As the clouds of war parted, firearms designer John Pedersen
looked to the future of small arms, anticipating the need for a new semi-automatic rifle to replace the M1913 Springfield. Pedersen would put together a rifle, unusual for its method of operation, that would go up against the weapon fielded by the U.S. during World War II.
And yet, in the years before the war, the Japanese cast an eye to the Pedersen rifle as a candidate for their primary combat rifle.
The reliable Garand would be pitted against Pedersen's rifle, with the former coming out on top. Tapping gas from the barrel to operate the bolt mechanism, is how Garand's weapon worked. Pedersen's contender used a method of operation similar to the P08 Luger pistol.
Pedersen's rifle used a breach block and toggle mechanism, not gas bleed. Essentially two pieces of metal cammed against each other at a pivot point. When in battery, the components lowered into place, pushing the breach block into battery. When a round was fired, the rearward force of the block moved against the toggle mechanism.The breach mechanism acted on the camming blocks, pushing them rearward as well as into a vertical position.
This toggling delayed action via mechanical action, before it returned to battery, stripping a round from the magazine and pushing it into the chamber.
And while the action seemed cumbersome, it was reliable, like that of the Luger. The Garand went into the competition utilizing the .30-06 round of the Springfield rifle. Pedersen pursued his own caliber, a .276 round.
History writes that Garand won the firearms selection tournament, but the rifle from Pedersen piqued the interest of the Japanese military.
By the 1930s, Pedersen had come off an unsuccessful contract with Vickers Ltd in the UK and attempted to get the Japanese to buy his modified rifle. When Pedersen pitted his rifle against the Garand, he did it with a standard clip style magazine assembly. By the time the Pedersen rifle arrive for Japanese trials, the simple clip was replaced by a rotary style magazine.
Key to basic reliability of the Pedersen was lubricating the rounds. Its believed that this was not communicated to the Japanese testers, resulting in poor performance.
The Pedersen semi-automatic rifle would fade into history, but remains an important and unusual piece of small arms history.