JAR....Johnson Automatic Rifle

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Dutch Mosin
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JAR....Johnson Automatic Rifle

Postby Dutch Mosin » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:36 pm

Here's the story on a less well known American semi-automatic rifle.

The JAR, the Johnson Automatic Rifle.

Well.......at least the Dutch part of the story.

In 1940 the Army Commander in the Dutch East Indies was ordered to check the world market for semi-automatic rifles.

The possibilities were limited.

Only three models were in full production at that time.

They were the model R75 and R80 made by the Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company and the M1 Garand.

Then there was the Peterson rifle, but this rifle only existed on paper.

Last but not least the Johnson rifle of which only a few were produced.



Drawing of a JAR

Both the Colts were to heavy and the American war Dept wouldn’t sell a single Garand to the Dutch.

So…the new KNIL semi-automatic rifle for the KNIL units became the JAR.

Production started from scratch.

Between November 1941 and February 1942 4025 rifles were sent to the Dutch East Indies.

In total 1999 rifles reached the Dutch East Indies on time.

By buying these rifles, the KNIL army(together with the US Army) was among the first armies to issue a semi-automatic rifle to their troops.

It didn’t help much though.

The KNIL army surrendered to the Japanese on March 8th 1942.



Picture of right and left side of a JAR with a R(otary) magazine as used by the KNIL.

Some technical info on the JAR:

- Caliber: 30-06

- Length: 1.165 meter

- Barrel length: 0.558 meter

- Weight: 4.4 kg

- Magazine type: Rotary or Box magazine

KNIL army was issued with the Rotary magazine.

- Magazine capacity: 10 rds



Picture of two KNIL soldiers.
The soldier on the left side of the picture carries a JAR.


Just a story on a less well known rifle I wanted to share.

The only time I saw such a rifle was in the KNIL museum in Arnhem.

BTW, KNIL stands for "Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch leger" or in good English "Royal Dutch East Indies army".

Met vriendelijke groet,

Martin
Last edited by Dutch Mosin on Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ThePitbullofLove
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Postby ThePitbullofLove » Fri Feb 15, 2008 11:49 am

A friend of mine was selling his Johnson at a gunshow this past weekend...asking price? $4600.00!

I'm kicking myself for not buying the one here locally that was offered for $2000.00. :mad:

Here's a friend of mine displaying his Johnson...



Here's another friend shooting the rifle above...



They're actually quite pleasant and accurate to fire.
...............................................
life is the crummiest book I ever read,
there isn't a hook,
just a lot of cheap shots,
pictures to shock,
and characters an amateur would never dream up-Guerwitz-1994



Drake
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Postby Drake » Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:53 pm

I saw a couple of these for sale at a local shop last year. The nicer of the two had a new barrel and was tagged $4600. The owner was willing to let me take a few photos of it.













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Niner
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Good post

Postby Niner » Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:40 pm

Excellent photos to show the Johnson.

Price got me curious. Looked it up in the Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 2nd Edition.. published 2003. It lists one sold at auction, "in excellent condition" for $3737.50. But also shows estimated values of $3000 VG, $2000 Good, $1000 Fair and $500 poor. But this was five years ago, and even so, prices will vary according to negotiation.
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joseyclosey
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Postby joseyclosey » Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:21 pm

Great pics Drake, thanks for posting them up, Any idea what the stock irregularity is?

Joe

Drake
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Postby Drake » Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:31 pm

Drake
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Postby Drake » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:40 am

I went by that shop yesterday and brought home a 1917 DWM Luger, I'll get some photos of it later.

I mixed up the two Johnson rifles they had. The one I posted photos was all original parts, the remaining one has been reworked. Here are a few photos they provided of it.









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Dutch Mosin
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Postby Dutch Mosin » Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:27 pm

For some reason I like this rifle very much........but it sure ain't the price tag. :(

Thanks for posting the pictures Drake.

I appreciate it.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Martin
Barry in IN
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Re: JAR....Johnson Automatic Rifle

Postby Barry in IN » Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:08 pm

I know it's an old thread, but I'm new here, found this in a search, and may be able to answer a question that came up in this thread about the M1941 Johnson.
I bought one six months ago, and had educate myself on them in a hurry!

The reason for the area of funny looking wood is because the stock had that area laminated on. They call these areas the stock "cheeks". The Johnson's buttstock swelled to a little over 2.5" wide at the rotary magazine housing to give it some protection. A standard stock blank of the time was 2" wide and fine for most rifles, but not wide enough for a Johnson. The solution would be a wider stock blank, but since there was a war on and everything gun-related was hard or impossible to get, Melvin Johnson was lucky to get standard blanks. So he had a piece laminated onto each side and milled the stock to shape.
So if the wood pieces matched there, it was only by accident and it usually didn't, so stuck out like a sore thumb.
Add in typical damage from handling, and it only made the laminated area more apparent. Most are pretty dinged up there. It would be hard to avoid banging it into things.
The "cheeks" of the one shown in the pictures sure isn't one of the better looking ones as far as this area goes!

I also notice the rear sight has been modified to a V-notch on the pictured rifle. This is fairly common too.
The original sight is a peep. It is a square shape with a very small aperture in it. Marines did this notching at the time, and it was also done in "sporterizing" attempts after the war.
I'd rarely take a V-notch over a peep but after owning and shooting one a little while, I suppose I can see why they did it. That aperture is tiny. It is OK on the range, but would be a bear to use up close and fast.
It looks like this:


It does appear that the Johnson SAR was the first semiauto to see use in WWII- even before The M1. Some Marines had them in the Guadalcanal and Bougainville fights. The USMC never officially adopted the Johnson SAR (they did use the Johnson LMG in the early Parachute Regiments) but had some around. They never ordered them directly from Johnson Automatics, but instead had part of the Dutch delivery diverted after the fall of the Dutch East Indies. Best estimates put the USMC as having around 750 Johnson SARs.

Which brings up the Garand vs Johnson thing.
I've read things in the past few years that made it sound like there was a big face-off between the Johnson and Garand rifles. Based on what I have read lately, this was mostly the work of reporters, gun writers, and a couple of senators, and I don't think it ever did amount to much.
A lot of people in the USMC wanted the Johnson, but since the USMC was a "customer" of the Army, they adopted what the Army adopted. Although some pushed for USMC adoption of the Johnson, there is little evidence to show that Melvin Johnson expected this. He did want to have a rifle ready to be submitted as substitute standard in case the Garand didn't work out or production couldn't be met.

After having shot both (I am a Garand nut) I can't say that I favor one over the other. I can name a few things I like better about one than the other, and do it for each one.
I don't think the outcome of the war would have been any different because one was issued over the other.
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Niner
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Re: JAR....Johnson Automatic Rifle

Postby Niner » Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:32 pm

Welcome to the Milsurp After Hours, Barry. Good insight on the Johnson.

I've never shot one, but I've held one.....and I know a guy with a gun shop who has some to sell if I ever hit the lottery.

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