The FN49: The Rifle That Ran Out of Time by R Blake Stevens

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235 pgs


Cond: EXC

From the Publisher:
As well as the FN49, this book chronicles the history of several other self-loading rifles developed by the famous Belgian armsmaking consortium Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (FN), all of which fell victim to the onset of wars, or to delays engendered by war. The first of these was a flap-locked, recoil-operated design by the German inventor Karl August Brauning, which FN proposed to market as the "FN Automatic Infantry Rifle Model 1914', but the sudden outbreak of World War I in August, 1914 caused all plans for the adoption of this new rifle to be abandoned.

The gas-operated rifle that came to be called the FN49 was actually developed by FN's chief designer of new arms, Dieudonné Saive, in the middle 1930s, but plans for its future were put on hold by the onset of World War II in 1939.

Taking the plans for his new rifle with him, Monsieur Saive escaped to England in the summer of 1941, where several key members of the FN directorship, who had been engaged in talks with the British Ministry of Supply, had been effectively exiled by the German occupation of Belgium in May, 1940. The beleaguered British seized upon the self-loading Saive design as a welcome improvement over the .303 calibre Lee Enfield bolt action rifle, and a lengthy programme was initiated with a domestically-produced version known generally as the Self Loading Experimental Model (SLEM), of which
at least 51 examples were manufactured at RSAF Enfield. The cartridge chosen was the rimless 7.92mm Mauser round, already being produced in Britain for use in Besa tank machineguns.

However, it was soon revealed that British Besa guns required a special cartridge case, much softer than those of standard European manufacture, and British 7.92mm Besa
ammunition was the source of serious and protracted extracton problems when fired in the self-loading SLEM rifle. Monsieur Save had already incorporated an ingenious "extraction lever into the design of his rifle, which served to augment initial extraction and gear down the initial rearward movement ot the breech block. Notwithstanding the "extraction lever, the problem of hard extraction when firing "soft"-cased British Besa ammunition in the self-loading rifle remained, and captured German steel-cased 7.92mm cartridges were preterred for use in further trials.
Monsieur Saive returned to the FN factory after Belgium
was liberated in the autumn of 1944, whence several further
self-loading rifles incorporating improvements and new fea-
tures were supplied under contract for ongoing British trials, in
both 7.92mm and US .30 calibre(.30-06).