The Remington model 8 semi-automatic rifle is historically important as it was one of the very first successful semi-automatic sporting rifles in the world. There were other similar designs that appeared at the turn of the 20th century, but only the Browning-designed and Remington-made autoloader became a real success.
The basic design of the semi-automatic recoil-operated rifle was patented by the legendary American gun designer John Browning in 1900. He sold his patent to the Remington Arms Company, which began production of the gun in 1905. Remington also developed and manufactured several new types of ammunition, better suited for a box-magazine fed semi-automatic rifle that many existing hunting rounds, such as the extremely popular .30-30 Winchester.
In 1911 Remington changed name of this rifle to the “Remington model 8”, and manufactured it in several versions and variations until the year of 1936. Between the 1936 and 1950 Remington also manufactured a slightly upgraded version of the basic design, known as the Remington model 81 rifle. Total production of Model 8 and Model 81 rifles in USA was about 160 thousand guns in five calibers (.25Rem, .30Rem, .32Rem, .35Rem and .300Savage).
The Fabrique Nationale Herstal, the famous Belgian arms-making factory, also produced version of this gun as the “FN Browning model 1900” rifle. European production of this gun was relatively limited, as less than five thousand guns were produced in Belgium between 1910 and 1929. Belgian made guns were available in only one caliber, the .35 Remington (9x49mm).
Besides being popular as sporting and hunting guns, the Remington model 8 and the latter model 81 made themselves a name as a popular law enforcement weapon. Those rifles have seen use by the agents of the FBI, Texas Rangers, and a number of other police organizations in USA. Also, during the opening years of the World War One few (probably about a hundred) Remington Model 8 carbines were bought by the French government to arm observers on aerostats (observation balloons) and earliest military aircrafts.
The Remington model 8 semi-automatic rifle left a noticeable heritage, now seen in some other very popular designs. For example, the famous Kalashnikov AK assault rifle features an easily distinguishable safety-selector lever which is clearly inspired by the Browning’s design.
The Remington model 8 semi-automatic rifle uses the long-recoil action, where the barrel recoils all the way back while still locked by the bolt. Upon the end of the rearward stroke, the bolt carrier is stopped by a special catch, while the barrel begins its forward stroke under the tension of its own return spring. Barrel return spring is located around the barrel, inside its tubular housing. This movement unlocks the rotary bolt with two massive locking lugs, then extracts and ejects a fired case, which is held against the stationary bolt face by the extractor claw. When barrel completes its return movement, it trips the release lever which sends the bolt group forward under pressure of its dedicated spring, located inside the shoulder stock. This movement strips the fresh cartridge from the box magazine, loads it into the chamber and finally locks the barrel by rotating the bolt, making the gun ready for the next shot. Ammunition is fed from a single stack box magazine, which is normally loaded trough the top of the opened action, using loose rounds or stripper clips. To facilitate comfortable loading, rifle is equipped with an automatic bolt hold-open device. For simplified maintenance, as well as for compact storage and transportation the barrel with its jacket can be easily detached from the receiver, first by removing the wooden forend and then by unscrewing a holding bolt located below the barrel.
Starting around 1929, the American Peace Officer Equipment Company (POE) began offering a dedicated “Law Enforcement” conversion for the Remington Model 8 rifle, which permitted use of the fifteen-round detachable box magazines that greatly improved the firepower of this already impressive rifle. This conversion required minor modifications to the hots gun, which were performed by the POE. A paddle-type magazine catch was attached to each detachable magazine. Soon after the introduction of the Remington Model 81 rifle, in 1940, the Remington also offered its own Remington model 81 Special Police rifle, compatible with the 15-round POE magazines.
Remington model 8 rifle, basic specifications