Today we are taking a trip back in time to 1946, when the U.S. War Department prepared this official training film which goes over a few different new (at the time) methods of using gas to cycle a rifle. It’s still relevant today, and offers a simple take on how modern semi-automatic guns function.

It even has old-timey music and narration (meant for theatres), and has huge fake models of the different types of actions! The quality of the information is surprisingly good by 2017 standards for something 71 years old.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn exactly how gas is used to cycle a firearm, this is around the period in the world’s history when semi-automatic and automatic guns had finally come about – guns like the M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle proved among the first useful gas-powered automatic guns. Many people recognize the M1 Garand as being one of the most iconic battle rifles of World War II, but it was also one of the first widely-deployed semi-automatic rifles.

Check out the video to learn from the War Department’s 1946 Army Service Forces “Fundamentals of Small Arms Weapons 2: Types of Operation”, which was at the time produced by the Army Pictorial Service (Signal Corps).

Not much has changed since 1946 when it was a great revelation that firearms could be made to have a very fast rate of fire using these three methods. Manual actions are things like bolt actions and lever actions. “Gas operation”, “blowback operation”, and “recoil operation” are still the main cartridge-cycled methods used today.

To learn more about different types of firearm operating mechanisms (and to get your gun license in Canada), check out our list of upcoming courses here!