Object Title

Fedorov Avtomat Model 1916 rifle

Fedorov Avtomat Model 1916 rifle


The concept behind this revolutionary weapon would become known as the 'assault rifle', and defined the modern infantry rifle. Captain Vladimir Fedorov of the Russian army was among the first to recognise that most infantry combat takes place at less than 300 metres. There was therefore no need for most soldiers to be able to hit targets at 1000 metres, particularly with machine guns coming to the fore. A less powerful cartridge would also be lighter and smaller, allowing more rounds to be carried, and would have lower recoil. The result would be lighter, more compact, automatic infantry weapons. However, pistol cartridges, as used in submachine guns like the German MP 18,1 were too weak for use beyond 100m. Federov therefore designed a new 'intermediate' power cartridge with these properties in mind. The new round contained a lighter, slower bullet than the then-standard 7.62x54mmR Russian cartridge (still in widespread use today). However, by the time the rifle was in production, the First World War had broken out and Russian authorities opted instead for 6.5mm Arisaka, a full-power cartridge already available in quantity from Russia's then ally, Britain, who had supplemented their rifle stocks with 150,000 Japanese Arisaka rifles after the outbreak of war in 1914.

Use and effect

Like most advanced designs around the time of the First World War, the Fedorov saw little use, despite field trials and an order being placed for 25,000 rifles in 1916. Not enough rifles could be manufactured. Some Fedorov rifles were later taken out of storage to aid in the defence against the German invasion on the border with Finland in 1940. The change to 6.5 mm Arisaka also compromised Fedorov's original vision. However, the Fedorov was still less than half the weight of the Lewis gun or Browning BAR. It and its designer also directly inspired Mikhail Kalashnikov's famous AK-47, the definitive assault rifle, and changed the meaning of the Russian term 'avtomat'. Mikhail Kalashnikov read Fedorov's treatise on automatic weapons in 1942 whilst recuperating from war wounds and before borrowing elements from more modern designs like the German Sturmgewehr. Today, every military force in the world uses assault rifles.


Action / Operating system Recoil
Barrel length 52 cm (20 in)
Calibre / Bore 6.5mm Federov
Calibre / Bore 6.5x50mm SR Arisaka (.26 in)
Capacity (rounds) 25
Country of manufacture Russia
Date entered service 1916
Effective range 300 m (328 yd)
Feed Box magazine
Manufacturer Kovrov Arms Factory
Muzzle velocity 654 m/s (2145 fps)
Overall length 1.045 m (41 in)
Primary operator Russia
Rate of fire (rounds per minute) 600
Weight 4.4 kg (9.7 lb)


Jonathan Ferguson