Video: S&W 1940 Light Rifle, a 9mm Semi-Auto War Gun
Russ Chastain 09.18.18
The Smith & Wesson Model of 1940 Light Rifle received that moniker from the British government when it was developed. In this video, Ian of Forgotten Weapons takes a look at two of them: A Mark 1 and a Mark 2. He discusses the differences between the two along with some of its history.
Developed in 1939, the Light Rifle was an open-bolt semi-auto chambered for 9mm Luger. Rejected by the U.S.A.’s military, it was peddled to the UK, which happily ponied up a huge deposit… but after the guns failed during an endurance test, the deal fell through.
The magazine arrangement is rather odd. The mag goes into a “tower” of sorts, which descends from the receiver — but the mag only occupies half of the tower. The rear portion is simply an open passage through which empty cases (no Ian, they are not “cartridges” at that point) travel after ejection. And while this helps prevent dirt and crud from getting into the works and keeps you from raining hot brass all over your buddies, it also means there’s no convenient way to reach into the action to clear a stuck case or some other sort of jam.
Once the Mark 2 came around, the weird safety lever went away and a large knurled sleeve was placed around the receiver between trigger guard and ejection/magazine tower.
The firing pin was also simplified; a floating pin on the original was replaced with a fixed one on the Mark 2.
Shocker! The PR folks lied when they told the public that the Mark 2 had a stronger receiver than the Mark 1. Turns out, it’s probably weaker.
Although most of the British ones were trashed long ago, S&W mothballed 200+ of these poppers until 1974, when they were dusted off and sold to a distributor, who in turn sold them to the public… which is where these two came from.