The Fedorov Avtomat was a Russian short recoil operated, magazine-fed select-fire carbine, and arguably one of the first examples of the assault rifle concept. It was designed by Colonel Vladimir Grigoryevich Fyodorov (anglicized as "Fedorov" or "Federov". The person is nigh-universally referred to as "Fyodorov" but the weapon is equally-universally referred to with the anglicized "Fedorov"; for simplicity this page will always use "Fedorov").
The first Fedorov automatic rifle was a semi-automatic design presented to the Rifle Commission in 1911, but it was not adopted. In 1913, Fedorov developed the semi-auto M1913, which had a 5-round internal magazine and was chambered in 7.62x54mm R and 6.5mm Fedorov (an experimental rimless cartridge designed by Fedorov). In 1915, Fedorov developed his M1913 into an automatic weapon; the models chambered in 6.5mm Fedorov were converted to 6.5x50mmSR Arisaka (this cartridge was produced in Russia for imported Arisaka rifles, while the standard Russian 7.62x54R rifle cartridge was too powerful for Fedorov's gun), their lengths were shortened to carbine length, and 15- or 25-round detachable magazines were added. In Summer 1916, the Fedorov auto rifle was put into service under the name "Avtomat" ("automatic").
During World War I, a company of 189 members of the Ishmael Regiment was armed with Fedorov's guns. The weapons of said company included 8 M1916 6.5mm Avtomats and 45 7.62x54mm R rifles. Several of the 7.62x54mm R guns are M1913 rifles converted to select-fire and equipped with 40-round detachable magazines (interchangeable with the Russian contract Madsen MG).
Production of the Avtomat ended with the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, with only about 100 weapons produced at the Sestroretsk weapon factory. The design was "rediscovered" in 1919 and manufactured in small numbers from 1920-1924 at the Kovrov weapon factory. In 1923 a modernised version of the weapon with a new magazine was designed, with previously produced guns being sent back to the plant for refurbishment. About 3,200 were manufactured before production ceased in 1925, after the Soviet Union decided to abandon all weapons that used foreign ammunition: as of December 20th 1924, 1,118 Avtomats had been upgraded to the M1923 standard. In 1928 the Fedorov Avtomat was officially removed from service. In 1940 during the Winter War with Finland, surviving Avtomats were removed from stockpiles for use by the Red Army due to a shortage of submachine guns.
Much as it resembles an assault rifle, it wasn't issued as one: rather than the assault rifle concept of an individual weapon which offers a compromise between a submachine gun and a battle rifle, it was instead employed as a mobile support weapon in a similar manner to a light machine gun, issued to a two-man team of a gunner and an ammo carrier who was issued an Arisaka rifle for ammunition compatibility. Because the magazines were hand-fitted to the gun they were intended to be used with and the Avtomat suffered from poor quality control, there would be no guarantee a magazine from one gun would physically fit in another, and spare parts were often similarly weapon-specific (before the 1923 modernization). Overall the concept of the Avtomat was very similar to the "walking fire" principle of weapons like the Browning Automatic Rifle. Fedorov dubbed it a "handheld light machine gun" ("ручное ружьё-пулемет"). Fedorov's superior General N.M. Filatov is credited with dubbing the weapon the "Avtomat."
While this interesting weapon is sometimes argued to be outside of the definition of an assault rifle due to firing an existing rifle cartridge (albeit one chosen specifically for being weak), or because it was never issued as an individual weapon, it is worth noting the accidental foresight of its inventor. While the weapon had its fair share of problems, such as rapid overheating and multiple detachable magazines per rifle being beyond period production capabilities, tests indicated that the rifle could accurately and consistently hit man sized targets at a range of 200m (about the range most modern firefights take place) and was effective to around 500m.
Some conspiracy theorists claim that the resemblance of the magazine to that of the much later German MG13 indicates the Avtomat to be some kind of Soviet hoax to steal the StG-44's claim to being the first assault rifle, but this is simple ignorance: the MG13 magazine is visually but not dimensionally similar and does not fit in the Avtomat at all, and the Avtomat's magazine design was inspired by early versions of the Mauser Selbstlader.
An additional note is that the later post-WWI M1919 and M1923 models are commonly misidentified as the WWI-era M1916. The M1916 did not have a foregrip.
(1915-1917, 1920-1928, re-issued in 1940)
- Type: Light machine gun (role issued), sometimes regarded as an assault rifle
- Caliber: 7.62x54mm R (M1913), 6.5x50mmSR Arisaka
- Weight: 4.4 kg (Loaded; 5.2 kg)
- Length: 41.1 in (104.5 cm)
- Barrel length: 20.5 in (52 cm)
- Feed System: Fixed 5-round magazine (M1913), 40-round detachable magazine (M1913/1916); 10, 15, or 25-round detachable box magazine, 50-round pan magazine (M1922 Fedorov-Degtyaryov machine gun)
- Fire Modes: Semi-Auto (M1913); Semi / Full-Auto (350-400 rpm)
|Game Title||Appears as||Mods||Notation||Release Date|
|Battlefield 1||"Fedorov Avtomat"||"In the Name of the Tsar" DLC (2017)||2016|
|Call of Duty: WWII||"Automaton"||"Days of Summer" event (2018)||2017|