Madsen-Rasmussen M1896 semi-automatic rifle (Dennmark)

Madsen - Rasmussen M1888 self-loading rifle

Madsen-Rasmussen (Bjarnov) M1888 semi-automatic rifle


Madsen-Rasmussen M1896semi-automatic rifle



8x58R Krag


Short recoil operated, semi-automatic

Length, overall




Barrel length


Magazine capacity

10 rounds


The Madsen-Rasmussen rifle was the world’s first military semi-automatic rifle. It was created in Denmark by officer of Artillery Willhelm H. O. Madsen and intendant of the arms factory in Copenhagen Julius A. N. Rasmussen (who later changed his family name to Bjarnov). These two gentlemen began research of recoil forces in firearms in around 1883, and by 1886 they concieved a recoil-operated semi-automatic rifle. In 1887 Danish army oredered 70 rifles for field trials, and by 1888 first prototype military self-loading rifle by Madsen and Rasmussen was built. After some testing and further development, in 1892 Danish Army ordered 200 ‘heavy recoil-operated rifles’ with 20-round magazines for fortress use, although only 86 rifles were actually built. In 1896, Danish Navy ordered 60 more recoil-operated carbines (designated M.1896 Flaadens Reculgevaer), which were lighter than Army ones and had 10-round magazines. These rifles were delivered to danish Marine Infantry in 1896-97 and served until 1932. Fifty more rifles of same design were ordered for use in sea forts near Kopenhagen. These rifles had noticeably shorter service life and were replaced in 1908 by famous Madsen machine guns, which evolved from this same rifle by 1903. Despite fairy limited issue, these Madsen-Rasmussen (Bjarnov) M1896 semi-automatic rifles bear the distinction of being the first practical semi-automatic rifle ever to be adopted by any military service worldwide.


Madsen-Rasmussen (Bjarnov) M1896 semi-automatic rifle is short recoil operated. It uses Martini-type breechblock, which is hinged at its rear to the barrel extension. This breechblock (bolt)  moves horizontally along with the barrel, tipping its forward end above or below line of the bore, for extraction and ejection of empty case or fresh cartridge loading, respectively. The vertical tilting movement of the breechblock is controlled by cam tracks of complicates shape, cut on the sides of the breechblock. Upon recoil, fixed studs, made on the inner receiver walls, force the breechblock to tilt by following these tracks. Rifle is fed from detachable box magazine, inserted from above. Magazine housing is offset to the left from the bore axis, and special feeder-interrupter allows cartridges to drop from magazine and then slide sideways into the line of feed, above the lowered breechblock. Ejection is downward and to the rear, via short rearward-facing chute machined in front of the trigger guard. Rotating charging handle is located at the right side of the erceiver and does not move when gun is fired. Normally, Madsen – Rasmussen (Bjarnov) M1896 semi-automatic rifles are fitted with two-piece wooden stock and folding bipod below the forend.