FOTW 10/23: The Mondragón Rifle
The Mondragon Rifle, officially designated as the Fusil M-1908, was a rifle capable of fully-automatic fire designed by Mexican General Manuel Mondragon for use by the Mexican military. Work was first began on the rifle by Mondragon in 1882 and was completed and patented in 1887. Though not incredibly well known now, the Mondragon rifle was in service from 1887 until 1943 by the Mexican military and is still seeing service to this day by different countries.
One of the unique features for the Mondragon, at least for the time, was that it was operate by a gas and piston system. This allowed for seemingly flawless functioning in the high deserts of Mexico, although it would face failure in the dense and sticky mud of Central Europe when being used by Germany and its allies. The Mondragon was chambered in a 7mm Mauser cartridge which allowed it to have tremendous stopping power and long-range accuracy…while being fired in semi-automatic mode. However, when switched to fully-automatic the gun was virtually impossible to wield due to the high recoil and muzzle climb of the firearm. Being designed to fire semi- or full-automatic, though it could be operated as a straight-pull bolt action, the firearm initially would come with either an 8 or a 20 rd magazine . This would last until 1910 when a Light Machine Gun variant was pressed into production to try and make the firearm more wieldly when being operated in full-auto. This remastering of the Mondragon involved a heavier barrel and a overhauled firing mechanism to make the gun more accurate in full-auto, with this the new models would also come with a 100rd drum magazine.
Being pressed into service around the time of the Mexican Revolution there was not much capability within Mexico to produce the rifles due to the instability of the country at the time. After failing to sell the rifle to US firms Mondragon would finally find some success in Germany where SIG would manufacture the weapon through 1901 and then in 1908 the first completely Mexican-produced weapons would see service in the world. The Mondragon would see action in WWI as Germany purchased the remainder of the SIG produced weapons (between 3,000 and 5,000) and issue them to infantry troops. The Mondragon’s weakness to mud would soon see the rifle switched to use by flight crews and naval crews to keep the heavy power of the rifle without losing durability due to mud and grime. After this, the Mondragon would make its way across Mexican allied and German allied forces through Japan, Lithuania and etc.
What makes the Mondragon truly unique is that it was the first full-auto rifle that could be wielded by a single person, combined with this it was actually a serviceable and useful weapon that saw use for over 60 years. The Mondragon could come either with iron sights or set up in a sniper variant. The Mondragon has become increasingly rare over the years, especially the German made variants, and can be expected to fetch well over $10,000. IF you happen to have one of these great rifles and need ammo you can check out MidwayUSA , AIMsurplus, AmmotoGo, and several other retailers Hope you found some interest in this blog post and maybe learned a little about a firearm that you otherwise did not know much about! Stay safe and keep shooting.