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Thread: M1941 Johnson Rifle

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    M1941 Johnson Rifle

    Saw one of these at a gun show today... I really want to shoot one now...
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1941_Johnson_rifle

    Anyone have any stories about this one?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Pretty common with us that collect and shoot older military weapons, IF one has about $5000.00! Used to be around $250-$300 before the 68 gun control act. Check back pages of old "American Rifleman", prices will make you cry. Have shot friends, nice rifles, and 10 shot instead of 8 in M-1. Johnson made LMGs, we shot an 41 early one a few years ago at Butner. Like it better than BAR, and much lighter. Read the story how the 1 st Special Service Force " obtained" their Johnson LMGs they used in Italy in WWII.
    10-x

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    A local gunshop had dozens of these rifles in the refinishing room out back, was considering making an offer on one, then a fire broke out and burned the whole place to fine ashes.
    Never ran across any more examples.

    A side note. An old episode of Dr Who used what looked to be relic examples as prop sci fi weapons. The rifles were very rusty and pieces were missing. I suspect these were salvaged from a ship wreck from the looks of them.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I had one in the mid/late 90's. Bought it out of a small local gun shop. It was $800 at the time and a lot of $$ for me to spend.
    It was all original complete with mismatched parts (which was the norm for these),
    and had the often seen crack in the stock at the rear of the recv'r too.
    It had a very nice bore and was never refinished.

    The rifle was a comfortable to shoot.
    I remember the first time I shot it, I did exactly what many of the Soldiers apparently had done. That being mistaking one of the front sight protective wings for the sight blade. Shot way wide left.
    I read later that many of these rifles had their sight wings removed in the field so as to avoid that mistake in a time of confusion.

    It loaded smoothly through the spring loaded loading port using Milsurp 30-06 of I don't remember what vintage or mfg.
    I had loaded it onto brass stripper clips I had saved from earlier times when I used to buy and shoot 30-06 surplus ammo for a M1917.

    Don't recall any malfunctions. It did not hold the bolt open after the last shot IIRC. But reloading at that point was quick with another 5rd stripper and recharge. Or you could refill the partially empty magazine at anytime with a stripper clip or even single rounds.

    The sheet metal magazine was kind of 'in the way' at first when first handling and shooting. But not so bad after you got a little used to it.
    It was easy to see that a good wack to the magazine put you right out of the fight though.

    TD was easy w/a single loaded rd of ammo,,I guess you could use other things too.

    My friend and I shot it perhaps 100rds or so during a couple range outings on his farm.
    I then put it up for sale on Auction Arms.
    I think it sold for something like $1500.

    Decent profit at the time. Nice experience too.

    Can't keep em all, but we'd sure like to.

    ,,I remember when '03 Springfields were $29.95 & Rolling Blocks $8.95 at the local JM Fields dept store at one time too.
    It's all relative as they say.

  5. #5
    Boolit Man
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    When I was in the Marine Corps, a buddy bought one at a gun show due to the USMC historical aspect. I can still see the look on the Skipper’s face when he said “Hey Captain, want so see my Johnson?”

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I sold mine when the tag got up to $1200. Had the bayonet too. Made a good candle holder, but I wouldn't want to try defend myself with it. Mine was one of the Dutch contract ones with the rear site set in some weird measurements. Shot well enough, but I really didn't care that much for it.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by eck0313 View Post
    When I was in the Marine Corps, a buddy bought one at a gun show due to the USMC historical aspect. I can still see the look on the Skipper’s face when he said “Hey Captain, want so see my Johnson?”
    Hahaha! I saw that gun and I grabbed my friend and said to him "check out this big *** Johnson".

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    In the early 1980s I was working cases in the far outback of Maine. It was a Thursday afternoon and I did not have much more to do, but I did not want to return to Boston. Thus, my work "expanded to fit the time allotted" until the close of business on Friday.

    I went into a small town and visited a general store and gun shop. I immediately saw a Johnson on the gun rack behind the counter and asked to see it. The friendly shop owner said, "sorry, but it is sold and the buyer will be by later today." I asked to check it out anyway and the shop owner handed it over. The hang tag said "$700.00." I asked about the gun's history. The shop owner said the Johnson came in on 20% consignment two months ago from an heir who did not like guns. He said, "I put a $100 price tag on it and raised the price $100 every two weeks until it hit $700 and a guy grabbed it up."

    Once again, I was "a week, or two, late!" I did find lots of other stuff in the far North of NH, VT and Maine during my career.

    Adam

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    A bayonet on a pogo stick is silly.


    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I can remember them being advertised in the gun rags back in the early '60s - IIRC, Klein's out of Chicago used to advertise them. Funny . .. .. they must have made enough impression on me then that I can remember them . . .but not the price as I'm sure I couldn't have afforded them at the time.

  11. #11
    Boolit Man
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    Those ads in Klein’s also had “Commercial” models in 7mm and 270 as I recall. I bet they are scarce!!

  12. #12
    My Dad had two when I was growing up. It was a hoot to shoot. It was accurate too. I liked it better than the M-1; mostly due to reloading issues for a young kid. I was very worried about crushing my thumb.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    A Brit scrap dealer (Arthur Jackson) bought up most all of the JA Dutch contract rifles (7mm Mauser cal) that made it to warehouses in Holland and no further in the early post WW2 years. That was a fairly large Dutch contract for JA. The rifles had been intended for the Dutch Indonesian Colonies if I remember correctly.
    Arthur Jackson had connections with Sam Cummings (InterArms),,or so the story goes.

    That may or may not be the case,,but the fact that the Dutch contract rifles were bought from the Dutch Govt is a fact. They had been in storage,,and not very good storage at that! and were just another one of the post WW2 'finds' of many of cashes of weapons that then made it to the surplus arms market.

    Jackson imported those Dutch contract rifles first back to Canada and then to the USA where they ended up with Winfield Arms in California. Winfield refinished some, sporterized and refinished others, ect and sold these in the 1950's and into the early 60's.
    Magazine ads for them were prominent and the rifles were fairly common.

    These are Dutch proofed/inspected rifles (if the markings are still intact)
    The original USMC contract will of course be US Military proof marked. They are a rare rifle.
    Not all JA rifles are necessarily original USMC issued JA rifles...

    At about the same time that Winfield Arms was doing it's thing with the Dutch rifles, Melvin Johnson, now out of work and w/o his original JA Company,, was hired by Winchester as a designer.
    What came along with Johnson to Winchester was the entire stock of parts and assemblys for the JA rifles from the defunct JA Rifle Co.

    Winchester quickly turned around and sold that entire stock of JA parts to Numrich Arms, West Hurley NY.
    Numrich described this connection in one of it's parts catalogs many years ago.

    Numrich then,,as the story goes!,,, sold the entire lot to,,,Arthur Jackson,,,the guy who originally got the JA rifles out of Holland and back to the USA and to Winfield Arms.
    This last part may just be that,,a good story. But Numrich did have those parts,,and then suddenly did not have any JA parts at all.
    So someone bought them all up. I sincerely doubt Numrich scraped them.
    Winfield would have been the best customer at the time for the parts with their load of rifles to work on to get them ready for the market.

    No one else used the JA that I know of at the time.
    The only other mention of them that I ever came accross was that the few JA still in US Military inventory were used in the Bay of Pigs invasion (4/61). They were taken out and issued to the expat Cuban troops involved. They and the weapons for the most part never came back.
    Wether the US govt had bought the Numrich parts to service those JA that had to have been in inventory prior to that time is a question I guess that could be asked.

    I'd imagine the JA parts ended up feeding the Winfield Arms rebuild/sporter project they were doing on the JA rifles.
    Winfield continued to offer those for about 10years and in many different configurations.

    Even a Winfield Sporter catches interest from some collectors as it it seen as a possible basis for a restoration/build project to put it back into MilSpec condition. even though it generally won't be ever be anything more than a parts gun or a rebuilt Dutch contract gun,,,it's still a Johnson Automatic Rifle.
    They get plenty of attention.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Hendershot's Sporting Goods in Hagerstown, MD has a M1941 Johnson on consignment. It is refurbished to milspec- a thing of beauty. It isn't cheap though- you could buy a nice used car for the same money.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    To All,

    In 1990 when we were working for the OAS in Latin America, a National Police arsenal had well over a 100 Johnsons in 7mm Mauser. - Unfired/Unissued. But sadly, not for sale.

    yours, tex

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I've noticed that the M1941 outfitted with a scope has shown up in a number of South Korean war movies. A rifle that looks identical to these was seen in the Captain America movie. In that movie it was used as a straightpull, I think the SK prop rifle still autoloads. I expect the Koreans used live rounds instead of blanks for scenes where that rifle is fired.

    I vaguely remember reading of a scope equipped Johnson rifle perhaps a few were sold off or given to Korea at one time.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master roverboy's Avatar
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    There super rare today. I've heard that only about 21,000 made it to the U.S. Government. They wanted 70,000. Mine is a Winfield that has a had a barrel change only. Winfield went pretty wild with some rifles. Sporter barrels, sporter Monte Carlo stocks with cheekpieces, high gloss blueing, etc. Would like to find an original barrel but, can't find many and usually can't afford them. If you can even find a barrel online it can set you back a thousand or more.
    Last edited by roverboy; 09-03-2018 at 07:47 PM.
    Mrs. Hogwallop up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master roverboy's Avatar
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    There's a man named Joseph Scott that does a lot of restorations on these.
    Mrs. Hogwallop up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T.

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