Jump to content


Photo

Considering a M1941 Johnson Rifle

1941 Johnson

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Grasshopper

Grasshopper

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Donor
  • 224 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sunny Florida
  • Interests:Engines, Tractors(old, rusty is better), mechanisms, and the occasional MG

Posted 28 December 2017 - 10:29 AM

Hi All,

 

I'm considering the purchase of a 1941 Johnson Rifle.  It appears to be in factory finish, no cracks in the wood, both fake and real bayonet, and the scabbard for the bayonet.  Bore looks good.

 

What I don't know is anything about the rifles.  I've done a few google searches and read what I can find.  Is there anything to look for in these rifles?  Can they be fired from time to time with modern commercial ammunition?

 

The rifle belongs to a friend so I don't mind helping the guy out.  Any information on the rifle would be appreciated.

 

Sincerely,

 

Grasshopper


  • 0

#2 DougStump

DougStump

    RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 308 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Shreveport, Louisiana

Posted 28 December 2017 - 10:58 AM

Unfortunately, I had to part with mine.  First off, no Johnson has "all matching parts".  While almost every part was serial numbered, they were not assembled this way.  If the recoil spring is weak the cases will eject just below the muzzle velocity!   Shooting standard 150 drain (M2 spec) ammo shouldn't be a problem.


  • 0

#3 Kilroy

Kilroy

    Regular Member

  • Regular Group
  • 505 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:South FL
  • Interests:World War II, Photography, Shooting

Posted 28 December 2017 - 11:00 AM

What’s the serial number range? If it’s a non-prefix rifle then there are people who have a list of which parts they came with from the factory. Note when you take them apart there is no such thing as a "numbers matching" Johnson. Meaning they were all "mix-masters" from the factory. Parts like the bolt, barrel etc are numbered but the theory is that they mixed the parts all around to prove interchangeablity to ordnance folks. But, on that note a piece that is numbers matching has more to be concerned about. I’ve never heard or seen a reproduction Johnson bayonet. Scabbards, yes, but not the bayonet it self.

Yes you can shoot a Johnson with modern ammo. The Johnson will eat anything you put in it and don’t have to worry about damage like you would with a Garand. Reason being is that the Johnson is all recoil operated rather than a gas system.

Per the Canfield book on the Johnson, only 21,400 Johnson rifles were ever made, so they are a unique piece of history. I currently have two, but I was supposed to sell one just never got around it. Whoops. I think they are really fun, especially when you take them apart and see the similarities between it and the AR (Stoner) rifle, it’s obvious where he got a lot of the ideas from.
  • 0

#4 DougStump

DougStump

    RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 308 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Shreveport, Louisiana

Posted 28 December 2017 - 11:26 AM

Kilroy,

 

SARCO has sold repro bayonets & scabbards for years.  


  • 0

#5 BillyDixon

BillyDixon

    Member

  • Regular Group
  • 43 posts

Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:22 PM

be fore you shoot a johnson 1941 be shure the collar   on the firing pin  that retains the firing pin return spring is chrimped tight and no movement otherwise the firing pin can move foward on its own and cause an out of bbattery discharge . the rotary magazine willblow down out of the gun total loss. i have seen this 2 times in my life, personally they are to valuable to risk. best keep as a wall hanger,


  • 0

#6 taeelec

taeelec

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 11 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oregon
  • Interests:WW2 small arms

Posted 29 December 2017 - 09:24 AM

An original finish Johnson rifle will be Parkerized (not blued) with crisp roll marks and a 'bright' chamber. Later rifles will have a blackened/ blued rear sight assembly and leaf spring where as earlier rifles will be Parkerized. Non matching serial numbers is correct. They are a little bit trickier than a Garand to field strip but are fun and quite safe to shoot with modern 150 gr ammo. I would recommend buying Bruce Canfield's excellent book Johnson Rifle and Machine Guns.   Todd in Oregon


  • 0

#7 emmagee1917

emmagee1917

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 1844 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Yuma , Arizona
  • Interests:All USGI WW2 firearms and acc.

Posted 29 December 2017 - 11:48 AM

I have seen a few " shot out " Johnsons . They wear at the spine on the top of the bolt where the rollers are and maybe in the receiver cut for them . To check , remove the cover at the rear of the receiver and unhook the tail from the stock recoil spring . Set the butt on the floor and shove the barrel back hard-ish . Bolt should inlock and fall back . Be sure to pad so the tail doesn't scratch the stock . On the worn ones , the surfaces wear and the bolt does not completely unlock . This can be " cured" by using 180 grain loads to increase bolt thrust , but you are really just pounding the gun to make it work and adding to the problem . They might be able to be welded up and reground into spec. , but I'd say they are best as wall hangers .

Neat rifles . Sold my last one a couple of years ago for many , many thousands ( 7 or 8 + ) .

Chris

Hey , my space bar works now !


  • 0

#8 Grasshopper

Grasshopper

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Donor
  • 224 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sunny Florida
  • Interests:Engines, Tractors(old, rusty is better), mechanisms, and the occasional MG

Posted 30 December 2017 - 01:06 PM

Hi,

 

Thanks for all the great information!  All the inputs have certainly taught me I know less than I thought I knew.

 

Grasshopper


  • 0

#9 Speeddemon02

Speeddemon02

    Regular Member

  • Regular Group
  • 183 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Mexico
  • Interests:Guns, Trucks, Games, and Woodworking

Posted 30 December 2017 - 08:29 PM

I know Ian from Forgotten Weapons has done a video on the Johnson and should check that out.  He was not very fond of it as a shooter.


  • 0

#10 TSMGguy

TSMGguy

    Respected Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 2228 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:West of the Pecos, Texas
  • Interests:Motorcycles, old airplanes, and guns.

Posted 10 January 2018 - 01:51 PM

Don't know what happened over at Forgotten Weapons, but the M1941 rifle is one of the great firearms designs. WWII Marines swore by theirs.

 

It took me many years to find an excellent all original example. It's been absolutely reliable, very accurate, and a joy to shoot. I know it's probably heresy, but I prefer some of the features of the M1941 to those of the M1 Garand, particularly the light recoil and the ease of cleaning. You need to clean only the barrel, which is removable in a 10 second operation. Being recoil actuated, there's no gas system, so there's no baked on carbon. You can also top off the magazine with loose rounds or five round Springfield chargers.

 

The problem is that these rifles have become truly rare, and so very valuable. Most M1941s you see were sporterized and then restored, or they're guns (including 7mm guns) worn out in long foreign service before being refurbished. Many have barrels in .30-06 that were made from turned down M1903A3 barrels. So, if a M1941 has problems, don't blame the original design, which is superb.

 

I've wondered what the M1941 would have morphed into had it been adopted as an alternate standard US service rifle, and been subject to ongoing service revision and product development. Imagine a select fire M1941 that uses detachable 20- or 30 rd. magazines, and that does not have the very restrictive rate of fire limitations of the M14...


Edited by TSMGguy, 11 January 2018 - 12:26 PM.

  • 0

#11 Grasshopper

Grasshopper

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Donor
  • 224 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sunny Florida
  • Interests:Engines, Tractors(old, rusty is better), mechanisms, and the occasional MG

Posted 15 January 2018 - 09:22 PM

Hi All,

 

Thanks again for all the inputs.

 

Great.  This rifle has been lying in a safe for 30 years.  I didn't realize they had gotten quite that expensive.  I like to shoot my firearms from time to time.  I'd hate to turn this example into a poster child on why one should shoot rare firearms.  The firing pin issue will certainly be looked into.  I might just take the owner out some afternoon to the range.  I figure everyone that owns a neat firearm should shoot it at least once.

 

Take care,

 

Grasshopper 


  • 0