SOLD FOR: $5,325
Model: Model 1941
Serial Number: B1818
Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1941
Caliber: .30-06 SPRG (Springfield)
Action Type: Semi Auto Rifle, Internal Magazine
Markings: The right rear of the frame is marked with a star and “Cranston Arms Co.” logo. The top of the frame is marked with the patent numbers and “And Others U.S. And Foreign / Pats. And Pats. Pending” and “Cal. .30-06 Semi-Auto / ‘Johnson Automatics’ / Model of 1941 / Made In Providence R.I. U.S.A. / B1818”. The bolt is marked “CO828”. “30-06” is marked on top of the barrel.
Barrel Length: 22”
Sights / Optics: The gun is mounted with a winged front sight and a frame mounted windage and elevation adjustable rear sight. The elevator is marked “M2” on the left and with graduations on the right.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are lightly oiled wood. The finish shows much natural age, but may have been sanded some time ago. There are a few gouges on the left side of the forearm and left side of the stock. There are other scattered marks and dings, though no splits or cracks. The LOP measures approx. 13 1/4” from the trigger to the end of the checkered steel plate. The stocks rate in about Very Good – Fine overall condition.
Type of Finish: Parkerized
Finish Originality: The metal finish looks original. The receiver markings are sharp, there is natural age and the finish is correct.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp and deep. There is no apparent erosion.
Overall Condition: This gun retains about 85% of its metal finish. The balance of the finish shows natural age discoloration and surface marking. The magazine shows much thinning, perhaps chemical? The Cranston arms mark has definitely not been refinished over, nor have the markings on the top of the frame. There is some wear on the left side of the barrel and frosting on the upper tang. The metal is exceptionally good on this rifle. The screw heads are just a bit marked. The markings are crisp. Overall, this rifle rates in about Fine condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: Though not the best source, Wikipedia has a good discussion of the history of this VERY IMPORTANT US Rifle. “The M1941 Johnson Rifle” was an American short-recoil operated semi-automatic rifle designed by Melvin Johnson prior to World War II. The M1941 competed unsuccessfully with the U.S. M1 Rifle.
Melvin Johnson campaigned heavily for the adoption of the Johnson rifle by the U.S. Army and other service branches. However, after limited testing, the U.S. Army rejected Johnson’s rifle in favor of the M1 rifle developed by Springfield Armory. The M1941 was ordered by the Netherlands for issue to the KNIL in the Dutch East Indies, but the Japanese invaded the islands before the rifles could be shipped from California. At this time, the U.S. Marine Corps found itself in need of a modern fast-firing infantry rifle, and acquired some rifles from the Dutch East Indies shipment for issue to its Para-marine battalions then preparing to deploy for action in the Pacific theatre. By all accounts, the M1941 performed acceptably in combat with the Marines in the early days of the Pacific fighting.
Despite repeated requests to adopt the rifle by the Marine Corps, the Johnson rifle also lacked the support of US Army Ordnance, which had already invested considerable sums in the development of the M1 and its revised gas operating system, then just going into full production. Johnson was successful in selling small quantities of the M1941 Johnson Light Machine Gun to the U.S. armed forces, and this weapon was later used by both Para-Marines and the Army’s First Special Service Force.
In late 1946, Argentina expressed an interest in Johnson’s arms, and Johnson fabricated a prototype, the Model 1947 auto carbine, a semi-automatic rifle variant of the light machine gun with the 10 round cylindrical magazine. While specific details are sketchy, it apparently bore little resemblance, but shared some features with the Johnson M1941 light machine gun. Argentina apparently declined to purchase any, and the M1947 auto carbine never went into production. In any event, the post-war years were not kind to the Johnson organization. The entity filed for bankruptcy and was liquidated in early 1949. “ Every U.S. Military Arms collection needs a Johnson. If you don’t have one yet, here it is and if you already have one, this one is probably an improvement!