to counteract it. That stopped the one in a thousand failure to extract, likely caused by a sticking case too swelled from gas pressure to move.

Recoil operated weapons need mass moving to finish the cycle of action, and small calibers don't offer enough. Nonetheless, they get just as dirty as the rest, as those of us who've cleaned the M2 and Mk17 can tell you about.

There's no free lunch there.
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Old April 17, 2012, 01:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
I really don't understand the question or post. Are you saying that delayed blow back is not a recoil operated rifle??

From the Browning machine gun (M2) to the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun to the Uzi or Mac-10, the MP-5 and of course the Grease Gun of WWII all were and are recoil operated as are all pistols with the exception of the Desert Eagle which is gas operated.

How can you say there has been no development. I believe the M-1 carbine is a recoil design as well (I may be wrong). Just because they do not have a moving barrel does not make them not a recoil operated design (at least in my opinion).
I think you are confusing Blowback/Delayed Blowback actions with Recoil operated actions. I believe recoil operated actions are partially defined by the fact that they are locked during firing. The recoiling barrel/bolt/action/slide, etc, starts moving rearward together upon firing, and at some point in the cycle the action is cammed open to allow for ejection of the spent casing and insertion of a fresh cartridge.

Blowback weapons, on the other hand, fire from an unlocked bolt, only spring tension and the mass of the bolt keep the chamber closed long enough for pressure to drop. For this reason, only relatively low power rounds are generally used in blowback weapons (more powerful rounds would require a much heavier heavier bolt/slide and stronger springs).

Delayed Blowback weapons operate in the same manner as blowback weapons, but incorporate some method of delaying the blowback cycle longer than simple spring weight and bolt mass would. Regardless, it is still just a modified blowback action (as opposed to a recoil operated action), and the bolt is not truely locked during firing.

I'm fairly certain the Rem 74 and 7400 is also gas operated by the way.

I'd agree with pretty much everybody who has answered this post, its harder to achieve top accuracy when most of our action/barrel is moving around with each shot. Also, as some have said, I would not expect a recoil operated rifle to, on average, exhibit the reliability of a similar gas operated rifle.
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Old April 17, 2012, 02:00 PM   #18
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I'm not sure why there aren't more recoil operated rifles, but I can say it's not because of accuracy. If you look at the longest confirmed sniper kills three of the top ten were with recoil operated rifles. All the others were bolt action.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest...d_sniper_kills
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Old April 17, 2012, 02:22 PM   #19
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Weight generally weighs against recoil operation in a shoulder fired rifle. If you look at the operations of a recoil system you know the weight of the operating parts have to equal the recoil of the cartridge less spring which I believe is small. In other words a breech block of a recoil operated 30-06 would be around 7 pounds or so, IIRC. Most people do not want to carry a rifle that weighs more than 7 pounds so the gun would be too heavy. Then there is the moving barrel to deal with... etc.
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Old April 17, 2012, 06:22 PM   #20
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There are only two types of self loading firearm actions: Gas and Recoil.

Blowback and delayed blowback are variants of gas operated: the case is a one use, throw away gas piston.

Recoil actions always involve the barrel moving backwards. Some stay locked for a distance shorter than the case length (short recoil) some stay locked for a distance longer than the case length (long recoil).

There are advantages and disadvantages to both recoil and gas operation. Every design is a compromise.

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Old April 17, 2012, 07:40 PM   #21
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The shortage of recoil operated rifles is balanced by the plethora of recoil operated handguns.
Gas operation runs the other way.
Like, why is the sky blue and up not down?
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Old April 17, 2012, 09:00 PM   #22
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I did overlook that the Barrel M82 .50 rifle is recoil operated: bolt and barrel are locked together, and they recoil locked together for a distance calculated to allow the bullet time to exit the barrel and pressure to drop from its peak, then are un-locked, to allow the bolt to recoil to the rear, with a boost from an accelerator trip (much like the Browning machineguns).
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Old April 17, 2012, 09:02 PM   #23
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I can personally attest that the perceived recoil of a remington 81 in .35 Rem is extremely unpleasant and snappy.

A friend of mine bought one and we took it to the range along with a Swiss Schmidt Rubin m1911 rifle and twenty rounds. We shot about five each and decided it simply wasn't fun. The Schmidt Rubin, 7.5x55 chambering and steel buttplate, was downright tame by comparison.

I suspect what's going on is that the barrel and bolt, which travel quite a ways in this long-recoil design, don't greatly slow down from compressing the recoil and barrel spring and rebound elastically off the receiver. This would make the recoil energy much higher than you would expect for a rifle that heavy. Hatcher's Notebook mentions evidence that something similar happens in 1911 pistols.
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Old April 17, 2012, 09:08 PM   #24
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yeah.. i dont think accuracy is as much of an issue as believed.. the johnson of WWII and barrett rifles are recoil operated and had better accuracy than many modern battle/assault rifles do now... easily surpassing the poor accuracy of an AK... exactly what the grouping on the johnson was i dont know, never fired one but the claims ive heard that it was pretty close to the garand....

as for recoil.. you can shoulder fire a barrett without just a small fraction of a kick youd get from a bolt action .50bmg... but its well made compensator/brake certainly helps...

i cant seem to find any information on actual accuracy of the 1941 johnson though.. and only on the 1919, but indications are they were still more accurate than a lot of military rifles...

with such limited samples of recoil operated rifles, its hard to say what its limits are.. and if someone made one now, most military carbine rifles arent any longer than the forearm anyway, so a shroud/forearm to cover it wouldnt add much weight
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Old April 17, 2012, 10:18 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by jason41987 View Post
yeah.. i dont think accuracy is as much of an issue as believed.. the johnson of WWII and barrett rifles are recoil operated and had better accuracy than many modern battle/assault rifles do now... easily surpassing the poor accuracy of an AK... exactly what the grouping on the johnson was i dont know, never fired one but the claims ive heard that it was pretty close to the garand....

as for recoil.. you can shoulder fire a barrett without just a small fraction of a kick youd get from a bolt action .50bmg... but its well made compensator/brake certainly helps...

i cant seem to find any information on actual accuracy of the 1941 johnson though.. and only on the 1919, but indications are they were still more accurate than a lot of military rifles...

with such limited samples of recoil operated rifles, its hard to say what its limits are.. and if someone made one now, most military carbine rifles arent any longer than the forearm anyway, so a shroud/forearm to cover it wouldnt add much weight
How can you say the Johnson "easily" surpasses the AK when you then say you are unfamiliar with how a Johnson groups (almost a Garand?)? And the Barrett is an apples to oranges comparison when you are talking about a 30 pound, purpose built rifle that IS capable of great accuracy, but gives up the mobility of a service rifle or carbine.
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