It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen"
- John Wooden
Known among gun enthusiasts as "the first semiautomatic rifle in history", the Mondragón Fusil was created by the Mexican general Manuel Mondragón who, years before the Mexican Revolution exploded, designed a novel system that could replace the rifles of bolt that armies around the world used.
Who was Manuel Mondragón?
General Manuel Mondragón
We will not tell here the complete history of this man. But it will suffice to say that Manuel Mondragón was born in Ixtlahuaca, State of Mexico, in 1859, and that from a young age he specialized in artillery weapons in the Military College of Chapultepec.
Mondragón was passionate about the weapons that came to design several rifles and improve the systems of the Mexican artillery, which made the arsenal of the Mexican army more deadly. Under the support of the regime of Porfirio Díaz, in 1887 he patented the Mondragón Fusil, which would later be officially known as "Fusil Porfirio Díaz Mondragón System" and would become the first semi-automatic rifle used by an army in the world.
Before popular culture made this general famous for the design of his rifle, the history books recorded Manuel Mondragón as one of the architects of the Ten Tragic: ten long and sad days of February 1913 in which the Mexicans They killed their compatriots in the streets of Mexico City, in an attempt to overthrow President Francisco I. Madero.
What's so interesting about this rifle?
Mondragón Rifle schematics
The Mondragon Rifle had a very revolutionary mechanism for its time: it worked by the action of the firing gases produced by the deflagration of the gunpowder, by means of a parallel cylinder and its piston. However, the weapon could also be operated manually as a bolt-action rifle if the valve mounted on the gas pipe was closed.
Since the design of the rifle was too innovative, the Mexican armories could not produce it en masse. So Mondragón had to go to the Swiss factory Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG) to manufacture it.
A few months later, the first shipment of Mondragón rifles arrived in Mexico, which after some precision tests, use and firing, arrived at the hands of the federal army until the Revolution broke out and the shipments stopped.
During the time in which both sides of the fight used this rifle, several failures of the Mondragón in the battlefield went up to shine. On the one hand it was very easy for it to get stuck when it was used between the earth and the mud, and on the other, the lack of available parts hindered its repair and cleaning.
So why is the Mondragón Rifle is a piece of Mexican Design Ingenuity?
There are several historical reasons why the Mondragón Rifle changed the nature of warfare, this is because it created the first gas-operated system that would eventually influence WWI and WWII designs such as the Russian Federov Avtomat and the "revolutionary" Canadian American rifle, the M1 Garand and the M1Carbine, and Nazi Germany's Sturmgewehr 44, and posterior rifles. Therefore condireing Mondragon's design, "the rifle that shaped modern history".
Federov Avtomat (left)
M1 Garand (right)
Sturmgewehr 44 (center bottom)