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Winchester M2 Rifle

In the previous video, we looked at the Winchester G30M rifle as it was submitted to Marine Corps trials in 1940. When the trial result came back with the G30M in last place, Winchester immediately assigned David Williams to work on adapting it to resolve the problems found in testing. What Williams did was to replace the tilting bolt with a virtual duplicate of the Garand’s two-lug rotating bolt. Williams also worked to reduce the weight of the gun, and was able to bring it down to a remarkable 7.5 pounds (3.4kg).

This prototype of the rifle (which Winchester optimistically designated the M2, implying that it would supercede the M1 Garand) was actually made largely from M1 Garand forgings, as Winchester was by this time build M1 rifles on contract. The receiver, bolt, and operating rod in this rifle was converted from Garand parts. Clearly it is not a finished product, and show many signs of being a shop prototype – but it was in this state when it was shown to ReneStudler of the Ordnance Department in early 1941. Studler was impressed by the design, but knew that it would not replace the M1 at that point. However, he urged Winchester to scale the gun down to the .30 Carbine cartridge (which Winchester had themselves developed) and submit it in the second round of the Light Rifle testing which was to happen soon.

Does a two-lug rotating bolt, short stroke gas tappet, and Garand-style operating rod sound like a familiar set of features? Well, there is good reason…

Winchester took Studler’s advice, and the scaled-down version was developed in just a few weeks and proved to be the best gun in the trials. It would be developed quickly into the M1 Carbine, and become the most-manufactured semiauto rifle of WWII.

At that point Winchester would set aside the .30-06 side of this rifle design for a little while, as they had plenty of work now with M1 Garand and M1 Carbine production. But we will see the M2/G30M/G30 come back in new form in the next episode…

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