Amerigo Cei-Rigotti was a major in the Italian Bersaglieri (light infantry) in 1900, wen his innovative self-loading rifle design was first introduced. Unlike many or the very early semiauto rifle designs, the Cei-Rigotti is a light, handy, and pretty compact rifle:
The rifle was select-fire, and chambered for the 6.5×52 Carcano cartridge. It shared the size and style of the Carcano as well as a few small parts, but was built from the ground up and was not a conversion of a bolt action rifle. It operated via gas pressure on a short-stroke piston under the barrel. This example has a small magazine, but several different sizes were used in various tests, reportedly up to 50 rounds in capacity. The magazines are not detachable, though, and must be reloaded with stripped clips through the receiver.
Ultimately, the Cei Rigotti was not adopted by any military force despite being tested by several countries over the decade after its introduction. Most folks today say this was due to erratic and unreliable functioning, but we have not seen any test reports from the period substantiating this (and the mechanism seems quite sound to us).
At Forgotten Weapons I think the most interesting guns out there are the most obscure ones. I try to search out experimental and prototype weapons and show you how they work, in addition to more conventional guns that you may not have heard of before. You’re much more likely to find a video on the Cei Rigotti or Webley-Fosbery here than an AR or Glock. So, do you want to learn about something new today? Then stick around!