|Mondragón M1908 rifle|
|Type||semi-automatic rifle / straight-pull bolt action rifle
|Place of origin||Mexico|
|In service||1910-1923 (Mexico)
|Used by||See Users|
World War I
|Manufacturer||Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft|
|Produced||1908 - 1910|
|Weight||4.18 kg (9 lb 3oz)|
|Length||1105 mm (43.5 in)|
|Barrel length||577 mm (22.7 in)|
|Action||gas operation, rotating bolt|
|Muzzle velocity||760 m/s (2300 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||800m (876 yds.)|
|Maximum firing range||2,000m (2,187 yds.)|
|Feed system||8-round en-bloc clip,
|Sights||rear: ladder, graduated 400-2000 m
The Mondragón rifle may refer to three rifle designs developed by Mexican artillery officer general Manuel Mondragón. The initial designs were straight-pull bolt action rifles (M1893 and M1894), those rifles served as a basis for developing Mexico's first self-loading rifle, the M1908, which was also one of the first such designs to see combat use.
Straight-pull bolt action rifles
In 1891 Mondragón began working on a rifle design. During his stay in Belgium he filed a patent application for which had received a grant on March 23, 1892 (No. 98,947). During the same year, on April 20, Mondragón received also a grant from the French Patent Office (No. 221,035). In the following year, on February 8, he also filed an application in the United States Patent Office (No. 461, 476) and received a grant (No. 557,079) on March 24, 1896. The rifle, referred to as M1893, was of a straight-pull bolt action design, chambered for 6.5x48mm cartridge (also developed by Mondragón), with a fixed magazine fed with 8-round en-bloc clips. The rifle had three settings: "A" - automatic, "L" - safe and "R" - rapid. The "automatic" fire setting allowed the rifle to fire a cartridge each time the bolt was manually cycled, first to the rear and then to the front in similar fashion to Winchester M1897 pump action shotgun. The rifle could be equipped with a knife bayonet. The bayonet measured 41 cm and weighed 575 g, the blade was 28 cm long. At the time Mexico had no manufacturers capable of producing such a complex design to the required tolerances, Mondragon with the backing of Diaz entrusted the Swiss Industrial Company (Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft) of Neuhausen, Switzerland with the production of the rifles. SIG received the first order in 1893, for 50 rifles, and another one in 1894, this time for 200 rifles. The rifles from the second order were chambered for 5.2x68mm round and referred to as M1894 (to differentiate them from the ones chambered for the 6.5mm cartridge). The 5.2mm cartridge was developed by Swiss colonel Eduard Rubin.
Mondragón continued his work and by August 8, 1904 he filed an application (No. 219,989) for a rifle, this time of a self-loading design. He received the grant (No. 853,715) on May 14, 1907. The design was adopted by the Mexican Army in 1908 as Fusil Porfirio Diaz Sistema Mondragón Modelo 1908. The same year Mexican government made a contract with SIG for production of 4,000 M1908 rifles chambered for 7×57mm Mauser (Mexican service cartridge). Due to the political instability of Mexico at that time (Mexican Revolution), by 1910 only 400 of the ordered rifles were delivered by SIG, the rifle's inability to cope with ammunition of poor quality and high cost (160 SFr per rifle) led to cancellation of the order by the Mexican government. It was a gas-operated rifle with a cylinder and piston arrangement, now very familiar but unusual at the time, and rotating bolt, locked by lugs in helical grooves in the receiver; pressing the switch located on the charging handle would disengage the bolt from the gas system changing the firearm into a straight-pull bolt action rifle. The rifle had a non-detachable box magazine which was fed with 8-round en-bloc clips (a slightly modified concept from the previous rifles). Later, SIG introduced a bipod and a detachable 20-round box magazine, although the rifle's magazine floorplate had to be removed in order to insert the 20-round magazine. In addition to the knife bayonet introduced with the previous rifles Mondragón designed a spade bayonet, for which he had filed an application (No. 631,283) on June 6, 1911.
Use during World War I
In 1914 German Empire bought the remainder of the rifles produced by SIG that had not been sent to Mexico, which could have been as high as 3,600 rifles (assuming that SIG had finished their side of the deal before the cancellation). Germans tried to modify the rifles for 7.9×57mm S-Patrone (which was the service cartridge of Germany until the end of WWII), but their attempts were unsuccessful. At first the rifles were tested by the infantry, where they proved highly susceptible to mud and dirt in the trenches, a problem familiar even to less complex designs such as the Canadian Ross Mk III straight-pull bolt action rifle. As aerial combat would provide much cleaner conditions Imperial German Flying Corps (Luftstreitkräfte) decided to adopt the rifle, issuing two of them per aircraft crew. It was a significant improvement over bolt action rifles (Gewehr 98) and pistols (Parabellum-Pistole), which at the time were issued to the crews. The rifle was adopted as Fl.-S.-K. 15 (Flieger-Selbstladekarabiner, Modell 1915 - Aviator's Selfloading Carbine, Model 1915) and issued with 30-round drum magazines. The drum magazine was made to Friedrich Blum's patents, which led also to the creation of 32-round drum magazine (Trommelmagazin 08) for the 1913 model of Parabellum-Pistole (LP 08). The corps used the Mondragón rifles until a sufficient number of machine guns equipped with synchronization gear became available. Very few of the rifles had survived the war. After the war some of the rifles were in use by Imperial German Navy.
Supposedly few of the rifles were used by Mexican soldiers during an ambush on Pancho Villa. Despite the fact that some of the sources claim that the Mexican Army used the rifle since 1911, two pictures from Crónica Ilustrada Revolución Mexicana, Volume 1 on pages: 100 and 159, and an article from Guns magazine suggest that the rifle was in service as early as 1910.
Rifle scheme and operating procedure
Mondragon patent from 1907:
- Fitzsimons, Bernard (1978). Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons and Warfare, Volume 18. London: Phoebus Publishing Company. pp. 1933–1934.
- Mondragón, Manuel. "Breech Loading Bolt Gun". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
- Hughes, James B. (1968). Mexican Military Arms: The Cartridge Period 1866-1967. Houston: Deep River Armory. pp. 19.
- Mondragón, Manuel (1893). International Congress of Engineers. Chicago. p. 851.
- Mondragón, Manuel (1893). International Congress of Engineers. Chicago. p. 852.
- Ford, Roger (1998). The World's Great Rifles. London: Brown Books. pp. 101–102.
- Mondragón, Manuel. "Firearm". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- Hughes, James B. (1968). Mexican Military Arms: The Cartridge Period 1866-1967. Houston: Deep River Armory. p. 36.
- Hughes, James B. (1968). Mexican Military Arms: The Cartridge Period 1866-1967. Houston: Deep River Armory. p. 52.
- Mondragón, Manuel. "Combined Weapon and Tool". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
- Erenfeicht, Leszek (1995). Ilustrowana Encyklopedia - Broń Strzelecka XX Wieku. Warszawa: Espadon. p. 18.
- Fitzsimons, Bernard (1978). Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons and Warfare, Volume 20. London: Phoebus Publishing Company. p. 2223.
- Walter, John (2003). Military Rifles of Two World Wars. London: Greenhill Books. p. 69.
- Görtz, Joachim (2010). The Borchardt & Luger Automatic Pistols, Volume 2. Galesburg: Brad Simpson Publishing. pp. 966–967, 1007–1008.
- Walter, John (2006). The Rifle Story: An Illustrated History from 1756 to the Present Day. London: Greenhill Books. p. 192.
- Hatcher, Julian S. (1957). Hatcher's Notebook, 2nd Edition. Harrisburg: Telegraph Press. p. 157.
- Westwood, David. Rifles: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 117.
- Edwards, William B. (1958). "Guns for a Nation of Riflemen". Guns (7): 45, 47.